During the 1980s two categories of environmental organizations could be found throughout Central Europe; those created 'from above' and those created from 'below'. [Fisher et al., 1992, p. 186] The first type of organizations is mentioned above, the second type is to be found in the political oppositional groups. The environmental movement played an important role in the political changes in Central Europe during 1989-1990. [Kolk, 1995, p.12] The communist regimes tolerated just little space for individuals to participate in private and autonomous groups; so opponents of the political system had to work either through officially established and legal groups or set up underground organizations. [Siegel and Yancey, 1992, p. 19] An example of an independent environmental protest movement is the Danube movement which was established around 1985 and strongly opposed the governmental plans to build the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dams in the Danube.
The Polish Ecological Club (PKE) is a bit an outsider, because this huge organization is established in 1980, just at the time Solidarity ruled Poland. The PKE stayed relatively independent after the communists took over the government again. In the Czechoslovakian Federation branches of the legal environmental organizations SZOPK and CSOP became more and more independent or sometimes even dissident. The Bratislava and Brno city branches of both organizations became famous for their 'undercover' protest actions against the communist governments. [Fisher, 1992, p.187] It is not surprising that a lot of activists from political oppositional groups became members of the new political institutions after the changes. Of course this weakened the environmental organizations. [Siegel and Yancey, 1992, p. 16] A more convenient legal and fiscal framework for non profit organizations and a strong optimism about the positive role for democratization of the social movement sector were responsible for the exploding 'Third Sector' in Central Europe. [Siegel and Yancey, 1992, p. 30; Kolk, 1995, p. 12] The bad environmental situation in these countries had of course its influence on the growth of particular the environmental movement as well.
The general situation of the environmental movement at this moment does not look as positive and optimistic like in 1989-1990. A lack of human and financial resources is felt in almost every NGO. [Siegel and Yancey, 1992, p. 33] The current political interest is definitely not the environmental situation and even the expected assistance from the West for cleaning up Central Europe's environment is passing by to the former Soviet Union [Siegel andYancey, 1992, p. 57] or just given for the profit of the Western funders themselves. [Siegel and Yancey 1992, p.52] The sociologist Glinski noted: 'Environment is not a determining factor; our future depends on economical and militarian decisions. Those determined our past and will determine our future.'
Fortunately also positive signs can be seen. National cooperation among environmental NGOs becomes more and more common and successful. Actual cooperation at all levels is a hot issue; a sign of growing maturity of the organizations. Some well developed organizations show up as members of worldwide environmental networks, like Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) but also as technical experts in their own field, like the Polish 'Waste Prevention Organization 3R'. The environmental NGO community in Central Europe is still splintered, though alive and developing.
After all we have to keep in mind that it is just a few years after the changes; a process of democratization including the development of a broad social movement sector needs a lot of time and energy.