We are active in gminas (local-authority areas) across Poland, running local treeplanting campaigns. The local authorities participating are those we have identified in line with their will to act in the name of trees, and the achievements in this field that they already have to their names.
Cooperation with local authorities
The 2012 to mid-2013 period saw us pursue pilot activity in no fewer than 24 gminas within 9 of Poland’s province-regions known as voivodships. This activity came within the Drogi dla Natury (”Roads for Nature”) campaign, in the name of trees, which had gained co-financing from Poland’s National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.
From 2013 onwards, we embarked upon no fewer than 66 local campaigns, or 22 in each of the three successive years 2013-15, at the same time extending our activity to all 16 of Poland’s voivodships. All the activity continues within the framework of ”Roads for Nature – a campaign promoting trees in Poland`s rural landscapes, as habitats and ecological corridors” (or DROGI DLA NATURY kampania promocji zadrzewień w krajobrazie rolniczym jako siedlisk przyrody i korytarzy ekologicznych), as now supported by both the National Fund and the EU’s LIFE+ Programme.
In any given gmina, it will take us about a year to complete the cycle of activity that each local campaign entails. In each case, the basis for formal cooperation is an agreement entered into with the head of village known as the wójt, or else the mayor (burmistrz) in larger localities.
The running of a campaign involves organisational, inspirational, support and monitoring activity engaged in by the so-called ”animators” of treeplanting and protection. These are people well-versed in issues relating to the trees themselves, but are also well aware of how local authorities operate. They have acquired these skills and knowledge thanks to appropriate training, but they also receive ongoing support from coordinators at regional level.
Where task implementation in a given gmina is concerned, the partners for the animators will be local-authority employees dealing with trees, once these have received the relevant authorisations from the head of office that allow them to pursue activity in the context of one of our treeplanting and protection campaigns. This local official is to ensure cooperation with the office when it comes to both the preparation of a programme and the concordance of its content with local policy overall.
A local programme for trees is drawn up in each gmina, with its aim being to establish model action within each local-authority area to ensure the long-term protection, and as necessary the reinstatement, of trees along roads and in the middles of fields. However, this programme will arise via a process that is simultaneously participatory and educational, and involves all stakeholders, as well as the local community. The programme takes in the whole area of the given gmina, including roads of different levels that are present, albeit with more attention paid to the local-authority roads, as opposed to those of other ranks. Alongside training and “show” examples of solutions implemented, the process by which the local programme is prepared for, drawn up and agreed upon represents the main educational instrument through which the Project seeks to impact upon local officials. Within the programme, guidelines for other planning documents (like the study on the conditioning and directions of physical development, the local plan, the agricultural management plan and the land consolidation plan) are also formulated. The information contained there will also augment the inventory of nature carried out by the gmina, and, where justified, will also be among applications included within local-level planning documents.
The essence of the methodology applied in our work with gminas is the training of officials, as the animator takes them through successive stages to the proper management of tree resources, on the basis of examples taken from the area in which employees actually work. We consider that a change of awareness – and upskilling – occurs most rapidly where the subject matter is precisely what the given official is responsible for, as opposed to some more abstract examples.