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Sep 12, 2017

LAGs in Biosphere areas met to cooperate

"We have never been abroad so close to home", said Jan Ignahhin, the President of Hiiumaa LAG, when we drove to Latvia. It is sadly true that we think that we know about our closest neigbours already everything. We were positively surprised to see how latvians manage their lives in the UNESCO Biosphere area. 

The networking trip, supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers, to the Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve (Latvia) took place 4-6. September 2017. The story of the Northern Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve is similar to that of our islands in the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program area. Created at the end of the 80's of the last century, programs for zoning and management were launched, main directions of research were developed both on land and at sea, but also focused on enlightenment and training of local people. All this was stopped by the governments in the early 2000s, when it was found that the market is putting everything in place, including the relationship between nature and human coexistence. That, of course, did not happen. Approximately two years ago, the Vidzeme program coordinator Laura Taube was recruited, to start with nature awareness projects. 

A trip of Hiiumaa LAG to Salacrywa began at the venue of former Biosphere Centre, currently the Environmental Agency. During the introductory seminar, presentations from the Northern Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve and West-Estonian Islands Biosphere Reserve were given; the representatives of the local LEADER Action Group Jurkante exchanged the experience with the Hiiumaa LAG on the implementation of the UNSECO MAB program. There are 4 LEADER Action Groups (LAGs) in the Vidzeme region. It turned out that Laura met the representatives of local LAGs for the first time thanks to our Nordic project. Therefore, we can be content with the added value created by the project - the local network. Hopefully, cooperation will work between the Latvian Biosphere Reserve and their LEADER action groups, because neither in Estonia nor in Latvia, no funds for implementation of the of the UNESCO MAB program were allocated, except for the operation of the office. The LEADER Rural Support Fund is the only real resource available to rural people. Hiiumaa LAG has realised that while preparing the LEADER progam period.


Hiiumaa NGO people had an exciting trip to see what is going on in the field of small entrepreneurship in Vidzeme area. Perhaps the most interesting spots were visits to see the shiitake mushroom plantation in the middle of the deep forest; Visit to the small meat production and restaurant making their products without adding artificial component; and of course the Zero-energy building done in cooperation with Norwegian funds.


Both trips to Latvia and Sweden and the Hiiumaa LAG Conference in 2016 were supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers Estonian office in order to foster closer cooperation.