ECOVAST, the European Council for the Village and Small Town, was set up in 1984 to further the well-being of rural communities, and the safeguarding of the rural heritage, throughout Europe. Its formal aims are:

ECOVAST's membership has grown rapidly, to over 500 members in 28 countries in East and West Europe. The membership is widely drawn, to include individuals, government and non-government bodies, from local to international level. ECOVAST can thus act as a bridge between decision makers and those who are active at local level, between experts and practitioners. It operates mainly as a network, to assist mutual support among its membership in pursuit of their activity in rural areas. It has national sections in Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United Kingdom and planned in other countries. These provide a focus for exchange and activity in each country, to benefit its rural communities and rural heritage.

ECOVAST's policy approach for rural Europe is set out in our "Strategy for Rural Europe", published in 1991 and updated in 1994; this has been translated into many European languages, and widely distributed. It has published policy documents on "Traditional Rural Buildings", and on "Agriculture and Forestry - sustaining their future in Europe", together with a Manual on creation of Heritage Trails. An Internet Website will be opened in autumn 1998.

ECOVAST has consultative status with the Council of Europe, and the European Commission; and has good working relations with many other European organisations. It played an active part in the European Countryside Campaign 1987-88, and has taken a strong stand on certain crucial issues, notably the protest against the now discontinued systematisation programme in Romania and the review of Brown coal mining in Central Europe.

ECOVAST has active working groups on rural architecture; rural development; and rural tourism. It organises conferences, seminars and other events, and sends technical missions to advise on rural development and heritage protection. It takes part in major practical projects, such as the Heritage Trails Project in Slovenia and Bulgaria, and the Wine Traditions Network (WITRANET) project, funded by the European Commission.

Within the broad framework of ECOVAST, a group of research and consultancy units has set up a formal network, under the title ECOVAST Associates, to undertake research, consultancy and action projects to promote the well-being of rural Europe.

Information Source

Prepared by ...
Michael Dower
Secretary General, ECOVAST
c/o CCRU, Cheltenham & Gloucester College, Swindon Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK, GL50 4AZ
Telephone (+44 1242) 544031 Facsimile (+44 1242) 544031
E-Mail [email protected]