Alparc - Le réseau alpin des espaces protégés

Mountain Environment Education: Feedback on Some Very Successful Meetings

Take about thirty people in charge of mountain environment education in the Alpine protected areas and draw them deep into an Alpine valley for 3 days, at an altitude of 1,800 m, in a refuge with neither Internet connection nor telephone network. Once there, encourage them to exchange and collaborate in a Workshop about their day-to-day work; sprinkle with curiosity, good humour and work in the open. What will result?An explosive force, made up of creativity, a willingness to share skills and experiences, a desire to establish links, to face up to the challenges and priorities of mountain environment education, to valorise one’s experiences and learn from each other. Such was the experience shared by about thirty participants from the 6 Alpine countries during the 4th “Mountain Environment Education in the Alpine Protected Areas” International Workshop, which was held in the Refuge de Bayasse in the Mercantour National Park (France) from 18th to 20th October 2016. The participants, most of whom are long-term members of the “Mountain Environment Education” Working Group, had the opportunity for exchanging and sharing , but also for working together on various themes (e.g. “biophilia”, visitor centres, educational messages and the attitudes of young people towards parks…) and on collective projects currently in progress. Notably, one main event was devoted to the “Youth at the Top” initiative which originated from this group: the assessment of the 2016 edition was followed by reflection about improving and perpetuating the operation and preparing the editions to follow. Throughout the meeting the participants helped to finalise the “The Alps in my Backpack” teaching tool (a large format map of the Alps printed on fabric) which will have its first outings in the field in 2017.   A Common Quest: How to (re) establish Links between Young People and Nature One of the guiding principles of some of the informal debates and workshops was the question as to how the link youth-nature can be (re) established .This question was approached from several angles: from the role played by the mountain environment educator and from the message they can carry, to the role of teachers and the structure of school curricula. “This subject has been a topic of discussion in the French education group for several years,” declared Isabelle Roux, the Head of the Ecuc’Alpes Network.  “For our network, mountain education rests on 3 pillars: encouraging youngsters to enjoy contact with nature, favouring games and free times, and creating experiences from mountain slope”. A vision which ALPARC shares entirely.   Nature Interpretation Thus the workshop was the opportunity for discovering and trying out innovative approaches in non-formal education. This was the case during the field workshop devoted to interpretation and led by Markus Blank of the Gesäuse National Park (Austria), representing  the Interpret Europe association. Heritage interpretation is an approach where the goal is to provide a different way of seeing and a deeper understanding through first-hand experience of sites, objects or events linked to a particular heritage. It is very widespread in the United States and has been growing popular in Europe over the past few years.   The Results The results of the meetings: a report, PowerPoints, shared resources, photos, etc. are being made available progressively as they become available on the ALPARC extranet, in the workspace devoted to this working group. A big thank you to those who took part, to all who helped to make the workshops so lively and notably the Mercantour National Park for their enthusiastic hosting! The Workshop was organised by ALPARC in partnership with Educ’Alpes and the Mercantour National Park and was funded by the Principality of Monaco. These meetings are held every two years: rendezvous in autumn 2018 in Italy or Slovenia!

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