AGM 2016

The Fourth Annual General Meeting of 'ECO HVAR' was held on 17th June 2017 in the Cafe Splendid, Jelsa.

MINUTES

of the Fourth Annual General Meeting of 'ECO HVAR', registered charity for the wellbeing of people, animals and the environment, held on 17th June 2017 at 18:00 in the Cafe Splendid, Jelsa.

Present: Vivian Grisogono, Charity President, Nada Kozulić, Committee Member, Debora Bunčuga, Raffaella Catani, Peter Elborn, Martin Sackmann, Sophia Sackmann, Mihovil Stipišić, Lana Zake.

Apologies for absence: Carol Adeney, Jo Ahearne, Goga Borić, Norbert Bossaert, Henk Buijs, Ingrid Buijs, Miranda Miličić Bradbury, Paul Bradbury, Luka Bunčuga, Marija Bunčuga, Steve Jones, Graham King, Mario Vranković, Maja Vukić, Ivana Župan.

The meeting was opened at 18:15 by Vivian Grisogono.

AGENDA

1. Welcome. Confirmation of the number of attendees, election of the Meeting Secretary.

2. Adoption of the Minutes from the 3rd AGM.

3. Review of Eco Hvar's activities during 2016.

4. Financial report for 2016.

5. Election of the Main Committee, at the end of its four-year mandate.

6. Outline of the Charity's programme for 2017.

7. Any other business.

ITEM 1. The President confirmed that sufficient voting members were present for deciding on proposed resolutions. Nada Kozulić was elected Meeting Secretary.

ITEM 2. The Minutes from the 3rd AGM were adopted unanimously.

ITEM 3. Vivian Grisogono presented a review of the Charity's activities during 2016:

      1. ANIMALS

i) We received over 20 inquiries relating to animals, mainly about stray dogs, abandoned dogs and cats, and poisonings. The inquiries came from Croatian and foreign visitors. We are glad to say that the local authorities cooperated in some of the cases, and that almost all of the stray and abandoned dogs were reunited with their owners or found new homes.

Advising on animal poisonings is difficult. the correct procedure is to preserve all the evidence, including the dead animals, preferably also with photographs, and report the incident to the town warden and the police. However, in most cases the evidence is no longer available by the time the poisoning is reported.

ii) There were a couple of cases of dogs wandering unattended in the street, having just arrived on the island and been parted from their owners. We took them to the vet to identify their owners from the micro-chip. When we reunited them with their owners, we advised that the dogs should always have a collar, preferably with the owner's phone number on an identity tag, and that they should be kept on a lead (as required by law) especially in places which were strange to them.

iii) We homed three previously rescued dogs through the Animalis Centrum Animal Shelter in Kaštel Sućurac. Benđi, Lina and Bobi went to new homes in Germany through the cooperation between Animalis Centrum and the German animal charity Streunerglücke.V. We were informed of their destinations and were sent photographs from their new homes.

      2. ENVIRONMENT

In January Eco Hvar joined in with the excellent initiative to replant Hvar with autochthonous black pines, organized by sister charity Sustainable Island / Održivi otok. (Latest reports have it that most of the saplings planted have taken.) We congratulate Irena Dorić and her team for their excellent project and faultless promotion of it.

The Easter period (Easter Sunday was on 27th March in 2016) is always a busy time for Eco Hvar, with continuing attempts to persuade devotees on the all-night Procession not to throw rubbish anywhere and everywhere. Eco Hvar provides rubbish bins round the Pitve church. As always, Eco Hvar was also active helping to clear the local paths around Pitve in the weeks before the event, and then cleaning up after the Procession and following the services on subsequent days.

On April 11th 2016, Jelsa's Mayor Nikša Peronja co-signed a document with Eco Hvar urging people to stop using pesticides.

Through the year, Eco Hvar continued the efforts to alert people to the dangers of pesticides by posting flyers on public notice boards and handing out leaflets detailing the possible ill-effects of using poisons.

We received various queries relating to the environment by email, ranging from a volunteer seeking a placement in a conservation project based in a former war zone, to a request to do something about tourists fishing illegally from a boat in Mljet National Park.

There was also correspondence with the local authorities.

On November 8th 2016, at the start of the political campaigning for the June 2017 local elections, we wrote to Mayor Nikša Peronja asking whether he had any public statement to make regarding the environment, specifically recycling, waste management and horticulture. To date no reply has been received.

Having received late information that the Jelsa park had been sprayed with pesticides sometime in the spring, on November 10th we wrote to Mayor Peronja, copying in 5 others with responsible positions in the local Council. In the same email we pointed out that rat poison was still being distributed in flimsy cellophane packaging, which must be against EU norms. And we asked when we could expect recycling facilities in our region. Toni Damjanić, director of JELKOM, answered the questions relating to his area of responsibility, pesticide use and rubbish management, including recycling. No other replies were received, the issue of rat poison was not addressed.

The correspondence and a subsequent conversation with Toni Damjanić revealed that there is a lot wrong with the use and control of pesticides in the Jelsa Council region.

The only good news was that JELKOM's stocks of the herbicide Roundup / Cidokor were returned following the EU ban of 1st October 2016. The bad news: JELKOM will continue using whatever poisons are allowed by law to control weeds in the public spaces under its control.

      3. EDUCATION AND RAISING AWARENESS

i) Media exposure. Eco Hvar's activities received publicity throughout the year in local newspaper Slobodna Dalmacija, with more in-depth articles appearing in 'Dobra kob' a national magazine covering hunting and the natural environment. We are deeply grateful to journalist Mirko Crnčević for his understanding of our aims and his excellent work in publicizing them to a broader public.

ii) Eco-actions. On April 7th 2016, Eco Hvar collaborated with the Local Action Group (LAG Škoji) and sister charity Dignitea in organizing a Seminar in Hvar conducted by Mrs Marija Ševar, a Senior Coordinator for Organic Agriculture. The seminar was well attended, and received good publicity on Radio Split and in Dalmatia's most widely read newspaper, Slobodna Dalmacija. We particularly thank Adela Duboković, Manuela Antičević and the team from LAG Škoji, and Katia Zaninović Dawnay, Nada Jeličić and all their helpers in Dignitea.

iii) Eco Hvar website. 46 articles were published during 2016: 3 providing useful information for property owners, 5 on animal topics, 11 on topics of general interest, 11 about pesticides and 16 nature articles (birds, insects, wild animals, plants). Readership figures ('hits') to mid-June 2017 are as follows: general interest and animal articles range between 1,000 - 3,000; pesticides, 3,000 - 7,800; nature, 5,000 - 24,800.

Putting these figures into context, the site's overall figures show over 61,000 for the welcome page, with between 40,000 and 50,000 for many of the articles dating back to 2014. We feel that these figures indicate that the site is achieving its purpose, and that people are continuing to access the informative material over time. In this context we thank Steve Jones and Marion Podolski for their invaluable contributions of original material, and Ivana Župan for her fine translations into Croatian, which are an indispensable part of the website's success.

The activity report was accepted unanimously.

ITEM 4. Financial Report. Nada Kozulić presented a resumé of the Charity's financial situation in 2016, which showed that of 11,833 kn at the beginning of the year, there was a balance of 6,719 kn left by December 31st 2016. The Charity's main expenses were for animal welfare, maintaining the website, accountancy, and bank charges. Donations were the sole source of income.

The financial report was accepted unanimously.

ITEM 5. Election of the Main Committee. The four-year mandate for the original Committee was coming to an end. Having moved away from the island, Secretary Miranda Miličić Bradbury announced that she would not stand for re-election. Proposals for the new Committee were Vivian Grisogono (President) and Nada Kozulić (Legal & Financial Adviser) would stand for re-election, while Debora Bunčuga was willing to stand for the position of Secretary.

The proposals were accepted unanimously. The Committee thanks Miranda for being a key person in the formation of the Charity.

ITEM 6. Programme for 2017 An outline of proposed activities was presented by Vivian Grisogono:

i. Animals

- to continue our cooperation with the Animalis Centrum Animal Shelter in Kaštel Sućurac.

- to continue to explore the possibility of establishing an animal shelter on Hvar.

- to explore the possibility of providing temporary shelter to animals in need, including abandoned or lost dogs, hunting dogs, but also as a 'dog hotel' for owners who have to leave their pets behind when they go on a trip.

- to establish an enclosed place where dogs can be exercised, possible including one or more dog-friendly beaches.

ii. Education and raising awareness

- to organize further lectures and seminars on environmental issues.

- to continue to provide informative articles through the Eco Hvar website.

iii. Eco-activities

- to organize activities, including picnics and walks, raising awareness and enjoyment in the natural environment, especially for children and young people

iv. Promoting organic agriculture

- to continue lobbying and raising awareness of the dangers of pesticide use.

v. Cooperation with other Charities

- to continue collaboration with parallel Charities both locally and further afield in Croatia.

- to continue to foster links with international Charities sharing similar aims.

The proposed Programme for 2017 was accepted unanimously.

ITEM 7. Any Other Business.

Raffaella Catani informed the meeting that a group making an anthropological study of Hvar islanders had recently come to follow up earlier findings. Debora Bunčuga explained the background: the study began some 12 years ago, and the results so far have revealed an unexpected high incidence of health problems, particularly diabetes, and there is a strong suspicion that pesticides are an important factor, and the study, conducted by a Zagreb institution, is continuing. As a health worker, Vivian Grisogono welcomed the research, as she has been very disturbed by the incidence of hormonal disturbances, including thyroid problems and premature menopause (affecting two 16-year-old girls in the same class in one instance), cancers, and neurological problems such as Parkinson's disease, all of which are known to be possibly associated with pesticide use. Debora also informed the Meeting that Dr. Tomica Carić had begun a research project on health risks associated with pesticides for his thesis years ago, but had been unable to complete it because of difficulties accessing the necessary data. The Zagreb research group has now expressed interest in completing the work, which would be of enormous benefit to the local community.

Concerns were expressed about the building developments around Stari Grad. Peter Elborn described the inconvenience which has been caused through closing the public path to Maslinica because of works traffic. Lana Zake reported that local people were being deprived of amenities such as bathing beaches and moorings because of the expansion of tourist facilities. While hoping that the building developments will bring employment and benefits for the local community, the Meeting expressed some fears about their possible environmental and social ill-effects.

Peter Elborn suggested that it might be possible to organize an English essay project focussing on nature and environmental issues through the British-Croatian Society in the UK, with the best entries being mounted as an exhibition in the Croatian Embassy in London. (Peter is an active official with the BCS and has helped to organize innumerable successful events and exhibitions promoting Croatia in the UK.) It was agreed that this could be an excellent educational project to motivate young people to promote their beautiful environment Photography is a well-developed extra-curricular subject in the island's schools, so a photo-essay project could be a popular and rewarding exercise providing many benefits for the island, not least in promoting eco-friendly tourism.

All present at the Meeting agreed on the importance of involving children and young people in learning about the environment. It was particularly interesting to hear Lana Zake's description of her different experiences with young students from the Agricultural College who attend her farm for work experience. Lana is an architect by profession, also a fully accredited commercial organic farmer with many years' experience and a deep awareness of the difficulties facing organic agriculturalists on Hvar. Everyone agreed with Lana's belief that youngsters should learn the connexion between agriculture and the food they eat, in order to understand the importance of what is done in the fields.

The three committed organic growers, Raffaella, Lana and Mihovil Stipišić shared some of their experience and expertise with the Meeting. The example they provide is invaluable in showing other islanders that it is possible to cultivate crops of all kinds successfully without artificial pesticides and fertilizers. Mihovil described how his neighbours were sceptical at first, but then some 10 of them have taken up using plant-based pesticides, especially the field horsetail (equisetum arvense) spray which is exceptionally effective against fungal diseases.

The meeting formally ended at 19:30. Vivian Grisogono thanks all those who attended for their contributions, and the Eco Hvar Committee is also grateful to all the Charity's member-supporters who are encouraging and furthering the work in many different ways.

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