As part of the BioLearn project, the Green Balkans Federation organized a seminar on: “Interpretation of specific knowledge for the local communities in protected areas: BioLearn Project area experience”. Due to the prevailing epidemiological situation, the meeting was held on 19 and 20 November 2020 by teleconference, and was attended by prominent scientists, professors and experts in various fields related to management and conservation of the environment and waste, NGOs, etc.
The project BioLearn: “Eco-Conscious Minds to Stop Pollution in the Valuable Wetlands of Black Sea Basin” aims to reduce wetland pollution through educational, informational and training activities. The focus is on key wetlands off the coast of Turkey, Greece, Georgia, Ukraine and last but not least Bulgaria. Located on migration routes or wintering grounds for rare and protected waterfowl, these water bodies are key to bird conservation. At the same time, these places are often threatened by pollution of various types as a result of human activity. In this regard, governmental and non-governmental organizations from the listed countries are joining forces to address this large-scale problem, which requires a sustained and coordinated efforts.
The main purpose of the seminar was to exchange information, experience and knowledge about the current state of wetlands, as well as ways to promote the value and importance of biodiversity and understanding the problems of environmental protection through information and education.
The forum was in English, but people with other languages on the web were also welcome.
During the first day, reports were presented by well-known scientists and ecologists on the state, problems and future of a number of Ramsar sites and protected areas of Natura 2000, such as the Pomorie Lake, Poda, Atanasovsko Lake and Ecopark for Biodiversity and Alternative Tourism “Vaya”-Bulgaria, Evros Delta-Greece, Danube Delta-Ukraine.
The founder and head of Via Pontica Foundation Ina Agafonova in her report presented the improvement of the capacity for environmental protection, sustainable use and management of common natural resources through investment activities in Lake Vaya and the creation of a tourist site for sustainable tourism development in the region, namely the Ecopark for Biodiversity and Alternative Tourism “Vaya”.
Via Pontica Foundation, as the NGO coordinator of the Ramsar Convention’s Program for Communication, Capacity Building, Training, Publicity and Awareness Raising (CEPA), organizes a number of events during the year. In the working with stakeholders, the team of the Ecopark is guided by the current program (2016-2024). It has been developed in conjunction with the fourth Strategic Plan of the Convention. Promoting ecosystem functions and services and supporting Contracting Parties with high quality guidance to manage wetlands wisely are central to the Ramsar Convention. The Convention considers communication, capacity building, education, participation and awareness as important tools to support the delivery of the Strategic Plan.
The reports aroused lively interest and a number of participants made statements with comments, asked questions and heard the views of representatives of the private sector and other stakeholders.
The second day was dedicated to presentations by all project partners on training young people and organizing public awareness campaigns.
The seminar ended with a discussion of the work on the preparation of the Handbook for best educational and training practices.