The third Republican Young Foresters’ Contest, under the motto “Let’s protect the forests!” brought together forest specialists and young foresters in Baku on June 5 2014. This time the event was timed to coincide with World Environment Day. Participants, including schoolchildren from the fifth to ninth grades, took part in 3 competitions featuring topics of school-based young forestry, forest flora and forest fauna. Almost all of the young participants are members of the young foresters’ movement initiated and supported by the FLEG II Program. The main aim of the contest was to widen the ecological education of the schoolchildren in the area of forest protection and forest rehabilitation. The FLEG II Program’s Forest Education Consultant participated as a key mentor and a member of the Contest’s jury.
The young foresters concentrated on problems of rare forest flora and fauna species, and natural environmental monuments in the forest regions of the country and put forward solutions to a series of problems in the forestry realm. They specifically featured the outcomes of ecological study works carried out by the school students in the forest.
“The impact of unsustainable tourism on the forests is of a high concern,” said a tenth grade school student, from the Gakh district. “ In the forest, we have noticed the rubbish left by people, as well as poorly extinguished fires. We have to realize what a tremendous threat we pose to the forests, which are an important source of biodiversity and well being for so many people around.” She added that during the last two years the young foresters’ group from her school was supportive to local state forestry enterprises, assisting them in forest planting and greenery activities. Another school student from the Ismayilli district shared his impressions gathered from regular talks with the local population of forest-dependent communities, as a part of the young forester’s public awareness work. “If only one person listens to us, we will consider our mission accomplished. If only one person follows us, we will consider our mission successful,” he said.
In a discussion on the future of Azerbaijani forests, young admirers of forests were accompanied by forestry specialists who came from MENR (Forest Development Department), the Ministry of Education (Department on Extra Curriculum and Education Institutions), the Ecological Training and Experience Center, specialist education institutions, the Institute of Zoology and the FLEG II Program’s WB Coordinator in Azerbaijan. All of these participants highly appreciated the attention the younger generation is paying to the preservation of the country’s forest resources, and strongly encouraged them to continue. “As young Azerbaijanis who love the forests and care about your motherland’s environment, you have to think about forest-oriented occupations for your future and the future of the Azerbaijani environment,” said Allakhverdi Dolkhanov, a senior scholar at the Baku State University and the Head of the Forestry Department in the Institute on Improving of Qualifications of the Forest Employees.
50 ecological projects were submitted to the contest, illustrating the work of young foresters from the Baku, Shamakha, Shaki, Goranboy, Gakh, Shirvan, Ismailli, Aghdam, Lankaran, Astara, Tovuz and Oghuz districts of Azerbaijan. shared first, second and third places, as well as invitation awards. The winners were presented diplomas and gifts from the Ecological Training and Experience Center.