This September, the restoration activities of the Dinara back to LIFE project began, and the first activity was the implementation of an educational-volunteer camp, whose participants learned about habitat restoration and sustainable environmental management and began removing overgrown vegetation from Dinaric grasslands.
The educational-volunteer camp brought together students from all over Croatia, who are on their way to becoming experts in the fields of biology, geography, agronomy, forestry and other related fields. Eighteen students spent two weeks, from September 5 to 19, in Ježević, where, under the guidance of the project team, they gained their first experiences in habitat restoration projects.
In 14 days, students brought 28.8 ha of overgrown grasslands in a favorable condition (Map 1).
The goal of the camp was for students to gain first-hand practical knowledge and experience of grasslands restoration in two weeks, but also to bring them closer to the work of institutions involved in nature conservation and grasslands management through the educational program.
The overgrown vegetation of juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus) was removed by students with hand tools, and in the video you can see the scene from the action.
In addition to habitat restoration activities, workshops and lectures were organized daily for camp participants, where colleagues from institutions involved in management planning in grassland conservation and protection presented their work, and the most important challenges they face.
In the lectures, the students got acquainted with the project itself and its goals, with a focus on habitat restoration. Then, they learned about conservation biology, an interdisciplinary applied scientific branch whose goal is to preserve biodiversity, and how we apply it to the Dinara back to LIFE project.
The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development gave a lecture on protected areas and the Natura 2000 ecological network, as well as key actors in their management. Croatian Forests educated students on forest land management in the karst area, and took students to areas that were burned or afforested in order to present in practice some of the challenges and solutions.
The Ministry of Agriculture held an education on European policies related to biodiversity and agriculture, LAG Cetinska krajina introduced students to the problems and some solutions to the challenges of using incentives, while the lecture of the Faculty of Agriculture addressed the importance of research and data collection in planning and implementing restoration activities on the results of the latest scientific research on the usability of pastures on the Dinara. A demonstration presentation of GIS was held for the students and they practically tried out the program for analyzing geodata.
The educational-volunteer camp was closed with the „World Cleanup Day“ action in which camp participants restored one of the overgrown roads along Lake Perućko, and with the mentoring of volunteers and associates from the association “4 Grada Dragodid” learned about drywall construction and restored some damaged walls.
We hope that this experience was valuable to the camp participants and that it will help them in further education and professional guidance.