The last 15 years has produced strong signs of global climate change. Meteorologists and climatologists have registered a dramatic increase in melting glaciers, violent atmospheric phenomena and extreme temperatures for the season, according to the latest indicators. These indicators are the result of human activities. The EU is at the forefront of promoting environmentally-friendly policies and through concrete measures seeks to raise awareness and inform European citizens about the effects that climate change can have on their daily lives. However, institutions alone cannot solve the problem. As never before, the participation of citizens is essential to contribute to conserving and maintaining the environment.
The main objective of the LEWO project was to reduce the impact of human actions on natural heritage, encourage the sustainable use of natural resources and promote environmental education and citizenship participation. It would do this with the participation of volunteers through the European Solidarity Corps. Specifically, the project aimed to:
- Carry out volunteering activities aimed at the protection, restoration and management of 17 Natura 2000 network sites in the Galicia region of Spain;
- Promote citizens’ environmental awareness through a participation model able to connect them with stakeholders, and contribute to a better conservation of the natural heritage of Galicia and local socio-economic development;
- Raise awareness on citizenship rights and a sense of common understanding, and promote the value of volunteering for young people; and
- Contribute to training opportunities for 300 young Galicians who can make a significant contribution to society, and through solidarity can develop their own potential.
The LEWO project was not able to develop the volunteering programme in a continuous manner and with stable volunteer groups as planned. The project leaders lacked the required technical skills for such an ambitious initiative, although they were able to engage 292 volunteers in some of the 21 one-day activities and 53 weekend activities organised at the 10 target Natura 2000 sites, including the removal of rubbish, removal of IAS, awareness-raising activities.
The project fell short the target of each volunteer working 100 days, resulting in a total of 3 000 days of work. The achieved number of days was closer to around 1 400 in total, giving an average of 4.79 days per volunteer. Around 150 of these volunteers participated in only one activity (one-day or weekend), with only just over 2% engaging in more than 10 activities.