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Discovering the power of witches, outsmarting evil spirts and finding magical remedies in the mountain wilderness…  Mountain educators and guides used these elements of fantasy to immerse the almost 600 young participants across 40 destinations in the Alps and Carpathians in an imaginary world to reconnect them with nature. This was all part of the 5th edition of Youth at the Top’s common theme “Myth and Mountain Legends”.

From July 11th-12th, hundreds of Alpine and Carpathian youth went out to discover the mountains under the framework of the international project, Youth at the Top. This year’s edition brought about a completely new way to discover nature as organizers, associated with the protected area, planned exciting and artistic activities around local myths and legends. By using their natural surroundings, kids discovered more about their heritage by plunging into a world full of mystery and wonder. These stories transcend borders and language barriers, as seen with a group of French and Italian youth who met up at the top in Mont Avic Nature Park. The young participants, averaging around 12 years old, left behind their smartphones and computer screens to reconnect with the mountains through an overnight stay either in a tent, hut or by sleeping out under the stars. 

Myth and Mountain Legends 05 NP Gesuse Raimund Reiter

Myths and legends are part of the Alps’ and Carpathians’ natural heritage. The 5th edition was marked by this common theme as activities were organized such as storytelling, theater and painting. Learning about myths and legends within a local context helped reconnect the young participants to their mountain identity. This was done in unique ways as seen through the example of the Parc naturel régional de Chartreuse who hired an actress to dress up as magical beings. This theme was a hit with the young participants. French youth with the Parc naturel régional du Massif des Bauges also went all out on this theme, pretending that a legend came to life. 

Discovering Fauna and Flora 

Hiking in the mountains was a great opportunity for the young participants to discover the fauna and flora unique to the Alps and Carpathians. Some highlights include seeing herds of Ibex scaling cliffsides and marmots coming out of their holes. Some participants even tasted edible local plants. In the Naturpark Ötztal in Austria, the young participants were pleasantly surprised during their hike to discover that a bearded vulture was following them. French youth with the Parc naturel régional de Chartreuse even had a hands-on experience as they walked through the forest barefoot and blindfolded, to feel nature through their senses.  

Cultural Exchange between Italian and French Parks 

This year, a group of French youth, associated with the Parc naturel régional du Massif des Bauges, headed to Italy to meet up with youth from the Parco Naturale Mont Avic. The kids from the two countries took part in an artistic activity on the common theme, where they worked together to illustrate a mountain myth. The youth from Mont Avic also helped the French group create a video on a legend focused on the game loups-garous or ‘werewolf’ which came to life. There was a great exchange between the two groups as they bonded over the mountains and it was positive experience for the two parks who cooperated for the first time on an educational project. Both protected areas are already thinking of repeating the activity next year.

The international project Youth at the Top Project gives the younger generations a chance to experience the mountains by meeting up for one day and one night on a common date in several destinations throughout the Alps and Carpathians. This initiative is open to all the protected areas of the Alps and the Carpathians as well as to all the organizations working in the educational field. Each action set up by local actors aims to reinforce the links between young people and nature and to raise their awareness about the protection and conservation of the mountain environment.

The 5th edition of the project is led by ALPARC – The Alpine Network of Protected Areas, with the financial support of the German Ministry of the Environment, the Principality of Monaco and the CGET - Commissariat général à l’égalité des territoires (France).

More info: https://youth-at-the-top.org/en/

The official press release is available here in English, French, Italian, German and Slovenian

Photo Credit: Gesäuse National Park @ Raimund Reite

20190718 com and fincanical partners EN

How to make learning approaches interactive and at the same time, effectively implement the principles of Mountain-oriented Education in school activities? These problems, including the active involvement of students in field actions, were faced during the development of the Alpine School Model - one of the main outputs of the YOUrALPS project. Under this project, the Alpine school App was developed, a practical pedagogical tool supporting the theoretical approach of the Alpine School Model.


The App

The interactive Alpine school App allows learners and educators to directly observe nature all along its life cycle. The user can describe and upload Mountain-oriented educational activities carried out all over the Alps as well. The App can be used as the perfect complement to in-class lessons in order to explore the issues related to Alpine sustainable development. It also favors exchanges among all the users, who can share their experiences and observations.

How does it work?
The App is ready-to-use. Its main function is ‘add spot’, making it possible to choose between three pillars: Observation of the Environment, Governance and Socio-Economic.
The first category consists of the phenological observation1 of fauna, flora and weather. It allows the user not only to upload pictures and descriptions of plants and animals all along their life cycle, but also to collect and share information on the weather such as recording particularly hot days for instance. The final objective is to create a common database with all the observations. This is a powerful tool to understand nature life cycle and to understand the vulnerability of nature and to enhance its protection.
With regard to Governance, this category allows users to share educational activities. It is dedicated to all those activities that deal with the sustainable development of the Alpine region.
Finally, under the Socio-Economic pillar users can record places where it is possible to consume sustainably, from shops to restaurants and local markets.


To download and use the App:
IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alpine-school-app-spotteron/id1461511006
Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spotteron.alpineschoolapp
Computer or laptop: https://www.spotteron.com/alpineschoolapp/


1 Wikipedia definition of phenology: Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, as well as habitat factors (such as elevation).




Pubblicato in Notizie delle Alpi

More than one hundred people interested in education for sustainable development participated in the international conference “Learning and Networking for sustainable development in the Alps” from May 14th to 15th.  The conference marked the beginning of a new form of education as the Alpine School Model and the international network on mountain-oriented education ‘OurAlps’ were presented for the first time.


The Alpine School Model as a tool to empower young people

‘Educate youth in the sense of mountain-oriented education for a sustainable future in the Alps’ - this is the motto of the approach promoted by the Alpine School Model which is based on the basic principles of educating on sustainable development. Moreover, the innovative approach includes outdoor learning, interdisciplinarity methods and aims at integrating non-formal approaches into formal education in order to re-connect youth to their mountain territory.

After a presentation of the approach by several pilot sites, the future of the Model and its integration in formal education curricula was debated during a roundtable involving official representatives from Italy, Austria, France and Slovenia. For example, in Italy the so-called “Reti di scopo”, several local networks made up of schools and other institutions, may manage the certification process of Alpine schools and their partners in the future. Also, in Austria, the Alpine school model will be implemented in the Burgenland region in order to ensure further dissemination and promotion. Promising remarks were expressed by the Minister for Environment and Climate of the Lombardy Region, who hopes that the Alpine school model will support the necessary changes towards a culture of sustainable development.


Press Release Mello

OurAlps network: connecting alpine students and educators
The second big conference input involved the presentation of OurAlps, the international network on Mountain-oriented Education in the Alps, which aims to bring together stakeholders from different domains to allow for exchanges to occur on the Alpine level. Its characteristics and future perspectives were discussed together with representatives from different international and national associations such as Alplab, Alpine Town of the Year, Umweltdachverband and the WEEC network. In this context, it also became clear that thinking outside the box and considering the inclusion of periurban areas may be highly important for an Alpine approach to mountain-oriented education.

On the second conference day, three workshops were organised allowing participants to engage in deeper discussions. While the workshop on the Alpine School Model allowed for the public to discover what the Model is about in practice, the workshop on the OurAlps network encouraged the development of future scenarios. Finally, the workshop on Climate Change and Biodiversity gave the participants a possibility to dive into thematical discussions.

For more information on the project YOUrALPS and its outputs:
OurAlps network: https://www.ouralps.org/en
Facebook: YOUrALPS
Twitter: @YOUrALPS

Pubblicato in Notizie internazionali

The partners of the Alpine Space project YOUrALPS met on February 14th and 15th in the Burgenland to learn from different practices, knowledge and techniques on environmental education.

In the context of a project steering group meeting, the YOUrALPS partners from France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia had the possibility to gain some inspiring knowledge about education practices in the Austrian partner land.
One of the impressive stops was the nature lab in Bad Sauerbrunn, the so called „Werkstatt Natur“, a non for profit institution which was founded by the regional hunter‘s federation. Today, the lab hosts more than 10 000 kids per year which participate in one of the pedagogical programs. There is a wide range of programs according to the varying season and the institution allows also individual programs which are elaborated in cooperation with the teacher of a class. Hence, some programs focus more on re-connecting youngsters to nature by simply bringing them out into the forest and experience the forest according to the very season while others identify a specific topic such as «wildlife and traffic» were they get to know how wildlife perceives and reacts on traffic lights or the „creek hike“ were children discover the role of different living organisms of the water world and may fish for fish. The next stop was dedicated to the use of nature’s ressources such as wild herbs. Uschi Zezelitsch a herb expert and youralps1hedge witch introduced the group to some of her childrens’programs and creative nature interpretation methodologies. Herbs are a perfect tool to introduce children to the world of natural cooking, taking nature’s ingredients and smelling what nature has to offer. Many of the herbs can directly be picked in nearby meadows, others grow easily in the home gardens or inside a plant pot. This way, children and adolescents can try out making their own herbs salt, herbs bread or even a herb „strudel“. Moreover, delicious juices can be easily prepared with wild mint and ginger for example.

Some of these ideas might be included in the contents of the Alpine school model, one of the major YOUrALPS project outputs, aiming at re-connecting youth to their natural environment. Since September 2017, 14 pilot sites have been carrying out activities on education for sustainable development in order to validate the theoretical model and be certified as « Alpine school ». The Alpine School model will be presented at the conference: “ Learning and networking for sustainable development in the Alps. The Alpine School & Our Alps network.“ on May 14 and 15 in Morbegno  (Italy)

For further information please see:

Camping for three days and two nights in the Gesäuse National Park. Experiencing a night in a bivouac or refuge, watching the chamois and discovering your own territory in the Massif des Bauges Regional Natural Park. Feeling and touching the mountain environment through the land art in the Écrins National Park, or being involved in the Youth Council of the Prealpi Giule Regional Nature Park.
Several such experiences and educational programs for children and young people in the Alps were shared during the 5th ALPARC workshop on Mountain Education in Alpine Protected Areas, which took place from the 3rd to the 5th October 2018 in Trenta, Triglav National Park (Slovenia).
In addition to the shared activities, two key themes of environmental education were presented.

The use of new technologies in environmental education
The Slovenian Centre for Outdoor Activities (CSOD) guided the debate on the use of new technologies in outdoor activities. The theoretical approach followed a field experience allowing participants to directly test an application developed by the organization with the participation of teachers. Some barriers remain: the use of new technologies can cause young people to be increasingly disconnected from nature, and technical knowledge and appropriate technologies are sometimes necessary. On the other hand, new technologies can become an educational support in activities. It is clear, however, that their use cannot be dissociated from a direct experience of nature. 

Youth participation in protected areas
The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the subject of youth participation in protected areas. The experts from the city of Idrija, with Mateuz Straus, facilitated an exchange on the topic. To improve the participation of young people in the running of the park is considered essential to increase young people's awareness of nature protection, allowing them to be anchored in the territory and to become more involved in it. 

Come to the international conference "Learning and networking for sustainable development in the Alps - The Alpine School & OurAlps network" on May 14th and 15th 2019 in Morbegno.

The Alpine School Model, one of the major YOUrALPS project output aiming at re-connecting youth to their natural environment, will be presented at the conference.
The event will give you the opportunity to discover the OurAlps network  and to network with other Alpine stakeholders.

The event is organised in the frame of the INTERREG Alpine Space YOUrALPS project.

To register to the conference and for further information please click here:  





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Pubblicato in Altri eventi nelle Alpi

Educators, teachers, researchers and organizations in the field of education you are all invited to network via the new OurAlps web platform. An interactive map, information on events and news as well as the exchange of educational materials, photos and videos allow all interested people to get involved and contact other actors in different countries. The website is available in five languages and is the central communication tool of the international network of the same name. The network is based on the broad values and principles of environmental education. A link to the YAPP platform, a web site dedicated to youth exchanges, is also included on the OurAlps home page.
The OUrALPS network and its web platform have been developed in the frame of the Interreg Alpine Space project YOUrALPS and they will be officially presented in a conference in Morbegno (Italy) the 14th and 15th of  May 2019.

ALPARC is lead partner for YOUrALPS and responsible for technical and financial management and the coordination of project partners’ activities. Moreover, the network is responsible for the project’s communication activities.
YOUrALPS is an Interreg Alpine Space project and lasts from November 2016 to October 2019. It is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg Alpine Space programme.
For further information about the project, please visit the YOUrALPS website

The YOUrALPS infodays series mark an important chapter in the Interreg Alpine Space project: scientific findings with surprising output on mountain-oriented education were presented to political stakeholders and other interested actors.

The Berchtesgaden National Park was the first in line and organised a two-day conference on education for sustainable development and mountain-oriented education. Around 90 participants joined the conference and discussed specific methods and topics in the Alps, explicitly referring to future perspectives to connect youth increasingly to nature and their Alpine environment. The conference was held in collaboration with the „Arbeitsgemeinschaft Natur und Umweltbildung Bayern“ (ANU) and was inaugurated by Dr. Christian Barth, Department Head of the Bavarian Ministry of Environment.

The French infoday was held in the context of an International Festival on Jobs relating to the mountain environment. Hence, numerous stakeholders active in the territory, including teachers, mountain guides, and employees in the public sector dealing with education topics, participated in a dynamic exchange. Local actors emphasized the necessity of including political actors in the debate to assure the inclusion of mountain-related topics and outdoor education in curricula. Moreover, interest for joining the YOUrALPS initiative became clear: several actors stressed the wish to move their local initiatives onto a larger, international level.

The Lombardy Region was in charge of the organisation of the infoday in Milan. Invitees joined for a half day meeting and got in touch with YOUrALPS pilot sites who presented their activities. Moreover, the Alpine school model which is to serve as a label for those schools engaging in in-depth collaboration with protected areas was presented, implementing the criteria which were developed in a theoretical approach.

For further information please see http://www.alpine-space.eu/projects/youralps/e

GaYA's Youth Participation Toolbox was developed to answer the question on how to effectively engage young people in decision-making processes for the future of the Alps. It was created in the frame of the Interreg Alpine Space project GaYA - Governance and Youth in the Alps. The Toolbox highlights different approaches of youth participation to meet the needs of both young people and politicians. It also addresses the need to adapt the participatory process to the local level.

Therefore, GaYA's Youth Participation Toolbox provides insights, clarify terms and concepts, showcase participatory methods, inspire and motivate. The toolbox presents a selection of case studies, with templates and cards to create your own participation processes and to suggest solutions to some frequent problems.


The toolbox and its contents can be downloaded at :

The official press release in all the alpine languages is available here:


The 4th edition of Youth at the Top took place on the 12th and the 13th of July 2018 in 44 destinations of the Alps and the Carpathians. The event brought together more than 530 young people and had Climate Change as the topic of a common thematic aciton. The two days spent in the mountains were also animated with diverse activities: collecting drinking water and edible and medicinal plants along the way, bathing in the cool rivers, making campfires, watching the stars, and many others!

The press release is available below and at the project's website on this link

To check photos and videos of the event go to Youth at the Top Facebook and Instagram .


The 4th edition of the project is led by ALPARC – The Alpine Network of Protected Areas, with the financial support of the German Ministry of the Environment and the Principality of Monaco.