Another Citizens Engagement Activity, organized by our employee and ex-IVY volunteer Hanna Öllös and our current IVY volunteer Jonas Sommer, took place in Slovakia. The event in Slovensky raj National Park focused on the synergy of river conservation, sustainable development and regional policies.
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Informing and engaging citizens
The event kicked off on Friday evening, attended by a group of 25 participants, with an introduction to Slovensky raj National Park, the European Wilderness Society, Interreg and EU Cohesion Policy. The director of Slovensky raj National Park informed the audience about how the National Park, with the help of EU-funded projects, supports local people in the region. To do so, the Park tries to transform the natural wealth of Slovensky raj into sustainable sources of economic profit for the local communities. Part of this natural wealth, the Hornad river, is a major attraction for kayakers and other tourists. But how can local businesses profit from this?
Interreg and other programmes aim to bridge this gap to guarantee sustainable development for everybody. Projects like Interreg Centralparks make the connection between nature conservation authorities, regional governments and local communities. This connection happens across organizational, geographical and political borders and brings together people from a variety of backgrounds.
Clean rivers provide many advantages
Deputy chairman Vlado Vancura talked afterwards about the importance of river conservation. Clean rivers do not only provide clean drinking water. They are crucial for nature and a magnet for tourists from near and far. This message caught on with the audience, because the personal attachment of Vlado Vancura to Slovensky raj, situated just 50 km away from his hometown, was contagious.
It was really amazing to see, how so many locals are willing to join such an event to protect this valuable river.
Following the presentations, we screened the movie “Ziva rieka” (Living river). The movie shows the beauty of the Belá river, a wild river not far away from Slovensky raj and the Hornad river. To close off the evening, everybody had the chance to ask questions or express ideas about river conservation and European Cohesion Policy.
400 kg of trash collected in just one river
The next day, on Saturday, we engaged a big group of citizens to contribute their part to the conservation of the Hornad river. After we had informed them about the importance of clean rivers, they were more than happy to give something back to the river. As a result, fifty people gathered in one of the information centers of Slovensky raj National Park to clean the Hornad from plastic trash. Even the local television crew was present to document the event and interview the participants. Divided in several smaller groups, we moved along and in different sections of the river to collect as much trash as possible.
After hours of hard work, approximately 400 kg of trash were collected. To reward the participants for their hard work and contribution, the event was finalised with locally prepared hot goulash and refreshing drinks. Dirty, but refuelled, satisfied and happy, everybody went home.
We would like to thank Slovensky raj National Park for their support, hospitality and dedication to turn this event into a success together with us and the European Wilderness Society.