Conservation holidays

In 2016, Bahna, in cooperation with the Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF) organized the first Conservation holiday (Rus. toloka) in Belarus in the Ozyory Landscape Reserve. The idea was born in Estonia, where such events have been held for 20 years and are very popular among the residents of the country. Modern Conservation holiday is a combination of traditions of collective altruistic mutual aid and volunteer management. It aims at the preservation and restoration of the environment, environmental education and the promotion of sustainable development principles. The Conservation holiday is a chance to see wild areas and wildlife sanctuaries of Belarus while performing feasible work to restore the habitats of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, cleaning up the territory and repairing infrastructure facilities. The second Conservation holiday was held in July 2017 at the Yelnya bog, the third one took place in August of the same year on Turov meadow.

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What is a Conservation holiday?

Bahna Conservation Holidays consist of practical conservation work, getting toknow the area, a hike and meeting the local ranger or guide. Holidays normally last for 3 – 5, but sometimes up to 10 days. Evening activities include camp-fires and sauna.

How fit do I need to be?

You do not need to have any special skills or be very fit to carry out voluntary conservation work. Your Group Leader will ensure that you have a level of work that suits your abilities. The working day normally lasts around 6 hours so there will be plenty of time to relax and enjoy the evening activities.

Why do I have to pay for volunteering?

In the past, if a farmer asked others to help out with some kind of work, the lady of the house would cook a big meal for everyone and the man would provide the tools. Most of Bahna expenses (tools, transport, office costs and in most cases accommodation and leisure activities) are covered by different funds and sponsors, but there is no longer anyone in the food providing a role. So volunteer’s payments cover that cost.

Who is the group leader?

The Group Leader is there to provide help and support to the volunteers. They are in charge of food, transport, and everyday planning. The Group Leader also ensures project work is carried out safely and has First Aid training. A leader will also give you precise info on practical matters before the holiday starts.

What kind of work is conservation work?

Two biggest areas of work for Bahna’s Conservation holidays are restoration and maintaining habitats and managing visitor facilities in protected areas. Do accomplish these we: cut and clear brushwood, restore dams, build and renew trails and campsites. Each holiday has it’s own conservation goal and ways to achieve it – that’s described under every description of the holiday. Use of tools and techniques are quite simple and easy to learn by anyone.