We were delighted to welcome Kesjana from Albania to Scotland this week on a learning programme with The Green Team. We caught up with Kesjana at a session at Cappielaw Woods to find out what she does, why The Green Team and what she has been learning.
What’s your Name and Where do you come from?
My name is Kesjana Merdini and I work at the National Federation of Communal Forests and Pasture of Albania (NFCFPA).
Tell us a little about the work you do ?
NFCFPA is a non-profit organisation founded in 2006 as an initiative of a group of Local Forest Users Associations and 4 Regional existing Federations. It represents the interests of about 600, 000 users of forests and pastures of Albania. They are individuals and families who take care of about 30% of the forest land in Albania. The Federation brings together about 2000 villages commissions of forests and pastures, 250 Forest Users Associations and 11 Regional Federation of Communal Forests and Pasture.
The NFCFPA’s mission is to address and convey the interests of its members to accelerate the decentralisation, legalisation of the ownership/user rights towards a sustainable management of the forests and pastures.
The Federation operates throughout Albania with a special focus on:
- Lobbying and advocacy at the central level to support a pro-poor Albanian national forest reform in the frame of the current decentralisation process of the forest and pastures from the state level to the local level
- Partnership and collaboration at different levels set up including central, local government and nongovernmental partners
- Technical assistance to Municipalities and farmers in forest planning processes (draft annual plans, the registration and the transfer of user’s ownership at, participatory mapping etc)
- Sharing experience and dissemination at regional and national level regarding participatory planning and farmer forestry model,
- Identification and support of successful forestry development models
- Extensive service provision to Municipalities and FPUA to improve their knowledge and awareness of innovative forest management and practices
- Training provision to increase the awareness of LGUs forestry staff and boards FPUA regarding to the fire risks in forests and pastures and their role in preventing and extinguishing them
- Awareness raising campaign engaging women and girls mainly from the rural areas on their land and forest rights and female participation in the decision-making processes.
I studied in Albania at the Agriculture University of Tirana the Bachelor and Masters degrees. After I graduated I began working in the NFCFPA. I mainly perform the role of communication and forest engineer and publicity on our Facebook page.
I gather information from our network in Albania and Kosovo, various articles on forests, agroforestry and rural development. Every month I prepare the newspaper with the most important publications with the name” Jeto Gjelber” which roughly translated means “These Green”.
I participated in the interpretation in different municipalities of Albania such as Korca and Devoll for the manual entitled “Sustainable Short Rotation Coppice” which was translated into Albanian by the National Federation of Communal Forests and Pastures of Albania.
I was also part of the working group for scientific studies together with the professor of the Faculty of Forest Sciences on how to convert shrubs into coppices. I am also part of a large communication network between Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia and prepare all the materials from the work done with these countries and put them in our monthly newsletter.
I have run training all over Albania in every city and in many of its villages. I trained groups of forest engineers in the municipalities and in the villages. I run training internationally in Kosovo 1 day or 2 days several times a year, in Macedonia as well as in Italy for 5 days, training with participants from all over the world Middle East North of Africa and Europe.
I have trained on how to influence young people to connect with nature and for this we as an organisation have planted seedlings in different schools engaging the young people in the process.
Why did you want to come to The Green Team and how did you find us?
I’m young and I want to progress my career as much as possible. My organisation supports international learning and so I searched the internet for an organisation that could support me with practical training. The Green Team opened its doors to me. The Green Team has a focus on young people, and this is great. Young people need to know more about the environment and we should serve a bridge between them and the environment by bringing them closer to it.
What have you been learning on your days out with the Green Team ?
I have learned a lot I have enjoyed a lot. I have learned that to work together as a team is very important.
On my first day I meet Mandy and Penny at Gorgie City Farm to discuss my itinerary. We visited the school where The Green Team is based and Mandy got me sorted with waterproofs!
I’ve enjoyed sessions with Green Wellies, Green Explorers, mini Green Explorers and Thrive. I’ve shared my experiences of our work in Albania and I’ve enjoyed conversations around the fire with all the young people and Green Team staff and volunteers. I’ve had fun playing games, gathering autumn leaves in the sunshine, clearing weeds, drinking hot chocolate and learning about the volunteering work of The Green Team. I’ve learned that the volunteer work is useful and we should do as much of it as possible, especially by supporting young people. It has been very nice to watch them in the environment. I think this is something very beautiful about how in the minds of children is cultivated the love for the environment and the care to keep it clean. And I’ve enjoyed the beautiful views of mountains, parks and forests in a state of nature.
What have you enjoyed the most?
Edinburgh for me is a miracle and I hope to have more training opportunities in this beautiful place with pleasant nature and very good and loving people.
The Green Team is wonderful and I am very happy that I am doing this training. I am very grateful for the support they have given me. I have learned a lot and I have a few more days to learn more.
Volunteer work is important and involving young people in nature is an opportunity not to be missed for young people. The future and the love for the environment and the forest starts with them.
Is there any activity that you will take back to your own organisation?
Yes, the activities that I would like to return to my organisation is to involve as many young people in nature and to organise activities, games and conservation tasks like The Green Team has organised in the projects that I have participated in.
What’s your favourite thing about being in Scotland?
My favourite that I am in Scotland is that I wanted to learn as much as possible from Scottish culture, the way you do things, how your organisation is and what are the activities you do as well as the relief climate and the forests in which they are. The more different cultures I can experience, the more I can improve my work in Albania.