The local plant project helps promote intercultural cohesion through environmental education as part of the European BRIDGES programme

  • The workshop is one of the volunteer activities included in the BRIDGES programme for social inclusion taking place in Tortosa.
  • The activity helped participants get to know the local vegetation of Tortosa and promoted links between each other and the natural environment.
  • Tortosa city council and the Unió de Consells Esportius de Catalunya (UCEC) are the Catalan representatives of this European initiative to promote social cohesion.

 

Tortosa, 3 December 2020 – Throughout 2020, the European BRIDGES project has worked to promote inclusive communities in Europe and helped local groups in Tortosa become more integrated in society through volunteer work and solidarity. Ever since the project began back in January, workshops in the three fields of sport, culture, and voluntary work have been carried out to work towards intercultural cohesion and inclusion. The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown brought many activities to a halt, while others had to adapt to the new health and safety requirements. One such case is the environmental activity which consists of working with local schools to plant native vegetation and which was delayed before being finally carried out yesterday (2 December 2020) in Tortosa.

Focused on volunteer work, the single-session workshop was useful to explain why the local vegetation is beneficial for us and to share information about different native plants from the countries of origin of the different participants. It included following a short guided walk near the Cristòfol Despuig high school and Tirant lo Blanc bridge to understand what Mediterranean vegetation is like and the role it plays in our cities’ lives. “We aim to make the most of the fact that we have participants from different countries to share information about the plants of their respective countries and to see how each of us has grown up in a different landscape, something we all have in common. One of our ideas was that if the students did not know enough about the local plants of their respective countries of birth, they could get more information from their families, thus involving them too,” explains Iris Cobacho, consultant for Green (eco-friendly) Schools at Cel Rogent Educació Ambiental and in charge of planning and developing the workshop.

 

 

Due to the situation caused by the pandemic, participants were split into groups according to the ‘class bubbles’ they belong to in the El Temple and Sant Llàtzer primary schools. Six different groups participated in two separate time periods – three groups at 9.15 a.m. and three groups at 11.15 a.m. Each of the three groups in each session started the route at different locations to avoid any contact with other groups. They also had their own supervisor. Over one hundred pupils took part, making it the activity in the BRIDGES project with most participation.

Pupils learnt to identify different plants, understand how they grow together, and find out where they come from. They discovered that in open spaces or parks, the plants are normally native Mediterranean ones, but the different climate in urban cities means plants from different origins can be found there. Finally, participants planted aromatic Mediterranean plants. “We aimed for pupils to be able to talk about different kinds of landscapes, understand and share knowledge about the plants they have grown up with or seen locally, and at the same time improve their local environment and feel more connected to it,” added Cobacho.

Regarding the BRIDGES objective of promoting intercultural cohesion, Cobacho explained that this kind of activities means people from different lands and cultures feel more at home in their new city. “The idea is to create a more educational and pleasant city, a place where we can feel at home out and about, meeting and interacting with each other. That’s the key – to create links between ourselves and links between us and the local environment so we can appreciate it and enjoy it more,” concluded Cobacho.