YES for Carpathian forest schools: partners have published a joint action plan

The partners of the project “Carpathian Forest Schools – Pilot Cooperation for Nature Conservation and Environmental Education” gathered in Dolyna for a meeting of the joint steering group, where they discussed working issues related to the project and publicly announced their intentions. The project brought together the resources and potential of the Ivano-Frankivsk Tourist Association, the Department of Regional Development and Construction of the Dolyna Regional State Administration, the Vyhoda Village Council, and the Romanian partner, the Maramures National Mountain Park Administration. The project started this month and is designed for two years.

The project itself aims to promote the preservation of Carpathian forests through the development and modernization of extracurricular environmental education. As the name suggests, the project activity will be aimed at piloting forest schools in the Carpathian regions of Ukraine and Romania, in particular the already established Forest School of the Vyhoda Narrow Gauge Railway Heritage Center. Thus, the Center, which has become a highlight of the Vyhoda community and a magnet that attracts many visitors, will also be established as a modern hub for out-of-school environmental education. The materials and tools created within the project will allow to interpret local nature and ecological culture for school-age children in an unconventional, modern and interesting way, and classes in the forest school will encourage young students to understand and take responsibility for the environment. The Center is expected to receive a delegation of Romanian teachers and environmentalists who will arrive here on a study visit.

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Being a fundamentally new phenomenon for Ukraine, forest schools have long been “registered” in many Western countries, becoming especially common in Scandinavia, the United States and Great Britain. “Classes” in such schools are usually forest paths, lawns or just open spaces. Here they respect the freedom of students, encourage their initiative as much as possible, encourage independence and responsible behavior. Participation in the classes of forest schools involves the maximum use of all the senses of the child to gain a vivid rich experience of true communication with nature – instead of the dubious virtual pleasures that gadgets offer modern children. Immersion of students in nature encourages them to respect it and lead a healthy lifestyle.

In addition to actually supporting the activities of forest schools, the “solid” component of the project involves the creation of an innovative open-air educational space next to the unique Carpathian swamp Shirkovets – here for those wishing to learn about wildlife will be arranged bridges, observation towers, interpretation panels. And an interactive pavilion will appear near the Heritage of the Vyhoda Narrow Gauge Railway, which will recreate the forest ecosystem. In turn, within the “soft” project component, the partners plan and conduct informational and educational campaigns, which are designed to draw the attention of the region to the problems of biodiversity conservation and encourage environmental responsibility. One of the final chords of the project activity in Ukraine will be the international forum of innovations of ecological education and biodiversity. In parallel, the project is expected to implement similar tasks in the Romanian county of Maramures.

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The participants of the joint steering group meeting not only publicly presented the project and the experience of the partners, but also agreed on an action plan for the future and resolved a number of working issues. And in principle, the partners agreed to act as a cross-border coalition that will jointly promote the conservation of biodiversity and forest resources as a necessary prerequisite for the sustainable development of the Carpathian regions.

The project “Carpathian Forest Schools – Pilot Cooperation for Nature Protection and Environmental Education” is implemented by the Tourist Association of Ivano-Frankivsk with EU co-financing under the Hungary-Slovakia-Romania-Ukraine Border Cooperation Program for 2014-2020. The project partners in Ukraine are the Department of Regional Development and Construction of Dolyna District State Administration and Vyhoda Village Council of Dolyna District of Ivano-Frankivsk Region, and in Romania – the Administration of Maramures Mountain Nature Park. The project will last until October 2021, and the territory of its implementation covers Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine and Maramures county of Romania.

This project release has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union and the Programme. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the Tourist Association of Ivano-Frankivsk region and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the Managing Authority/ Joint Technical Secretariat or the European Union.

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