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Article: Matra project - Wings across Europe III.

The project is coordinated by Vogelbescherming Nederland (BirdLife Partner) funded by the MATRA programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
The main aim of the project is to establish and develop strong and effective, self-sufficient, independent nongovernmental, membership based, national bird and nature conservation organisations, and to raise awareness of the need to protect birds, their habitats and biodiversity in general.

The programme is now in the third, last phase (2002-2005) following the two previous parts (1996-1998, 1999-2001). The current project allows us to develop and maintain a new professional web page (www.birdlife.cz). The attendance of the web page has been increasing rapidly. The CSO web page is frequently praised as one of the fifteen most sought out websites focused on environment protection. The web page has also become the most effective recruiting tool, bringing more than a half of new CSO members every year. Management of answering public inquires has been improved through establishing a virtual information centre, run by volunteers through the web page and a mobile phone.

The project contributes significantly to the improvement of management skills of the CSO staff through financing various training such as the Building on Experience programme (2002-2003) organized by the British partner (RSPB) for sixteen BirdLife International partners from all over the world. The aim of the training was to improve organizational and management skills of the staff members in each organization and in this way to enhance efficiency of their work and consequently the protection of birds and their habitats. The CSO participants shared the acquired knowledge and skills with the other staff and board members at several small workshops. The participation of two CSO people at the training course was financially supported by the RSPB and the MATRA programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Moreover, participation of the CSO director at the most important strategic meetings of BirdLife International in 2003 and 2004 was also funded from this project.

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