On 11 December, a workshop was held in Ivo Andrić elementary school in Zagreb with the aim of informing elementary school students about the topic of invasive alien species. By playing games and taking part in an interactive workshop, these fourth graders learned about the invasive alien plants growing in their surroundings and what to do with such plants if they encounter them.
Invasive alien species are plants, animals and other organisms which are not naturally found in a particular area but have been introduced there by human agency. They present the biggest challenge for biodiversity protection in the 21st century. They are spreading uncontrollably through the Sava river basin displacing local species, negatively affecting other native species, destroying soil fertility, reducing arable surfaces, causing significant problems for flood protection, etc. In short – they change natural habitats of European importance and are extremely difficult to eradicate. The damage they cause to the world economy is estimated at 1.4 trillion dollars, that is, around 5% of the value of the world economy.
The workshop was organized by the Bioteka association in cooperation with Zeleni prsten Public Institution of Zagreb County. Ms. Marina Pavlić and her fourth graders learned in a fun way about plants such as the false indigo, the goldenrod, the common milkweed, and the common ragweed and about why these plants endanger our local species and have a negative effect on people. The workshop participants were given an assignment to imagine a fictional invasive alien plant, draw it, and name it. They were very creative and their drawings will be a part of the class exhibition which will be a daily reminder to the students of the dangers of possible future invasions.
The subject of invasive alien species is a very abstract one and the challenge was how to bring it closer to the young generations. Sava TIES project features several interactive workshops which will impart useful information to the younger generations, school children and the general public in an interesting way. The workshop participants will have an opportunity to get to know the invasive alien species present in their environment and learn how to prevent their spread. Educating and informing are important tools in raising the public awareness on the troubling issues caused by these species in our environment. Next year the project partners will be organizing educational workshops for all the interested parties to spread the knowledge about invasive alien plants present in the Sava river basin.