Advocating for nature
01 March 2012 | Article
The National Society of Conservationists (NSC) and its 118 member groups have been active in nature protection and agriculture for more than a decade. The organization, a Member of IUCN, seeks to draw media’s attention and raise public awareness of agricultural practices which can harm nature and tries to influence decision makers through lobbying and advocacy actions.
Among the most recent successes, NSC campaigned to keep the Hungarian moratorium on MON810 GM maize which the European Commission wanted to lift and to ban the Amflora GM potato against the Commission’s authorization by convincing the Hungarian government to sue the Commission at the European Court of Justice for not taking into account the positions of the Member States during the approval process. After a GM seeds contamination in 2011, NSC launched a campaign for zero tolerance and initiated a national seed program. The organization also campaigned for creating GMO-free zones in various parts of the country. In cooperation with Friends of the Earth (FoE) groups, NSC produced a DVD „The Killing Fields – The Battle to feed factory farms” which shows the impacts of growing GM soy in South America.
NSC has also been vocal on agrofuels and biomass with the organization of several roundtables, forums and workshops and the production of four editions of the publication Biomass-dilemma. It also dubbed the FoE Europe short video on biofuels in Hungarian. NSC activists managed to have EU subsidies to bioethanol plants stopped in Hungary and campaigned against a harmful biomass project in the Tokaj wine region. The 10 % agrofuel targets in the EU Renewable Energy Directive and the biomass and agrofuels targets in the National Renewable Energy Acion Plan and the National Energy Strategy have been the subject of other lobby actions – leading to some good results.
On top of NSC’s action in Hungary, here are some initiatives by NSC member groups:
- Biodiversity monitoring in the Southern Great Plains region
The Beretzk Peter Nature Protection Club’s project aims at monitoring and protecting representative flora and fauna of the Southern Plain region (Roszke region) involving students and teachers. Database sheets are generated and fed into the Natura Protection Information System (TIR). The main objective is to establish a long-term database which can improve national and local nature conservation work.
Program led by: Beretzk Peter Nature Protection Club
More info: Zsuzsanna Sara Endrene
- Nature protection in the Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg region
a. Sostoi-forest (forest reserve)
From 2011 locals can ’adopt’ areas of the forest and volunteer in monitoring, building bird and bat nestholes. Project website (Hungarian)
b. Wetland management in the Nyirseg region
In a 309 hectares wetland area, habitat reconstruction succeeded in transforming ten hectares of arable land into pastures. Arable lands are also being transformed into grasslands or forests. Four areas were declared nationally protected ex lege marshlands by the authorities.
c. Farm heritage in the Nyiregyhaza area
The unique ’bush farms’ structure of the region has preserved numerous natural values (saline lakes, marshlands, wet meadows and pastures, sandy steppes etc.) and traditional land use with small plots of land. More
Program led by: E-misszio Nature- and Environmental Protection Association
More info: Attila Lukacs