Integrated education, for forests and in forests: Văcărești Composesoral Association joins Tomorrow’s Forest Communities

Who knows the needs of a community – and those of the community’s forests – better than the locals? Through the grants program Tomorrow’s Forest Communities, we have been looking for community actors involved and with initiative, who can bring about the sustainable change that the forest so needs.

In Harghita county, one of the most forested regions in Romania, we found new friends in Mihăileni (Csikszentmihály) commune.

For more than 15 years, the Văcărești Composesoral Association has been taking care of the commune’s forests (approximately 260 ha). They are well anchored in the community and are always coming up with new ideas for the people and for nature: for example, to make use of the products of the forest – fruits, mainly – they started to manufacture natural and tasty juices and jams. That means more income, which can go back into forest maintenance activities, but also jobs and overall community well-being. It’s that kind of simple idea that, over time, produces big changes.

The “Planting the Good Deed” project, with which they applied to our grants programme, also starts from the simple idea that educating young people is one of the most effective ways to care for the forest, now and in the future.

360° education – in the classroom and in the forest

The project includes traditional, classroom-based education activities, as well as outdoor learning sessions. For this, the Association will produce multimedia materials (animated films, which we can’t wait to see) and will also set up a forest trail for the little ones (and the big ones as well). This is a particularly effective way of learning, still little used in Romania, but with some notable examples such as the thematic routes made by Tornator.

And, because no forest school is complete without a planting exercise, the project will plant 10,000 oak and spruce seedlings, that will regenerate an area affected by windfall. The first 500 seedlings have already been planted, the rest will follow up in Spring.

It is our first experiment with containerized seedlings and with tubular, biodegradable protections: to protect the seedlings from deer and rabbit nibbling, we cover them with a bioplastic “shirt”. It is resistant to UV radiation, can be reused after the sapling has grown sufficiently, and decomposes naturally after about 7-8 years.

“The project from the Văcărești Composesorate is a great example of environmental education, which integrates various activities and trains all skills and abilities,” says Mihail Caradaică, executive director of the Tomorrow’s Forest Foundation. “We are excited about the idea of ​​a themed forest trail, it is probably the best way to learn about trees, biodiversity, and sustainable forestry. We are quite happy to be part of this project, and we can’t wait to give them a hand with the planting too!”

The project “Planting the Good Deed” has an implementation duration of 12 months and a total value of 292,154 lei, of which 240,598 lei represents funding from the Tomorrow’s Forest Foundation. Co-financing is provided by the Văcărești Composesoral Association.

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