Seminar “Awareness raising and willingness for cooperation of young people for forest protection” under the project “For everyone saved a tree (FOREST)”

International seminar “Awareness raising and willingness for cooperation of young people for forest protection” under the project “For everyone saved a tree (FOREST)” was held on October 4, 2019 in the town of Niš, Republic of Serbia. Forest Research Institute – BAS participated in the event as a project partner together with the Youth Rural Development Movement in Bulgaria (Botevgrad) and the NIIT Society Inovation Center (Niš, Serbia).

The seminar was attended by about 120 people, including 50 young people from the cities of Niš and Botevgrad. In his opening speech the Bulgarian Consul in Niš, Assoc. Prof. Edwin Sugarev, congratulated the organizers and participants on the idea of the project with the words: ‘I like the name of your project: ‘For everyone, saved a tree’. To save a tree also means to save future people who will rely on the oxygen created by it to breathe and live. As you all know, forests are the lungs of the planet. The air we breathe, which gives us energy and vitality, is not divided into ours and yours, in Serbian and Bulgarian, there is no boundary for it. That is why it is important for the young people in our two countries to save forests together, to protect nature together, to put this protection together as a key issue on the agenda of the politicians. It depends on young people whether they will take in full-blown air or dwell on a withered and devastated planet. We have to understand them, we have to help them. And I hope that meetings like the present give more chances for their success.’

The representatives of the partner organizations presented to the guests the idea of the project and the role of each of them in it. According to the project coordinator from the Forest Research Institute Assoc. Prof. Margarita Georgieva, ‘The idea of the project seems valuable for the creating and development of skills and competences among young people for nature conservation, and thus two important priorities of European policy will be fulfilled: nature conservation and care for the development of young people. The implementation of the project will help to address a number of issues within these two complementary priorities’.

The main topics of the seminar were related to the problems in the forests and opportunities for active participation of young people in solving them. Expert experience was presented by ten key experts – foresters, ecologists, entomologists, phytopathologists (equal number from Serbia and Bulgaria). The expert team on behalf of Forest Research Institute presented the topics ‘Climate change and their impact on forest ecosystems’, ‘Forest – a bridge to the future of our children’, ‘Insects – friends or enemies of trees’ and ‘The strange fungi realm’. From the discussion of the event it became clear that the problems in the forests are too similar in both countries – climate change, drying, fires, dying by extremal snow and wind, forest diseases and pests, illegal logging and others.

In conclusion, it was pointed out that young people play an extremely important role in nature conservation. With their energy and enthusiasm they can and should be a driving force for building a green culture among the population. To this end, they must be informed, supported and encouraged by all responsible structures – forest science and practice, state and non-governmental organizations related to nature conservation.

The project is co-funded by EU through the Interreg-IPA CBC Bulgaria–Serbia Programme.

This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union through the Interreg-IPA CBC Bulgaria-Serbia Programme, CCI No 2014TC16I5CB007. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of FRI-BAS and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union or the Managing Authority of the Programme