Photos: Polina Hristova/BSPB

In compliance with the curriculum of the classroom lesson, section II, on April 15, 2024, the sixth-grade students of Vasil Levski Secondary School in Krumovgrad, accompanied by their teachers Veselin Toskov and Albena Vrancheva, carried out a one-day educational excursion by participating in an event for students “Forest Week” at the “Eastern Rhodopes” Nature Conservation Center in Madzharovo, organized by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BSPB), in collaboration with their partners from the Executive Forest Agency (EFA), Sofia.

The event is part of the traditional celebration of Forest Week. The program included the participation of students in the following activities: open lesson with experts from the Executive Forest Agency, demonstration, and acquaintance with the team for combating poisons in the wild nature of BSPB, forest pedagogy – educational activities for children with forestry experts, lecture in the information hall of the “Eastern Rhodopes” Nature Conservation Centre. Students from Ivan Vazov Primary School in Potochnitsa, Kardzhali District, and Dimitar Madzharov Secondary School in Madzharovo, Haskovo District, also participated in the event.

Before the event, we visited the largest colonies of the Griffon Vulture – the natural landmark “Kovan Kaya” and the meanders of the Arda River near Madzharovo.

Polina Hristova, responsible for membership and educational activities at BSPB, welcomed the students at the Nature Conservation Center and acquainted them with the event program, after which she gave the floor to Nikolay Terziev – responsible for nature conservation activities and leader of the anti poison team with a specially trained dog. He takes care of the only four-legged member of BSPB’s team – the dog Bars. The two are always together, even when they are not in action searching for poisonous baits in the wild. In addition to working with dogs, Nikolay is extremely successful in working with children and has “ignited” a passion for nature in many young followers. His constant smile is his distinguishing feature. Bars has been part of his owner’s family for more than four years. Bars and Nikolay are a strong team – ready to react immediately when needed to search for poisonous baits or poisoned animals in the wild. Bars is wild, cute, tireless, and very playful, which occasionally wipes the smile off his owner’s face. After the story of Bars and the activities they have carried out so far, Nikolay and Bars demonstrated. Dog Bars became a favorite of all our students, who had a hard time parting with him.

The second activity in which the sixth graders participated was “nature school” with chief experts Petya Pashova and Nestor Domuschiev from the Executive Forest Agency, which took place in the oak forest near the”Eastern Rhodopes” center. They conducted an open lesson on the methods and methods for forest regeneration and the applicable forest legislation related to the conservation and control of activities in forest territories. On the territory of a protected area of the national ecological network “Natura 2000” in Madzharovo Municipality, the students were shown how to recognize the oak species that are found – sessile oak, pedunculate oak, Turkey oak, based on their fruits, leaves, and bark. The children also learned about the activities that are prohibited and permitted in protected areas. Experts from the EFA also talked about the most common animals, their biology, conservation and management, recognition by tracks, as well as feeding activities and hunting methods. The children were explained the importance and purpose of forest harvesting, and they were familiarized with regular, regenerative, and sanitation harvesting, as well as methods for recognizing legal from illegal harvesting. In the field, the children learned about the basic parameters of forest maps and how to orient themselves using the cardinal directions.

After a short break, the next activity was conducted – forest pedagogy. The students participated in educational activities with forestry experts. They had the opportunity to assemble puzzles of broad-leaved and coniferous tree species and their seeds. They learned to recognize tree species by their seeds. It was fun, interesting, and educational during the forest pedagogy class.

The last activity included in the program was our meeting in the information hall of “Eastern Rhodopes” Nature Conservation Center with Vanya Angelova from BSPB, who presented BSPB’s activities related to the conservation of vultures in Bulgaria. The students learned about the vulture species found in Bulgaria, their habitats in Bulgaria and more specifically in Madzharovo and Studen kladenets. Real-size models of vultures were shown to them.

The event took place within the project “LIFE for Eagle’s Habitats” (LIFE18 NAT/BG/001051), funded by the LIFE program of the EU.