Polskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciól Przyrody "Pro Natura" - Polish Society of Wildlife Friends "Pro Natura"
Wroclaw, 17 January 1996
- ul. Podwale 75
- 50-449 Wroclaw
- Phone: 48 71 445 055 ext. 326
- Fax: 48 71 446 135
The persons and their function in the NGO
- Mr. Roman Guziak - Project leader
- Mr. Adam Guziak - Project leader
The NGO itself
"Pro Natura" was established in May 1990
by a group of people who were concerned about the environment
and who wanted to organize a better nature conservancy program
than the ones that had been previously established.
At least every three years a General Assembly made
up of members of the "Pro Natura" NGO, gathers and
selects the main board members. Besides these bodies, an internal
control group exists. The NGO is active on national level and
has nine chapters working on the local and/or regional level.
According to the statutes branches on the intermediary level
may be created in the future.
Objective(s) / Goal(s)
The main goal is the conservation and restoration
of the endangered elements in the natural environment.
Main areas of activity of the Polish Society of Wildlife Friends "Pro Natura"
Nature protection actions, educational programs about
nature and the environment, collection and dissemination of information
via their own publications and monitoring of the state of nature
in certain protected areas are among the main activities of "Pro
Natura". Following and commenting on political decisions
on nature conservation and/or protected areas is done when it's
of the NGOs best interest.
At this moment "Pro Natura" is active in
the following fields of nature conservation: bat conservation,
environmental education, protecting the white stork in Poland's
wetlands, the European pond tortoise, wetland restoration, wetland
network and caring for the rivers.
- Six employees and at least 100 volunteers are working
in all of the branches of "Pro Natura" . The number
of active volunteers is dependent on the project. In the white
stork project, there are approximately 1000 volunteers, most
of which are non members of "Pro Natura". One Peace
Corps volunteer works for "Pro Natura" as the foreign
relations officer. The number of official members is close to
- The budget in 1995 was about 120,000 USD. The largest
amount of money was from grants. Governmental grants were just
a small part of the total amount, whereas funding organizations,
especially Western organizations, were responsible for the biggest
part of the total budget. "Pro Natura" was among others,
sponsored by Eko Fundusz, GEF, Environmental Partnership for Central
Europe, National Fund for Environmental Protection, the REC and
Euronature. Furthermore their own fund raising activities and
membership fees contributed nominally to the budget.
- Spoken languages in the office of "Pro Natura"
are Polish, English, German, Russian and a little French. The
expertise on nature conservation and environmental issues on the
strategical level is considered high. On the organizational level,
some improvements must be made.
- Access to information
- Available tools in the office are phone, access to
fax and computers. E-mail was just recently made available.
There are a few members of "Pro Natura" that are members
of Parliament, they supply the NGO with political information.
In general the contacts with regional policymakers are good enough
to be provided with important information. Contacts with TV, local
newspapers, and journalists are average.
External Relations and intensity of the contact
The external relations of the Polish Society of Wildlife
Friends are based on cooperation. Cooperation between national
and regional governmental bodies is extensive but at times antagonistic.
The latter is especially the case for protected areas authorities.
There is almost no relationship with environmental businesses,
but contacts with other environmental NGOs on the national and
the western-international level are based on intensive cooperation.
Cooperation with NGOs from other CEE countries occurs, but predominately
on the information exchange level.
"Pro Natura" is a member of CEE WEB, the
Earth Action Network and the International Union for the Conservation
of Nature (IUCN). Bilateral contacts exist with bat groups in
Czech and Slovak and with the Czech Society for Protection of
Birds of Prey and Owls. Low intensive contacts exist with Ukraine
and Lithuania as well. The CEE WEB was established in 1992 and
"Pro Natura" was one of the founders, but are currently
not as active in the network as it would like to be.
Advantages / Motivation
Border issues and topics of mutual interest, are
the most reasonable motivation for cooperation. Personal contacts
in other countries and stimulation from outside funding organizations
like REC and Partnership also makes cooperation easier. The
danger of East-East cooperation funding is that NGOs are just
organizing conferences to show how well they cooperate with each
other without really doing something in order to reach their goals.
The similar social-economical background between
the CEE countries is potentially interesting. East-East cooperation
may be much more useful than East-West cooperation in the field
of nature conservation since Western experiences are not always
similiar to those of the East. Therefore their methods maybe
less useful than those used in CEE countries.
Problems / Obstacles
The biggest obstacle to East-East cooperation is
a lack of information available about NGOs dealing with the same
topic(s) in other countries, and about the situation in those
countries. Problems like limited transportation, no common language
and difficulties with long distance calls also play a role. Further
a lack of motivation for cooperation at all is important. A lot
of NGOs are busy with their own survival and the problems in their
own countries, they are simply not strong enough to cooperate
with other NGOs. Cooperation takes more time, costs more money
and the more people involved, the longer takes it to decide about
for example a common campaign. Such a campaign would be nice,
but did not happen until now. When East-East cooperation starts
it is on border issues and mostly just on the level of information
exchange, because this the most logical and easy way.
Surplus Value / Results of East-East cooperation
The surplus value of good cooperation between NGOs
is that a bigger nature area, even those across a border, may
be protected. Information exchange is also valuable benefit for
our own projects and strategies. In a recent project, "Pro
Natura" exchanged information and experiences on legal and
practical conservation aspects with Polish and Czech NGOs. This
project is a perfect example of 'learning from each other'. Getting
more funding is another benefit for NGOs, the bigger the funds
the bigger project, hence the better one can protect nature.
An additional benefit is that one can strengthen ones contacts
with partners on the other side of the border. Finally, personal
experiences are important, it's interesting to get to know people
from other countries, and learn about other cultures. Mutual cooperation
is based on knowing people, so it's crucial to have personal contacts
with partner NGOs.
Necessary features of a NGO for East-East cooperation
The NGO must be a strong organization, this means
it must have good technical and organizational skills, and strong
motivation for East-East cooperation. Personal contacts with possible
partner groups are critical and while searching for partners it
is important that you present a good program and/or plan, so
that you know exactly what goals you want to reach when cooperating.
Possible reasons for others not to start East-East cooperation
NGOs may not have a mutual border or transboundary
topic. There may be a lack of contacts or knowledge about other
groups working on the same topics. Finally NGOs may not be able
to cooperate, because they are too busy with their own problems,
and they don't see the advantages in building a coalition or
their organization is too weak.
Future of East-East cooperative behavior of the NGO
The Polish Society of Wildlife Friends "Pro
Natura" wants to develop East-East cooperation. They want
to continue building the relationships that they have with their
current partners and want to search actively for new partner
NGOs in neighboring countries. At the same time, cooperation
between Polish NGOs is a priority of "Pro Natura".
REC and East-East cooperation
"Pro Natura" applied and succeeded in getting
an Earmarked Grant from the REC, so the REC and the REC procedures
are well known. It is our opinion that the REC plays a role in
teaching and/or stimulating East-East cooperation because the
future of the environment is at stake. Unfortunately a big risk
in stimulating East-East cooperation is giving funds to organizations
where cooperation takes place only for the money. There must
be a specific reason for cooperation, East-East cooperation should
not be a goal in and of itself. The REC should be aware of the
function of cooperation for reaching the NGOs goal(s). Additionally
the REC needs to be much more patient. Cooperation between NGOs
We believe there should be a balance between internal
(within the country) cooperation and external (with other countries)
cooperation, so the development of internal cooperation is considered
just as important as the stimulation of external cooperation.
The Local Offices of the REC may see internal cooperation
as their task, even though they cannot grant large amounts. Unfortunately,
giving NGOs small grants work against cooperation since the groups
want to keep as much possible money for themselves.
To promote East-East cooperation the REC should
organize meetings where people dealing with the same topic meet
and get to know each other. Where they can find out that the
sharing of experience and information is useful. People have
to learn how to cooperate, and the REC should play a role in this
REC * PUBLICATIONS * BEYOND BORDERS - SIDE REPORT * POLAND