Peace, restoration, and learning: International Day of Education 2024

Posted: 24th January 2024

Photo: Maxim Yakovlev / Rewilding Europe

On the International Day of Education, with the theme of “learning for lasting peace”, we highlight the link between education and landscape and seascape restoration. As well as being a human right, education is key to sustainable development, with access to quality education being essential for the success of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainable Development Goal 4 in particular, aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. Projects supported by the Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme are working with communities to mitigate conflict, create partnerships, and develop cohesive visions to restore ecosystems. The younger generation’s role in restoration is crucial: restoration is a multi-generational endeavour, and so involving youth voices from the beginning is essential.

Living Danube Delta

With the aim of immersing children in nature and educating them about the benefits of rewilding, an interactive education campaign entitled “Living Danube Delta” began in May 2023, overseen by the Rewilding Ukraine team. It involves elementary and middle schools in Ukraine, Romania and Moldova, which are all located in and around the Danube Delta restoration landscape.

“Through this campaign we not only want to educate children in the classroom, but also to get them out into nature,” explains Rewilding Ukraine Communications Officer Kateryna Kurakina. “A range of hands-on field activities will give the children an appreciation of why we need to preserve and restore nature, and why rewilding is the best way to deliver that restoration. In terms of building engagement, there’s no substitute for seeing the wonderful wildlife of the delta up close.”

The education campaign aims to immerse children in nature and educate them about the benefits of rewilding. Photo: Maxim Yakovlev / Rewilding Europe.

The campaign includes online and in person classes in primary and secondary schools, as well as visits to the Danube Delta rewilding landscape.

“The trip we took to the Tarutino Steppe in September was really interesting,” said a group of students from Vylkove School in the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta rewilding landscape, after their excursion. “It was so exciting to see kulan grazing peacefully in the distance, and fallow deer jumping out of the forest towards us. We also managed to get some great photos of lizards.”

Alongside the extracurricular classes, the campaign has also seen a Danube Delta Rewilders Club launched, in partnership with the Danube Biosphere Reserve, where children will share their passion for the nature of the Danube Delta, accompany rewilding teams on fieldwork trips, and take part in a residential camp in summer 2024.

“The nature of the Danube Delta is gradually growing wilder through rewilding efforts,” says Kateryna Kurakina. “At the same time, we would love to see a community of young people passionate about that nature growing too.

Throughout the campaign, participants have enjoyed excursions into the rewilding landscape, accompanied by teachers, photographers, and members of the local rewilding team. Photo: Maxim Yakovlev / Rewilding Europe.

Facing the Desert

In the Kakheti Steppes and Iori River Valley, ELSP project partners SABUKO actively engage with young people through diverse educational activities within its education department.

Since 2022, SABUKO has overseen the operation of 10 school clubs. As part of the Kakheti Steppes restoration project, students in grades 7 to 12 within these clubs were introduced to the film “Facing the Desert.” Following the screening, a board game based on the Chachuna managed reserve and Q&A discussions were organised. Additionally, hands-on activities on soil erosion were arranged for young participants.

The Imperial eagle, a charismatic species in the project area, is a recurring theme in SABUKO’s educational activities. In 2018, schoolteachers from the Dedoplistskaro region and Tbilisi underwent training and received handbooks focused on activities involving the Imperial eagle. This material was renewed and reprinted in 2022, concentrating on the Chachuna managed reserve and Iori Valley, the primary habitat of the Imperial eagle in Kakheti, addressing issues related to habitat degradation and loss. The handbook has received positive reviews from teachers.

“When the opportunity arises, such as international celebration dates and local events, we try linking our activities to the projects, using promotional materials and face-to-face meetings with youth and adults, as a positive way to share information about the importance of nature restoration and our working areas in Georgia” explains Giorgi Chikorashvili, Regional Coordinator for SABUKO.

Imperial eagles are a running feature of SABUKO’s educational activities. Photo: SABUKO.

Cairngorms Connect Cohort

Cohort is a project designed by Cairngorms Connect to connect a small group of motivated individuals, facilitate a deeper understanding of landscape-scale ecological restoration, and provide the opportunity to be part of the next generation working towards Cairngorms Connect’s 200-year vision.

They held the first Cohort residential in August 2023, where ten young people (18–25) came together for a series of workshops in the wild and conversations on conservation, held in the rich landscape of Glenmore. Activities included a tour of the tree nursery, introductions to science and monitoring work in the field, and visualising landscapes for the next 200 years.

Tree Nursery Assistant Lynn gave the group a tour of the different saplings growing in the nursery and their journey from seed to being planted out across the partnership. Photo: Cairngorms Connect.

Ben, a participant in the residential and member of the Cairngorms Connect Cohort reflects: “I believe that young people who share the vision of and are part of the ecological restoration story, have an enormous part to play in long-term projects such as Cairngorms Connect. And I believe that outdoor education has a major role in that involvement”.

The residential culminated with the group developing a statement of intent to guide their next steps as part of the Cohort: “Promoting connections with the Cairngorms Connect landscape through creating space, skills, knowledge, and community for young people to find their own inspiration and place within this landscape”.

Cohort member Nell says: “Now, fulfilled with some insight, fuelled with the connections of a brilliant group, and lit with our own inspirations, our next step is to see what we will make of the Cairngorms Connect Cohort. For each of us there are already impressions which have grown and developed some of our perspectives and work, and these we all look forward to sharing soon. For the group, we are grateful that the team at Cairngorms Connect will continue to facilitate our meeting, as we come together again on zoom for a strategy meeting”.

The Cairngorms Connect Cohort pose with their statement of intent on the final morning of the residential.

To learn more about “Living Danube Delta”, please visit Instagram account and get involved by using the #RewildersDD hashtag. To watch the Facing the Desert film, visit SABUKO’s YouTube channel. To find out more about the Cohort, visit the Cairngorms Connect website.

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