Lithuanian landscape project honoured with respectable and heavy award
On 11-12 June, Wroclaw (Poland) hosted the 14th session of the Council of Europe on the implementation of the European Landscape Convention. The Landscape Award of the Council of Europe was handed out to the Polish Lower Silesian Association of Landscape Parks. The Lithuanian project entitled "U-parks. U-turn we love" also gained special attention and appreciation.
The Landscape Award of the Council of Europe is one of the tools that contributes to the implementation of the European Landscape Convention. It is intended to raise awareness of landscape and to reward exemplary initiatives of states in protecting and cherishing the landscape. The award was founded in 2008 following approval of the Rules governing the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe, which define the goals and procedures of this award and set out the project evaluation criteria.
Lithuania’s landscape management champion Utena nominated for the award of the Council of Europe
After honouring the landscape management award to Utena Region Municipality last year, the Ministry of Environment has now nominated it as a Lithuanian candidate for the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe.
Senior specialist at the Landscape Division of the Protected Areas and Landscape Department of the Ministry of Environment, Ms Giedrė Godienė says that Utena town, boasting a history of seven and a half centuries, has preserved its natural landscape structure with a coherent system of plantations, its aesthetic values expressed through modern management of parks. Since 2002, Utena has been home to four public areas totalling 50 ha: city garden (2005), Krašuona coast (2009), Dauniškis (2005) and Vyžuona (2010) parks. Two other public areas are planned to be set up.
Utena’s residents shared joyful smiles
During the first week of September, the residents of Utena celebrated the city’s birthday. 752 years have passed since the name of Utena was first mentioned in a written historical source, an act of Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania, in which Utena and the nearby area were considered to be within the territory belonging to the Selonians, a Baltic tribe, and were given as a gift to the Livonian Order. And although the events of the week did not mark any particular anniversary, there were plenty of new things. The motto for this year’s celebration was “Utena: a city of happiness!”, and wasn’t just any old random saying. According to data from a new Lithuanian social project, the Happiness Barometer, Utena is the city with the happiest residents in the country.
What does not allow investment coming to Utena?
Is there anybody who has not heard about Utena industrial park, the first investment object of such economic type in Lithuania?
I myself, when driving to meet the mayor Alvydas Katinas, decided to start my talk with him from this object. By investment and the amount of assimilated European funds, Utena is among leaders, and probably already leads in Lithuania. To put it short, during the programming period 2007-2013, Utena District Municipality assimilated nearly 32.5 percent of funds of quotas intended for regional measures, whereas the same indicator in Utena region does not go up to 20 percent and Lithuania's average is even by one more percentage point lower. The gap is even larger in the assimilation of funds for investment instruments: indicators of Lithuania and Utena region reach 12 and 18 percent respectively, whereas Utena District Municipality has overpassed 33 percent of the total quota intended forthis programming line. In terms of money, the value of completed investment projects in 2008 made about 18.5 million litas, in 2009-nearly 104 million litas (in 2009, Utena District Municipality received the award of the Association of Local Authorities in Lithuania "Auksinė krivūlė" for the best assimilation of EU support in Lithuania), in 2010 - 93.5 million litas.
A man acquainted with such figures should become very surprised when he hears the chief architect and ideologist ofthe investment policy in the district speaking about problems.