For Everyone Saved a Tree (FOREST) project brings together non-governmental and scientific organizations from Bulgaria and Serbia into the cause of engaging young people in forest conservation activities. The project is funded by the Interreg-IPA Bulgaria-Serbia Cross-Border Cooperation Program (http://www.ipacbc-bgrs.eu/en) and has a duration of 15 months. The leading partner in the project is the Bulgarian non-governmental organization Youth Movement for Rural Development in Bulgaria (www.ymdrab.eu), while the other partners are the Society Innovation Center, Nis (www.niit.rs) and the Institute of Forestry at the Bulgarian Academy of the sciences. (https://fri.bas.bg/).
Goals and activities of the FOREST project
The FOREST project is based on the concept of involving volunteer youth in solving problems related to the conservation of forest habitats in the cross-border region. With the methodological support of experts from the Institute of Forests and the joint participation of young people from the municipalities of Botevgrad and Nis, a series of activities will be implemented aimed at enhancing the knowledge and skills of young people regarding the assessment of the health status of forests, methods of conservation and restoring poor habitats and promoting such initiatives among the public.
The specific activities that will be implemented during the project implementation period from May 16, 2019 to August 16, 2020 are the following:
Activity 1: Organizing an International Seminar aimed at raising public awareness and involvement of young people in forest conservation activities (Venue – Serbia).
Activity 2: Conducting a training course for volunteer youth, with the participation of international experts, who will present topics related to environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources in forests (Venue – Bulgaria).
Activity 3: Carrying out afforestation activities in different types of habitats on forest and urban territory (Venue – Serbia).
Activity 4: Diagnosis and control of populations of insect pests and pathogens in forest ecosystems and assessment of their status in the context of related ecosystem services (Venue – Bulgaria).
Activity 5: Mapping, evaluation and improvement of the status of populations of valuable plant species (Venue – Bulgaria).
Activities 6 and 7: Creation of herbarium of native plant species and presentation to the public in the form of exhibitions (Venue – Serbia and Bulgaria).
Activity 8: Creation of a Joint Electronic Database, which will collect information from field surveys, applied and scientific results from the implementation of individual project activities (photos, videos, location coordinates, maps, publications, population measurements and communities, etc.) (Venue – Bulgaria).
Activity 9: Development of a long-term strategy for engaging young people in the implementation of activities related to nature conservation (Venue Bulgaria).
Activity 10: Final conference with international participation, including presentation of project results and demonstration of good practices from projects and initiatives with similar focus (Venue Bulgaria).
Each of the above activities will include 25 young people from the municipalities of Botevgrad and Nis, aged 13 to 18, and participants in the individual activities will not be repeated. Thus, a total of over 400 young people from both countries are expected to participate in the project.