(PEATS* Staff Placements (Placements in Environmental, Archaeological and Traditional Skills) is supported by the EU Erasmus Plus programme offered by GRAMPUS Heritage & Training Limited)

From 18th to 25th July 2022 six PEATS participants visited our region to get information on nature conservation and conservation systems of traditional farmlands in Slovenia and in the region Prekmurje and the application methods for nature protection. The ladies were lecturers and experts on environmental management and administration of natural assets from Kent, UK.

Besides natural sights such as the river Mura and its oxbows, the traditional landscape of Goričko, wetlands, flooded forests and acidified beech forests we also showed them other sights of local importance, such as Lake Ledava and Lake Bukovnica. The idea was to present the diverse ways of managing different natural and half-natural elements (habitats, flora and fauna, Natura 2000) in Slovenia and compare them to the ones implemented in the UK. We also visited historical and cultural sights/institutions of regional importance, such as the castle Grad in the Goričko region, where our ladies were presented the geographical, natural and cultural characteristics of the region. The Vulkanija Adventure Park, close to the castle Grad, presents the forces within the Earth’s core and the geological processes that take place on or near the surface. The experienced volcanologist Oli was our guide through this adventure. The tripoint near Trdkova also lies in Goričko region so we stopped there to highlight the key historical moments in the region.

Our English guests were experts on flora and fauna. Despite the heat wave and drought, we were lucky to see quite a few attractions; among them the white-tailed eagle on Lake Ledava (adult and juvenile) and white storks, especially chicks in the nests. On our daily trips we saw numerous butterflies (different browns, blues, whites & skippers) and our guests mentioned that many of those species are very endangered or even extinct in the UK.

The marsh meadows in Motvarjevci, dry meadows in Selo, where we also visited the rotunda, and the educational path in Lončarovci were also interesting for them. Besides natural sights we did not forget about other things you can do or visit in our region, so our ladies had the opportunity to take part in a pottery workshop in the craft centre DUO Veržej, tasted chocolate products from the local chocolate producer Passero in Tešanovci and learned about the use of geothermal energy in the tomato producing company Lušt, where they also tasted different sorts of tomatoes. And last but not least they visited the old wine cellar in Radgonske gorice, famous for its sparkling wine production, and did some wine tasting.

One of the last places we visited was the river Mura and some of its oxbows. We went to the oxbow Bobri in Dolnja Bistrica, where the water level dropped significantly due to the drought. We could watch swan mussels digging into the shallow substrate of the stream to survive the drought. We then went to the Island of love at the river Mura, where we emphasized the meaning of the protection of European rivers and waters, especially those in the Danube river system, where the Mura river belongs to. We also presented different projects connected to river conservation and its natural treasures.

The experience with our English guests was more than positive as we established new friendships and connections for further cooperation. We exchanged a lot of great experiences and our guests were quite impressed with what they had seen during their week of stay. Some of them hope to come back one day. What more can we wish for?

If you want to find out more about the experiences of one of our participants, check the following link.