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13 January 2020

Climate Exchange

In 2017, Hungary’s agricultural sector emitted 7.34 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, confirming an ever-increasing trend since 2012. To start tackling this problem, CEEweb is organising on 30 January the EUKI 2nd National Workshop “Agriculture and Climate Change – Potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.” Register and join us!

The biggest threat humankind currently faces comes in two words: Climate Change. Very well-known concept, still very little action regarding it. The European Environmental Agency recently published the report European Environment – State and Outlook 2020 (SOER 2020), sounding the alarm that, for the upcoming decade, Europe is meant to face persistent problems in areas such as biodiversity loss, resource use, climate change impacts and environmental risks to health and well-being. And in this line, agriculture is one of the activities in the EU that continues to produce harmful emissions to both ecosystems and human health.

Moreover, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has stated that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from farming, livestock-raising, fisheries and forestry continue to rise. Hungary is not an exception: FAO’s food and agriculture database, FAOSTAT, has measured a growing trend in GHG emissions in the Magyar country from agricultural activities, reaching its highest peak in 15 years in 2017, with the sector having emitted 7.34 million tonnes of GHG.

According to FAOSTAT, Hungarian agricultural GHG emissions have not but increased on a yearly basis since 2012.

FINDING THE ALTERNATIVES

Looking to tackle this trend, CEEweb for Biodiversity, as part of the activities of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) funded project An Unavoidable Step After Paris: Cutting Emissions from Farming, is organising the EUKI 2nd National Workshop “Agriculture and climate change – Potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.” The workshop will serve to discuss with the relevant stakeholders the possibilities for reducing GHG emissions from agriculture and food production, addressing examples of alternative ways of farming, innovative technologies and the enablement of adequate policies.

Presentation themes

  • Agriculture and climate change – Challenges and opportunities
  • Agroforestry and agroecological systems
  • How agricultural policies (on EU and national level) could better serve climate mitigation?
  • Regenerative agriculture in practice
  • Innovative plant nutrition technologies with benefits for the climate
  • Nutrient management and GHG emissions
  • The present and future of agricultural emissions’ reduction efforts in Hungary (the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture’s approach)

The workshop, which will be delivered in Hungarian language only, will target agricultural and rural development experts, farmers, researchers, environmental professionals, NGO representatives, academicians, representatives of the agricultural industry, and the general public with an interest in finding solutions to climate change and to harmful agricultural practices.

What is it there to learn?

Participants will be able to understand the interlinked and often challenging nature and interdependence of agriculture and the environment — including climate — as well as how current and future agricultural policies (e.g. measures, subsidies) can contribute to reducing agricultural GHG emissions.

Thus, attendants will get the most relevant and up-to-date information on information on alternative agricultural approaches and practices — including new technologies and innovations — that may efficiently support a low-emission, sustainable agriculture.


PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The project “An Unavoidable Step After Paris: Cutting Emissions from Farming” aims for an increased public and political awareness around the need for an ambitious legislative framework on climate and agriculture. It wishes to achieve these goals through knowledge sharing and inclusive stakeholders’ dialogue. The project also incorporates a policy analysis, assessing to what extent farming currently contributes to GHG emissions, its potential towards climate mitigation and what role the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) plays in it and should play in the future.

This study and policy assessments will then feed into dialogues between key stakeholders (farmers, NGOs, scientists, industry, etc.) at national and pan-European levels on climate-friendly practices in order to facilitate the sharing of experiences. Through national and European workshops and subsequent communications work, an increased public and political awareness around the need for an ambitious legislative framework on climate and agriculture (i.e. national plans, governance and CAP) is going to be created.

19 December 2019

EU Fahrenheit 451

The latest report of the European Environmental Agency puts things into fiery perspective. The upcoming environmental challenges are unprecedented, and EU members must make a paradigm shift and invest into a sustainable future.

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18 December 2019

Into the Carpathian Convention

Joy to the world, ConnectGREEN has come. Let the Carpathian Convention receive its strategy.

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6 December 2019

A presence to BEAR in mind

The mountains of the Aggtelek National Park seem to be becoming the must-pass-through destination for Carpathian large carnivores: after the recently spotted wolf pack, now it’s time for the brown bear. Get to know the new visitor!

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22 August 2019

Winter is coming!

Time to howl! Check out the wolf pack recently recorded by a wildlife camera trap in Aggtelek National Park!

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5 August 2019

CEEweb Academy 2019

CEEweb Academy 2019

Making cities flourish: Building urban communities through biodiversity initiatives

28-30 October 2019

Register here!

The annual CEEweb Academy will hit your brains this year on 28-30 October, focusing on urban biodiversity and citizen engagement! Don’t miss this opportunity to dig in these issues with an array of international speakers and an approach to successful citizen initiatives from the region and participate to it! We will shortly open registrations!

Preliminary Programme

  • Conference
  • Workshop
  • Walkshop
  • CEEweb Annual Meeting

Theme

Making cities flourish: Building urban communities through biodiversity initiatives

Urban areas are by their nature lower on biodiversity and natural areas, and as such are usually treated as “problem areas.” However, urban living can help cut down or reverse the loss of natural areas and help reduce transportation distances. In addition, they possess a wealth of still largely untapped resources: people, communities, willingness for cooperation, knowledge and goodwill. There is increasing recognition that instead of seeing cities as problems, urban areas can become part of the solution.

What is people’s perception, knowledge of biodiversity and what are their concerns? What opportunities and difficulties exist for local initiatives in the Central and Eastern European region? What have been successful strategies? How to build a good public engagement strategy? How to communicate complex topics and the many benefits of biodiversity effectively?

The Annual CEEweb Academy will center around urban biodiversity and citizens’ engagement. It will showcase solutions and good examples of complex urban biodiversity projects that get local residents on board. It will offer the opportunity to learn and develop skills for citizens’ effective engagement.

Citizen Science at its best: students from South Minneapolis help monitor water clarity in Minnehaha Creek for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as part of their fifth grade science class. Photo: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0.

26 July 2019

Rockaway beech

Come and hitch a ride to the INTERREG CE funded BEECH POWER project, aiming to save ecosystem integrity in the UNESCO World Heritage site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe.”

Photo credit: Patricia Alberth / UNESCO

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18 July 2019

The new girl in town

Understanding the importance of the preservation of the Eurasian lynx, the Budakeszi Wildlife Park, in Hungary, has brought in Rita — for the joy of the other lynx resident, Csabi.

(Photo credit: Linda Surányi / Budakeszi Vadaspark)

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11 July 2019

Underrepresented at the core

With the upcoming conformation of the EU’s top positions and institutions — Brexit considered — CEE countries barely have any voice, despite their importance.

The recent conformation of and allocation in the top European Union positions and institutions have left Central and Eastern European countries severely underrepresented. When considering that this block of 11 Member States represent over 19% of the EU population, the lack of balance becomes hardly unnoticeable. Thus, read below CEEweb’s statement on this critical issue.


Central and Eastern Europe widely underrepresented in top EU positions and EU institutions

While the distribution of key positions within the European institutions should take into account a balance between geographical regions of the EU, this geographical balance for the top EU jobs is not being fulfilled for the coming period.

Although some of the actual votes are still ahead, currently zero out of the five top EU leaders — president of the European Parliament, European Commission president, European Council president, European Central Bank president and High Representative for foreign affairs and security — come from a country of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). While in the previous term at least one position was held by a person from a CEE Member State — the European Council president, Donald Tusk, coming from Poland — regrettably there will be none in the current term. Central and Eastern Europe will remain underrepresented in EU institutions and European leaders are failing to send a message that CEE matters enough in the Union.

The 11 countries of Central-Eastern Europe make up more than 19% of the EU’s population. These are countries with particular historical pathways and socio-economic challenges different in nature from those of their Western-European counterparts. While the days are gone when these countries were the ones economically stagnating — with economic growth rates now higher than the EU average — structural vulnerabilities remain beyond the economic developments. These include a dependence on EU funding, the state of public goods and services (including natural capital), value polarization in society, higher than average concentration of farmlands, centralization in governance, weakening and de-legitimization of Civil Society Organizations, and fraud and corruption related to public — including EU — money. While these countries are by no means identical regarding the severity of these challenges, with major differences by country, they are all affected to some degree.

Some of these challenges are rooted in or at least connected with the structure and nature of EU funds. All CEE countries are net recipients of EU funding and the next EU Budget (Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027) will be adopted soon with several open questions and previous suggestions for new types of conditionality, such as the rule of law. Thus, a better representation of these countries in EU leadership would have all the more been needed.

In face of the lack of CEE representation on the top level, the European Parliament has elected 5 Vice-Presidents from CEE, coming from three countries. Vice-Presidents may replace the President when necessary, including to chair plenary sittings. However, as for the European Parliament Committees go, only two of the twenty-two EP Committees are chaired by MEPs from the CEE region at the moment (i.e. the Industry, Research, and Energy Committee (ITRE), chaired by Adina Valean, from Romania (EPP) and the the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, chaired by Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová from Slovakia (ECR)).


13 June 2019

A rush of air to the head

As part of its most recent meeting, the ConnectGREEN project partners visited the Badínsky prales Natura 2000 site: a haven of untouched forest ecosystems in the heart of Slovakia.

Back in 1905, Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío started his famous poem “Song of Spring in Autumn” with the following verses: “Youth, divine treasure, you are already leaving to not return!”. Over a century later, with the planet and humankind facing a critical moment which urges for reaction to protect biodiversity, one could perhaps describe our current context with a redefinition of those verses: “Nature, divine treasure, you seem to be leaving to not return!”. Nevertheless, there is always hope — and some time to react, too. On 15 May 2019, during the ConnectGREEN project Partner Meeting, held in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, an immersion to the Badínsky prales proved that humanity can really be sustainable — if it so wants to.

Located in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia, Badínsky prales extend over 30 hectares and acts as an extension to the Pol’ana Biosphere Reserve, home to 1220 higher plant species, 390 types of mushrooms and 278 animal species. Source: Natura 2000.

Located in the south-eastern part of the Kremnické pohorie mountains, 10 km to the south-west of Banská Bystrica, the area of primeval forest represents the syncretism of forest ecosystems and rural cultural landscapes, and how both themes can be protected and enjoyed. The forest, a Natura 2000 site, is located in the Alpine biogeographical region and has been protected since 1913, thus being one of the natural reserves in Slovakia protected by law for the longest period of time — with its rare primary fir and beech habitat almost untouched by human activity.

As a matter of fact, within its 30.70 ha, only fallen trunks — threatening the forest road operations — are removed, thus securing the lowest possible human interference. Therefore, the Badínsky prales allow for a unique opportunity to enter an originally aged forest, untouched by human extractive patterns.

BRANCHING THE PROTECTION

The importance of the Badínsky prales becomes bigger when one realises that it also acts as an extension of the Pol’ana Biosphere Reserve, which sits on a 20.360 ha area and helps protect 30 species addressed in the Nature Directives and 17 habitat types indicated within the Habitat Directive (22 and 3, respectively, for the specific territory of the Primeval Forests of Badín).

Pol’ana’s history dates back to 13-15 million years ago, when volcanic activities brought a geological and geomorphological context conducive to the development of several rare species. Overall, Pol’ana — which is covered by forests on 85% of its territory — is home to 1220 higher plant species, 390 types of mushrooms and 278 animal species. For the ConnectGREEN project partners — focused in working to increase the capacity of ecological corridors identification and management and to overcome the conflict between infrastructure development and wildlife conservation — the visit to the site was of utter importance, since it helps protect the project’s three emblematic large carnivore species : the grey wolf, the Eurasian Lynx and the brown bear.

Therefore, nature, divine treasure, be protected to never leave.