We created “Living landscape”, a tool for citizens to initiate participatory projects of complex water retention and climate adaptation in rural areas. By teaching people how to map and design changes in the landscape and create feasibility studies we enable them to lead the change and open a multilateral dialogue between inhabitants, owners, farmers and municipalities. Two model projects and a new training will show a way to stir cooperation in estranged rural communities.
Petrovice, north of Czech Republic, Čeřínek near Jihlava, Czech highlands (south-east CZE)
We want to address the role of citizens in the escalating climate change and the impact it has on social cohesion. People in rural settlements witness the changes - drought, extreme weather, erosion of land, disappearance of animal species. But they lack the expertise and concepts which would allow them to take part in the solutions and thus fall into resignation and mistrust. The overall effect is a lack of communication among stakeholders (land owners, agricultural companies, house owners, politicians). The local coordinators we want to support have the will and know-how to change it and have already founded local associations which gather people with similar motivations. They are ready to take the next step and work to change both the physical and the societal environment around them.
Active citizens - people who are motivated to lead the change, want to take responsibility for their environment, for their vicinity, who are willing to learn new things and cooperate in a team (30 people)
Inhabitants of rural areas - people who feel the impacts of historical management, but also of climate change, but have no means and opportunities to take part in measures that need to be taken to mitigate and adapt to it. (200 people)
Small municipalities - often don't feel competent to tackle large landscape projects and to employ citizens in a meaningful way in the decision making process. Throughout our model they obtain an opportunity to initiate projects that the whole municipality will benefit from (6 villages, 10 representatives involved and trained).
Our plan for this project is to support 2 (already trained) local coordinators and their groups in their starting projects plus to train a new batch of coordinators (25 people) .
1) local initiatives: the coordinators will consolidate and train their core teams (5-6 people) and address the general public in their area through a series of public events - a lecture, a commented walk in the neighbourhood, a community pool digging.
2) mapping and projecting (QGIS programme and copywriting) in the core group for their designated areas takes 3 -6 months, the result is feasibility study that describes (water related) problems and opportunities in the designated area.
3) Presentation and public debate: the feasibility studies will be presented to all stakeholders: farmers, land owners, municipalities, local admin. bodies in a series of meetings and presentations. The coordinators initiate the debate, we help with expertise and arguments. A plan is created for further steps.
4) New training: we will train a new batch of coordinators (25 people) in our 4 day intense training. This consists of field work demonstration, work with QGIS programme, theoretical introduction, work with map sources.
5) Continuous support to our local coordinators: we help with technical problems (IT and terrain work), give them financing tips, help in negotiations, further education, keep them motivated.
We expect strong local alliances will be formed in both localities which will include regular citizens as well as municipality representatives and farmers or landowners. There will be two feasibility studies created which to stir the debate over the designated areas (each of the size approx. of 10 - 15 km2) and propose near-natures measures for water retention. There will be a number of public meetings and debates organized and a plan how to move forward with the project. Least but not last we expect there to be a number of citizens with strong competencies to undertake similar projects in other areas, who will reach out and share their know-how with anyone interested.
Our training is devised to teach people something that is thought to be expert work - how to "read" the landscape, understand its problems, study historical maps and to design water retention measures in a professional projecting progr. (QGIS). These new competencies reintroduce citizens into the public debate and lift the barrier between the citizens, municipalities and the landscape. Other people can join the process simply by learning how to map in the terrain, using available map apps. This way many people can take part in a meaningful and active way and naturally become part of the debate. Older people brush off their memories of the local vicinity - where ponds and water pools used to be etc. Through community mapping they rediscover their homes and get motivated to care for it.
We are a core team of 6 employees in the association plus a group of +-60 local coordinators from all over the country who work mostly on voluntary basis. We all came together for the same concern with worsening effects of climate change and drought.
Jiří Malík - head of association and key expert is the author of the method and the persona behind the movement.
Tereza Vohryzková - community manager - takes care of the local coordinators and the system of training and follow-up support.
Jana Moravcová - landscape management expert, consultant
Jan Staroba, Lukáš Panny: IT team supports technically our loc. coor.
Jiří Fiala and Martina Kárová: active local coordinators for the area of Čeřínek (Jihlava) and Petrovice (Ústí nad Labem).
heads of the mapping team: will be selected locally
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs 25702
Travel and accomodation 1923
External services 5885
We would like to know how our project would be replicable in other post communist countries with similar histories of collectivizations and nationalization. We are curious what other projects there are that involve citizens in climate adaptation and landscape management, what tools and approaches.