sâmbătă, 28 august 2010

The experience of a traditional rural community with conservationists: an Eastern European example

Tibor Hartel

Once upon a time, a group of conservation biologists go in a rural landscape for holidays. They were fascinated about its beauty. Many protected birds everywhere, orchids, wetlands, traditional land use. Nice, smiling villagers and beautiful landscape. They saw something like this (Picture 1):

Picture 1. This is what our biologists saw. It is really unimportant where this place is - lets say: it can be anywhere in Eastern Europe! (Photo: Letitia Cosnean)

Real “trap of hospitality” - they told. And they make lots of pics about local people and enjoy eating what they – strangely call – bio products! Healthy rural life! Just a perfect human and environmental dimension, certainly very different from that of the big city.

Some of these ecologists noticed (from the corner of the eye) that local people are just smiling when the Alauda arvensis, Gymnadenia conopsea, Triturus cristatus or other creature names were pronounced. "Well , they are not specialists like us" - biologists told. But the biologists also noticed that these people are not stupid at all. Of course, they don’t know what a laptop is and don’t have wireless internet. One old TV in the village seems to be enough for them and there is a phone too, which is rarely used. One conservationist noticed that the knowledge of these people is both qualitatively and quantitatively very different from that of the city people. And not very different from the scientific knowledge! And they name it indigenous knowledge and were very happy – apparently – for this new concept! After few nice days in the rural landscape, they go away, smiling and promising that they will come back.

And they do it. This time with more colleagues, big, fancy cars, all smiling and asking nice questions to villagers. They told that now they work within the framework of a research project - an FP7! They start to make lists using those strange names. And they told to villagers: these beautiful landscape need protection. There are so many species and habitats here which are endangered in European level … “Look for example that little toad in the ditch on the front of your house!" - told the herpetologist to one villager. "Its scientific name is Bombina variegata. This is a legally protected species because it is endangered by extinction! You are so-so lucky to have it! and should take care of it!” The villager look to the toad, and to the conservation biologist, and back to the toad and then to his wife. And smile. He told his wife that these tourists (which call themselves research scientists) are very nice people, no doubt, but sometimes they behave strangely. But, the world is big, there is place for everybody here, so, “I go to make hay and they go to do their job to search flowers, birds and frogs”.

And an other season and year was spent. Villagers somehow get used with these nice researchers. Next year the researchers come back. With more cars, and this time with the mayor of the village as well. Villagers noticed that their clothes, their behavior is a bit more different than previously, and seem to not be prepared to be dirty as before. The other foreign people who come with them are also interesting: women with lots of makeup in her face, and men dressed with costume (they told that they come from the Environmental Protection Agency!!!). “These people are gentlemen, from high society and wise, not like us” – some of the villagers told silently. And they ask the villagers for a meeting to make for them a very important announcement. Some villagers go to this event. Finally, a small group of 10 people formed in the court of the priest. And they wait (and eventually ease the waiting with a glass of wine…). The “new people” were continuously smiling and they make an announcement for villagers, in a very official and imposing way. They announced that now, finally, the whole landscape and community received a – much deserved – legal protected status. Up to 50 strictly protected plants, and up to 80 protected birds, tens of habitats everywhere scattered in the landscape (even in the village!). And all these are underestimations! These species and habitats need to be protected. And they told (shortly, to save time of the farmers and to be explicit) that:

(i) Basically no intervention (i.e. development) should be implemented in the landscape before a management plan is written (they assured people that many very good scientists and professors are intensively searching for funds to carry out even more detailed studies and write an integrated management plan). If some interventions are planned by villagers (for example, somebody would like to connect his house to the gas, or if they want to restore their houses or anything else!), then an environmental impact assessment need to be done. They were so kind to suggest some organizations to do this – on personal (or community) expense, of course.

(ii) The traditional land management practices need to be continued to protect the rich biodiversity of this landscape. No land use intensification will be allowed, no machinery and no chemical use. And there are some potential sources of funding (through agri-environmental measures, for example) and all the details on this can be easily accessed on the internet.

(iii) If any “bad” intervention is made, from this time, the penalties are very “salty”.

And after making the announcement, these very nice and wise people go away with their fancy cars - back to their institutes and offices. And, as a manifestation of generosity, they give the reprints of some scientific papers to the mayor and the priest, where scenarios based on complex modeling will show what will happen with various creatures under various management regimes.

In this way, an other protected area was delineated somewhere in a rural landscape of Eastern Europe, making the “indigenous community” happy and proud and full with optimism!

7 comentarii:

  1. Tibi ,

    M-am gandit putin la utilitatea scrierii unui astfel de text in engleza . Nu stiu daca inteleg toate motivele acestei alegeri , dar sunt aproape sigur ca nu-i vei atinge cu adevarat pe acei carora le adresezi dojana .

    Dupa cum arati in preambul , biologii “conservationisti” carora li te adresezi vad peisajele rurale in vacante . Toti afirma ca sunt fascinati de ceea ce vad , dar prefera totusi sa-si traiasca viata in aglomerari urbane . La o adica , putini ar da “binefacerile civilizatiei” pe frumusetea satului . Evident , fiecare poate justifica aparentul paradox .

    Pe de alta parte , in zona noastra satele (si in consecinta “peisajele rurale”) cunosc , intr-un anume fel , o prefacere profunda .

    Majoritatea satelor romanesti si a celor maghiare sunt aproape depopulate . Cei cativa batrani care mai traiesc inca sunt ultimii reprezentanti ai celor care au inteles si au trait in comuniune cu natura . Tinerii (atatia cati sunt) pleaca cu prima ocazie . Natura nu le spune nimic . Toti se viseaza Mutu sau Columbeanu .

    Satele sasesti au fost parasite de sasi si ocupate , in mare parte , de tigani . Care tigani sunt preocupati de biodiversitate si de integritatea ecosistemelor cam cum sunt preocupati virusii de integritatea celulelor gazda .

    Cu putine exceptii , asa stau lucrurile .

  2. Salut Florin - mersi mult pentru comentarii. Referitoare la cauza principala a scrierii textului in engleza (si nu in maghiara sau in romaneste) poate ca odata iti povestesc personal (ideea este ca nu doresc sa apartzin vreunuia dintre triburi, astfel, aleg o arena mai neutra "lingvistica" - cu toate ca este plin de greseli. O colega a oferit ajutorul de a corecta textele!). Da, satele se depopuleaza, asta este o tendintza inevitabila. Asa cum putinele date de care dispun imi sugereaza (sper sa ajung sa inteleg mai bine problema) in multe cazuti, fermierii renuntza cu greu la pamanturile pe care le au si la viatza lor. Asta pare a fi situatia la ceangai sau in satele secuiesti, dar si in imprejurimile din Sighisoara (vorbesc intuitiv...). Sunt fortati sa plece. Uite un exemplu referitoare la un domn dintr-un sat din zona orasului Sighisoara, cu care am discutat vara asta si am notat ce a spus. In anul 2006-2007 a avut urmatoarele animale: - 1 cal si un manz - doua scroafe si 14 purcei (pe care i-a vrut sa ii tzina in mare parte) - 4 vaci si 2 vitzei - > 100 de pasari, dintre care rate, gaste, curci, gaini. - 15 oi. Ce are dl acela azi: - 7 porci in total - 50 de gaini - 15 oi. Vaca nu mai are rost sa tzina ca nu renteaza. Nu are venit si s-a apucat de lucru. Am vorbit cu baietzi de varsta mea care spun ca ar fi foarte fain daca ar putea TRAI (fara mari standarde) dupa agricultura. Dar nu pot. Si merg la oras (naveta) zilnic, lucru greu de o zi si castiga 600 de RON pe luna. Am vazut om plangand ca isi va vinde vacile (ca vin dupa ele "sambata") dar nu are ce sa faca. Da - romania te iubesc!

  3. Scrierea a fost adresata si conservatzionistilor care merg prin sate si de pe "azi pe maine" declara arii protejate, ulterior spunand satenilor: "voi luatzi act de ce va zicem: avetzi arie protejata - vretzi nu vretzi - facetzi cum "trebe" ca de nu, amenzile sunt usturatoare...si asta cauzeaza conflicte enorme!

  4. O sa ma opresc asupra unui singur aspect . La sat , si Romania a fost , pana acum 2 – 3 generatii , o tara eminamente rurala (agrara) , proprietatea asupra unei suprafete de pamant insemna totul . Acesta este motivul pentru care taranii echivalau vanzarea pamantului cu renuntarea la viata . Cei nascuti tarani (batranii trecuti de 60 – 70 de ani) au ramas cu acest atavism chiar daca posesia asupra unei bucati de pamant nu mai are aceeasi importanta . Pentru majoritatea celor tineri , in special pentru cei nascuti dupa ’89 , pamantul nu mai inseamna nimic . Cum se prapadesc batranii , cum il scot la mezat . Or fi fiind exceptii (tineri crescuti in familii legate puternic de traditie) , dar tendinta o poti observa in mai toate satele din zona .

    Este posibil insa ca in partile locuite de secui lucrurile sa fie diferite . Randurile mele au insa in vedere in principal zona noastra , respectiv zona satelor (foste) sasesti .

  5. Da - sunt de acord. Uite in weekendul trecut am fost la scos cartofi la bunica, jumat` de zi (ca au venit si ajutoare din sat). Daca anul trecut am scos 25 de saci de cartofi, anul acesta am scos 8. Si am dat 300 de RON pentru mancare la oameni. Ca ashai la cartof, de ii de nu ii "sub el" (adica sub pamant) trebe lucrat tot pamantul. Cu 3000 de RON ne luam cartofi cat cuprinde. Insa asa cum zici, bunicii ii trebuie pamant. Cumva este sinonim cu existenta.

    Eu am trait la tara mult si uite ca acum butonez la acest laptop ... si nu m-as duce inapoi. Cu toate ca sunt convins ca prezentza mea acolo va fi benefica biodiversitatzii. Dar m-am saturat de viatza aia, nu o mai vreau, sa ma ierte D`zeu! Azi si cositu` si muncile agricole ruleaza in cadrul "proiectelor"...poate asha m-as mai baga in joc.

  6. Apreciez sinceritatea . Si sunt foarte curios sa aflu , daca se poate , motivele pentru care te-ai “saturat de viata aia” si “nu o mai vrei” . De ce preferi viata urbana ?
    O tastatura poate fi butonata oriunde ...

  7. Approaches that are deployed on a strictly top-down basis (and as such impose a generic model upon a specific reality) are absurd by default, and, worse, do not show any trace of respect for the community they address.

    Btw, on a lighter note, the etymology of absurd: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=absurdity