"10 for Nature": Field Conservation Support for NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe

Following EAF funding for purchase, lease or management, there is often a need to further improve the project and field management staff with respect to knowledge, expertise and know-how. Increased capacity-building of local NGO staff in the field will ensure the long term usefulness of the protected land. In order to meet these needs EAF initiated the 10 for Nature project. The intention was to link NGOs that have purchased land through EAF projects so that they can exchange management experience with each other. The project started in January 2002 and was successfully completed in December 2004.

The two main aims of the Ten for Nature project have been (a) to enhance capacity building within the NGOs, particularly in fund raising for longer-term self-sufficiency, and (b) to exchange experience between the partner organisations with the intention of improving field management leading towards the preparation of local sustainable development.

Special emphasis have been placed on the ability of the partner NGOs to learn from each other within an eastern European perspective. Exchange visits have been intended primarily for the partner NGO’s to visit the other projects from where they can transfer, and gain, knowledge and experience.

What has been achieved?
This project has significantly contributed for improving of the site management and for strengthening of the local NGOs. The organisations involved are young NGOs, and besides that in CEE countries there is no tradition and experience of involving NGOs in nature preservation and conservation. Therefore the start made in rising of trust relationship with local people and with stakeholders at different level is a very good achievement. It has been of big significance for the local NGOs that the project covered all important areas of their work: field management, improving the organisational, technical and personal capacity, exchange of know how and planning for the future. The specific objectives and the results achieved have varied considerable for the different partners, but as pointed out at the project evaluation by the partnership, they can be collectively considered as:

  • Improved land management.
  • Nature conservation and preservation measures completed, some first results are already visible
  • Promotion of the project areas at local and national level
  • Significant reducing of illegal activities
  • Rise of positive attitude about nature conservation (not forbidding but allowing and creating of possibilities)
  • Rise of trust related relationship with local people, stakeholders and local and regional authorities
  • Impacts on the sustainable socio-economic development of the area
  • Organisation strengthening: improved organizational , personal and technical capacity. Especially for young NGOs the project has been of a big importance for building of capacity
  • Increased publicity and recognition of the organizations at local, regional and national level.
  • Sharing of experience and know how with NGOs from other countries who have similar activities .

In the course of the project the partners have many times stressed that the combination of field activities with capacity building activities and in particular study visits within the country and abroad have given to the project teams an unique chance to deepen their knowledge about methods of active nature conservation, field management and raising awareness in local communities. Activities were undertaken in order to: improve the organizations’ strategies (meetings with all members, consultants involvement, etc), different personal trainings for staff, improve the fundraising, attract volunteers, improve the relationship with local people and with stakeholders and decision makers at different levels, set contacts with other organisations who have similar activities. The project period of three years have been long enough to train the project staff and provide better opportunities for planning and implementation of activities. Main benefits are the gained knowledge how to organise landscape management, development of long term organisation strategies and better recognition of the organisations at local, regional and national level.

Very important aspect of the capacity building activities has been the possibility for sharing of experience and know how with NGOs from other countries, particularly because there is no enough relevant experience within the national boundaries. Via the exchange visits the partners have had the unique chance to see different project areas and to learn for others work in the same field of activities.