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Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania
Conservarea biodiversităţii şi dezvoltare comunitară în Transilvania

Grundtvig

Grundtvig is an EU funding programme which aims to provide adults with more ways to improve their knowledge and skills, facilitate their personal development and boost their employment prospects. It also helps to tackle problems associated with Europe’s ageing population.

It covers not only teachers, trainers, staff and organisations working in the sector, but also learners in adult education. These include relevant associations, counselling organisations, information services, policy-making bodies and others such as NGOs, enterprises, voluntary groups and research centres.

The programme funds a range of activities, including particularly those supporting adult learning staff to travel abroad for learning experiences, through exchanges and various other professional experiences. Other larger scale initiatives involve, for instance, networking and partnerships between organisations in different countries.

Current project: Our Agro Bio Diversity

Project leader: Foundation for the Development of the Education System, Poland.
Other partners from Switzerland, Latvia, Austria, Germany.

Project period: September 2011-May 2013

Project summary: Years of intensive farming and industrialization in Europe have made their impact on the global environment threatening not only wildlife but also the agricultural biodiversity which is the most precious biological and cultural world heritage and the basis of our food security and sovereignty. In several European countries there are movements to protect and regain use of agro-biodiversity, that offer a variety of education tools to motivate older and younger people in rural areas to protect and use agro-biodiversity. The aim of the Learning Partnership is to develop a network of these non-governmental organizations in both old and new EU Member States.  The project includes information exchange about several ongoing educational projects of each participant. On the basis of this exchange and experiences we would like to develop common ideas for knowledge transfer and to initiate a spirit of entrepreneurship regarding the production and use of agro-biodiversity in local communities.

The knowledge transfer will include:
-Consumer environmental education;
-Marketing of quality products;
-Processing of products from rare varieties;
-Exploration and popularization of recipes using old varieties;
-Volunteering potential;
-Improvement of technical and specific English language skills related to agricultural biodiversity.

The final results of this Learning Partnership, besides webpage and networking, will be:
  • Improvement of partners' educational curricula, involving farmers, chefs, consumers, and tourists
  • Database with most typical regional plants and farm animals
  • Culinary heritage recipes
  • Leaflet "Invitation to volunteer in agro-biodiversity"
  • Best practices stories
  • free postcard promoting the project ideas
  • An online dictionary of technical and specific English words.

Background: This loss of agricultural biodiversity is a non-reversible process that poses a serious threat to the stability of ecosystems, the development of agriculture and food security (FAO 2008). The EU target to halt biodiversity decline by 2010 has not been met, which shows that policy initiatives alone are unlikely to make a difference without the active involvement of civil society organisations.  The understanding, knowledge and interest of farmers, as well as of consumers, are core issues for the conservation and enhancement of agro-biodiversity.  Therefore this project aims to promote production of a diversity of rare species as an added source of revenue for farmers, and innovative and tasty recipes and value added products as a source of culinary delight for consumers.  

The reason for protecting agro-biodiversiy is its extreme importance as our common heritage and our best guarantee for food safety and health. Furthermore, agro-bidiversity provides a good basis for showing people of every age biological coherence and the history of cultural development in the rural areas. The main motivation of the project is to develop educational actions to protect the agro-biodiversity in ways that complement policy initiatives.

Agricultural biodiversity loss can only be stopped by changing consumption patterns. Therefore, a key element of our project is to raise public awareness about responsible consumption that will enable the conservation of all aspects of agricultural landscapes, including humans.  Using and bringing agro-biodiversity to the market could be a good way to keep the small farms, rural jobs, local communities, and one of the last preserved rural landscapes in Europe.  This knowledge must be spread all over Europe.  The aim of the project is to add value to farmers' products, to increase their commercial viability. If the farmer has the knowledge and the willingness a lot can happen on the farm to promote biodiversity. If someone is just forced to do a specific action for biodiversity without understanding why, it will be a failure.

In this context, all partner-organisations offer different education and learning tools for older and younger people to provide them with sustainable ideas to work with and protect agro-biodiversity.  All partner organisations as well as all associated partners are actors in structurally weak areas and provide positive impulses regarding education and environmental protection. Furthermore, all organisations are working in the field of consumer education, therewith raising consumer awareness.

Beside these “thematical goals”, we would like to build up a European network among associations working with the agro-biodiversity. The Learning-Partnership is an appropriate instrument for gaining knowledge about associations in other countries. In this way, the partnership can be the beginning of a long partnership and more ongoing projects concerning agro-biodiversity.

For more professionalism and the creation of new working and business possibilities, people from all relevant sectors in the production chain need to exchange ideas and educational support and build linkages.  Land owners (farmers, elderly people and pensioners) need educational options regarding processing and marketing of products from rare varieties. Stakeholders in environmental education need to imagine new options regarding nature-experiences for children and families, as well as guidelines for planting of old varieties of vegetables. Stakeholders in tourism, local recreation and cultural history need educational options regarding the use of culinary heritage (catering and gastronomy). The stakeholders in regional marketing need educational options about how to link all offers of one region and communicate them to their target groups and how to do regional product marketing.

Another key element of the project is to build volunteer based community initiatives.  It is important to raise awareness about the potential of volunteer work in rural areas to transfer the knowledge of older people, to activate the younger generation, and to use their force and enthusiasm in achieving the goals of halting the loss of agro-biodiversity through exchanging ideas and common work. The project will help inspire this area of social life and share knowledge about existing volunteer initiatives in each country.
  
Sponsorul Oficial - Fundația Orange România