The global Covid-19 pandemic has made things more complicated for everyone, even for the Nature Guide training programme as part of the South Baltic Nature Guide Network in Poland. The first two training sessions were thus held online using ZOOM. After careful consideration it was agreed that a field meeting was possible, too, and 12 out of the initial 19 participants of the online training enrolled for the on-site training day. A global health crisis is not the only source of complications though: Heavy rain had been pouring down all morning, three participants were unable to make it to the meeting point near Widzieńsko village due to the bad weather. Slightly improving conditions and the exciting expectation to find the natural landscape changed drastically by the recent downpours motivated the remaining group of nine to carry on though.
The overall topic was the role of Nature Guides in conservation work. Theoretical inputs were given under the roof of a tourist shelter before the group set out to plan and execute an exemplary hike for tourists with special care to minimizing the impact on nature and landscape. Understanding the forest as a habitat complex is key to finding the balance between educational guiding and nature conservation. Three experts brought attention to different aspects of this multi-layered topic and made for interesting discussions among the group. Due to the weather conditions, the issue of how to keep visitors safe during a tour became an important topic, too. But especially close to the nearby river valley, where healthy plant communities were found, fascination for the natural assets of the landscape took over quickly. Fresh animal tracks in the sand caught the eye and some wild mushrooms sparked culinary imaginations. After seven hours in the forest, the workshop came to an end in a coffeeshop. The guides in training agreed, that a hands-on experience is unbeatable, even in times of Corona, and everyone is now looking forward to the next classes.