PEATS Slovakia – Eco Tourism at Sahy

Dates: 6th April – 7th May 2018
Number of Participants: 6
Duration: 4 weeks

The PEATS placement in Slovakia is hosted by Grampus’s long-term partner, the Ipel Union. This NGO was formed in 1992 and has as its primary objective the management of the natural and cultural assets of the Ipel river water catchment. The placement is based in the small south Slovakian village of Ipel’ský Sokolec, near to the Hungarian border.

Main activities of the 2018 placement will include:

 Footpath and habitat clearing and maintenance

 Footpath marking

 Vegetation clearance for nature conservation and research projects

 Amphibian surveys

 Research type vegetation mapping activities

Preliminary Itinerary

It is very difficult to break down the programme to weeks, since there are various activities, which are dependent on weather and field conditions, so a week-to-week itinerary would not be realistic. The placement has 4 main parts though

  • The Ipeľ Union and the Kingfisher Centre (our environmental education and visitor centre) is in the vicinity of a Ramsar wetland site on one side and a Turkey oak forest on the other side. There are 2 footpaths managed by us in the area, one in the Ramsar site, its total length is 14,5 kms, while the other one in the surrounding forest, 7 kms in length. At the beginning of the vegetation period they both need maintenance and some renovation work. The tasks will include some vegetation clearance, painting the fainted marks , setting up new orientation signs in the field, smaller repair work on the watch towers, setting up a couple of missing interpretation boards, etc.
  • Our organisation is taking part in a bigger research project on recording flora and fauna in the area around the Kingfisher Centre. There will be some vegetation clearance work to do to ensure access to the research spots. In the meantime, while walking in the wetland area and the forest as well as during work, we will do wildlife recording as well
  • The project of making a distinction between the distribution area of 2 amphibian species, the fire-bellied and the yellow-bellied toad has been running for 2 years in cooperation with a Hungarian counterpart organisation called Hungarian Biodiversity Research Society (HBRS). The group along with an expert of HBRS will also take part in the research.
  • There are also some smaller tasks to carry out if time allows, such as making bird and bat boxes, working with school children on smaller tasks for Earth Day, maybe also visiting schools, building natural water retention systems (dams) in the forest, etc.

The itinerary will depend largely on the weather during the participants stay.

A cultural programme includes the opportunity to go camping further north in Slovakia in the Low or High Tatras. There are also cultural visits to Esztergom in Hungary, which is a historical town dating from Roman times and with an impressive Roman Catholic basilica and Banska Stiavnica, a UNESCO World Heritage town established in the Medieval period by German miners.

There are some interesting local hiking opportunities, including the 32 kilometre trail, which is mainly through oak forest, to the medieval ruined Cabrad castle. Typical animals in the forest here include red deer, roe deer, wild boar and beech marten with lynx in the adjacent Ipoly Duna National Park (over the river in Hungary). There is the opportunity to visit this Park and meet the ranger. The local people are friendly and welcoming and are chiefly ethnic Hungarians. Although Slovakian is the official language, Hungarian is more often spoken on a daily basis in the village. During their stay in the village participants might also visit various local vegetable gardens and learn about sustainable food production – and buy produce from villagers. There is also local honey and wine production. Participants will fly to Budapest in neighbouring Hungary and be transferred by taxi into Slovakia. Usually towards the end of the placement, it is possible to spend a couple of days sightseeing in Budapest.

Participants on this placement will need good outdoor footwear and waterproofs. The climate has a very hot summer and cold winter with a short autumn and spring. Insect repellent is required because much of the land is swampy and low-lying. A phrasebook with Hungarian as well as Slovakian is recommended; some local people speak German as a second language. English is spoken by young people but not usually by older people.

The Ipel river is good for swimming (with care- always heed local advice) and fishing.

Funding

The EU Erasmus + funding will cover return UK flights, insurance, accommodation and food. Participants will need extra funds for personal purchases and excursions.

If this placement interests you, then please read through the information on the PEATS environmental main page . You will find the application form is available to download on this page, as is the “Quality Commitment” which all applicants have to read.

For past participants feedback, please refer to the Participants Report page.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission

This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.