The Túrkeve Landscape Development Program puts people at its centre, that local community who defines the development of natural values in its territory.
Following the advice of the regional nature conservation committee, the Nimfea Nature Conservation Association, an IUCN Member, started a project which addresses some of the biggest social problems in the Túrkeve region: high unemployment rate, lack of job opportunities for the less educated, minorities and elders, and youth migration.
The Túrkeve Landscape Development Program aims to tackle problems at their roots. Improper landscape management is seen as the cause of some of the social problems in the region. Thus the Program combines the sustainable use of the local resources with social issues. Using this approach, it can provide job opportunities for 20-30 people in season by farming 300 hectares with 27 horses, 17 cattle and approximately 100 sheep which is equal to the capacity of a several thousand hectare intensive farm.
The income provided by the farm contributes to the development of the region, to the decrease of poverty and of natural resources degradation by ensuring that development happens in a sustainable way.
The Program combines social and nature conservation approaches on the basis that sectoral thinking can be less effective. This can be illustrated by the following example. In protected areas using the reserve-theory the state maintains the area and rules out the local community. The labour market desperately tries to grab such sectors which are harmful for nature or do not serve sustainability and this finally ends with the destruction of the natural resources whilst poverty grows and the ‘social scissors’ gets wider. The approach used in the Program instead tries to harmonize landscape features with human activities.
The target groups of the project are local less educated people, the unemployed, the youth and the members of minorities. The project gives long-term benefits to these groups as the farm provides them with an occupation throughout the year. Their work helps contribute to the protection of natural resources by keeping the functional capacity of ecological services, treat the land, graze the animals sustainably and reduce resource exploitation. At the same time, the project allows the re-establishing of the traditional farming methodology thanks to which local flora and fauna have grown and rare and locally extinct species have appeared again. When seeing the results of their work, the people involved feel the town and landscape as their own, which helps create a bond to the territory and encourage the youth to remain in the area.
Nimfea hopes in the future to expand this Program to a larger area and include ecotourism development. At the moment the organisation is working through a LIFE project to renovate the existing farmhouse; purchase animals such as Furioso North-Star horses, Hungarian cattle, Racka sheep which are all Hungarian endemic breeds; prepare the Natura 2000 management plan for the site; establish nature-friendly water management in the area.
For more information: Zsófia Fábián