The Pieniny National Park developed an Environmental Education Programme, which has been carried out since 1994. The programme is aimed at:
a. visitors and people who work with tourists e.g. guides, raftsmen,
b. dwellers of four Pieniny communities, especially:
– pupils from local elementary and secondary schools and their teachers,
– local councillors and officials,
c. pupils of all ages from the whole of Poland, who come to the Pieniny region for school trips, summer camps, field courses, etc.,
d. people employed with institutions of environmental education activity, e.g. Pro-Natura, EKO-OKO, Polish Ecological Club, State Forest and regional environmental education centres.
The main goal of the environmental education programme is to enhance the visitor’s experience and to promote opportunities for public understanding of the Park’s characteristics and attractions.
Education activity is carried out in various ways:
a/ preparing displays and information offices at visitor centres, located at the Park entrances.
The Park’s entrance pavilions have been built to be assist with carrying out an environmental education activity as well as to serve as information offices. Pavilions are located at the tourist trails in Szczawnica, Sromowce Kąty, Sromowce Niżne, Czorsztyn and Krościenko. By visiting each of them tourists can learn about nature in Pieniny, rules for its protection, history and traditions of the Pieniny region and about opportunities for sightseeing in the Park.
Each pavilion is supplied with a tourist information office, a shop which sells leaflets, maps, guide books and souvenirs, as well as an exhibition presenting natural and cultural treasures of the Park. Right next to two of the pavilions there are small Pieniny botanical gardens.
b/ training courses for raftsmen, guides and Park’s employees who work with visitors.
The exceptional natural and landscape characteristics and cultural heritage of the Pieniny area are the decisive factors, which have contributed to the great popularity of this area amongst tourists. More than 700, 000 visitors, including many organized groups of pupils and adults, come to the Park annually.
In order to ensure that a visit to the Pieniny mountains should not result in aimless exploration, the experience of hiking with a qualified guide is recommended.
With due concern for tourists’ safety and competent guiding, the Pieniny NP has been providing mountain guides with annual training since 1988. Lessons cover the basics of Pieniny nature and landscape protection. Each class offers both a lecture in the office building and a field trip which corresponds with the topic assigned to a particular year. After passing the test, mountain guides are authorized by the Pieniny National Park Director.
The Park arranges training for its employees and for visitor centre staff (seasonal workers) systematically every year, in order to improve their customer care, competence and efficiency to improve the visitor’s experience. Since 2002, Park’s education officers have been trained the history, geology and biodiversity of the Pieniny mountains. Trainee raftsmen have been educated about nature protection and the Dunajec ecosystem over the three years.
Each training workshop combines a talk illustrated with slides and a field trip.
c/ carrying out educational classes for pupils of local schools, amongst whom are juniors (years V-VI), secondary school pupils (years I-III) and students of two high schools. In total, activities are prepared for approximately 120 groups annually.
Our educational programme’s motto is: „Beautiful landscape – good management, ugly landscape – mismanagement”. This programme has been carryied out by arrangement between the Park Director, the Education Office in Nowy Sącz and local governments of four Pieniny districts since 1994/95. Classes take place within the Park, within its vicinity and in the entrance pavilions; active teaching methods are employed.
A series of activities in a primary school includes the following topics:
- year V – “I live in the Pieniny region”.
- year VI – “ I’ll be an owner of a forest”.
In a secondary school:
- year I – “I’ll manage a district”.
- year II – “I’ll run a farm”.
- year III – “What is a national park?”.
In a high school:
- year I – “I manage the environment”.
- year II – “I live in the Pieniny National Park’s protective zone”.
- year III – “I do not produce waste”.
About 2,400 pupils take part in our education programmes every year. These activities are instructed by the two education officers.
d/ organizing conferences and workshops for teachers
Education activity aimed at young people will be more effective with active participation by teachers. Only teachers have the opportunity to prepare pupils for classes and to help them consolidate the acquired knowledge. Bearing this in mind, the Pieniny National Park organizes conferences and workshops for teachers from the Pieniny region.
Teachers of different specialities take part in the conferences and workshops; natural, historic, landscape and cultural values of the Pieniny National Park together with possibilities for using them later in education, are presented.
Furthermore - according to an agreement with Education Office - the Pieniny NP participates in the “Environmental education path” Programme. The conferences and workshops link teachers from different counties: Tatry, Nowy Targ, Nowy Sącz, Gorlice and Limanowa.
e/ organizing lectures, talks, screenings of films and field trips.
Educational activities are mostly limited to pupils from the Pieniny region. Whenever possible, our education officers can carry out lectures and field trips for groups outside the region. They prepare activities on different topics according to the requirements, physical condition and age of participants.
f/ meetings with councillors and officials in the Pieniny NP Headquarters.
Pieniny landscape protection depends considerably on the successful management of adjacent areas by local governments. This necessitates cooperation between representatives of local communities achieved through meetings of four Pieniny District Councils, the County Council and the Regional Council of Malopolskie Region, organized in the Park’s Headquarters. During the meetings participants visit the Park to learn about the rules for nature protection and threats to nature - especially those which may be removed or avoided as a result of local authorities taking appropriate decisions.