Protected Area Staff Training on Environmental Education and Communication (EEC)

28 Feb, 2023

Thirteen staff members from the Khan Khenti Special Protected Area (KKSPA) and Gorkhi Terelj National Park (GTNP) took part in a training on “Methods and Tools of interactive EEC” organized by the SPACES project at a GTNP resort on 8-9 Feb, 2023. The two-day workshop was moderated by Sunjidmaa Renchin of the Environmental Education Center of Mongolian National University and Narangerel Yasanjev of the People-Centered Conservation, a national NGO. German EEC expert Manfred Oepen from ACT Assist and development advisor Markus Roger from the SPACES project also participated.

By the end of the training, participants were supposed to have learned to know and use existing EEC methods and tools, familiarized with related manuals and a toolbox, and discussed next steps how to apply what they have learned during the training.

For a start, participants were divided into two working groups (WGs) to discuss the EEC methods and tools they use in their respected protected areas (PAs) when they work with the public and local communities.  They presented their work using role plays.

After a coffee break, participants brainstormed the question “What elements do you need to run EEC?” in two WGs, writing, collecting and clustering moderation cards on pinboards by themselves. Once this exercise was completed, the moderators explained that the related discussion constitutes a brainstorming process using the cards, markers, pins and pinboards. Participants realized that unknowingly they had been learning by doing this systematic process in 10 steps one by one. They liked the exercise and shared that within only half an hour they can do such brainstorming with local communities on a variety of issues and topics.

After lunch, participants engaged in an outdoor exercise called “Guiding the Blind”. The moderator asked how differently they felt being a guide and being guided. The exercise should make them aware of their roles and responsibilities as facilitators, always striving not to mislead the people they engage with.

Next, participants continued the training with a WG task on “Forest Life”, preparing and presenting an event on this topic for local communities and eco-clubs. Once the WGs had presented their ideas in plenary, the moderators provided their inputs on how to make such events more interactive and participatory, which was highly appreciated by the participants.

On Day 2, participants divided into two random WGs to identify key environmental issues and problems in their areas and how to discuss and address these issues it with the locals. The key issues identified by the participants were waste management, deforestation and land tenure security of locals. Next, the WGs were asked to use tools and exercises from the EEC toolbox to deal with these issues in public.

Finally, participants discussed how they will use at work what they have learned during the training. The KKSPA team plans to use the tools and manual when working with eco-clubs starting from March, 2023. They will use brainstorming and photo reporting exercises when work with the school kids. The GTNP team intends to use SPACES-produced videos and comics with locals during the dry season this spring.

The curriculum and agenda used in this event will serve as a sample for further EEC trainings of PA staff by the SPACES project in selected regions in Mongolia.

At the very end of the training, participants openly shared their feelings and comments about the training:

  • The training was very new to us. We have learned a lot.  It was a lot of fun and interesting.
  • I have learned more here in two days than I learned in college during 2.5 years.
  • I have learned about the importance of the participation. At first, it was a bit difficult but gradually I understood and followed.
  • I think these participatory tools and techniques can be used among any age of people and communities.
  • It was easy to memorize and learn because of the visualization.
  • I learned how to brainstorm very well. I will use it in my work.
  • I will definitely use videos, comics and the EEC manuals for my work because it will make things much easier.
  • I think I have got 10 years younger due to the training.