These session outlines were created during the project which ”Youth for nature, volunteering and inclusion” which involved around 60 youth workers in Training Course and Partnership Building Activity and 30 youngsters as participants of the Youth exchange. They will be updated and adjusted throuhgout the time.

This project has been supported by Erasmus+ program of the EU.



1) Importance of nature conservation

Divide participants in groups of 5-6 members. Half of the groups should draw the state of planet if there would be no nature conservation and the other half should draw Planet Earth with perfect nature conservation concept. 

Ask one person from each group to present and explain their process of drawing. This exercise is just for warming up.

2) Clarify terms needed for proper understanding / common understanding. Each term should be discussed in small group. Every group should come up with a common definition / understanding. Each group should present their definition to the others, discuss it and agree on the common meaning. Terms for clarification could be the following:

  • Nature
  • Wilderness
  • Environment
  • Environmental protection
  • Ecology
  • Nature conservation, preservation
  • Nature protection

3) Nature conservation – history and present: use presentation to show development of the conservation movement, initiate discussion and critical thinking.

Presentation (PDF): Nature Conservation – history and present

4) Sir David Attenborough & Professor Johan Rockstrom speak at WWF-UK’s Living Planet Lecture 2016 – In the evening session, you can watch the lecture from WWF-UK Ambassador Sir David Attenborough followed by world renowned climate scientist Professor Johan Rockstrom, Executive Director of The Stockholm Resilience Centre. The talk explores the impact humanity is having on our planet as we enter a new geological era, the Anthropocene, and how by acting now we can create a future where people and nature thrive together. 

Stakeholders & Sectors

1) Introduce participants with stakeholders, sectors and challenges in nature conservation

2) Show an example of a project which involves different stakeholders (for instance, WWF restoration project in Serbia)

Presentation *PDF): Nature Conservation – sectors and stakeholders

3) Divide them into 5 groups which will analyse the following sectors: agriculture, energy production, textile production, tourism, forestry.Give them task sheets (below) to analyses sectors that interact with their.

Each group should read sectors which are overlapping with each others. Write all sectors on the big flip chart paper as overview of the interconnectedness.

4) Next step is stakeholder analysis which should be also done in small groups. Groups should choose their project and with the help of the handout fill in the stakeholder matrix (download from the link bellow). Each group should present their result at the end of this exercise.

Stakeholder matrix – identifing key stakeholders



Introduction to systems thinking

Time: 90 minutes

Pax: 5 – 30

Materials needed: papers, pens, projector

1) Start with one of the brain energizers:

2) Clarify meanings of different terms needed for understanding of the systems thinking.

  • System, elements and types of systems (natural/artificial, social, open/closed)
  • Ecosystem
  • Political system
  • Systems thinking

3) Define systems thinking and explain the evolution of its development? Offer different definitions of it. For example: ‘’Systems thinking is an ordered, methodological approach to understanding problem situations and identifying solutions to these problems It takes into account both the “forest and the trees” – through a process of synthesis, analysis and inquiry.’’

4) Show a video to initiate discussion on systems thinking

5) Present the Iceberg model – explain 4 levels of complexity with the example of cold.

6) Small group exercise – analysing single event during longer period of time and recognizing trends and patterns, structures and attitude and opinions

    • Climate change
    • A flood in the town (every spring)
    • Polluted lake (plastic, trash…)

Each group presents their results and share feelings, challenges and thoughts during the process of thinking.

7) Show the video  How wolves changed river and conclude the session with it. Ask participants to reflect individually and close the session.


A Systems Story – A short introduction to key systems thinking concepts (subtitles available in English, Japanese, Indonesian and Turk)

Systems thinking: a cautionary tale (cats in Borneo)This video about systems thinking tells the story of “Operation Cat Drop” that occurred in Borneo in the 1950’s. It is a reminder that when solutions are implemented without a systems perspective they often create new problems.

How wolves change rivers – When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix. 

How whales change climate – When whales were at their historic populations, before their numbers were reduced, it seems that whales might have been responsible for removing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year. Whales change the climate. The return of the great whales, if they are allowed to recover, could be seen as a benign form of geo-engineering. It could undo some of the damage we have done, both to the living systems of the sea, and to the atmosphere.

Brain energizer on time: Linear, Flexible and Cyclical time through cultures

Put quotes on the wall in different parts of the room and ask participants to chose one of them. Ask them if they can guess from which countries or cultures these quotes come. If they guess ask them why do they think that it comes from this specific country/culture. What are cultural patterns which might influence different understandings of time? How is that related to different ways / cultures of thinking?


Linear time

If you want your dreams to come true, don’t oversleep. (Yiddish proverb)

Stay a while, lose a mile. (Dutch proverb)

Flexible time

Time is the master of those who have no master. (Arabian proverb)

If it’s not your time, you won’t be born and you won’t die. (Corsican proverb)

Cyclical time

With time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown. (Chinese proverb)

A ripe melon falls by itself. (African proverb)

Man has responsibility, not power, over time. (Native American proverb)

More information here:

Understanding different concepts of time can help us to better understand different ways of thinking influenced by dominant cultures.

The linear thinking involves rationality, logic, and analytical thinking concentrating on external factors for comprehension and communication. The nonlinear dimension is related to intuition, insight, creativity, and emotions, concentrating on internal factors for comprehension and communication.

Nonlinear thinking styles solve problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that often are not reached by using only traditional step-by-step logic. Nonlinear thinking is a type of systems thinking.



Useful resorces:

IUCN Publication: Towards Strengthened Conservation Planning in South/Eastern Europe

WWF Publication: Participatory management of protected area in the Carpathian ecoregion

UNEP: Protected Planet Report 2014

WWF Living Planet Report 2016 

Community TOOLBOX, Identifying and Analyzing Stakeholders and Their Interests