In the woods at night to listen to the bats and learn how to protect the forests

In the woods at night to listen to the bats and learn how to protect the forests

Enthusiasm, passion, preparation, curiosity, desire to constantly learn and get involved. These are the characteristics – genuine and reassuring, given that the future of the Planet and the forests is in the hands of young people and the new generations – which the 15 graduates and undergraduates to whom WWF and Sofidel have offered a course have demonstrated of applied training in forest conservation and management. These are young people who have chosen to dedicate their future to the environment. They were selected from 160 candidates who responded from all over Italy to the “Sofidel4Talent” initiative. They are the 15 forest enthusiasts who from 27 to 29 May 2022 filled up with lessons in the Wwf Museum of Biodiversity in Monticiano (interactive and super technological), and excursions in the uncontaminated Alto Merse Nature Reserve, in the province of Siena.


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A packed program of lessons, such as the one on the involvement of suppliers in corporate strategies, and visits, for example to the Regional Forest Fire Protection Center, in which the students had a demonstration of the phases of prevention and fight against fires in Italy. One of the lessons to which a lot of attention was paid was the one on bioacoustics and ecoacoustics, held by Professor Gianni Pavan of the University of Pavia. With the teacher, graduates and undergraduates also made a night excursion, to listen, through the bat detector, to the ultrasounds emitted by bats, inaudible to the human ear.

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Through this instrument the ultrasonic signals of the bats are converted into frequencies perceptible by the human auditory system. During the excursion into the forest, in which we tried to listen to the other nocturnal animals as much as possible, the bat detector seemed almost inactive. Back to the parking lot, however, to the surprise of the students, the instrument began to reproduce the sounds of bats, attracted for their nocturnal hunt by insects flying around the lampposts. These small flying mammals belong to the “strictly protected species of fauna”, constitute a precious heritage of biodiversity and are excellent environmental indicators.

Young people as a key to the present and the future

“Young people are the key not only for the future, but also for the present”, underlines Marco Galaverni, scientific director of WWF. “They are a new perspective, which may be able to limit the climate crisis, closely linked to the biodiversity crisis. We must stop plundering the planet’s resources in an unsustainable way”. For this reason, the determination and interest shown by the 15 candidates both in their motivational letters and during lessons and excursions are an excellent sign.

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Annamaria, for example, is a 22-year-old Sicilian who has very clear ideas. She graduated in July 2021 in Forestry and Environmental Sciences and is attending the master’s degree course in Forestry Sciences and Technologies. Her dream is to work in public or private bodies to enhance and defend the forest and environmental heritage. Arianna is a 26-year-old Roman with a degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Pavia. Her ambition is to offer environmental consultancy in the public and private sector, “because the figure of the naturalist is fundamental in guaranteeing planning that takes biodiversity into account”. Salvatore is a 30-year-old Sicilian with a degree in Evolutionary Biology who would like to work as an environmental promoter and educator “because turning attention to the new generations and their awareness of nature and conscious consumption seems to me the only way forward”.

Claudia is a 29-year-old Tuscan graduate in Sciences and management of wildlife and environmental resources who participates in an experimental outdoor education project: she accompanies the young students of a primary school in Viareggio three times a week in outdoor educational activities, including educational farms, local companies and guided tours in natural environments. “This allows me to tell and convey to them the role, the value and the respect necessary for the protection of nature”, she explains. “I see children as little explorers, but also lifelines for the future. All of them deserve to live and enjoy the beauties that nature gives us”. Those of Annamaria, Arianna, Salvatore and Claudia are some of the forest professions that more and more young people are approaching. But they are certainly not the only ones. “The boys and girls who followed me in the course showed great interest and sensitivity”, Professor Pavan points out, “with the desire to bring commitment and innovation also in the agroforestry sectors”.

Specializations for those who deal with forests

Beyond the best-known forest rangers and forest managers, the sector offers numerous opportunities, for example, related to well-being, education and recreational activities, areas for which figures with specific vertical skills are required. Here are some of those that are spreading more and more or of which the need is increasingly felt.

  • Forestry pedagogist, expert in environmental education, focused on the knowledge of nature, life in the forest and the discovery of its secrets through play and sensory experience immersed in the woods.
  • Log Salvager, expert in recovering wood from trees felled by storms.
  • Short Rotation Plantation Manager, in charge of crop rotation and planting of new trees.
  • Forest Fire Fighter, specialized in the prevention and extinguishing of forest fires that require specific techniques, equipment and training, other than those required in urban and populated areas.
  • Adventure Park expert, specialist in the design of adventure parks in the woods.
  • Forest Therapist, expert in forest therapy, a Japanese practice increasingly widespread in Europe and Italy, which, together with the forest bathing (forest bath), is based on contact with nature to improve psychophysical well-being, decrease stress, increase relaxation and, at the same time, raise awareness of the importance of preserving the environment.
  • Forest Communicator, expert in communication applied to the forestry sector. It will work with the aim of increasing the sector’s ability to effectively communicate the role of forests in sustainable development.
  • Forestry and business economics expert. “There is an increasing need for a figure who knows ecological processes well and has skills on economics and the market”, explains Elettra D’Amico, WWF One Planet School referent, “so as to be able to encourage companies to use resources in conscious way “.
  • Expert in environmental education and eco-sustainable tourism, who creates situations in which schools, families and friends can have an experience in the forest that can be both scientific and emotional.
  • Expert in harvesting forest products: from berries to herbs, from mushrooms to honey.
  • Sound walking expert. Bioacoustics studies the sounds produced by animals to communicate with each other or to locate obstacles and prey.

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