Melisa honey, fragrant turkey, sweet frost, and even ordinary poppy or tares are species of useful plants that used to be common in nature. Currently, some of them are rare. Why did this happen? The disappearance of species from natural habitats was caused by the great interest in plants for medicinal purposes, especially among generations of our grandmothers and great-grandparents, inhabitants of villages, and small towns adjacent to forests. The valuable healing properties of plants are still necessary for us, at the same time the development of biological sciences allows the cultivation of valuable useful plants without simultaneously obtaining them from natural habitats of occurrence. And this is an opportunity for us and for nature.
The idea of the project "Nature's treasury beyond borders" is to protect the endangered flora of Podlasie and Polesie by raising the awareness of local communities about the need to preserve natural natural ecosystems. As many as 6 partners from both sides of the Polish-Belarusian border participate in the implementation of the project. In the project, in addition to the idea of nature conservation, the partners pay attention to the cultural aspect related to plants in the Białowieża Forest region and in Polesie.
A general description of the NatureTreasury project can be found in the "Projects" tab of our website.
The project started in June 2021. The assumptions were presented to the students of the two partner schools – it was from these school communities that the teachers selected the participants of the student-educators, who form the core of the project.
In July and August, cross-border teacher training and workshops for pupils were organised. Their participants learned about the natural and cultural specificity of both regions, learned to mark species of useful and rare plants, learned about the threats and possible ways of preserving plants in natural habitats. Thanks to them, they also increased knowledge about the threats of rare plant species. One of the most important challenges today are invasive species, which are increasingly appearing in our neighbourhood, also in the Białowieża Forest and Polesie. Examples are: small-flowered impatiens, Canadian goldenrod, knotweed or wrinkled rose. Native plant species die because of them. Knowledge of these natural mechanisms results in the use of active nature protection – for example, mechanical removal of invasive species. A valuable element of the training were lectures referring to the still strong relationship between man and plants, which constitutes the cultural richness of the Podlasie and Polesie areas.
Due to the pandemic, it was not possible to make joint field trips. They were replaced by films documenting natural and cultural field activities - participants from Poland in the "Herbal Corner" in Koryciny in Podlasie, participants from Belarus in the "Sporowsky" nature reserve in Polesie. Field classes, combined with herbal workshops, were not only an excellent lesson in botany, but also made partners aware of how priceless the relationship between man and plants was in the past, but also today.
Training for teachers and workshops for students perfectly prepared the project team for the next activities. Educational centres and exhibitions will be established in the partner schools. Outlines of classes for students, a brochure and leaflets will be published, promoting good practices for the protection of useful plants in the local society and among tourists visiting the Białowieża Forest and Polesie. At the end of the project, young participants from both partner countries will meet at the Cross-Border Nature Camp and exchange experiences and previously acquired knowledge there. The summary of the project is planned during the nature festival in Białowieża.
According to the grant contract, the project should be completed by the end of May 2022.
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