PARTICIPATORY PROCESS FOR THE ELABORATION OF THE CANDIDATURE OF THE SIBERIA TO RESERVE OF THE BIOSPHERE
Citizen and institutional participation has been key in the preparation of the Siberia Biosphere Reserve Bid. During the last two years activities have been carried out, within different projects of the Diputación de Badajoz, the CEDER La Siberia and the Junta de Extremadura in the territory of the region that would form the reserve, whose objectives have been aimed at advancing in the achievement of the declaration of the Biosphere Reserve of La Siberia.
Thus, between 2016 and 2017 two technical conferences related to biosphere reserves were organized, where, with the participation of experts, politicians and citizens, the different aspects that affect the declaration of the Biosphere Reserve were analyzed. main objective to know the meaning and functioning of the Biosphere Reserves, what implications entails becoming a Biosphere Reserve and what opportunities this figure offers for a territory like La Siberia.
With these conferences has been intended to promote the exchange of information and experiences with territories that currently have this distinction, in order to know the effects that this figure has introduced in the ecological and cultural values of these areas and the benefits that have been for the creation and maintenance of employment and the reactivation of their local economies.
At the same time, contacts have been made with the Office of the MaB Committee in Spain, where the appropriate recommendations for the preparation of the application have been indicated, making clarifications on the phases of the process, zoning, entity manager, etc.
Likewise, institutional contacts have been made with the different competent administrations in the region, with the support of these to promote the candidacy project. The result of this support is shown in the Signature of the Institutional Protocol of the Candidacy for the Biosphere Reserve of La Siberia, held on November 17, 2017, by all administrations: Junta de Extremadura, Diputación de Badajoz, Confederación Hydrographic of the Guadiana, Delegation of the Government in Extremadura, University of Extremadura, Local Action Group CEDER La Siberia, Mancomunidades and the 11 City Councils that make up the Candidacy, as well as by social and economic entities of the territory. In this protocol the signatories agree: Promote the presentation of Candidacy to the Biosphere Reserve of La Siberia and develop the Plan of Action of the future Biosphere Reserve of La Siberia, among other agreements.
Given that the involvement and participation of the local population is fundamental and a significant part for the achievement of this Candidacy, an information process has been carried out between 2016 and 2017, to present the initiative of La Siberia as a Biosphere Reserve in each of the populations included within the territory proposed for declaration. This process was conceived as a first contact, through which to be able to know the feelings of the local inhabitants regarding this project, as well as to obtain the opinions and proposals of the citizenship regarding the candidacy and to be able to reorient, in its case, the project.
In these meetings the concept of biosphere reserve was explained with a presentation and informative material, after which a discussion table was opened. The result of these sessions gave an initial idea of the acceptance of the municipalities to the proposal of the project and the lines of work and research within it. At the same time, different studies and researches have been carried out in the territory that have served to complete the candidacy proposal, at the same time as to have a more exact knowledge of the territory and to allow the elaboration of a program of actions adjusted to the reality and needs of the same.
During the process of information, awareness and dynamisation of the territory, a total of 98 meetings were held with the participation of 1,681 people in all the municipalities, as well as other information and awareness-raising activities, which have served to strengthen the participation of the different agents local. Having developed the following actions:
- 38 training workshops for agents of the territory in participation
- 2 Technical conferences
- 60 informative talks
- Personalized meetings with Agents Involved
- 8 Exchanges of experiences with Spanish Biosphere Reserves
- 453 Surveys of Local Agents on the Biosphere Reserve Bid
- 10 Assistances to National, Regional and County Fairs to inform and present the Candidacy
- Assistance to the II National Congress of the Reserve Network of Spanish Biospheres
- Development of awareness activities with the educational community
- Events to boost and raise awareness of the natural, cultural and intangible heritage of La Siberia
- Elaboration of diverse informative and informative material of the Reserve
- Design and content of blogs, candidacy website and social networks
Once the information and awareness actions have been carried out and, in parallel with the actions for revitalization, a participation process has been carried out through which the key elements of the project have been specified: the Plan of Action, the Zoning and the System of Management that has had the following actions:
- Citizen participation tables: 12 sectoral tables have been convened in different locations in the target territory, in which the key elements of the Candidacy have been specifically worked on. A total of 227 people participated in these tables.
- Semi-structured personal interviews with strategic agents of the territory belonging to the social, productive and political spheres. We interviewed 53 people from the territory or related to it.
- Preparation of a "Citizen Participation Card" through which the population has had the opportunity to contribute ideas and projects that have given content to the Action Plan. The form of the card has a certain degree of complexity since it is precious to define the proposal in a detailed manner. This fact serves to give value to the 43 proposals received through this medium.
For the development of citizen and institutional participation different spaces and tools for participation were created. From personal interviews with political, economic, social agents and with any person that has requested to be listened to, to the realization of diverse citizen and sectoral tables in all the municipalities of the proposed territory. In addition, at present, in a process of this type, the possibilities offered by web spaces and social networks have been taken into account, since it has allowed interaction with a greater number of people, to expose their points of view, their ideas or its related initiatives in this case with the development of this Region and the municipalities that compose it, to this end the website was available, which allowed exchanging information and opinion, a place of meeting for all those interested in participating in the formulation of the Candidacy and actively involved in the support of it.