CEEweb associates and volunteers, along with SaveGREEN partners, assembled in Aggtelek for the Falka Napok festival to advocate for the protection of large carnivore species. How did we do, and what did we learn?
Human activity has caused species of large carnivores in Central and Eastern Europe, including the brown bear, grey wolf, and Eurasian lynx, to suffer a dramatic decline in population size. But in recent years, legislative measures to preserve the natural world have expanded these species’ habitats, sparking their return to many previously abandoned areas.
Expert of CEEweb, Dr.Gabriella Nagy's online presentation on the importance of eco-corridors
But they’re not out of the woods yet (or, rather, into the woods). It’s our collective responsibility to commit to their continued protection.
This is where the Falka Napok (“Wolf Pack Days”) SaveGREEN Open Space Festival, organised by WWF Hungary, comes in. The weekend’s events took place over two days, with nearly 300 people in attendance.
The aims of the festival were simple, but crucial: to raise awareness of ongoing nature protection efforts such as ConnectGREEN and SaveGREEN, improve public knowledge around the current state of large carnivore species in Hungary, and teach how people can coexist peacefully with these important species.
SaveGREEN partner CEEweb for Biodiversity assisted in promoting the festival to the press and festival attendees. It organised a variety of activities, which ranged from the educational to the entertaining — presentations, discussions, press conferences/trips, and even decorative arts and crafts.
At the CEEweb stall, staff-led discussions on the conflicts between nature protection and rural development screened prize-winning videos from the ConnectGREEN “Connectivity For All - Youth Video Contest”, and (most importantly) held fun mask-making activities to teach children about large carnivores.
Meanwhile, CEEweb invited journalists from both the national and local press to learn about the ConnectGREEN and SaveGREEN projects in detail. They were able to interview CEEweb representatives for further information to report on the issues facing large carnivores, as well as the conflict between infrastructural development, nature protection, and local interests in the region. You can find one of the press articles here (in Hungarian).
Nature protection organisations and the media should continue to interact and work together — this will be crucial in the ongoing effort to protect large carnivore species’ biodiversity. Media attention helps these issues enter mainstream discussion nationally and internationally, stimulating a public dialogue around large carnivore-related issues.
Eleanor Collard, CEEweb