Development of environmental education and upbringing, support of local ecotourism in order to preserve the «Babinovichi» nature reserve in the Vitebsk region

The republican landscape reserve “Babinovichsky” was created in 1998 in the Liozno district of the Vitebsk region. At present, the area of ​​the reserve is 11,514.72 hectares. The reserve is inhabited by populations of rare and endangered species listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus — 11 animals and birds and 11 species of plants.

More than 2,500 people live in the immediate vicinity of the Babinovichi nature reserve. The way of life of the local community is inextricably linked with the state of the forests, which provide the population with mushrooms, berries, and medicinal herbs. More than a thousand of tourists and vacationers come here every year.
Residents of the district, public organizations and local authorities are concerned about solving environmental problems in the region and support the implementation of the environmental initiative of the Belarusian Red Cross Society (BRCS) to create a practice-oriented educational environmental center in the agro-town Dobromysli to preserve the unique Babinovichi nature reserve. An important area of ​​the BRCS activity is the organization of measures to improve the health of the population, which is directly related to the environmental situation, in particular, to the purity of atmospheric air, water, soil and the state of forests.
The Environmental Initiative aims to foster a conscious attitude towards environmental issues in the local community, motivates the population to a healthy lifestyle in harmony with the environment. To achieve this goal, the main areas of work have been identified:

  1. To create a system of environmental education and training for kindergarten pupils, secondary school students and adults, integrated into daily activities.
  2. Develop an ecological route and equip an ecotrail on the territory of the Babinovichi nature reserve for ecological education of children and adults.
  3. Implement a set of informational and practical measures to preserve forest plantations and unique natural biotopes of the reserve.

The creation of an effective practice-oriented system of environmental education is of great importance for involving the public in environmental monitoring and environmental protection. Indeed, a person forms a stable system of values ​​and stereotypes of behavior in the period from 2 to 16 years. This direction of the initiative is being helped by partners — institutions of school and preschool education.
On the basis of the Nursery-garden» Yalinka» of Lioznensky district 3 informational playgrounds were created. It teaches children for a careful attitude towards nature, the correct handling of waste. Small containers for separate waste collection (similar to generally accepted ones) are equipped. Kindergarten groups will be equipped with information and play areas, stands and posters.

On the basis of the educational institution «Dobromyslinskaya secondary school of Liozno
district” an ecological class will be equipped with thematic posters and stands, devices for environmental monitoring: air analyzers, dosimetry devices, microscopes. Students will be able to control the air quality in different parts of the reserve and in nearby settlements. The school has already equipped a studio for students to create videos and mini-films on environmental topics.

Students of the specialized ecological class will conduct raiding activities in order to promptly identify violations of environmental legislation and inform the specialists of the regional inspection of natural resources and environmental protection.
An important feature of the initiative is the prevention of child injuries. Under the leadership of the Liozno District Emergency Situations Department (DESD), the children learn safe behavior in nature, and also take part in the prevention of forest fires.
Students have at their disposal a lifeguard’s protective outfit, distinctive uniform, knapsack sprayers and 20 bicycles.

The ecological educational program of the kindergarten and the school will allow in the future to form a youth group of the Liozno DESD to participate in solving environmental problems in the region.

The next stage of environmental education and upbringing is to involve the population of the region in the development and implementation of measures for effective environmental management, monitoring the state of forests, soil and air. Liozno forestry together with partner organizations of the initiative conducts information and practice-oriented events for students and residents of the agro-towns Dobromysli and Babinovichi, teaching practical skills in environmentally friendly behavior. Thus, the formation of unauthorized dumps and the burning of garbage on the territory of the reserve is prevented, the destruction of plants and animals of the reserve is prevented, places for picking berries and mushrooms, and medicinal plants are preserved.

Environmental initiative «Creation of the practice-oriented educational environmental center in the agro-town Dobromysli to preserve the unique Babinovichi nature reserve» is implemented with the support of the project «Civic Engagement in Environmental Monitoring and Improving Environmental Management at the Local Level”, funded by the European Union and implemented by the UN Development Program in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus.

Photos are provided by the ecological initiative