Baku, February 4, 2016 – Sustainable recreation and tourism have a great potential in the regions of Azerbaijan, but there is a need to increase knowledge and resources on the ground. FLEG II Azerbaijan shared its expertise on the subject during a three-day intensive seminar.
On February 1-3 the Republican Center of Ecological Education and Practice (RCEEP) under the Ministry of Education (MoE) of Azerbaijan brought together forestryand educational national and international experts to discuss the perspectives of promoting sustainable recreation in the extra-curricular facilities in the regions of Azerbaijan. The seminar titled "Ecology and tourism perspectives of extra-curricular facilities operating in the Azerbaijani regions“ took place in the premises of the Library of National Academy of Sciences in Baku. Representatives from 48 district departments of RCEEP and 10 Republican Centers of Young Tourists and Ethnography listened to the experts from the Baku State University, UNDP, FLEG II, WWF, GIZ, and EkoSfera SEC.
“The aim of the seminar is to get a clear picture of the knowledge on the ground”, said the director of the RCEEP Firuza Sultan-zadeh. “The importance of sustainable recreation in forest areas is directly linked with the effective protection of the forestland. We have to ensure cooperation between responsible facilities and to optimize the work of the existing initiatives such as the young foresters’ movement to ensure sustainable forest management”.
FLEG II Azerbaijan presented the outcomes of a recent study covering perspectives of sustainable recreation and tourism in the territories of the state forest fund of Azerbaijan. “Throughout the survey our consultants were absolutely pleased with the readiness of the locals to participate and share their knowledge”, said FLEG II Azerbaijan World Bank Country Coordinator AzerGarayev. “The big concern is inadequate knowledge on the concept of sustainable recreation and tourism and insufficient material and technical resources and facilities of the stakeholders in the regions”.
FLEG II-supported young foresters’ groups operating in a number of forest-dependent regions in Azerbaijan were repeatedly praised by the participants as a successful example of shared knowledge and cooperation. "We believe in enormous capabilities of environmentally-aware youth to push forward initiatives aimed to protect and expand the country's forest resources", said Mr. Garayev.
The participants voiced concerns on the lack of professional information on the sustainable recreation and tourism as well as the preservation of the forests, climate change and etc on the ground. “Seminars like this must be conducted in the regions. There is a huge need to expand our knowledge and skills”, said director of the Shamakhi district ecological education and practice department Mrs. Adiba Namazova. The experts agreed that more efforts have to be put to re-organize the work and strengthen cooperation of the eco-educational and tourist centers.