During the last week of September, Mountaineering Association Tara welcomed their fellow project partners for the transnational Erasmus SEE project, which took place in the Tara National Park in Serbia. The goal of these exchange meetings is to gather input & methodologies to include environmental education and sustainability principles in outdoor sports training programs. The exchange between different sports + the valuable input from external experts will help to develop a training toolkit for instructors, leaders, guides to practice their chosen sports in a sustainable manner to minimize impacts on the natural environment.
The 3-day program included a mixture of presentations by experts from both the sporting and environmental sector, about responsible practices for outdoor sports involving mountainous terrains, such as mountaineering and hiking, to reduce their impacts on the natural environment. Through group activities, participants identified how planning and good preparation for outdoor activities could help to avoid environmental impacts and accidents. One such activity was to look at best case/worst case scenarios when planning an outdoor activity as a guide/instructor. Such questions that came to mind were means of transport to the starting point of your activity and waste management.
External experts highlighted the importance of proper waste management systems and education, this further highlighted to the partners the importance of visitors being conscious of their own ecological footprint by reusing, re-purposing, and reducing waste. Leader of the SEE Project, Leave No Trace Ireland provided educational material on the lifespan/ degradation time of various types of waste and materials. You can read more information on the subject via the ‘Outdoor ethics guide for trainers’ which provides guidance on this topic.
The host of the exchange meeting, Mountaineering Association Tara, also presented a very interesting pilot project, concerning the inclusion of mountaineering in the educational curriculum of schools in the area. The aim of the course is to expose children to nature from an early age. PROPARK Foundation from Romania, showed several educational tools and methods how to raise awareness among kids and the general public about the role and importance of protected areas.
The next exchange meeting will take place in Viana do Castelo, Portugal, which a clear focus on water-based outdoor sports and blue environments.