International volunteers for Nature protection - Mountain spirit seminar in Vlahi, Bulgaria

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In the foot of Pirin mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a group of 30 young volunteers, volunteer coordinators and representatives of organizations gathered in the end of May. Vlahi Nture School was the host and organizer of the seminar, which is part of the Mountain spirit – Strategic EVS for Nature Conservation. The aim of the gathering was to provide opportunity for young people with international volunteering experience in nature protection to exchange ideas and knowledge and to explore possibilities for becoming volunteer coordinators or supporting their organizations into hosting international volunteers.


In the last couple of years organizations from Croatia, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Serbia are combining efforts to encourage and develop volunteering for nature conservation. Velebit Association Kuterevo, Croatia together with the support from GAIA Kosovo (branch of SCI in Kosovo), Vlahi Nature School and CVS Bulgaria (Bulgarian branch of SCI) are investigating how international youth volunteering opportunities could be channeled in the nature protection field. Their continuous work has resulted in Mountain spirit – Strategic EVS for nature conservation project supported by the Erasmus+ program. We started in 2018 and had a very busy summer with more than 60 volunteers joining short-term group volunteering activities in Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo and Bulgaria. More about the exchanges, you can read in the Voices of Volunteers blog (here) and in the Mountain spirit website.


The need for the seminar in Bulgaria came from observing more and more young people concerned with the environmental challenges our world is facing. We see this tendency to help and actively work for a change as a good drive that needs to be structured, reflected and with the long-term vision. By combining the possibilities of the globalization – travelling, living abroad, volunteering with the needs of local organization involved in nature protection, with the knowledge of the older generations about their surrounding environment and lifestyle and ideally with expert knowledge in nature sciences, the organizers believe that international volunteering could highly contribute to nature conservation efforts. Therefore we provided the space for exchange, learning and planning.


The volunteers presented their personal and organizational goals in the topic, learned about the work of local organizations (Vlahi Nature School, BALKANI Wildlife Society, Greenpeace, Coalition of NGOs “For the nature”, etc.), visited and met with representatives of Belasitsa Nature Park, explored funding possibilities through European Solidarity Corps and LIFE programs and got involved into the international platform for connecting local activists with travelers – Perangua. Of course there was some volunteer work planned in the Nature School garden. More about the seminar you can read here or watch a short video prepared by one of the volunteers in the Nature School.



Pictures and text by CVS Bulgaria


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