Adopt The River project is a long expected initiative on environmental protection, and social responsibility. Region of Zlatna Panega, as long as many other regions in Bulgaria have had serious environmental issues over the years. The active local community is looking for new opportunities to cooperate on environmental problems. Adopt the River project give this opportunity. It will be the start of the actual work of the Memorandum for Cooperation (MoC). The main objective of the project is piloting educational program and building awareness on the environmental conditions of rivers situated near industrial plants through involving students in volunteer bio-monitoring and preservation activities, using new forms of local community stakeholders’ collaboration. (MoC). As a result of this project we expect to achieve serious impact on local and national level on environmental and biodiversity preservation issues. The educational program and pilot monitoring and data collection will be easy to apply on every other region – lake, river, forest. Strong relations between the partners within the project and between organizations from Iceland and Bulgaria will be established. They will result in new joint initiatives to pursuit and achieve the EEA main goals to decrease the differences between the donors and beneficiary countries when it comes to environmental protection, social status improvement, and stronger civil society. The projects results will not only benefit the target groups – students and young people, but the society as a whole and will have significant effect on national level with many initiatives, following this example.
Summary of project results
The involvement of business, local authorities, schools and NGOs is crucial for the successful awareness raising on the natural values and and environmental responsibility of the rural communities. Among the various tools for environmental education and public awareness, the voluntary monitoring is increasingly attractive and popular, but the experience in Bulgaria is very limited. The main objective of the project is to develop and implement a pilot environmental education program, including biodiversity monitoring and water monitoring methodology, and to raise awareness on the river ecosystems by attracting students and active citizens to voluntary environmental activities. The project "Adopt The River" steps on previous cooperation between Titan Zlatna Panega Cement AD and Regional Environmental Center. This partnership has been further extended, joining scientific and educational organizations from Bulgaria: Regional Museum of History - Pleven and Vocational High School of Agriculture “Sergey Rumyantsev”, Lukovit, as well as with a partner from Iceland - Regional Office for Environment and Public Health of Kios. The project started with analysis of good practices of public and educational campaigns and river stewardship initiatives in Bulgaria and other countries. Educational Program for outdoor activities in secondary and professional schools has been developed with a focus on river ecosystems. It includes methodologies for monitoring of biodiversity and waters, adapted to the school’s curricula. The project team has trained seven teachers from three schools in Lukovit, Rumyantsevo and Zlatna Panega to implement the program. The trainings have involved also 30 volunteers from local ecological clubs and fishermen, interested in voluntary monitoring of Zlatna Panega River. The results from the voluntary monitoring of Zlatna Panega River have been announced to the local community on information boards, as well as on the project website (www.adopttheriver.eu
). In addition to the educational activities, a public awareness campaign was implemented, including volunteer cleaning of the river from solid waste, organized by Titan Zlatna Panega Cement AD in March 2016.
Summary of bilateral results
This visit was aimed at knowledge and good practices transfer. Mr. Narfason arrived in Sofia on 13 June and met with REC project team at formal dinner. On that meeting was agreed partnering organizations to work on developing further the project idea of Adopt The River. On the first day of the visit the project team travelled to Zlatna Panega Cement Plant. There they met with the project partners. Then altogether went to field work with students from the two of the three pilot schools. Visited the two of the pilot areas for volunteer monitoring – villages of Zlatna Panega and Rumyantsevo. In the afternoon presentations on Volunteer River monitoring experience and awareness campaigns on environmental protection were held at the Professional School of Agriculture. After the presentation Project team had discussion on Educational Curricula and Monitoring Methodology followed by session of questions and answers with students and teachers. Presented at this presentation were all students from the three pilot schools, along with representatives from the Project Partners. After that Project team took part in the awarding ceremony of Adopt The River work art competition. Three prizes were given to three work-arts, made by students. On the next day a meeting with REC Team was held to wrap up the project activities and to discuss new projects ideas on continuing with Adopt The River Initiative. Second meeting at REC Office was with representatives of the National Environmental Agency, Bulgaria. Adopt the River project team discussed Adopt The River Project and the volunteer monitoring in particular. The representative from the Environmental agency gave short overview of the activities of the National Environmental Agency and their projects. The participants agreed to keep in touch and seek for opportunities for future cooperation and building on Adopt The River Project idea and outcomes and strengthening the connection between Iceland and Bulgaria on environmental issues. After this meeting there was a third meeting with representatives from National Museum of History at their premises, where project team had fruitful meeting.