The project “Game on! Don't let climate change end the game!” gathers youth from various countries to restore peatlands in the Šumava National Park in the Czech Republic.
From the 13th to 20th of August, 60 young people from Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Germany and other countries participated in an exchange trip to the Šumava National Park in the Czech Republic to jointly restore peatlands. The participants also went on exploratory hikes and participated in a master class to develop communication ideas for raising awareness of climate change. The event was held within the framework of the project “Game on! Don't let climate change end the game!” implemented by the Latvian Fund for Nature and other partners.
The central event of the exchange trip was restoration of peatlands which took several days. The duty of the youth was to clog human-made drainages which had dried up the peatlands. In the 20th century, large parts of the peatlands in the Šumava National Park were destroyed, as peat has been used as a fertiliser and fuel for a very long time. Since 1999, active peatland restoration works have been carried out in the Šumava National Park thereby reducing the risks of flooding and CO2 rates as the peatland is an important storage medium of carbon dioxide. Also, restoration of peatlands ensures the increase of biodiversity.
Under guidance of foresters, the youth also went on hikes in forests of the Šumava National Park in order to discover this unique natural value of the Czech Republic and learn various interesting facts. During one of the hikes, it was found out that trees sometimes grow on stems of other trees thereby retaining more warmth during the winter. Also, when trees are felled in the Šumava National Park, their bark is also removed to prevent proliferation of bark beetles. Of course, the felled trees are left in the forest, as the dead wood in combination with soil provides a more versatile forest ecosystem for species.
One of the most exciting activities of the trip was the possibility to go and see the wolves living in the Šumava National Park. One of participants says: “In the beginning, we went to see the wolves in an enclosed space where there was one wolf family living, but due to the rainy weather we could barely see them. Later during the presentation we learned many new things about the behaviour, appearance, food and way of life of these animals. I was very interested in the hierarchy and hunting habits of wolf packs, as it differs a lot from the animals we got to know previously during the trip, like the lynx.”
In the Šumava National Park, it is possible to find many rare plants, such as the great sundew and bog-rosemary. It is also a place where rare mammal and bird species can be found, such as lynx, moose, wildcat, wolves, corn-crake, black stork, three-toed woodpecker, and owl. To acquaint the youth with the rare species, an opportunity was given to listen to expert presentations each evening.
Marie, who was one of the participants of the trip, tells that it was a great opportunity to see nature in the mountains, discover new climate change consequences and meet motivating peers and experts who shared their experience and knowledge. “I will remember the trip with everything that was seen and heard, since the lecturers were very knowledgeable and shared topics with us which were important to them so that we can apply the information we gained in practice. I will certainly do this,” says Marie.
Project “Game on! Don't let climate change end the game!” is an initiative of 10 partners from 8 European countries to activate the youth to react to the threat that climate change represents for the future of humankind. The project is implemented in Latvia by the Latvian Fund for Nature. The project “Game On! Don't let climate change end the game” is co-funded by the EU DEAR (Development Education and Awareness Raising) programme.