COOLspot – Educational trail for citizens to explore and contribute to Climate Conscious Solutions in urban environments
Project: Educational trail for citizens to explore and contribute to Climate Conscious Solutions in urban environments
Project is funded by: Estonian EU external border programme 2014-2020. Project ER213 COOLspot is implemented under the European Neighbourhood Instrument and co-financed by the European Union.
Project budget: 103 010 € (programme 92 709 €, Tartu Nature House 10 301 €)
The COOLspot draws attention of the citizens to environmental issues arising as a result of climate change and biodiversity loss, and introduces them to climate and environmentally conscious solutions already available, taking as an example the city of Tartu. According to the Estonian Environmental Awareness study 2022, a large portion of the country’s population still lacks a systematic understanding of how their everyday activities affect the environment; they also don’t consider a global ecological crisis as something that affects them directly. Only 11% of the population of the city of Tartu is aware of the city’s goals to achieve climate neutrality. Tartu’s carbon footprint has been increasing in recent years, especially due to the rise in private transportation use and electricity consumption in private businesses. The municipality sees reaching a community agreement about the urgent nature of climate change and readiness of the citizens to change their lifestyles as a key in achieving climate goals. Thus it is important not only to spread knowledge and the solutions to mitigate climate change amongst the citizens, but also to support the citizens’ motivation and skills to help achieve climate neutrality through their own actions.
The aim of the project is to bring climate change and biodiversity loss related issues to the public space – the park of Tartu Nature House in the city center. The park provides an important recreational function, but also it is maintained in an environmentally friendly and climate conscious way together with the building of Tartu Nature House. The solutions already adapted by Tartu Environmental Education Centre (TEEC) and efforts of the municipality, including climate goals, will be made more visible and understandable through the educational trail with information and activity displays. The park is a perfect location for such a trail: it has been found by environmental awareness studies in Estonia that people who frequently experience positive emotions from being in nature are also more motivated to protect nature and make environmentally friendly choices in their everyday lives. The trail will help visitors of the park to see the “invisible” – how each person’s and community’s everyday actions impact in a positive or negative way our living environment and our planet as a whole. The trail and the park as a safe and attractive place will be promoted in the city and introduced through public events and guided tours to the general public and through study activities to students of different ages.
As a result of the investments made into park’s infrastructure (repairment and small construction works) together with installing educational display boards, the park will become a safer, more accessible to different groups of people, attractive and suitable place for both educational activities and recreation.
- The trail will highlight infrastructure elements added as a result of the COOLspot project such as separate waste collection bins, a playground with vegetable garden boxes, drainage system for leading heavy rain water to the pond and garden beds, as well as existing solutions in the park (i.e. compost bins) and in the building as seen from outside (i.e. solar panels). The displays around the trail will be designed to make visitors interact with these infrastructure elements, understand issues and explore solutions that these elements exemplify.
- The renovations in the park and the trail will be announced in main Tartu communication channels, including newspapers.
- Two public events will be organized for 250 citizens, with families as the main target group. The public events will focus on introducing the trail through guided activities, as well as provide workshops teaching green skills.
- In addition, training will be organized for 10 Tartu Nature School teachers, who will learn how to use the trail as a study resource and will then conduct classes with their students, involving 250 students of different ages in total.
- Finally the trail will be introduced to 75 visitors of the Visitor Centre during guided tours.
585 people in total will be involved during the project into awareness raising activities, and later the trail will be available to explore to at least 30 000 visitors of the centre annually.
One part of the investments contribute to making the TEEC’s park more safe and accessible, like repairing low ballard lights’ foundations and lamp posts, introducing drainage system to prevent pavements from being washed away by heavy rain water, maintaining terraces, repairing benches and furniture (sitting stumps) in outdoor learning spaces. Another part of the investments is focused on enhancing the learning environment in the park by constructing a study vegetable garden with playground elements, creating a gathering space for the visitors of public and study events, installing separate waste collection bins and manufacturing and installing climate trail display boards developed in WP T1.
Additional information about the programme: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/
This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of Foundation Tartu Environmental Education Centre and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the Programme or the European Union.