Loss of Biodiversity

LESS IS MORE FOR PEACE BAY (Slovakia) Category: Loss of Biodiversity

YRE Competition 2022
3rd Place - Article
19-25 years old

By Michal Mazánik


This natural location in the Trenčín region, located near the city centre, was neglected and polluted for a long time. The situation changed in 2011, when activists from the Centre for Environmental Activities (CEA) began to take care of the space. They transformed the previously unsavoury bay into an environment that ranks among the most sought-after recreational places in the city.

Vanda Mokráňová has been part of the community of volunteers for several years. She sees their work as a way to contribute to a better city and more attractive public space for herself and others: "Young people come here, people with dogs, they sit along the river or have a picnic. In the middle of the city, they find nature and birdsong," she says. In 2021, a municipal protected area of Trenčiansky Luh was declared near the place where construction is to take place.

The main justification for protecting the Trenčiansky Luh is that the floodplain forests on the river Váh River are wetland habitats of European importance. They are home to dozens of species of birds, mammals and amphibians.


On sunny spring days, this natural area is a popular place to relax. (Two weeks before the reconstruction began.)


Volunteers fear that once the investment is complete, the territory will turn into a space that ordinary people will not have access to during times of athletic training. They point out that the project lacks toilet facilities and drinking water for athletes, which cannot be built here because the location is a flood zone. According to a member of the initiative, Klaudia Medalová, a sports facility suitable for organizing races of young athletes would make more sense at one of the primary schools.

In addition to the restoration of the current running oval, the project is to include the construction of two multi-functional playgrounds, a landing pit, and a shot put area. The clay surface of the track is to be replaced by Tartan [polyurethane]. Changing the surface of the running track is one of the reasons the natural character of the site could be disrupted. Also, during athletic training sessions, passage to the bay may not be possible through the running oval.

Erika Sagová, a spokeswoman for the city of Trenčín, sees no reason for concern: "The sports facility will primarily serve the general public. We do not believe that it is necessary to build toilets and other facilities there. People will come, do sports, and leave." She emphasizes that  playgrounds and other recreational areas, such as apartment block courtyards, do not have toilet facilities.


Due to the construction of the sports facility, the bay will be almost inaccessible to the public during the summer of 2022.


Opinions vary among council members. Richard Medal, director of the CEA and member of the City Council, stresses that the original proposal, which would have been welcomed by the ZátOKa volunteers, was for just the restoration of the clay surface on the running oval. It was supposed to be reconstructed in half profile, for recreational runners.

"I think locating a training space in this area, or even a racing facility for athletics, is not right. Trenčín deserves a proper big track for running," Medal said. The project approved by the City for ZátOKa pOKoja, he describes as a "toy imitation".

Since the construction of the Vah Cycling Path is planned in the immediate vicinity next year, one can expect the Tartan track to be damaged in a few months, he said. Consequently, public resources will have to be spent repeatedly on repairs. Trenčín's spokeswoman Sagová responded, "The project plan includes the construction of the Vah Cycling Path. If they damage our track or anything else when building the route for cyclists, they (Trenčín Regional Government) will have to repair it." However, it is still the taxpayers' money that might be wasted.  


The location is a pleasant alternative for Trenčín's residents to the hot and busy streets of the city.


Trenčín resident Janka came to ZátOKa for a walk with her young daughters. She views the announced sports facility positively, because the playground will be used by children and youth: "I don't mind, a lot of people don't come here today, maybe it's better if athletes use it. If there was a training event, we'd take the kids to one of the other playgrounds in the city."

However, Vanda Mokráňová believes that the space has already found its best purpose: "I have always said during meetings that I do not understand why interfere with a space that does not need it. You've got a lot of music here for very little money." In addition to community benefits, this natural element in the central part of town also has another important effect. Richard Medal, Radovan Jambor and Sylvia Mertanová, the drafters of the explanatory memorandum to the proposal for the declaration of the municipal protected area of Trenčiansky Luh, with which ZátOKa is physically and functionally linked, are in agreement. "It is of huge importance in terms of its location in the middle of the city. It performs important eco-stabilisation, health and psychogenic functions, as well as cooling the overheated urban environment," the report said.



YRE Competition 2022
1st Place - Article
19-25 years old

By Youssra elkhadiri - Hiba Amrani Mastari - oumaima stik - siham lomiri - mohamed tafala - wissal moutik

Climate change and uncontrolled human activity accelerate the deterioration of biodiversity and sustainability in eastern Morocco.

With an area spanning over 3,000,000 hectares, the wetlands of the Moulouya River stretch across eastern Morocco. Owing to the river and its biodiversity, the area is, since 2005, ranked among the world's top wetlands by Ramsar Convention. This biodiversity is more than ever endangered by climate change and human activity. The Moulouya and its surrounding wetlands are in pain, so what can be done to save whatever is left before it's too late?

Examination of the climate changes effects on the Moulouya River wetlands.

All along the coastal road (50 km) between Nador and Ras El Maa (eastern Morocco), a yellow veil of red dust and desert sand covers the countryside. This is a year of exceptional drought not seen by Morocco since the nineteen-eighties. Drought is a major cause of climate change, and the region of Moulouya and its river are among the hardest hit by it.

 On arriving at the Moulouya, we encountered laborers of modest means, moving water along the banks of the river to help it reach the outlet. Moulouya for the second time in its history was unable to reach the Mediterranean. Instead, the sea overflowed, increasing the water salinity. Salinity pervaded all the wells that surround it, causing widespread economic, social and environmental damage. This is one of the domino effects caused by climate change in the region over the years, but not the only one.

Climate is ruthless

 The Maghreb is one of the regions most impacted by climate change, according to UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings. The latest data from Morocco's Ministry of Equipment and Water shows the country experienced substantial increase in average annual temperatures since 2001, rising a full point, while the country goes through its third consecutive year of drought.

 The river Moulouya and its surrounding wetlands are not immune to these effects. Official statistics show that rainfall, which feeds the upper reaches of the river and sustains its biodiversity, decreased by 39% and 75% respectively in 2020 and 2022. This means the filling rate of the dam fed by the Moulouya Aquarium is down to 9%, which has multiple impacts.

With much sorrow and sadness, Najeeb Bashiri, head of the Environment and Human Association (based in the nearby city of Berkane), says, "Unfortunately, it is the second time in 50 years that Moulouya has not reached its estuary. Salinity rates are up to 7g/m3 at the estuary, while normal percentages should not exceed 0.5%.

 Bashir adds with great apprehension, "Everything is in jeopardy: thirst knocks on the door of all cities along the river. Many crops were damaged or lost. Thousands of young people and families have lost their livelihoods. Production dropped, and the economic performance of activities depending on the river's water disrupted... Things could get worse unless something is done soon."

Human activity exacerbates the situation

M'hamed, a fisherman in his fifties we met at the Moulouya estuary remembers, "Before, we fished all year round and in abundant quantities. We could meet the needs of our families. Biological rest-periods were imposed to protect fish stocks. Our income suffered a little. Unfortunately, in recent years we are only allowed to fish three months a year. Fish stocks are falling, and some species have become rare."

Mhamed, who supports his wife and five children, tries to make ends meet by doing other seasonal work, and he is not the only one. Even those who used to hunt birds in season, can not do so this year. Numbers of incoming tourists also decreased, as the thermal waters of the Moulouya have dry-up and/or waned.

Interview with a fisherman working at the mouth of the Moulouya River.

These according to an official document of the National Office of Drinking Water and Electricity in Morocco (a government institution) include: a decrease in the productivity of groundwater resources due decreasing rainfall, over-exploitation of groundwater for agriculture, and unrelenting acceleration of demand for drinking water.

Berkane environment department, in whose jurisdiction the river lies, lists some of the reasons behind the degradation of biodiversity in Moulouya. The list includes haphazard construction on riverbanks and the chaotic use of the site by tourists, along with what it refers to as poor governance in the joint and integrated management of the area.

Human activity also includes modern intensive agriculture across the region of Berkane and the plain of Sabra, using up to 80% water resources, and causing considerable pollution. On one hand, outdated irrigation techniques and indiscriminate exploitation of water threaten to dry up aquifers and increase water waste. On the other hand, pesticides and chemical fertilizers pollute the water tables, harm biodiversity of soils, and jeopardize many areas that help ensure ecological balance, including bees.

Summer 2011, death of millions of fish caused by human activities pollution. Photo taken by environmental activists in the region.


According to official Ramsar Convention website data published between 1970 and 2015, wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests at the global level. Economic and environmental sustainability for future generations is at risk.

 Solutions proposed by experts come in many shapes and forms, and the most important one relates to streamlining stakeholders, and ineffectiveness of interventions. Experts suggest creating a national agency for the management of wetlands and the protection of diversity, and the legislative reform of texts governing ecology, provided each ecological problem get legal text that is adapted to its specificities and challenges.

 Legislation and effective coordination through cross-cutting policies and good governance alone are not sufficient. It is essential to activate oversight, tracking and evaluation mechanisms using accurate and up-to-date scientific data, to enable quick and effective measures. This, according to the experts, cannot succeed without a truly participatory approach to decision-making, via involvement of civil society or consultation with the population.

 Our team's journey has ended, and we are all hopeful that the Moulouya River will dive into the Mediterranean once and for all. For this to happen, all should be aware and committed in a transparent manner, as environmental experts emphasize.


Hamman Al-Fatawaki High School Facebook page and school community:


Regional Academy of Education and Training Facebook page:


GREENER PORT-LOUIS FOR A HEALTHIER URBAN HEART (Mauritius) Categories: Pollution, Loss of Biodiversity

YRE Competition 2022
2nd Place - Article
15-18 years old

By Chan Kam Lan Serenza, Dostmohamed Farhana, Gourdin Laeticia, Mannaram Isha, Andriamalala Nissiah, Christine Annaëlle, Latour Maëva, and Sarifan Zakkiyah

Our planet is the only place in the universe where life has evolved. Instead of using natural resources judiciously, humans have depleted them to meet their immediate needs, without thinking about the future. We have to face the fact that not all the inhabitants of our planet can have the same lifestyle as the industrialised countries. It is high time to bring changes and learn to live differently for the sustainability of our Earth. It is not a question of renouncing progress but of reconciling economic and social progress with due respect for nature.

 Everything is speeding up in the capital of Port-Louis, which has witnessed many demographic, social and economic changes. According to a comparison of data from Statistics Mauritius, our country has moved from 1,186,873 inhabitants in the year 2000 to 1,265,740 in 2020. Thanks to the economic development since the 1980s to the present, our standard of living has increased. Under the influence of modernity, Mauritians have moved from traditional houses to concrete habitats. New roads have been built, and buildings have replaced green areas over the years. The density of the population in the capital, human activities and transport have consequently generated a rise in temperature.  

The centre of Port-Louis is not immune to global warming.

Vegetation is very important in the heart of our capital city, which is threatened by air pollution and global warming. By increasing green spaces such as roadside verges, gardens and trees, we will not only increase recreational spaces but also improve the living conditions and the environment of Port Louis. Following the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report, it was recognised that the well-being of our societies is directly dependent on nature when it is left to function in a free and uninterrupted mode. Besides, green spaces regulate certain environmental problems. For example, the leaves of trees bind dust and particles from diesel combustion. Trees also store carbon, cultivated or bare surfaces allow rainwater to infiltrate, and the presence of insects helps with pollination, and to get fruits and seeds.

In addition, a line of trees can lower the temperature of a street by three degrees, and in the context of climate change, this role becomes even more crucial. By increasing the number of spots for plants and animals, a minimum of biodiversity can be established. Plants attract insects, which in turn provide food for birds that sow seeds and help other plants to grow. In this way, the food chains necessary for the functioning of ecosystems are reconstructed. 

In Port Louis, a private company is working with an NGO - Friends of the Environment - which has embarked on a reforestation project on the slopes of La Citadelle, a hill in the heart of the capital. In order to restore the original endemic and indigenous flora of the mountain, a study was first conducted to trace the plant species that were there, explains Jayaneesh Namah, coordinator of the Citadelle Native Re-vegetation Project. The organisation has already reintroduced 14 plant species on the northern flank namely, Bois Clou, Palmiste Bouteille, Bois Reinette, Bois Judas, Bois Bœuf, Bois Cabri, Latanier Bleu, Barleria, Bois Chandelle, Vétiver Indigène, Aloe Endémique, Bois Mapou and Pandanus, taking into account their ability to withstand the arid climate of Port Louis. From 2016 to 2020, FOE was able to plant approximately 5,890 trees and more than 1700 eco-citizens participated in the project. This green space in the capital has become a real biodiversity relay that stabilises the functioning of ecosystems.  

Dumping of electric appliances (here a retired rice cooker) cause severe damage and disequilibrium to nature and plants.

To maintain biodiversity in the heart of the city, it is important to create a more or less continuous green chain. Private, public or company gardens could be the links in this ecological chain. Port-Louis should impose environmental measures and injunctions in urban planning projects. More green spaces on the roofs of buildings, plant walls and gardens instead of concrete courtyards should be considered.  

Plants and flower garden on top of a building in the heart of the capital to reduce the temperature stored on the roof.

According to research, the temperature at the top of a building can reach 50°C in the middle of summer, but with the gardens, it drops to 30°C, thus limiting the use of air conditioning on the top floors.  

By planting in our garden, we could revive forgotten local fruits - Carambola, Corossol, Jamalac among others. By choosing more hardy species that are better adapted to their environment, we would use less pesticides. Natural fertilisers, such as composting household waste to improve soil fertility in the long term, are an option. We could also equip ourselves with a rainwater harvesting system for watering. In this way, we would consume more ecologically because it would lead to less transport, packaging and therefore less waste and pollution. The transport of imported fruits and vegetables requires energy expenditure which increases pollution and contributes to climate change. 

In Port-Louis, natural areas are continually giving way to artificial land. Our capital is not immune to various forms of pollution, global warming and loss of biodiversity. By 2030, we (city officials, citizens and elected representatives) need to recreate Port Louis. It is not only knowledge or laws that will help us preserve the environment, but also education. Practising the solutions proposed above could help us to achieve several goals (including SDGs 3, 11, 12, 13 and 15). However, the solutions are never simple to implement because of the consequences on our lifestyles. We must therefore remember that "We do not inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children." - (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).  


Local Media

  1. (newspaper) - https://www.lexpress.mu/article/408821/young-reporters-environment-collegiens-qui-sensibilisent-biodiversite

Personal Sphere


  1. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1427620484348246&id=100013009242108

  2. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=167290935736771&id=100073675964225

  3. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2832389787065094&id=100008823000514


  1. https://www.instagram.com/p/CdV9i0qsNanTzRR9GZbhV1TakUxY54pUwu3k_U0/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

  2. https://www.instagram.com/p/CdWAEa6sjOr/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

School Community

  1. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=114361391272998&id=100080974135135

  2. Notice Board of School

National Operator Organisation


BATS DIDN'T LOSE THEIR SANCTUARY (Slovakia) - Category: Loss of biodiversity

YRE Competition 2022
1st Place - Article
11-14 years old

By Cintia Izabela Mrvová, Hana Holbusová


The Greater Mouse-Eared Bats found their home in the attic of an apartment building in Horné Ladce more than a year ago. According to Danka Palkechová, an environmentalist who manages protected animals on construction sites, this is a real flying treasure in every sense of the word: "The Greater Mouse-Eared Bat (Myotis myotis), which was found during the inspection, belongs among species of European importance in accordance with the Decree of the Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic No. 24/2003 Coll., as amended, and the social value of this species is set at 460 euro each, which means a colony of 325 individuals is valued at 149,500 euro."

In her view, bats are also important because they feed on insects and other invertebrates active during the night, fulfilling an irreplaceable role that diurnal animals cannot. Bats are important in another practical way – they are an indicator of the quality of an ecosystem. They give birth only once a year, have a low number of pups, and have a long lifespan. Such animals cannot quickly regenerate their populations after suffering negative environmental impacts (e.g. chemical pollution, disruption of the food chain, loss of shelter, physical destruction). Their presence or absence in the environment, or changes in the number of individuals indicate the environment's overall quality - therefore they are referred to as bioindicators. In the tropics and subtropics they also serve as pollinators of fruit trees.

The size of the bat colony was registered by residents only when they planned to renovate the apartment building. Ivana Mrvová, chairwoman of the homeowners community, informed us about how the residents handled this situation: "It was not too much of a surprise. We knew there were bats in the attic. We just didn't know how rare they were, how many there were and how their presence would affect the renovation of the apartment building. When applying for a building permit, an ornithologist's report on the reconstruction is mandatory. We were really surprised by the review." The study says that hidden in the attic is the largest maternal colony of the Greater Mouse-Eared Bat in an artificial environment in Slovakia. It is a really great rarity and the scientific community, the Ministry of the Environment, and the public have become interested in bats.

That is nice on the one hand, but on the other hand reconstruction was conditional on renovating the bats' shelter. The reconstruction company built a shelter of organic materials in the attic and the original hanging beams. There are also safe ways for the bats to fly in and out. The entire reconstruction was carried out when the bats were in their wintering grounds. Zoologists had to be consulted every step of the way. However, the unpleasant surprise was that the cost was significantly increased (by approximately €20,000) and the time for reconstruction was reduced. However, this did not deter the inhabitants of the apartment building.

 They were aware of the subsidies and challenges, which, although suspended during COVID-19 pandemic, would be implemented in the near future. They could cover all the expenses associated with the construction of the nesting site. Residents of the apartment building are also facing responsibilities in the future. As Mrs Mrva told us: 'This is a significant colony of bats, it will be regularly monitored by zoologists, so we cannot afford any misdeeds. But since the nesting site is well secured, I don't suppose there's a problem with that. We cannot smell or hear the bats in the hallway, and they don't really limit anyone. Let them live happily with us."

 In the event of a situation similar to the one in which the inhabitants of Horné Ladce found themselves, the municipal environmental department should be contacted. The process this apartment building went through is a good example of how to support the coexistence of animals and people. 


The largest mother colony of the great bat in the artificial environment in Slovakia resided in the attic of the residential house. Photo: Roman Lehotský


In the attic of the apartment building. Photo: Roman Lehotský


  • website of the Association for Bat Protection in Slovakia https://netopiere.sk/sk/page/ochrana.html


  • http://www.gymdb.sk/aktuality/kopia-mladi-reporteri.html?page_id=4814

  • http://www.mladireporteri.sk/clanok/netopiere-nestratili-svoje-utocisko

  • https://www.facebook.com/hana.holbus1511

  • https://www.ladce.sk/vzacne-netopiere-v-ladcoch/

  • https://www.enviroportal.sk/clanok/mladi-reporteri-maju-svojho-vitaza