Marina Škunca | 19.06. 2023

It’s summertime! That means sun, water, a gentle breeze in your hair and the scent of linden trees in the neighbourhood—ice cream before lunch and concerts under the stars. A good book in the shade and sunset runs.

Stop for a moment, take a refreshing drink, sip and look out your window. Or close your eyes and use your imagination if you are sitting in an office in the middle of the concrete jungle. Either way, take a deep breath. And say a little ‘thank you’ for all the services nature provides us!

Well, that’s what we were doing in Belgium – one of us reading a book, the other running in the last rays of sunshine, getting ready to kick off the long-awaited ERASMUS project, “TUNE IT – Nature benefits: from theory to practice”.

If this is your first time tuning into this project, let me take you back and briefly introduce you. The project’s main objective is to develop a course and provide training for site managers and local (regional) authorities responsible for managing natural areas. This will enable them to use existing knowledge and tools on the natural benefits and translate them into their daily working practice. This, in turn, will ensure that vital nature benefits are maintained and increase the opportunities for natural areas to contribute to society’s needs.

We plan to achieve this through a 3-module course tailored for a wide range of audiences and developed in five languages (English, Dutch, Croatian, Ukrainian, and Turkish):

  • MODULE-1 ‘Learning the basics’ provides a general overview of nature’s benefits (ecosystem services), methodologies, available guidelines, and examples of good practice.
  • MODULE-2 ‘Putting it into practice’ offers an opportunity to explore in more detail how to use nature benefits (1) in communication with various stakeholders; (2) while choosing the alternative solutions or planning the restoration; (3) for finding the alternative revenue; and (4) planning the management of their site.
  • MODULE-3’ Planning for future action’ provides participants with the necessary skills to transfer the obtained knowledge to their colleagues within their organisations.

Due to specific innovations in vocational training for nature conservationists, the Belgian National Agency of the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme funds the project. It will be implemented by a consortium consisting of 10 organisations from 5 European countries, including two international networks:

  • Natuurpunt Beheer (lead partner)
  • Natuurpunt Natuuracademie,
  • Wageningen Research,
  • Stichting IVN,
  • Natuurmonumenten,
  • Danube-Carpathian Programme,
  • Geonatura Ltd. Consultancy in Nature Protection,
  • Doğa Koruma Merkezi Vakfı (DKM),
  • Eurosite – the European Land Conservation Network and
  • Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Mid-May, we had our first project meeting in the charming city of Mechelen. The meeting proved an excellent opportunity to get to know each other; share ideas, challenges, and expectations; and discuss the next steps. We look forward to the next few months, i.e., rolling up our sleeves and developing the first module. And we hope you’ll join us in the first part of the English training early next year!

Stay tuned!