During the weekend, students from the master's programme Ecology and Ecosystem conservation from the Biology faculty of Plovdiv University visited Atanasovsko Lake. Their visit was part of the regular training program of the master students who are part of the course Management of protected areas.
In the last two years, as part of this course, the Wetland Management program, specially developed under the "Lagoon of Life" project, has been presented. Within 5 lecture topics and practical activities in the field, students learn about the diversity of wetlands, their importance, ecological functions and ecosystem services. Threats, policies and legislation, planning and their practical management and implementation of conservation measures and monitoring are discussed.
The goal is to increase the capacity of future specialists in the management and protection of these very specific and vulnerable natural territories and to create interest among young people for such type of work.
In the relaxed atmosphere of the summer Atanasovsko Lake and the symbiotic space, the six future masters were able to see with their eyes and feel with their hands, get dirty, get wet and dig in the actual working conditions in a wetland.
Practices for managing the water regime, adapting to climate change and reducing threats to ecosystems were demonstrated. The students learned about the techniques applied in Lake Atanasovsko for the restoration and protection of coastal habitats and conservation of various species - birds, seagrass, and salt marsh. And how the water regime of a large lake is managed so that it maintains the specific salinity in the individual basins and fulfils its diverse ecological functions in its different parts.
The applied methods for monitoring and assessing the state of the habitats were also demonstrated - hydrological and physicochemical monitoring, monitoring of birds, dragonflies, etc. indicator species, and monitoring of natural habitats. Finally, we flew over the lake with a drone - a powerful new tool in the hands of ecologists, which is of invaluable help in observing and monitoring the state of various ecosystem components.
We at the "Lagoon of Life" project are delighted with the knowledge and interest of young ecologists. We believe that with our program we present them with new view and knowledge about the opportunities that wetlands present for work and new challenges in science and its application in nature conservation.