In Alsud, Portugal there exists the Alsud Professional Vocational School contrived by the local Cooperative of Alsud, where various teaching skills are taught and developed for different generations and needs.
The school strives to provide vocational education and specialised technical training for young people, adults. The school is committed to the student’s developmental journey and to utilising the treasures/assets of the local region in Mértola such as the Vila Museu, the National Hunting capital, and headquarters of the Guadiana Valley Natural Park.
As a result of its hunting rich location the school is made up of a large Hunting, Fishing and Nature School which offers courses in Junior Game Keeping as well as courses in Global environment and Biodiversity by Women, Forestry, Falconry, Dog training, Erasmus+ opportunities among many others.
Professional courses such as these are essential for teaching important environmental lessons to the younger generation and creating jobs in other areas where there is a lack of qualified technicians locally, regionally, or nationally.
The new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which includes a new restoration initiative, calls for more community-based actions led by citizens, businesses, or social partners to protect and restore Europe’s nature. This project demonstrates yet again that hunters are active on the ground and will be an essential player in implanting the strategy throughout Europe in the next 10 years.
Hunting and Education: A historic bond uncovered in Alsud
Hunting and cultural identity is a key focus for the school. Alsud is aware in many Portuguese municipalities hunting is one of the main lines of work, community, and tradition. Hunting is an area in which the school has been investing in since 2011 whilst works closely with the national Portuguese hunting association FENCAÇA.
Over the various training cycles, it has consolidated a network of partnerships, lived a set of experiences, and gained a unique knowledge/awareness that now allows them to launch these new game management courses. These courses look to improve the lives of locals, students, stakeholders. Crucially the school will allow students to rise to the great modern challenges that lie ahead for hunting: reduction in indigenous hunting populations, decrease in the number of hunters, complex rules and legislation, animosity on the part of urban society, etc.
The Junior Game keeper course
The Junior Game keeper course was created behind the belief that economic and social sustainability will only be possible if backed with a strong environmental foundation. In this context, this educational project represents a unique and promising opportunity for the next generation. Furthermore, the Alsud Professional School, with its (unique in Portugal) Game Management Course, has also developed the “Wildlife & Game Resources Management and Biodiversity Experimental Center” (CEGRCB).
This center intends to structure and operationalise a set of ideas and convictions of elements of a permanently restless work team, looking for solutions that best serve the community in which it operates. It is intended to be a piece of a larger “puzzle” that is being built in Mértola around the issues of Nature and Biodiversity that must harmonize with human activities: Sustainable Hunting, Agriculture and Tourism that in result generate human and economic wealth. On top of that, the CEGRCB center for experimental purposes, now utilizes the nearby grounds of the “Forest Perimeter of Coutos de Mértola”. A local forest bringing practicality to education.
A truly practical Game Management Course
This local forested land with an area of 114.65 hectares is invaluable, as it is located only 300 meters from the school and will be within the scope of the Mértola Biological Station. The estate, due to its size and location, is ideal for this purpose: students and trainers will be able to go out daily and manage the territory, carrying out experiments, without the need for travel or transportation, and their management, surveillance and maintenance will be facilitated and assured.
This experimental territory will ensure classes will be practical, introducing new measures and practices on the ground, especially regarding habitat management, thus implementing a sustainable wild game and resources management together with a view to the future.
Conservation and Education in action
The land is intended for the following purposes:
Introduction, experimentation and monitoring the best Game and Resources Management Practices with a view to restoring the local population of red leg partridges Alectoris rufa, wild rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus, as well as other wildlife occurring. The territory is also to be used as an experimental forest and farmland demonstrative ground, which can be shared with other Institutions and used for other experiences with innovative, sustainable, and compatible practices.
Why it matters
Hunters are the most active conservationists for species in Europe based on their interest in the conservation and sustainable use of all species. In several countries, a person cannot just become a hunter, it can requires studying, physical checks, written exams and above all a love/(a keen interest) for nature. Educational projects like Alsud professional school highlight the education and the love to learn about the nature that is entwined in hunting.
Course of Game Management at Alsud Professional School, Portugal
João Grosso – “Wildlife & Game Resources Management and Biodiversity Experimental Center”