Intensive Study Programme Bison Hillock

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Key dates of the Bison Hillock Intensive Study Programme 2019

  • Time frame: Sunday, May 5 to Sunday, May 12, 2019
  • Host: The Bucharest University of Economic Studies (ASE) and World Wildlife Fund Romania
  • Focus Challenge: Nature based tourism and rural entrepreneurship
  • Focus topic: Wilderness powers values-based communities
  • Workshop Location: Carpathian Mountains, Armenis Commune, Romania
  • Participants: students and staff members from the Community Learning for Local Change ERASMUS partnership, villagers from the Armenis Community

Vision of the Bison Hillock

WWF Romania and Rewilding Europe together with local, national and international partners are working to create a sustainable development model in the Southern Carpathians by valuing the largest wilderness stronghold in Europe.

We envision that local communities’ wellbeing can be sustained through nature-friendly enterprises connected to the largest national bison reintroduction plan in Eruope. WWF is leading a bison reintroduction program in the Tarcu Mountains, an environment where the European bison disappeared from, over 200 years ago.

The bison is an umbrella species that has great significance for maintaining ecological processes specific to wilderness areas. A national bison reintroduction programme creates a unique opportunity for wildlife comeback, local community development, eco-tourism, research and education. (Source: WWF Romania)

Our intensive study programmes connect international students, WWF experts and villagers to envision innovative eco-tourism and rural business opportunities in this unique environment.

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Focus Topics and Activities

  • Context – Largest European wilderness stronghold in the Carpathian Mountains
  • Environment – nature tourism, sustainable landscape management, innovative local products and services
  • Community – the local community of the Armenis village and vicinity, local stakeholders
  • Goals – Aligning nature and local development interests at landscape level, healthy ecosystems powered by socio-economic wellbeing
  • Relevance – addressing challenges the villagers face through co-design with the local community

Topics of the Bison Hillock Intensive Programme 2019

The first CLLC intensive programme on the Bison Hillock in May 2019 evolved around the following ideas:

  • The Herd - A Branding and Resource Sharing Community of Entrepreneurs of Common Heritage: The idea is to create a network that will link locals with customers. This network will be a place that joins all the local people who have products or services to offer, but are not in a place to start a business themselves. This should give the locals an entry point to the tourism market and at the same time will help tourists in their search for local products and experiences. Through this network, the locals will be visible and much easier to find, because we will create visuals that will be put on the doors of people who have something to offer, as well as create maps around the city.
  • Woolies - This team was brainstorming the idea of revalidating sheep wool as a local resource. Currently, the local community cannot make use of this material. Therefore, unfortunately, despite its value as a raw product, sheep wool often gets burned. The project intends to promote intergenerational learning in the field of wool processing and to reestablish and rebrand local wool products.
  • Bibi Bison – Videos for Social Impact. The idea is to publish videos with stories from the local hunters’ community, of which Bibi is one well-known individual. The activity has two main goals: First, to involve the hunters’ community in the change process of the landscape of Armenis, in which hunting will supposedly have a different role in the future. Second, to promote the community by sharing local stories, customs and atmospheres. This way, the hunters’ community can become an important player in the transformation of Armenis for sustainable tourism.
  • Bison Hillock Digital: The challenge the local community in Armenis is facing is that the lack of access for tourist to get to know about this place. Bison Hillock Digital came up with the idea of having an integrated application on the mobile phone. The authors would like to redesign the existing website in order to reduce the expense of developing a completely new mobile phone application. The new app will offer services where tourists can book their accommodations and other activities. The application will link the locals, who offer services, to the tourists. This way, we will create new job opportunities for the local community.

Impressions Bison Hillock Intensive Programme 2019

Image credits

  • WWF Romania, CLLC Team, Daan van der Linde, Judith Jobse, Jana Nau, Mihai Arghir