Photo: Unsplash

The Community Safari concept, which was pioneered in the city of Kyiv, has now spread to other cities and towns. The Plato Non-Governmental Organization in Lviv and the Biodiversity Conservation Foundation in Bila Tserkva have taken on the task of looking for and implementing ecological solutions. Read on to find out what they are doing and what eco-solutions they have managed to “hunt down” while on safari.

The Community Safari event held by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kyiv has become the basis for initiatives launched in other cities and towns. Activists in Lviv and Bila Tserkva have even taken it a step further and improved the programme. In addition to the research part and the development of their own experiments, they included in the programme training sessions on nature-based solutions and on how to apply them in your city or town.

In Lviv, special attention was also paid to involving the general public and new resources for project implementation. “Lviv is one of the leaders among Ukrainian cities in terms of the number of residents who are involved in the community budget,” said Anzhelika Zozulia, a Community Safari coordinator in the city of Lviv. “We want potential project developers to learn more about nature-based solutions and their benefits for improving public spaces. This will enable them to provide stronger arguments in their applications for sustainable planning and adaptation to climate change.”

“Hunting” in the city of Lviv

In Lviv, 25 representatives of various sectors – from businesses to the local government – joined the safari. After learning about nature-based solutions, they split up into teams and started searching for environmental problems. Each team, together with expert guides, spent several hours exploring the city along pre-selected routes. They “hunted” practically everywhere: near the dried up Pioneer Lake, in the bed of the Zubra River, in the Shuvar wholesale market, near the “small green ring” of Lviv, and on the roof of one of the buildings that belong to Lviv Polytechnic University.

In the end, the safari participants found about 40 problem locations. What types of problems were identified? They included flooding zones, the urban heat island effect, the non-rational use of resources, and so on. The safari teams developed ready-made solutions for ten locations and presented their draft projects for implementation.

The proposed solutions included:

Creating green spaces on the facade of an apartment building on Svobody Avenue, using low-maintenance climbing plants that will form a natural air conditioning system over time.

Photo by Diony de Lara on Unsplash

Redeveloping the area around the Tarilka NGO, which is creating the first food bank in Ukraine. The organization's premises border on a depressing and dangerous area, three sides of which are fenced off by a wall, and which is periodically flooded by rain. The safari participants suggest turning this area into a green public space. Container and vertical gardens and a rain garden with a shelter would make this space attractive both to residents and visitors.

The stop on Pidvalna Street. You wouldn’t want anyone to wait for a long time for a bus or a tram on a hot day here. Heavy traffic and the absence of green spaces make one of the key stops in the city centre extremely uncomfortable for city residents. That is why the safari participants suggested creating green spaces at the stop and taking better care of the nearby lawn.

Meadows instead of lawns in the small park on Kulchytska Street. Residents had fought for several years for their right to build a small park there. In the end, the residents were able to assert their right to build a park. Eco-solution hunters advised leaving some wild vegetation in the future park, rather than just planting grass everywhere. This would promote biodiversity and support the local micro-climate.

An open-air training space. Even before the Community Safari was held, a team of young scientists from the Institute of Geodesy was thinking about creating such a space on the roof of the Lviv Polytechnic University building. The UNDP initiative provided the team with new ideas and practical advice on how to implement the project.

Composter Park on Plastova Street. Although activists had started this project before the Community Safari was held, the team developed a clear-cut plan during the safari, and now intends to try 12 options for processing food and garden waste.

The Community Safari in Lviv produced many other initiatives, which are in no way less inspiring. They include turning a private house squeezed between high-rise buildings into a green oasis in the city centre; creating a city garden, a composter and a rain garden in one of the building’s adjacent areas, and replacing parking lots with a green area.

 

The Community Safari in the town of Bila Tserkva

“We were wondering if anyone would agree to take part in the safari in the middle of the summer,” said Kateryna Strypko, the director of the Biodiversity Conservation Foundation in Bila Tserkva, while sharing her impressions from the Community Safari. “Especially because we were starting everything from scratch, with no support or partners. This is why we were pleasantly surprised by the willingness of town residents to spend their time and resources on learning more about nature-based solutions. This assured us that we‘re on the right track. You never know what the outcome will be, and this expectation of an unexpected miracle greatly inspired all of us.”

Ten active residents took part in the safari held in Bila Tserkva. After receiving some training, the participants went on their research safari along two routes. They identified 25 locations in need of nature-based solutions.

Their survey revealed that town residents complain the most about industrial dust (Bila Tserkva is the largest populated industrial area in Kyiv Oblast), the absence of green recreational areas, the non-rational use of resources, and the creation of the so-called “frying pan effect” in densely built-up areas.

Another pleasant surprise for the Foundation’s team was that they would be able to secure support not only from residents, but also from the local authorities.

“When we were starting the town safari, we discussed cooperation with the Department of Housing and Communal Services in Bila Tserkva,” said Mykola Hlukhenky, a project manager at the Biodiversity Conservation Foundation. “It turned out that they had for a long time been looking for projects to improve their urban environment, and are ready to support them. The department immediately agreed to be our partner in the town safari.”

Out of all of the ideas that were put forward by environmental activists in Bila Tserkva, the greatest approval was given to the proposal that vegetation be planted at a public transport stop, and that meadow grasses be planted on the dividing strip in the city centre (on Prince Volodymyr Avenue). Once the participants obtain approval from the authorities, they will be able to implement the solution they “hunted down.”

 

A chatbot for eco-activists 

Revised and improved hunting activities in the city of Lviv and the town of Bila Tserkva have produced lots of nature-based solutions for Ukrainian cities and towns. However, this is just the beginning, and all people from across Ukraine can contribute to making these changes happen.

 

If you want to launch your own ecological safari – alone or with your friends, colleagues or neighbours – you can contact the @Safari_Community_Bot on Telegram. This virtual assistant will share its knowledge about nature-based solutions with you, tell you how to use these solutions, while also citing successful, inspirational examples.

The bot also helps you map problem spots in real time and contact chatbot developers. It can tell you everything you need to know about experiments that aim to bring about change, using nature-based solutions.

 

Learn more about UNDP’s Community Safari initiative and about five experimental projects proposed by the participants in the first safari in Kyiv. 

Join in an online group of ecologically conscious change makers now.

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