Viitor Plus association aims to contribute to the protection of the environment in Romania.
Viitor Plus association was founded 16 years ago and aims to contribute in a concrete way to the protection of the environment in Romania and to everything related to sustainable development, by means of citizen involvement. In the meantime, the association has become one of the most active players in the field of environmental protection. Its president Teia Ciulacu tells us more about the projects run and the efforts to raise people's awareness:
"We have developed a number of initiatives in which people of different ages can get involved and help in concrete ways and we sketched various solutions as models for the authorities and companies and which we hope at some point would be developed on a wider scale. Our forestation project Adopt a Tree focuses on the southern part of Romania, where there is a lot of degraded land and where farmland and inhabited areas are in dire need of protection via green verges. For the last 14 years we have been warning that it is important to invest in forestation, especially in the context of climate change and in order to adjust to what is already happening and to what will come in the future. Forests are a natural and convenient solution, only requiring a few years of hard work to grow a forest. We take care of the whole process, including identifying the land on the property owned by the local communities, which means the forest will remain in their possession. We also raise the needed funds from private sources, either private donors, and everyone can donate, just go to our website, or companies via sponsoring. We plant as many trees as we can afford to buy with the money we raised."
Our interlocutor told us that people are very open to the idea of planting new trees, because it gives them the opportunity to go outdoors, be in contact with nature and, also leave something behind. As far as the association is concerned, however, the approach is very practical:
"We take care of the forests in the long term, from designing the technical project, with the help of forestry engineers, to tree planting, weeding and replanting, all of which goes on for a few years. Where possible, we also involve volunteers in these activities, as part of the project's educational component. After a day's work at the office, going out into the field to look after the trees and seeing how fragile the young ones are and how long it takes for them to grow strong and become a forest, your world view changes. This direct contact allows for stronger awareness than if we see it on television or on social media."
We asked Teia Ciulacu, the president of Viitor Plus association, who usually volunteers for these tree planting activities?
"It's mainly the people who also volunteer for the whole campaign, which allows for a more organised approach. Volunteering is not just about offering to do something in your free time, on a Saturday. It's also about covering the cost of transport, meals and tools. So we prefer to work with businesses which take care of these costs and encourage their employees to volunteer. It's a win-win situation. Since we first started the project, we've been working with over 20,000 volunteers who have taken part in these activities."
Apart from actual tree-planting, the association also launched a campaign called Adopt a Tree aimed at raising funds. Those who adopt a tree receive a personalised adoption certificate. When the Covid pandemic started and socialising was restricted, the association came up with another idea. Teia Ciulacu explains:
"Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we created a new concept of remote planting because we were not able to gather hundreds of people in the field like we used to. We asked ourselves how we could bring the forest into people's homes and began to deliver by courier saplings of species that are most common in Romania in different geographical areas. We simply sent them to people's homes, especially to pupils and schools. We ran a very big campaign last spring as part of which over 100 schools planted 6,000 saplings, most of them in the school courtyard. It was a very successful and popular initiative."
We also found out that a non-polluting service using bikes and electric cars to collect recyclable waste is available in Bucharest and that a recycling map is available online at the initiative of Viitor Plus association. The map provides details about the materials that can be recycled and where they are deposited, as well as the location of over 1,700 waste collection points.