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Access to forests is our privilege?

Levadas – more than two thousands kilometers of irrigation channels, going through Madeira across and along from the top to the bottom of the island.

I can only think about walking along the path surrounding levada by green tropical flora, to feel undiscribed calmness. Even more I like to visit them alone without companions, for better exploration.

Every single forest has his own story to discover and it depends on us, do we want to hear them or not. Trees are silent witnesses of history. The rest of the oldest kind belonged to Old Tjikko from Swedish Fulufjället National Park, survived more than nine thousand years. They remeber the time before Jesus Christ, the Roman Empire, Inca Empire, two world wars, many revolutions – including the Industrial Revolution started in the XVIII century. In the last mentioned, the woodland area decreased to 5% in the Nineteen Century in England – it was a total disaster for ecosystem. We have to remeber about consequences of deforestation, because interferance in the natural enviroment without any control, always has catastrophycal effect on our life.

At first, we have to look at the functions of the forest. One of them is storage of water and protection against water loss. Many organisation, which works for protection of sources of drinking water like UNICEF reports: ‘663 million people in the world do not have access to clean water.’ Our generation doesn’t care about responsible development, because our lifestyle is very concentrated on commercialism. ‘Fair Trade’ is a fiction. We know nothing about the conditions of goods production and where post-production wastes are going. We want to buy more in the lowest price but the real price is a lot bigger. For example in the result of demand in goods increased factories are trying to meet the requests of their clients so they use more electricity and water and they produce more pollution. Quantity of CO2 in the air is huge and trees are able to absorbe a lot’s of it. What happens when the level of carbon dioxide increases but amount of plants decreases regularly? Ask yourself from where are coming: dyspnoea, lung cancer, badly mood etc.

In 2010 Madeiran community could experienced the effect of deforestation. Normally the water coming from the top of the mountins can be stopped by the natural obstacles, which are trees. In that case, rain started to shore up the rockes, then pushing them driectly down with mud. Offically 47 people were killed by flood and mudslides. Restoration works costed 1 bilion of euros and after seven years Madeira still pay for it. Nobody will give back the life of 47 people.

Another aspect is connected with animals, because the forest is thier home. Can you imagine that somebody can come one day to your house and destroy everything what you have, without your permission? Of course not, so why we are doing the stuff like this and we say: “It’s our privilege!” The time has changed – we don’t need to kill animals to get a leather to make warm clothes, feed our families and presenting ‘real men’s strength’. Did you think what is going to happen with those animals, which lost shelters? Their space for living become smaller and probability of migration near people’s settlement is very possible. Contact with the people might be to dengerous for both of sides. That’s why they shouldn’t move out from forests. We have only one planet. Let’s do something to protect natural enviroment.

If you want to change the Earth for better, you can contact organisations such as Conservation, WWF Panda, Global Water Foundation and Fairtrade.

Short bio of the volunteer:

Kamil Swiderski, 21 years old, volunteer from Poland. Great fan of modern architecture, dance and travel.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.