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  • Rioni – the overlooked refuge of sturgeons
    Sturgeons are iconic fish across the Northern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, few are aware that the Rioni river in Georgia is one of their most important refuges.
  • Building forward better: pillars of successful nature conservation in Georgia
    In our two months in Georgia, we have met many people who work in the field of nature conservation: protected area staff including rangers and visitor centre specialists, environmental NGOs, the government’s Agency of Protected Areas and activists to get an insight into nature conservation in Georgia has developed since the collapse of the Soviet Union and, most importantly, the way forward for the future. In this article, we want to cover three important pillars in Georgian nature conservation which we have not specifically covered so far: funding with a special focus on the Caucasus Nature Fund, the political agenda to enlarge the protected area network made possible by the Agency of Protected Areas, and the crucial work of rangers.
  • A windy road to reintroduce goitered gazelles to the steppes of Vashlovani 
    Vashlovani Protected Areas, which are often referred to as the Georgian Savannah, is the only region in Georgia which was once inhabited by the goitered gazelle. However, due to the unsustainable level of hunting and poaching since the 1930s, the range and numbers of this medium-sized grazer declined rapidly, and in the 1960s, the species was declared extinct in the country. Nowadays, Vashlovani hosts over 200 goitered gazelles thanks to trans-border cooperation and several rounds of trial and error, which shows the fragile process of species reintroduction. We had the chance to meet some of the key players who contributed to what eventually became a conservation success, while also being able to observe these and other majestic animals with our own eyes.
  • How Lagodekhi wants to end poaching
    Lagodekhi Protected Areas in East Georgia is home to beautiful pristine forests and mountains. And the administration is doing everything possible to protect this biodiversity from poachers.
  • Ana’s fight to save the Dighomi Meadows
    The Dighomi Meadows are an important floodplain in Tbilisi that has been heavily polluted within a few years. One woman is fighting tirelessly to save it.
  • Where does biodiversity protection end?
    Biodiversity protection does not only mean working with wildlife, but also improving locals’ lives. The project ECO.Georgia by the GIZ showcases this.
  • A taste of the untouched nature of the Caucasus
    The four days we spent in the winter wilderness of Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park took us through rich evergreen forests, alpine meadows and snowy high mountain peaks, while giving us a few new lessons on survival. Borjomi-Kharagauli encompasses one of Georgia’s last major intact forest wilderness, and provides refuge to many of the Caucasus´s rich wildlife, such as brown bear, wolf, chamois, lynx and red deer. It is the first national park of the country, established after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has faced many difficulties from the early days onwards in the attempt to stop poaching and illegal logging. Nowadays, the efforts to protect this unique biodiversity are intensified, while local communities have realized the potential of sustainable ecotourism.
  • Once decimated, now returning – East Caucasian tur monitoring with NACRES
    Throughout its 30 years of existence, NACRES has become a centrepiece in the conservation puzzle of Georgia. We had the chance to accompany the conservation team on their field work to monitor the East Caucasian turs in the mountainous Kazbegi National Park. We spent the days searching for Caucasian turs on the majestic slopes of the Kazbegi National Park, while the evenings were filled with talks about Georgian biodiversity, human-wildlife conflict, effectiveness of protected areas and capacity building of rangers.
  • The Alpine Garden of Adjara
    The Alpine Botanical Garden in Adjara collects native sub- and alpine plants of the Caucasus ecoregion to preserve, research and promote them.
  • How SABUKO protects an overlooked part of Georgia
    SABUKO, the Georgian BirdLife partner, is putting all its effort into protecting the Chachuna Managed Reserve, an overlooked protected area in the Southeast of Georgia.
  • A genetic technology that will reveal the true biodiversity of the Caucasus
    With modern genetic sequencing techniques, DNA barcoding has the potential to dramatically accelerate the inventory of biodiversity on Earth, providing a basis for global conservation monitoring. Just like we began to record weather in the 19th century, which now provides the information that allows us to recognize the climate crisis and make predictions for the future, DNA barcoding provides similar opportunities for biodiversity.
  • Quo vadis, Turkey’s nature?
    Turkey´s nature is diverse, valuable, beautiful and in many places intact. However, it is also under acute threat. What threatens it and where is it heading?
  • The wild nature and fierce guardians of Turkey´s Munzur valley
    Deep in the rugged landscape of Eastern Anatolia lies one of the most scenic and biodiverse regions of Turkey. At the same time it is also the country´s biggest conflict region. Its inhabitants, the resilient Alevi Kurds have been long fighting to protect their home, long-standing traditions and whole identity.
  • The Yumurtalik lagoons between land and sea, biodiversity and humans
    In the Yumurtalik Lagoons National Park, land meets sea and extraordinary biodiversity meets human threats.
  • An office without walls
    Nature conservation is not a nine-to-five job. Nature provides us with endless questions to answer if we are curious enough. With over 20 years of experience in bird watching, bird research, nature conservation and nature education both in Turkey and abroad, Lale Aktay and Özgün Süzüer have seen and experienced many sides of nature conservation, and we are eager to find out what drives them. We talked about research and on-site conservation of birds, the importance of knowledge transfer, building a network and being a role model for youth. Moreover, we heard about a successful initiative combining cycling with nature observation and got a glimpse into the field of ethno-ornithology.
  • The unknown future of the northern bald ibis
    When we went to Birecik on the shores of the Euphrates in South-East Turkey, we were excited to see a special bird, the northern bald ibis. When we left, our thoughts and emotions were in a turmoil over the fate of the birds we saw.
  • The widely misunderstood striped hyena of Turkey
    Join us as we accompany İsmet Ceyhun Yildirim, Turkish hyena expert and coordinator of the Anatolian hyena project on a unique four-day journey to find the elusive striped hyena!
  • The intricate web of nature protection in Hatay
    As we approached the province of Hatay, we had no idea yet how intricate and strong the nature protection community really is here. But soon enough, we found out that like the underground network of trees in a forest, the protectors of Hatay developed a unique and diverse network, consisting of academicians, conservationists, media personnel and nature enthusiasts, working as coordinated as we have not seen before. And what are they protecting? Taking up only 0.7% of Turkey, Hatay hosts 60% of all of the country’s mammal species. Moreover, it is a major bottleneck for migratory birds and hosts some of Turkey’s most important wetlands belonging to the Asi river basin.
  • The return of the mountain gazelle in Turkey
    Until 2008, the mountain gazelle was considered extinct in Turkey. In the fourteen years since then, the population has grown to 1500 individuals thanks to Yaşar Ergün and Hatay Tabiatı Koruma Derneği.
  • One world, one water and one chance to safeguard it
    The Black Sea is one of the world’s most isolated seas, and the largest anoxic body of water on the planet (87% of its volume is anoxic). It has also been called Europe’s most polluted sea. In Trabzon along the Turkish Black Sea coast, we sat down with researchers Dr. Muzaffer Feyzioğlu and Dr. Coşkun Erüz from the Karadeniz Technical University to discuss the state of marine conservation, microplastics and people’s attitudes towards marine litter.
  • The never-ending fight to keep Artvin green
    The Green Artvin Association has been fighting against mining and excessive hydropower construction for almost 30 years. They should be an inspiration for any grassroots environmental movement.
  • Traditional ecological knowledge: our heritage and our survival strategy
    Ceren Kazancı and Soner Oruç are ethnobiologists, studying traditional ecological knowledge in the Western Lesser Caucasus at the Turkish-Georgian border region, one of the 36 global biodiversity hotspots of the world. Like other ethnobiologists, they recognize that indigenous peoples, traditional societies, and local communities are critical not only to the conservation of cultural and linguistic diversity, but also biological diversity.
  • The Nature Conservation Centre, the hub of innovative conservation solutions
    The Turkish NGO Nature Conservation Centre (Doğa Koruma Merkezi) is a great example of how NGOs can use scientific expertise, practical experience and education activities to bridge gaps between authorities and people. Their projects include a creative spin on tackling the climate crisis, nature education, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity protection.
  • How Kuzey, a student, brings back the forests of Ankara
    The young biology student Kuzey dedicates his life to reforesting his hometown Ankara.
  • Birds unite our changing world
    “Birds unite our changing world”. This sentence welcomes the reader on Lider Sinav´s blog called Kuş Notları (“Bird notes”). As a six-year-old boy, Lider opened his first field guide for birds, a German book he received from his Swiss mother. And from there on, he was fascinated by birds. Now, even though he is only 29, he is only one of the most knowledgeable ornithologists of Turkey and has conducted fieldwork in research and conservation all over Turkey.
  • Strandzha Nature Park – The biggest and most diverse protected area of Bulgaria, that you might not have heard about yet
    Just a few days before we were in Strandzha we didn´t know anything about it. Much less even that it is the biggest and most diverse protected area in Bulgaria and of importance far beyond. When we left, we had a completely different view of Strandzha Nature Park that is overlooked by so many. We don´t even know why. All we know is that it deserves far more attention and protection.
  • Building a conservation community in Bulgaria
    As nature protection cannot be divided from politics, it has also been strongly influenced by the past years of political turmoil in Bulgaria. In response, throughout the last years, civic movements have mushroomed in the country to protest against various threats to the environment, coordinated by the biggest Bulgarian environmental NGOs. We visited the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation, who set out to build a resilient and growing community of conservationists.
  • The bird lagoons of Bulgaria
    One of the biggest wetlands along the Black Sea coast are the Burgas lakes in Bulgaria. The five lakes and their surrounding wetlands cover almost 100 km² and on the right days, you can see thousands of birds here. We met up with the NGO ‘Green Balkans’ and the NGO ‘Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation’, two organizations that run projects for their protection, and learnt about the complex interrelation of traditional salt production and biodiversity in two hypersaline lagoons.
  • 7 reasons to visit the Danube Delta
    The Danube Delta draws you into a different world dominated by water, inaccessible reeds and birds.
  • The turbulent history of the Agigea sand dunes
    We visited the Agigea Ornithological Observatory on the Romanian black sea coast to talk about why ringing birds is so important and what we can learn from it. What we did not expect is to learn about the 100-year-old protected sand dunes located in just next to the port of Constanta. The ‘Dunele Marine de la Agigea’ (sea dunes of Agigea) are in fact the only natural sea sand dunes left on the entire Romanian coastline outside the Danube Delta. But how can a 100-year-old, so strategically located protected area survive world wars as well as communism? Not easily, we can tell you this much…
  • If you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it!
    The Dobrogea region in southeastern Romania is part of the Eurasian-East African Flyway, one of the important migration corridors for birds that follows the western coast of the Black Sea. To learn more about conservation in this region, we headed to the Black sea coast to visit the Agigea Ornithological Observatory, as it is the first and only permanent ringing and bird migration research station in Romania. But why are birds even ringed, how do you ring them and what are the challenges? Let´s find out!
  • After 200 years, bison roam the Făgăraș Mountains again, and we set out to find them
    On our second day with Conservation Carpathia, we joined Ionut and Robert, two rangers working on the reintroduction of the European bison to the Făgăraș mountains. CARPATHIA started with the reintroduction of this large herbivore three years ago, and by now there are four groups in two localities within the project area. We accompanied Ionut …

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  • CARPATHIA creates a better future for nature and people
    The Foundation Conservation Carpathia has deeply impressed us with their holistic and extensive work in the Fagaras mountains.
  • Piatra Craiului National Park in pictures
    Piatra Craiului National Park is full of natural treasures and Carpathian views that will stun every visitor. Follow us on a photo journey through the park.
  • The early bird catches the worm
    Many people dream about being their own boss but hesitate because of the risks. This especially applies to the nature conservation field, which is highly underfunded across the globe. Young conservationists have a difficult time finding a job with limited placements available and big international competition out there. However, passion, perseverance and boldness can always …

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  • Przewalski’s horses in Hortobágy
    In Hortobagyi National Park, you can find the largest herd of Przewalski’s horses, the last wild horse species in the world. Walking amongst 300 wild horses is a window in the past and hopefully in the future.
  • A steppe in the heart of Europe
    After some quality time with friends in Budapest and two very interesting visits, we headed towards the Hungarian Puszta, as we were eager to see a very special landscape you don’t often experience in Europe. If you don´t speak Hungarian, the word ‘Puszta’ might not have any meaning to you. So, let us enlighten you: …

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  • Protecting a hermit in the Szénás hills
    How would you react if you were told that in the neighboring forests just at your doorstep, scientists defined a completely new plant species? Moreover, that this species can be found nowhere else on the planet, only there, close to your home? We would be fascinated, and so were the inhabitants of Pilisszentiván, a small …

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  • Spinning a CEEweb for biodiversity
    CEEweb is a NGO that spins a web for biodiversity across Central and Eastern Europe. We met them in Budapest to discuss their activities and challenges. In the end, we got a special gift that will follow us for the rest of our journey.
  • Gender equality in forestry – a call for change
    “More women than usual on this course. Good. We need them to file and sort papers”. This is what one of the instructors of Barbara Öllerer, a graduate forester and now PhD student, told the group of Austrian forestry students on a chainsaw course. Remarks like this are common among foresters. Only when she started …

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  • Veľkolélsky Island – a gem in the Danube
    Veľkolélsky Island is the largest Danube island in Slovakia. The NGO BROZ has found the possibility to step-by-step purchase most of it starting 15 years ago and created a natural island that promotes both healthy river dynamics and ecotourism.
  • The importance of local environmental education, and a good practice example
    If you haven´t been to the Danube floodplains in their naturalness yet, if you haven’t experienced taking a boat and paddling into some mystical sidearms of the Danube, you must put it on your bucket list. Seriously. From its spring in Germany until it flows into the Black sea, the Danube created vast riparian habitats, …

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  • DunaVit – building grassroots power
    “We can draw from nature, we can take from nature, if we can and want to give back.” This is the official motto of DunaVit, a young grassroots environmental protection organisation based in Csallóköz, Slovakia. We are talking truly grassroots. Registered in November 2020, DunaVit is not even two years old, but has made major …

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  • Csallóköz Nature Park – a newly created chance for an exploited region
    Aranykert (Golden Garden), or Tündérkert (Fairy Garden), were names of Csallóköz / Žitný ostrov / Rye island, the place where Hanna grew up. Csallóköz is a river island in southwestern Slovakia, extending from Bratislava to Komárno. It lies between the Danube, its tributary Little Danube and Váh, and is a major part of the Danubian …

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  • Europe´s lifeline, the Danube
    The Danube is a special river – for biodiversity, humans and for both of us. It connects our home countries Germany and Slovakia plus eight other countries, more than any other river in the world. It´s the biggest river in Europe outside of Russia and 80 million live in its basin spread out in over …

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  • Thayatal teaches us how to observe
    Thayatal National Park gives space to Wilderness and protects the Thaya valley at the Austrian-Czech border in cooperation with Podyji National Park.
  • Why do we see clear forest patches all around us?
    Fueled by the climate crisis, many spruce stands in European forests have suffered from bark beetle outbreaks in the last years. Why does this happen and how should we react to it?
  • Art as a mirror for nature – an artist´s thoughts
    We met Britta Wahlers in 2019, when we were working for the European Wilderness Society. We organised a project called WILDArt, which aimed to take various artists into pristine nature, with the intention of finding inspiration in the nature surrounding them, and ultimately, create nature-inspired art. We spent a wonderful week as a group together …

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  • When the river connects and not divides
    Podyjí National Park is the smallest national park in the Czech Republic and forms a unit with the Thayatal National Park on the Lower Austrian side across the border, protecting unique habitats along a 40-km-long, deep, meandering valley carved by the Dyje river (Thaya in German). The Dyje river serves as a border river between …

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  • A journey with the bark beetle, and a door into wilderness in Šumava
    Šumava National Park celebrated its 30 year anniversary in 2021. In thirty years, society has changed a lot. Healthcare, education and forestry, and of course nature protection. Today, Šumava National Park has a strong focus on wilderness. Giving nature freedom, not interfering in its processes. An approach that is still somewhat debated in the nature …

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  • Šumava – the meandering path of a national park through changing times and political climate
    A couple months back when we planned our route going through the Bavarian Forest National Park and crossing the border into Šumava National Park, we had no real knowledge about the complex history of Šumava. We had some sense of course – cycling the Eurovelo 13, also known as the Iron Curtain Trail, offered us …

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  • Urban Nature – biodiversity in your backyard
    We started this project to visit amazing nature around Eurasia. The Danube floodplains, the Carpathians, the Turkish mountains, the Caucasus, the Central Asian Steppe, the rainforests of East Asia. Some of the most impressive natural areas in the world. But nature does not only exist there and biodiversity is also not only threatened there. Nature …

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  • Wildlife Genetics – a conservation game changer
    We, humans have irreversibly altered the physical environment, and thus habitats of animals, plants, and other organisms that live on Earth. Conservationists look at all the individuals, populations and ecosystems that have been affected by habitat loss, exploitation, and/or environmental change, with the aim to make informed decisions that will ensure their survival into the …

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  • Naturpark Taunus – an organization connecting the metropolis of Frankfurt with local nature
    Our second visit was a personal one for me (Jonas). My first ever job in nature conservation was at the Naturpark Taunus, a nature park located in the Central Upland range of the Taunus mountains in Central Germany with an area of 1348 km2. I did a voluntary year called “FÖJ” here after I graduated from high school. Shortly before …

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  • Planting trees to harvest drinking water
    Among the threats to environmental security at international and national level, the issue of drinking water scarcity is a prominent one. We have recently accompanied a community-powered project in Germany that aims to tackle this problem at the root!

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