European Wilderness Society understands an importance of the capacity-building as well as experience exchange between Wilderness Experts and Advocates. Especially it is true for experts from different countries of the European Wilderness Network. Therefore right after Wilderness Academy Days a study trip was arranged for four Ukrainian partners to visit Kalkalpen National Park. Representatives of:
visited National Park Kalkalpen.
We started our Wilderness Expert Exchange Programme in 2015. And that year Deputy Director of National Nature Park “Zacharovanyy kray” , Vasyl Mochan, visited Austrian National Parks.
Please also read: Wilderness Experts Exchange Programme Launched
Main parts of the forests in Kalkalpen National Park have been utilised by forestry for more than 500 years. In the past wood was the primary source of energy for a flourishing iron industry in the region. However, the Reichraminger Hintergebirge and the Sengsengebirge were difficult to get into. Because they had inaccessible gorges, steep slopes and rock faces. Therefore, natural wild forests and remnants of primeval forest could survive with outstanding biodiversity. For more than 20 years Wilderness has returned to Kalkalpen National Park and visitors can experience the wild. Kalkalpen Wilderness is a model for restoring Wilderness in mountain forest.
Importance of education
The need of such capacity building activities was highlighted on the recent meeting of European Wilderness Society and Ministry of Environment and Natural Recourses of Ukraine. All four Ukrainian participants of the study trip agreed on importance of environmental education and Wilderness Awareness Raising. Therefore, the excursion to the Visitor Centre Ennstal, conducted by Sigrid Gruber-Barth and Maria Laussamayer from Kalkalpen National Park was very interesting for them. We are also grateful to Angelika Stückler for supporting visit arrangement.
Visitor Center of Kalkalpen is the typical for European National Parks. But it has own peculiarities. Here you can buy different souvenirs, local products, clothes with the Park´s symbolic and many other. In the same time, it has interesting interactive exposition, which of course, attracts visitors, especially kids. Regarding kids, I should mention, that regular activities with youth are organized on the basis of Visitor Center. These are activities of different ecological topics and they include practical skills obtaining. Among them are manufacturing of artificial nesting and hiders for birds and bats. I also liked very much high professional film about nature of the National Park and particularly about its component parts of UNESCO World Heritage.
All expositions in the Visitor Center were interesting in terms of interpretation, accessibility and information provision. Film in the mini cinema was incredible. I would love, if such films are also made in Ukrainian Parks and Reserves. It is also important, that park employees are paying a lot of attention to the work with kids. Particularly, we visited large, but in the same time compact class room of the Visitor Center, where kids are studying nature, biodiversity and learning to value their surrounding.
I don´t have an experience of visiting other European Visit Centers yet, but visit to this Center was exciting. Yes, I support my colleagues, the film about Kalkalpen was really great! Especially I liked birds sounds reproduction as well as forest exposition. This exposition was very realistic even if it made from polymer materials. Of course, I am very glad, that beside visual materials of nature promotion there is a room for conduction of different ecological-educational activities for youth. I hope very much that in the nearest future I will have a chance to spend more time in the Kalkalpen park and enjoy unforgettable beauty of Wilderness!
It is also important to mention, that all three Ukrainian protected areas and Kalkalpen National Park contain UNESCO World Heritage sites. They all have component parts of the Trans-boundary property “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”. So beside partnership in European Wilderness Network they also have common duties of the unique European forests stewardship. Therefore, such meetings and experience exchange are critical. European Wilderness Society plans to further continue its Wilderness Expert Exchange Programme for stewardship of the last European Wilderness.
BEECH POWER connects
One of our recent INTERREG Projects is “BEECH POWER”. Its objective is to develop models for active participation of local and regional public authorities including civil society in the management of selected UNESCO Natural World Heritage component parts and their surroundings. Project also includes capacity building activities. Kalkalpen National Park is the partner of this project too. Other project partner is Paklenica National Park from Croatia. Therefore outcomes of this project would also be of interest for UNESCO component parts of other countries, including Ukraine.