Overview of ecovillages in Baltic Sea Region
This is an overview about ecovillages of Baltic Sea Region (BSR), based on gathered data in 2011. Data relates to the sample of ecovillages, which declared themselves as such in the respective country and agreed to participate in the survey. As long as new ecovillages are emerging and information is constantly changing, gathered data will be updated during project lifetime as well. Due to the same reasons this overview should be taken as a trend.
An ecovillage is a human-scale settlement consciously designed through participatory processes to secure long-term sustainability. All four dimen¬sions (the economic, ecological, social and cultural ) are seen as mutually reinforcing. Attention to each is essential for holistic and healthy com¬munity development. (GEN, www.gen-europe.org, 2011).
Ecovillages are an outcome of citizens walking their talk in lowering ecological footprints while increasing their sense of belonging and purpose. It demonstrates that it is within human capacity and knowledge to consciously enhance and improve the environments in which we live. (GEN, www.gen-europe.org, 2011).
Number of ecovillages
The table below shows, that the biggest density of ecovillages is found in Sweden as well as in Russia. It was also found, that by the beginning of 2011 Sweden had 19 registered ecovillage initiatives, which are already starting to settle. In Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus the ecovillage movement has just started only in XXI century. Probably also because of this, fewer ecovillages were established, but the number tends to increase. Looking at Poland and Finland one can find both, ecovillages which settled long time ago and those, started their activities at the beginning of XXI century. All in all, during the past 5 years, we can witness a significant increase in the number of ecovillages; a trend that is still continuing.
Size of ecovillages
As the ecovillage movement grows stronger each day, the number of people living in ecovillages is increasing. In the table below, you will find primary data, which shows the number of people living in ecovillages in respective countries.
Ecovillages are oriented towards creating a community and socio-cultural environment. So far the biggest communities were found in Russia and Sweden. Russia has about 23 known ecovillages. In three of them 100 - 300 people are living, in the rest the number varies from 9 to 90, but the average number of residents is estimated to be around 58 people per village.
Concurrently in Sweden one ecovillage with more than 300 residents was found. In addition there are 5 ecovillages with 100 - 300 residents, while the remaining ecovillages have 3 – 80 residents per ecovillage, with the average being 71 residents.
In other countries, like Lithuania and Finland the average amount of people living in ecovillages we covered in our research ranges from 10 to 40 and in Belarus from 10 to 25. Whereas In Latvia and Poland there are few very newly established ecovillages with less than 10 residents and few older ones with 20-40 people living there.
Houses and building types
The number of houses and buildings usually depend on the size of the ecovillage. In most cases there is one small house for one family, so presupposed that there are 20 inhabitants living in the ecovillage, we would most probably find 5 - 7 small houses there. This is a trend for smaller ecovillages, with up to 50 residents. In bigger ecovillages it is not unusual for a couple of families to live in one bigger house. In Swedish and Russian ecovillages, which are counting more than 100 residents, it is common for 2-10 families to share one house.
Houses are usually being built by the residents themselves. For instance, in Lithuania, Poland, Finland and Belarus houses were built by the hands of the residents. In Russia and Sweden, ecovillage residents ask for the help of contractors. This is because the houses themselves are bigger, which makes it difficult to construct them without the help of professionals, though smaller projects are carried out by the ecovillage residents in Sweden and Russia as well. In Latvia half of the ecovillage settlements were built by residents, and the other half by the contractors.
Most of the ecovillages were established in 2000 – 2011. This is the tendency for Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Russia. In Finland and Poland half of the ecovillages were established in the same period, though the other half are more than thirty years old. Russia has a few older ecovillages as well. The situation in Sweden is completely different. 25 of the 33 known ecovillages were established during the period of 1967 – 1999, and only 8 ecovillages settled during the XXI century.