The Centre

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WHAT DO WE DO IN THE AQUALUTRA INFORMATION CENTRE AND HOW ARE WE LEARNING IN OTTER'S OUTDOOR CLASSROOM

In addition to valuable findings about the otter population in Goričko, an Otter Information Centre AQUALUTRA was build in Križevci as the most visible result of the LIFE project, which lasted from 2004 to 2009. The centre continues professional and research tasks that were set in the framework of the LIFE project: monitoring of otter population in protected areas, particularly in the Landscape Park Goričko; identifying causes of endangerment and planning their elimination; cross-border collaboration. We will also monitor the spread of otter population to unprotected areas, since the otter is endangered and protected species everywhere, not just in certain areas. The most important tasks of Otter Centre are educating, informing and raising awareness of integrated nature conservation with focus on water. The otter is talking about this topic to different target groups, from the youngest and pupils, to visitors of Pannonian spas and the Landscape Park Goričko.

AQUALUTRA Centre is designed as two pavilions - two otter paws, symbolically situated between forest and water, the two ecosystems that are crucial for the survival of otter. The first, already built paw is for the public: visitors, researchers and other guests. The second paw will, unfortunately, have to wait. Because we want to show a responsible attitude towards nature, we chose to build mostly from natural materials, including traditional ones, such as wood, clay, and straw. We endeavoured not only that all materials origin from Slovenia, but we tried to find them as close to our centre as possible - this is also a contribution to protecting the environment, which is every day more burdened by global transportation.

In order to provide natural light inside the pavilion, two-thirds of the pavilion's perimeters are glazed with energy-saving windows. The roof is flat, covered with wood. Eventually we will plant it and create a green roof. Tower in the back of the pavilion has a brick roof and provides the access to the flat roof. Only above the wooden terrace a glass roof was built in the form of swimming skin surrounding the building (paw) so we can utilize daylight. The building is economical as much as possible both in terms of saving energy and water. We will mostly take advantage of the rainwater. Waste water is collected in septic tank with three chambers and afterwards flows through a constructed wetland. We want it to leave the centre completely clean and ready for reuse. Building is heated with air/water heat pump (underfloor heating). Wild animals such as dormice, martens, owls and other birds, squirrels and bats, even the hornets are welcome guests. For each one there is space in the "pot of Mojca Pokrajculja".

In the LIFE project started educational and awareness raising activities were completed in the project funded with EEA and Norway Grants. Unobtrusively we equipped an "Otter's water educational path" with only one pdftriple-board (in Slovene only). We prepared woven "Otter's secret box" with didactic tools and educational content, which can be recombined depending on the level of difficulty and type of target groups: worksheets, colouring books, teaching aids and didactic games for the implementation of nature conservation workshops for school groups. Conceptual designs for a range of interactive communication facilities in the open for the interpretation of nature in a creative and dynamic way were made. Some wooden buildings have already been set up with the help of volunteers and serve their purpose well.

In our work we involve local craftsmen and cousine. We also cooperate very well with the cooperative for rural development Pomelaj that educates and provides work for economically weak social groups (especially women) on the basis of fair trade. They made us beautiful and useful educational boxes and other useful products from corn husks.

The area of Landscape Park Goričko is a habitat of the most numerous and most viable population of otters in Slovenia. As such it became a Special Area of Conservation with the otter as a qualifying species, included in the Natura 2000 – EU-wide network of nature protection areas. The otter population of Goričko is shared by two other protected areas - parks in Hungary and Austria. Therefore, the otter is not only important nature conservation value, but also has a symbolic value, since it is connecting the three parts of the Goričko-Raab-Őrség Tri-Lateral Park.

In the centre you can view the exhibition AQUALUTRA - Otter, the Queen of Waters, which was prepared by Lutra Institute in the framework of the LIFE project, and was supplemented with the results of the project The Otter on Capital's Doorstep (the City of Ljubljana). During the project supported by Norway Grants duplicate of the exhibition was created with the update on results of the LIFE project and we added a new panel, promoting the centre AQUALUTRA.

The exhibition also includes mounted marten family (Mustelidae), the otter and its relatives. All mounted animals were victims of traffic, which is additionally emphasized on the accompanying information sheet of each specimen, stating which species and cause of death with marked exact location of road kill. The purpose is to emphasize the danger that animals are exposed to in traffic and to warn drivers of the increased caution. This is the aim of the project Traffic and Animals (STOPJEŽ) implemented by Lutra until July 2012 with the support of the NGO BLOCK GRANT in the framework of Slovenian-Swiss cooperation programme to reduce economic and social disparities within the enlarged European Union. Also animals are involuntary traffic participants, because their traditional paths are often overlooked during the planning of transport infrastructure.

pdfWhat does AQUALUTRA Centre offer to visitors

pdfNature interpretation on Otter's educational path at AQUALUTRA Centre

 

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