Growing demand in mid-level professionals in the Azerbaijani forest sector requires intensified efforts to improve forest education in the country. FLEG II facilitated discussions on the possibility of launching new forest-related study programs and increasing school-based young foresters regionally.
A seminar on forest-oriented environmental education for schoolchildren was organized by the district Ecological Education and Practice Center (EEPC) and held in Goranboy district Education Department in Goranboy, Azerbaijan, on March 18, 2015. The subject sparked much interest among the participants, who included biology teachers from 12 city and village secondary schools as well as employees of the district Education Department and EEPC.
Young foresters from Goranboy already received recognition during the recent Republican Young Foresters' Contest held in 2014. The talented schoolchildren were among the winners of the prestigious national environmental contest, which continues to gain more popularity in the country.
"Children were so excited with the success that they decided to establish a young foresters' union in the school", said a biology teacher from the local school. She added that since then, the young foresters' groups have been active in forest preservation and public awareness efforts.
"Young foresters' brigades are operating in many rural schools in the forest regions. They have already proved themselves as a real power that is able to assist the forest specialists in their everyday work", said the FLEG II Program's Forest Education Consultant in Azerbaijan. The consultant highlighted increasing interest of the youth towards the forest education due to the successful participation of the young foresters in republican and international contests and Olympiads. Various forest education publications designed and produced by FLEG II were circulated among the participants.
Vocational Forestry Course
There was another reason behind choosing Goranboy as the meeting place; one of its villages, Dalimammadli village, is home to a technical professional (vocational) school. Promoting the need to launch forest-related study programs nationwide, the Program expects this school to pioneer the initiative. During the special meeting organized with the staff of the school, experts, which included scholars from the Azerbaijan State Agrarian University, senior scholar of Korchay State Natural Reserve Nasib Akhmadov, director of Goranboy Children's Technical Creativity Center Taleh Makhmudov, got an overview of the existing technical and financial capabilities of the facility. All experts unanimously gave a "green light" to developing a specialized forestry program. The study program will be designed in accordance with the modern principles of sustainability reflected in FLEG II-supported "Bases of sustainable management of the Azerbaijani forests" tutorial. "The end goal is to make the youth more interested in pursuing career in the forest sector", said director of Goranboy EEPC Aytan Shamilova.
In order to foster the international exchange of experience and improve the professional profile of the teachers, FLEG II Program's consultant advised to organize a training course abroad.