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Wetlands protection and Environmental Education
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Within the framework of the programmes of conservation and restoration of the nature which is at the heart of the organisation A ROCHA, this project allows for the involvement of young Europeans with recognized skills in the fields of ecology or nature conservation in concrete actions to study, maintain and protect the rich fauna, flora and habitats of the Vallée des Baux, Alpilles area and Courmettes mountain in the South of France. The programme is longterm and ongoing and volunteers are involved on an annual basis mostly so as to complete one natural annual cycle. The first objective of the project is to increase awareness about the importance of nature conservation and other environmental issues such as climate change among young people. A second objective is to transfer knowledge, best practices and skills to the volunteers, so that they can contribute to the monitoring and protection of biodiversity, including threatened species such as the European Roller, in a major biodiversity hotspot which is the Provence area in the South of France. The project also aims at contributing to the management of protected areas, and to environmental awareness and education in the area. The diverse activities involving the volunteers will help them to increase their abilities in the fields of ecology, nature conservation, communication and mobility in Europe. Actions involve: • Inventories and long term studies of wetland fauna / flora, including specific species programs for European Roller, Terapin, and several butterfly and dragonfly species. • Management of databases of fauna / flora, data analysis, results publications • Active maintenance of several areas to increase biodiversity and reduce presence of invasive species • Communication and environmental education actions on the importance of the conservation of marshes, with local, regional and national impacts • Collaboration with partner bodies in the study and the protection of habitats and the species of the region (ex: Conservatoire and Studies of the Ecosystems of the Provence (CEN-PACA), Regional Nature Parc of Les Alpilles, etc.) Since it’s creation in 1989 and consistently in every country where it has field study centers, A Rocha has strongly promoted actions designed for and carried out by youth and student volunteers in the area of nature conservation. These activities are seen as powerful means of introducing youth to the global value of nature and the importance of its care, the interrelatedness of humans and the environment on a planetary scale, and of placing them in a community context in which they will meet and work with men and women from many countries and cultural backgrounds, bringing creativitiy to bear in the expressions of environmental needs they develop. All of these objectives are met within the proposed project where the local environmental concerns in the Vallée des Baux are adressed in a much wider context and with internatinal teams living and working in our field study centre in Arles. Volunteers are given a chance to learn new skills and widen their cultural and linguistic horizons and gain a richeness of new experiences throughout the project. In the past years, involvement of EVS volunteers proved to be very successful with the production of high quality scientific data and reports, development of our educational activities and extension of our work to new areas. The project provides high standard training to the volunteers in the fields of nature conservation best practices, wildlife monitoring techniques and ID skills, data analysis and reporting. Up to 4 EVS positions are offered each year and the project involves up to 40 volunteers and interns annually from all over the world and all walks of life.
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