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NASJONALT FORSKNINGSINSTITUTT med regional forankring og internasjonal relevans 

Buzau geopark: Applied research for sustainable development and economic growth following the principles of geoconservation. (GeoSust): REPORT YEAR 1

EEA Grants

GeoSust is an interdisciplinary applied research project, which brings together specialists from the fields of earth, human and social sciences, to aid in the development of an economically underprivileged area that has a great natural and cultural potential. The project supports the UNESCO Buzău Land Geopark initiative, as a feasible tool towards sustainable economic development, while creating a balance between social-economical welfare and environmental protection. The GeoSust project is currently the only support that the Buzău Land Geopark initiative has.

The project consortium consists of 7 research entities, 5 of which are based in Romania (Institute of Geodynamics of the Romanian Academy, University of Bucharest, Geoecomar Research Institute, Babeș-Bolyai University and the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant) and 2 of which are based in Norway (Telemark Research Institute and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences). The project team totals a number of 66 staff members. GeoSust is supported by partner institutions: Aurland naturverkstad, Gea Norvegica Geopark and the Romanian television documentary company DIGI world. 

This first stage was conceived in such a way that the project team, based on its previous experience and on the situation observed on the field, could build an image of the natural, cultural and socio-economic realities from Buzău Land. This stage was carried out on three plans: management, research and dissemination.

Management. The project administration is a secondary activity, however, it represented the most difficult aspect of 2014. The implementation of the financed activities has been encumbered by the overwhelming level of bureaucracy imposed by the Romanian Program Operator combined with its general level of inflexibility. From an administrative point of view, we made sure that the funds were correctly used and the necessary documents prepared, we made sure that the legislation was respected, that all the activities mentioned in the project were implemented, that we provided a constant and efficient communication between the members of the 7 institutions that form GeoSust, that the activities from Romania and Norway have been integrated and coordinated properly. 3 general meetings took place and an online platform was created so that the team work and team dialogue could be facilitated. We ensured the gathering of financial and scientific data, the quality control and the completion of all the reports.

Research. All the partners have conducted field studies: geological, geophysical, hydrochemical, botanical, anthropological, ethnographic, and exploratory. The aim was to acquire data and process it in a preliminary manner, with the purpose of preparing the activities that are going to take place in the next stages. The focus was on natural hazard elements (the negative impact on the community and on the environment) and on the natural/anthropic as well as on the material/immaterial elements that have economic potential. The geological activity consisted of field research (geological formations, hazard elements like landslides and slopes collapses). The geophysical activity consisted in preliminary radiometric mapping of the territory and in electrometric profiling in areas that were affected by tectonic hazards (Rătești Monastery). The hydrochemical research was focused on the analysis of the natural water sources used by the locals, especially of the fountain waters (the spring waters will be analysed in the following stage). The botanical activity contributed to the identification of vulnerable rare species and of species that have economic potential. The ethnographic and anthropological analysis focused on participatory research, on interviews conducted with locals and with key persons in the area, with the purpose of identifying tangible and intangible heritage elements. The exploring activities were represented by the effort of reaching the isolated parts of Buzău Land, in order to meet the people that live there and understand their needs and way of life on one hand, and their connection with the environment, on the other hand.

Dissemination. The dissemination activities are essential components of our project, which is why we started the dissemination process from the first stage. Our main actions were to establish a partnership with the TV documentary company DIGI doc in order to make documentary films, organise meetings with the local authorities (mayors and representatives of the County Council), organise meetings with stakeholders, organise press events, create the first permanent interpretation point, write a publication destined to the general audience (brochure), make the public project website, participate with 2 scientific presentations at the international CBGA 2014 Congress and organise an educational interdisciplinary workshop for students. The dissemination activities have been conducted with the active participation of the researches, of an artist, of a graphical design specialist and of our “IT-guy”. Our goal is to obtain a maximum impact and dissemination on a large scale.