This profile was prepared when Juraj Lukác was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Juraj Lukác is changing the management plans for Slovakia's ecologically-critical forests, which are undergoing rapid destruction. He believes that the best chance to protect this essential natural resource lies in mobilizing the public. He is therefore developing a large-scale grassroots conservation movement in the region. He builds on the environmental concern that motivated early citizen resistance to the former communist regime. However, the realities of creating a new government amid limited resources have forced environmental issues to compete with other urgent needs in Slovak society. One of the distinctive features of Juraj's work is that, while he has maintained a focus on forest management, he takes the additional steps of developing mechanisms to maintain a community-based stewardship for forests and to push for articulation of protections under new Slovak laws. To achieve his goal, Juraj is organizing local citizen groups that will serve as "armies" and "protectors" of the forest. These groups take the responsibility for the management of specific areas of forest and work with local logging firms to ensure that buffer zones along streams and springs are preserved and that tree regeneration occurs in areas used by the logging industry. Juraj believes that only through such efforts of dedicated and organized people, working concretely on the ground in region after region, can the forests of Central Europe survive.