Together for Tatra mountains

Type: Biodiversity conservation

Participating countries:Slovakia

Duration: long-term

Total budget: seeking partners and funding

Tatra Mountains are the smallest high mountains of the world. Even they are home to chamois and bears, they are under huge threat by gradual replacement of forests and meadows by apartment estates and private chalets seen as a good investment for richer people. Local residents feel defenseless or are often unaware of the gradually disappearing natural landscape and decreasing ecosystem services with the perspective living in the region becoming bleak. The project strives to reverse the trend.

There is an unbridled urban development in the entire Tatra region fuelled by profit-seeking speculations not taking the needs of local communities and environmental effects into consideration. The interests of a few investors and ‘oligarchs‘ take over the interests of the whole community.  According to our estimates, more than 4000 hectares of valuable landscapes are acquired sometimes in a not legal way and were approved by often corrupted officials for new massive constructions of housing estates. The developers do not take into account social factors and create ghost towns pushing local young people away from the region as they cannot afford housing and at the same time ecological stability and human well-being for those who stay are slowly destroyed. The unique natural heritage of the Tatra Mountains is short- sightedly degraded.

This is happening, because people in the region are not organized, do not cooperate and lack common strategy of sustainable, smart, green and inclusive development.

Who are we doing it for?

The first target group are representatives of local communities (individuals or small informal groups) who already started as activists to point out to the problem and who try to influence fair and transparent decision-making. Machaon already unites such people and at least further 1,000 can be engaged, as these are the key people for change. The second target group are experts in the relevant disciplines at the local and national levels who need to cooperate and collaboratively work for the integration and the improvement of land-use planning processes in the region. And finally, the third target group is the wider public and young people in need to change behaviour to become more proactive and committed to preservation of unique biodiversity and landscape of the Tatra region.

How do we plan to get there?

The leading idea of the project is to engage local people, experts and wider public in harmonious sustainable development and preservation of ecosystem services for human well-being in the unique Tatra region (High Tatras – heritage of national importance). For this purpose, there are specific activities:

  • establishment of regional cooperation network for joint collection and analysis of data and information on land-use planning (existing and proposed urban plans) and their presentation in a clear form through the regional communication platform;
  • meetings with decision makers and preparation of propositions for legislation changes;
  • preparation of innovative methodology on cross-sectoral regional cooperation with public participation in land-use planning processes;
  • engaging 50+ local activists from 20+ municipalities through 2 interactive trainings and provision of consultation and expert support;
  • 3 thematic seminars for specialists, 50+ meetings/public hearings led by local activists in the 20+ municipalities for 1,000+ people;
  • promotional campaigns to gather support of the wider public (films, stickers, booklets);
  • organisation of international art event of painting and photography „Tatras in danger“ (20 participants)
  • creation of documentary films „Tatras in danger“ (already in process)
  • engaging and educating 5,000+ Slovak scouts in the campaign “Young Guardian of the Tatra Mountains’.

What are the expected results?

The project will build an effective platform for civic activism and offer opportunities for engagement of experts and local residents in designing the future of the natural environment in the Tatra region. The following results are expected:
– a cross-sector network of at least active 50+ members to facilitate the ongoing regional cooperation in sustainable, smart, green and inclusive development created;
– interactive communication forum with spatial map of the region established;
– high-quality visual materials promoting active civic participation created and reaching at least 1 million people;
– legal changes to land use planning influenced and temporary moratorium on unbridled construction achieved;
– methodology on regional stakeholder cooperation prepared and disseminated.

How does our idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

The proposed activities strenghten civic cohesion, improve local knowledge and contribute to better informed citizens, in particular local residents, who will become equipped with knowledge, skills and mutual support to address the problem of unsustainable development practices by exercising their voting and petition rights. The project gives voice to the silent majority through modern means such as internet and social media as well as through participation in the positive PR campaign and events organized in the region in which they can take part. The activities bring various people together, allow for learning from each other and mobilizing them for common good and participatory governance where they co-create their own future and determine the quality of the environment they live in.

Why is this idea important to us?

The team behind the project idea consists of already active local people as well as people with strong affinity to the region. The  team is led by three professionals with international experience in regional development and wide-ranging skills in project management and campaigning. The leader Dr.Jozef Bednar  is an environmental specialist educated at Oxford University, at the moment the head of the Poprad district authority building strong leverage in the region. The second leader Svetlana Belova is a seasoned innovator, campaigner and integrator of people. The third leader is a landscape ecologist Peter Jariabka by profession who is one of the few residents in the high mountains experiencing the unbridled and greedy only-for-profit development first hand.  The idea behind the project already gathers momentum and adamant supporters. The project team cooperates with the civic association “Pre dolinu” and Slovak scouting (regional leader Olga Belova).

Major expenses we need to implement the project

  • Spatial map and data collection and processing for the Tatra region, detailed visualisation for most problematic villages  – 19000 EUR
  • Creation of high-quality visual materials (special film „Tatras in danger“, caricatures, photos, maps, stickers, booklets, banners) promoting civic participation in the conservation of Tatra mountains –  20 000 EUR
  • Personnel costs (experts, managers, PR specialist, art-designer, accountant) – 38000 EUR
  • Support of lawyers – 9000 EUR
  • Travel and subsistence – 4000 EUR
  • Communication costs  – 4000 EUR

Funds we already attracted through crowdfunding (EveryIndividualMatters platform)

Creation of film about the problematic of degradation of unique natural heritage of the Tatra Mountains  – 9182 EUR (the film is in process of creation together with the initiative “Pre dolinu”)