Review of the year 2014

 

Dear members and friends of MOZAIC!

Can you believe how fast 2014 has gone? This year our association continued its activities, and although we didn't start a new project, we were still present in our communities, continuously learning, with the help of our volunteers, about the local socio-economical dynamics and in what ways could we contribute further to a more sustainable development of our beautiful rural areas, monitoring the grasslands and investigating the ecosystem services. This year was also the final year of the MOZAIC Project II, after 6 years of continuous support through the German Federal Foundation for Environment (DBU). We are glad we could carry out the pilot agri-environment programme for hay meadows again and that we could secure some funds to pursue it next year.

The collaboration with the Youth Future Project has been a great support, and we received a lot of good ideas about how to set the basis of a volunteering program. We're looking forward for a 2015 full of activities, new members and fruitful collaboration.

Next year will be very important for international policies concerning environmental safety as well as socio- economic development. The United Nations will adopt the post 2015 sustainable development agenda, and will define the Sustainable Development Objectives which will replace the former Milenium Development Goals. The new agenda focuses among other things on the right to safe and nutritious food for everyone and also on identifying a harmonic way of balancing socio-economical development with natural conservation. This climate proves the necessity and the importance of local initiatives and  projects supported by associations and NGOs such as MOZAIC. We wish to intensify our efforts and to bring our support to the protection of the biodiversity in our area.

In the following, we give you an overview of the most important activities of the MOZAIC Association in 2014:

Collaboration with Youth Future Project and setting the grounds for the MOZAIC Volunteer Programme

This year, our collaboration with Youth Future Project continued as Dan, Vasi, and Roxana had the chance to attend in May the second coaching meeting organized by our friends near Kassel, Germany. It was a wonderful opportunity not only to get a glimpse of how the other projects were going on and to catch up with everyone, but also to take some time and reflect on our own ideas and plan.

Further, with the support (both financial and through coaching) of YFP, we were able to accommodate 4 volunteers in the association. In August we had Bea and Georg, who worked at a grassland monitoring together with Romanian specialists (see below). Bea returned in October with her colleague Claire in order to carry out a study about cultural ecosystem services (see below). From September until the beginning of December, we welcomed Simone, a student who was interested in understanding the socio-economical realities in the villages where we work (see below). It is worth saying that Simone also benefited from a scholarship provided in the framework of ERASMUS + program, thus our association signed an Erasmus Learning Agreement with her sending institution, the University of Münster. We are very happy that Simone chose our association for her volunteering and traineeship experience.

All the volunteers provided very valuable inputs for our activities and further plans and we are very happy and grateful for this collaboration. We hope that next year we will develop even further the grounds for our Volunteer Programme and thus get closer to our goal, of bridging the gap between generations and facilitating a knowledge transfer from the old generation towards the younger one and vice versa.

Another significant outcome of the collaboration between MOZAIC and YFP is the fact that we had the chance to publish a brief intro about our association and our projects in the brochure edited by YFP, Changing (Dis)course, which has recently been published. If you'd like to see our contribution there but also to get familiar with many other interesting projects in the field of sustainable development, have a look here and order your own copy of the material.

 

Grassland monitoring

During the summer of 2014 we continued the grassland monitoring started in 2013 in the hay meadow  called "Fanatul Domnesc", situated in Luna de Jos (Dăbâca commune, Cluj county).

The general aim of this activity was to collect data and to improve the methodology for vegetation monitoring of traditional hay meadows complexes of the Natura 2000 Site "Eastern Hills of Cluj" (Dealurile Clujului de Est), especially in regard to the different land use patterns.

The monitoring was a collaboration between Romanian specialists of plant ecology, mostly from the Babes-Bolyai-University Cluj (Monica Beldean, Dr. Marius Barbos, Emilia Stoianov and Alina Biro), and two volunteers from Germany (Beatrice Biro - University of Münster and Georg Rieland - University of Leipzig). During their 1-month stay, the volunteers were hosted by a local family, giving them the chance to get to know life in a Transylvanian village.

The fieldwork was carried out during 19 days, from which 3 days were allocated for teaching the methodology, and 16 days were used for the actual field survey. In the 40ha-meadow, about 50 relevés (3mx10m) were made on pre-established transects, collecting information for indicator plant species and the host plants of the endangered butterflies Maculinea spp.

The monitoring was part of the Mozaic Project II (funded by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt DBU) and the Mozaic Association's Volunteer Programme (in 2014 funded by the Youth Future Project).

 

Investigating ecosystem services in Luna de Jos

How do inhabitants of Luna de Jos perceive their surrounding? And of which ecosystem services are people aware? Ecosystem services (ES) are the benefits that people get from the ecosystem they live in. Two landscape ecology students from the University of Münster in Germany, Claire Wolff and Beatrice Biro, tried to identify material and non-material  ES in order to reflect nature conservation efforts in the Mozaic project area.

Material ES, as provisioning services (agricultural production, timber etc.) and supporting services (water filtration, pollination etc.) can be derived from land use classifications or ecological and economical surveying. Non-material services are most often not that obviously observable but they are often significant links between people and their landscape. They can be important on a spiritual, recreational, cultural or social level. In order to identify these services, interviews with inhabitants from different professions and age groups were conducted during three weeks in October 2014. The results of this study will be published on the Mozaic homepage in spring 2015.

The study was part of the Mozaic Association's Volunteer Programme (in 2014 funded by the Youth Future Project).

 

Simone's internship in the MOZAIC Association

"I spent three interesting and impressive months in Luna de Jos, a village that is part of the Mozaic area. During my internship I tried to find out, how and if a green basket concept as well as different forms of tourism could support sustainable development in the region. To know more about peoples' ideas and opinions concerning these topics I talked to peasants about the mentioned concepts, met members of other NGOs dealing with similar questions and collected data for a profound understanding of the conditions.

Next to unflagging motivation and optimism, it is necessary to spread information about existing possibilities. Sustainable development can only succeed if it is based on the conviction of those who shall be supported: the small scale farmers. By making their traditional concepts of living more worthwhile and promoting organic agriculture, soil, biodiversity and social heritages can be saved.

Time passed quickly, and I was increasingly impressed by the beauty of the landscape, the people I met and the knowledge they are living. I hope very much that more people will follow to realize the started activities!"

Simone's internship was part of the Mozaic Association's Volunteer Programme (in 2014 funded by the Youth Future Project) and was supported by the ERASMUS+ programme.

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