Grasshopper no 2, Spring '94
Below we publish information about a project of the Council of Regional Environmental Groups (Rada Regionalnych Grup Ekologicznych), which works in the area of the Krosno, Przemyśl, Rzeszów, and Tarnobrzeg voivodeships (Eastern Małopolska). The project is co-ordinated with the Regional Service Centre for the Environmental Movement (Regionalny Ośrodek Obsługi Ruchu Ekologicznego) and aims at environmental protection of the San river basin.
The main aims of the project are to protest against river management in Poland, to name the biggest water-polluters in the Eastern Małopolska region, and to present to local communities possibilities of influence over the state of the natural environment.
In December '93 there were catastrophic floods in Western Europe caused by rises in rivers as a consequence of heavy rains. Large areas of Germany, France, and Luxemburg suffered from this. Chances are that the reason for these floods was excessive interference of people in the environment.
Rivers have been straightened out, banks have been reinforced with concrete, and flooded areas and meanders have been liquidated, but this type of management has brought completely different results than scientists expected. It resulted in large financial losses and in the destuction of the natural environment of animals and plants.
The bad experiences of the West are not considered by decision-makers in Poland. The issue of river management in Poland is still not resolved. A protest of the Polish community against the management of the Vistula River is the only way to stop the goverment's decisions in these matters.
The next issue is environmental education for people who live in the areas of the sources of streams and rivers. These regions are very important to the condition of the natural environment but they are greatly polluted by the inhabitants. These people pour sewage straight into the streams, and even though they live close to a national park they use too much detergent. These people often don't realize the devastation they sow. There are drastic cases in which streams even become illegal rubbish dumps. Local authorities are helpless in this matter.
How to counteract this? By imposing penalties? The answer is "no." We should show them that they are damaging their own and their neighbours' health.
The next question is how this should be done. In our opinion we should show the local people the problems with their own farms and the effects they have on their surroundings. We can present new alternative technologies which can be used in rural areas.
This year three meetings of environmental groups from the Eastern Małopolska region have already taken place. During first meeting in Czarna (January 7-9), work on a project was initiated and a nearby stream was cleaned up. The first draft of the San project plan was written, and they started to collect materials for maps of environmental hazard areas. Seven groups from the region took part in the meeting.
The second meeting took place in Nisko (Tarnobrzeg voivodeship), January 14-17. The participants reviewed work on projects which had already been done and set plans for the future. They founded the Council of Regional Environmental Groups. Nine groups from the region took part in the meeting.
The third meeting of environmental groups and the first meeting of the Council of Regional Environmental Groups was held in Mielec on March 11, 1994. A conference about the planned incinerator in Pustków was organized there. The groups, together with the organizer -- the Environmental Association of Mielec (MAWE) -- joined in the protest against the incinerator. The final details the project were set, and tasks were divided among the groups. About eight organizations declared a willingness to participate in the project and accepted various responsibilities.
The first element of the project is a workshop for people responsible for the project in various environmental groups in the region. The aims of the workshop are to teach people about the current legal regulations related to the project and to integrate the group. The Summer Action will start with a camp in Bieszczady (probably in the Czarna community). One of the meetings of the groups took place there, and we found that the local administration of the community council neglects environmental protection. This camp will serve as a training for participants in the Summer Action. During this camp, a report about the state of the river waters will be written. This report will be based on the research of specialists, on our own observations, and on interviews with local people. Places for camping during the action and bike routes for cyclists coming to the action are being planned. During the camp, we will --together with the Bieszczady National Park -- clean streams which have been degraded by tourists and by local inhabitants.
We will stage a floating protest -- we will float down the San river on pontoons. We will mark areas where sewage enters the river on maps of environmental hazards. We will take water samples to be tested at the School of Environmental Protection in Sanok. Together with groups of cyclists we will clean very polluted places and we will lodge protests with the local administration responsible for cleanliness in the area of community.
We will perform happenings in bigger cities. We will cooperate with the local mass media in order to show the public that the actions of the local administration to protect the environment are not working. We will organize exhibitions of trash collected in rivers in the area of the community.
The trash will be placed in front of offices responsible for the state of the environment and left there with a letter which obliges the office to dispose of it, because that is supposed to be their responsilibity.
Thirteen groups from Eastern Małopolska declared participation in the "San for Vistula" campaign. The Summer Action will be connected with activities of environmental groups in other regions of the country.
Through December, 1994, the groups will be preparing a strategic plan for river protection in the region.
In 1995 the groups will join the Gaja Club's all-Poland
"Vistula River Now" campaign, which is being carried
out parallel to the action for the San river. The campaign of
the Gaja Club focuses on protests against Vistula river management
plans, the building of dams and cascades on the Vistula, and the
building of the East-West waterway. During the realization of
these three projects, many species of birds living on characteristic
Vistula islands will be put in danger. These birds are under
protection by Polish law, but their habitats are not. The plans
will cause the Vistula to lose its self-cleaning ability, and
the cascades will disrupt the biological balance of the river.
We invite everyone to participate in our campaign or to co-operate during the Summer Action. If you are a representative of a group of people which is active in protecting the natural environment, we propose that you join the Council of Regional Environmental Groups which is co-ordinating the Summer Action. Artur Sało is the person responsible for the whole project.
We also ask for lists of addresses of:
Regional Service Centre
for the Environmental Movement
ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego 1
tel. 48-131-22876 (on Saturdays and Sundays)
nr konta: 333603-3391-132 BDK oddział Krosno
Foundation for the Support of Ecological Initiatives
ul. Sławkowska 12
31-014 Kraków, POLAND
tel./fax 48-12-222264, 222147 w. 10
Organizations which would like to take part in
the project are requested to fill in the following questionnaire:
I confirm the participation of my group in the Summer
Action of the "San for Vistula" project.
I represent ................................................. which is (check the box below):
We want to help with the project by (check the box below):
Our suggestions for the project: ................................................................................................................................................................
Telephone/ fax: .....................
The completed questionnaire should be sent to Artur Sało, at one of the above addresses.