Seminars on Forest Biodiversity and CC issues for the Teachers and Pupils in Syunik Region.
The aim of the UNDP/GEF project is to investigate measures that can increase the resilience of mountainous forests to climate change impacts as well as to increase advocacy of the need to improve forest management practices so that climate change impacts are taken into account. Public awareness and community mobilization are very important preconditions for reaching these aims.
Public outreach activities under the project are planned to target local communities, media, educational establishments and local business communities. The target groups of the seminars on forest biodiversity and climate change issues were secondary school biology and geography teachers as well as pupils between the ages of 13 and 16.
The first seminars under the project on forest biodiversity and climate change were organized between the 13th and the 15th of May, 2010 in the towns of Goris and Kapan.
Public awareness raising events on forest biodiversity and climate change issues were continued by seminars organized for teachers and pupils in Goris, Meghri and Kapan between the 5th and the 10th of April, 2011. The target schools were partly the same as during the first seminars, but also new secondary schools participated in the event. Also local media took part in the event and the seminars were elucidated by the “Sosi” regional TV during the 2 day broadcast.
153 schoolchildren of the age between14 and16 from 6 schools at Verishen village and Goris, Kapan and Meghri towns participated in the seminars. The topics discussed included forest pests and pest invasion control measures, specially protected natural areas in the Syunik region and principles forests management practices. The trainings were conducted using interactive methodology: the trainers encouraged the students to voice their opinions about the topics and to discuss any unclear issues, to generate and present ideas, to suggest and draft actions plans and to prioritize measures. The seminar lectures were delivered by the Head of the Chair, Department of Economical Geography, Armenian State Pedagogical University, Ph.D in Geography Ashot Ajamoghlyan and Chief Specialist, National Institute of Education, Ministry of Education and Science, RA, Ph.D in Biology Anahit Gasparyan. Schoolchildren were also assigned to draft essays on environmental topics of their interest and the best papers received acknowledgement awards.
To assess the success of the seminars, the trainers evaluated the knowledge of the participants on the seminar topics before and after the lectures. To develop the events further, all participants were also requested to suggest topics for future seminars.
The seminars targeted for teachers were held at the Syunik Branch of the National Institute of Education. Altogether 90 secondary and high school teachers attended the seminars, who were invited from the towns of Goris, Megri, Kapan and Agarakas well as the villages of Verishen, Shvanidzor, Lehvaz, Atrsvanik, Khot, Hartashen, Khndzoresk, Halidzor, Khnatsap Qarashen Qarahunj and Vorotantook actively part in the seminars. Also representatives from the Goris State Pedagogical University and the Aarhus Center participated in the seminars.
Following the lectures delivered by specialists from Yerevan the teachers expressed their ideas regarding the seminar topics. They also worked in small groups to draft posters and pilot action plans on adaptation to climate change impacts targeted at schoolchildren between the ages of 6 and 16.
The teachers were given the seminar materials, which had been prepared in close consultation with the project management. The materials included information on forest biodiversity and climate change impacts in the Syunik region, maps illustrating Armenia's specially protected area network, a list of endemic, endangered species, as well as thematic films on climate change. Each school also received a copy of “Syunik Forests and Sustainable Tourism" brochure published within the scope of the "Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts in Mountain Forest Ecosystems of Armenia" UNDP/GEF Project.
It is worth of mentioning that both audience groups found the facilitation and the continuity of similar capacity building events very important. It is necessary to organize more similar practice sessions and opportunities to explore the value of forest; this will help to raise the awareness of community members in Syunik on local forests biodiversity and the importance of its protection. Arrangement and facilitation of eco clubs and camps, as well as involvement of students in forest monitoring and data analyses may be considered by the project team when planning future community involvement activities.
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