The Göncöl Foundation has had a significant role in facilitating cooperation between the government and the civic sector, in environmental field inventories, in declaration of natural protected areas, and more. It is a national NGO, member of IUCN since 1993. The Foundation is active on three levels: environmental education, public awareness and field research with spatial planning.
Education centres for biodiversity and sustainability
The Göncöl House, an environmental education centre, consists of the Regional Geological Museum, the Nature Conservation Reference Library, field and indoor education sites. Education is done on four levels: student groups, forest school programs, higher education and public helpdesk. Göncöl House is a protected national monument; its full scale reconstruction was finished in 2011. As part of it a central heating system based on 100% renewable energy resources was installed.
Since the Hungarian language is a linguistic island in Europe, the Göncöl takes major efforts on public awareness and communication on conservation, biodiversity and sustainability in its mother tongue.
Göncöl and the Budapest Zoo together publish two bimonthly, nationally circulated magazines inspiring their readers for environmentally-sound lifestyles, based on the "walk the talk” principle. Vadon Magazine ("vadon" means "wildlife”) is the successor of the first nature magazine in Hungary. Süni Magazine ("süni" means "hedgehog”) is targeted to kids with accessible information on nature, wonders of living and non-living creatures.
The Süni and Vadon National School Competition was launched in 2006 and participants constitute one-fourth of all elementary and secondary schools in Hungary. This is the only national school competition in ecology in the country.
Field research and spatial planning for conflict management
The Regional Studies Institute of the Göncöl Foundation seeks solutions and encourages parties for voluntary agreements on environmental conflict management. It provides field courses and practices as a background institute of the St. Stephan University of Gödöllő.
Among the biggest achievements are the sustainable land-use planning for the Szentendrei island which was adopted by the Environment Committee of the Hungarian parliament in 1999, the habitat mapping of the Cserhát area – part of a trans-boundary ecological network, and the site plans and rehabilitation of quarries in the Hugyag marshes. Currently the Institute is working on altering the navigation channel of the Danube, monitoring and management of riparian ecosystems, afforestation and protection of agricultural genetic heritage.
For more information: Vilmos Kiszel