The objective of this project was to increase the public’s awareness of farmers' important role in protecting Croatia’s Natura 2000 habitats and species. Most citizens in rural areas are still insufficiently informed about the existence and meaning of Natura 2000. To show the importance of maintaining and protecting Natura 2000 areas in the most vivid way possible, examples of successful coexistence of man and nature were highlighted in this initiative called ‘My little piece of land’. 14 farmers working within different Natura 2000 sites were selected to cover the most diverse and important habitats and species in Croatia. They were presented in an exhibition with related dissemination tools.
Authentic images of harmonious relationships with nature aroused people’s curiosity and resulted in a new understanding among the public. An accompanying brochure presented personal stories of the farmers — with citations in the famers’ dialect — in which they talk about knowledge that has been passed on and their view of the importance of nature in their everyday lives. The exhibition was set up in frequently used public buildings such as libraries, town galleries, hotels and cinema entrances, so that it would catch people’s attention and generate interest among all passersby. This encouraged the public to learn about the positive ways in which the farmers’ work affects nature and all of society.
It has been shown in 15 villages and towns and been seen by 6 000 visitors so far. Some 110 web posts and shows on 8 TV stations and 10 radio stations have since followed. To include the younger generation in the project, interactive educational materials were designed for schools in an effort to encourage pupils to independently envisage and express their thoughts about the importance of farming for nature.
The project was a collaboration between a private company, Suske Consulting, the Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection and the German Association for Landcare, an umbrella organisation representing agriculture, nature conservation and policy. The transnational partnership illustrates how different EU countries can learn from one another’s experiences of communicating Natura 2000 to different audiences.