GNF-Second Project Meeting "get grEEN“

Infrastructures for Environmental Education




Topic of the meeting:

Villacañas (Spain)

4 - 6 April 2011

Infrastructures for Environmental Education


Project implementation


The second meeting of the project get grEEN was organised by the City of Villacañas (AV) and the Fundación Global Nature (FGN). AV and FGN have worked in close collaboration since 1998 when they managed the project “Wetlands of Villacañas” financed by EU-LIFE. The Villacañas Wetland Complex includes three lakes: Peñahueca and Larga Lakes. During the project meeting, Angeles Pontes, who works for the City of Villacañas, took the participants to these two lakes and explained what actions have been taken during the LIFE project. She also showed some environmental infrastructures that have been installed at the lake, like bird observatories and information tables with panels in Braille. Bird-watching tourism is a very important activity for nature tourists coming to Villacañas. The bird species at these lakes include endangered species, such as Gelochelidon nilotica, for which 4 breeding platforms were built in Larga Lake. One of the most attractive species for visitors is the flamingo that came back to Larga Lake in Villacañas after the wetland have been restored within the LIFE project.


Angeles explained that volunteering programmes are especially important in the area. Considering that the Larga Lake is a Botanical Reserve, some of these programmes focus on the restoration of Limonium populations. Handicapped volunteers have gathered seeds in order to create a plant nursery for future plantings of these endangered and endemic plants. Once the plant is a year old, they are planted in the borders of the lake, contributing to the restoration of the area. In this sense, special attention has been paid to the availability of education activities for handicapped visitors, such as this seed-gathering activity, or through the placement of panels in Braille and the creation of accessible routes for some lakes.


On the second day the participants visited the energy education centre in Villacañas. The centre is financed as part of the CSR activities of Iberdrola (a main energy supplier in Spain). The education centre has small models of different types of renewable energies like a wind turbine, a solar panel, a hydraulic power plant in order to show the visitors how wind, sun or water can produce energy. Also, children can create their own renewable energy plant with modelling clay. As financing an environmental education centre is also a very important issue for the Grundtvig team, participants thought that approaching energy companies might be a good idea.


The Grundtvig group visited the Winery “Camino Alto” who produce red and white wine, some of which is already certified as organic and the Silo Museum. Silos are traditional underground houses that were built by very poor people in order to not spend money on bricks and other construction materials. They are also built respecting the natural conditions of the area. Both the Silos and the winery are becoming part of a touristic route called “Tasting La Mancha” that includes cultural and ecological activities in the area. Therefore, it combines environmental education with gastronomy, cultural heritage, etc.



The partner had presentations on past, future and visionary activities regarding environmental education infrastructure.


Amanda del Río (FGN):

Villacañas, lake restoration in the area, new technologies in environmental education (“iCairn” project).


Birgitta Tremel (German Protection Station Zippendorf):

Environmental Education Infrastructures at Lake Schwerin (“Experiencing nature and having a party”)


Silvia Jablonski / Katja Tolkachyova (Global Nature Fund):

How does environmental education infrastructure look like in the future? (“Discovery Centers” / “Geocoaching with GPS”)

Press Conference


The major of Villacañas Santiago García welcomed the international environment experts at the City hall of Villacañas. Other speakers: Mariano Velasco from the Upper Guadiana Consortium; Blanca Hurtado from FGN, Birgitta Tremel from the German Protection Station Zippendorf and Roman Guziak  from the Polish environmental association ETNA.



The main topic of the visit was “Infrastructures”. The participants of get grEEN agreed on the importance of having adequate infrastructures in order to increase the effectiveness of environmental education. The attendants discussed the possible options to find financing, such as asking visitors for a contribution, of combining tourism and education, such as in the case of Poland. It was also stressed that the people in charge of the facilities/activities are a huge element for the success of the environmental education.


The participants did not find many differences between the observatories located in the visited sites and the environmental facilities and those located in their countries.


However, two ideas were especially relevant for future development in Poland and Germany:

  • Braille panels for blind visitors, like the ones located in Peñahueca Lake.
  • iCairn project: new technologies and environmental education.

From other presentations, participants took some ideas from Ms Tremel’s presentation, such a birthday celebrations and the solar “ice-cream cart”.



Ayuntamiento de Villacañas: Angeles Pontes


ETNA: Roman Guziak, Beata Komsta, Zofia Pietryka, Jerzy Zuber


Fundación Global Nature: Ernesto Aguirre, Maribela Gutiérrez, Blanca Hurtado, Amanda del Río


Global Nature Fund: Silvia Jablonski, Katja Tolkachyova


Naturschutzstation Zippendorf: Birgitta Tremel

 Bird Warching
 Information boards
 Participants in the Energy Education Centre
 Energy Education Centre: Models of different types of renewable energies
 Presentation of the iCairn Project
 Roman Guziak at the Press Conference
 Exchange of Experiences
 Press Documentation
 Participants in a Wind Park