Spare Equipment or books? They are needed in the Balkans

Spare Equipment or books? They are needed in the Balkans

I set out here a message from Tricia Marcouse who many of you will know from her BBOWT and Reading Urban Wildlife Group activities. I commend this cause to you and will be helping out with a few items I have such as old field guides and binoculars. Let me know if you wish to make a donation, you can bring them to one of our extra meetings or a field trip and pass them on via any of the Committee members.

Birding in Bosnia in Herzegovena

Last month I became the 36th member of the Bosnian Ornithological Society; my membership number in RSPB is not so memorable!

I am working in BiH for two years to support the environmental field inspectors and to widen public participation in environmental management. The focus is to reduce industrial pollution, but all environmental issues are fair game and, wherever possible, we will push forward the message that their habitats and species are a valuable asset and should be protected.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a population of four million, and an area of 51,000 square kilometres with a widely varying landscape. In the coastal zone it is Mediterranean climate growing kiwi, pomegranate and tangerines, in the East it is the Danube flood plain with fertile soils growing maize as far as the eye can see, and the middle is mountain ranges with towns in the valley bottoms. It is a spectacular country with massive gorges, waterfalls and ancient forests. There are several national designations of natural parks and nature areas, but only one international designation at present: the RAMSAR site Hutovo Blato that provides winter quarters for ducks and geese and is a migration stopover and flyover point in spring and autumn.

Despite the variation in habitat, the country bird list is small compared to UK?s: only 317 species according to Birdlife International. Whether this is the real number is anyone?s guess, since with only 4 active recorders in the country at present, data is a little scarce. There isn?t a lot of general interest in natural history in Bosnia other than the gathering of plants for medicinal use.

We will be trying to change this, and would like some help from you in two ways.

Over the next two years the BOS will try to tap into EU LIFE funding to run surveys to encourage identification and reporting from the general public, focusing this on schools. If we get the grants, the LIFE budget will pay for printing costs and for the cost of employing someone for data entry. We can extend this person?s work to digitise previous records and begin to develop a national data recording system.

However, we won?t get money for purchasing general identification guides or for equipment.

We would like to be able to support teachers that are encouraging their school to take part in the surveys by providing those schools with a basic natural history kit: some not too heavy binoculars, hand lenses and identification guides. Identification guides need to cover the Balkan area of course AND have good pictures, since the text will not be used by most of the children.

The second element is for the more serious recording purposes: we need to find better quality second hand equipment to support the few existing recorders and to recruit more.

If you can help at all with these requests, please get in touch with me or with Colin Wilson or Martin Sell.

Finally, if anyone out there is interested in a holiday in 2006 to uncharted mountainous territory please get in touch towards the Autumn. I haven?t worked out any of the details yet as we are testing areas, freedom from minefields, accommodation and potential guides this year, but we will probably run two holidays in BiH, flying into Dubrovnik and then doing a route that goes via Hutovo Blato (where there is a 35 bed guest house inside the reserve) and in a loop through mountain areas forests and gorges and back down to Dubrovnik. (this is because flying to Dubrovnik is less than half the price of flying to Sarajevo, and is direct from Gatwick). It will be a holiday with a difference, and with a major requirement for record keeping to fill in some of the gaps on the national database!

Tricia Marcouse

Joint Chair

East Berks Regional Committee


Colin Wilson –

11 April 2005