The Baikal Nature Reserve School

The Baikal Nature Reserve School

February 2021 – present

Environmental education about sustainable waste management and preservation of water resources is highly relevant for Russia, especially for the Baikal natural territory. Eco-education allows any infrastructure, might be separated waste collection containers or water-saving system, to work correctly, helping the society and the environment.

Thanks to the Baikal Nature Reserve School, which was opened in summer in the Zabaikalsky national park, all interested visitors have an opportunity to learn how to treat resources carefully and diversify their touristic recreation with useful events. 

The Baikal Nature Reserve School is ongoing interactive space in the Zabaikalsky national park (Republic of Buryatia). There everybody independently from his/her age, social status and other characteristics is able to get holistic knowledge about cyclicity of wastes and hydrologic cycle, try their skills in compaction of recyclables, watch a chain of transformation of plastic bottles into clothes and even explore through the microscope water composition and benthal deposits from lake Baikal and other water sources!

The project has unique public outreach — all visitors of the Zabaikalsky national park are able to take part in the project. In 2019, 42 thousand people visited the national park. The audience of the Baikal Nature Reserve School may be divided into 3 subgroups depending on purpose and social status criteria: tourists, students and representatives of the vulnerable groups, e.g. people with special needs and elderly people.

Tourists, both children and adults, have opportunity to acquire profound ecological knowledge and get involved into the process of responsible and educational tourism, preserving environment. Positive emotional experience received during interactive class, along with theoretical knowledge, transforms into ecological habits after the visit to the national territory; the confidence in the ecological initiatives and scientific research will be increased.

Students from regional educational institutions receive an opportunity to participate in the practical eco-lessons in the western bank of lake Baikal, get ecological knowledge first-hand and make small discoveries themselves. They are able to become ambassadors of the ecological practices and knowledge in their communities, initiate the promotion of separated waste collection in various institutions and at home, join the ecology movement in Ulan-Ude and in other parts of the Republic of Buryatia.

The key value of the project is its inclusiveness and accessibility of the ecological knowledge for everybody. Space design and its equipment is thought for people with special needs and other vulnerable groups. Visit to the Baikal Nature Reserve School helps this group to integrate themselves better into the system of the inclusive education and be not kept out.

The project «The Baikal Natural Reserve School» allows to become close to the achievement of the national goals in the sphere of ecotourism and preservation of the specially protected natural areas.

Goal:

  • to develop responsible attitude for the environment in visitors of the Zabaikalsky national park through their involvement in the sustainable waste management and exploration of water composition in lake Baikal and other water sources.

What effect do we want to achieve?

  • Contribute to the creation and dissemination of interesting and useful leisure activities for families with children and satisfy the request for interactive ecoeducation practices;
  • contribute to the formation of a sustainable partnership between the national park, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, thereby creating a knowledge center for the preservation of a unique natural heritage;
  • create an inclusive and accessible educational platform in the Zabaikalsky National Park for representatives of socially vulnerable categories of the population, namely people with disabilities, children from educational institutions and wards of various social care organizations.

What has already been done:

  • we have created special conditions and initiated the process of obtaining theoretical and practical environmental knowledge transmitted «first-hand», that is, by employees of the Zabaikalsky National Park who are experienced specialists in the field of environmental education;
  • the principles of accessibility and inclusiveness have been implemented: starting with technical equipment and ending with teacher training, the School is adapted to the needs of people with disabilities and other socially vulnerable groups of the population;
  • 5064 visitors from 28 regions of Russia and 2 foreign countries have learned more about the importance of separate waste collection and conservation of water resources, especially in the context of the Baikal Natural Territory;
  • the need for interactive ecoeducation practices for parents with children has been met: more than 45 families visited the Baikal Nature Reserve School in the summer season;
  • the project has won the III All-Russian Reliable Partner – Ecology competition in the nomination «The best educational (including informational) project in the field of ecology» among the initiatives of the non-profit sector.

Sustainability of the Project:

  • replication of the project experience to other protected natural areas within and outside the Baikal region, where interactive educational platforms have not yet been organized at the visit centers (for example, in the Pribaikalsky National Park);
  • in the medium term, it is planned to develop an online educational course for schoolchildren on the basis of the Baikal Nature Reserve School, thanks to which they will be able to gain and consolidate new knowledge about sustainable development and the principles of the interconnection of ecosystems.

The project is implemented with the support of  Presidential Grants Foundation



Environmental Education