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Dobrá Niva, Republic of Slovakia

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Dobrá Niva, centre of settlement and seat of the municipality with the same name, is located in the beautiful scenery of the Neresnica Stream at an altitude of about 370 m and surrounded by mountains. Approximately 1,850 inhabitants live on the municipal land, which is mostly covered with woods. The population, half of catholic, half of protestant faith, live harmoniously together. The considerable costs for the renovation of the two church buildings were exclusively raised through donations of the political community and the church members. Motto for the development of the community was the term “open gate”, visualized by the erection of a historic gate in the centre of the newly reconstructed village centre. It has turned into an important symbol for the journey of the traditional village community into the future. It connects the past with the future and is a signal for openness for the modern challenges.

Agriculture plays an important role in preserving the landscape and the ecological balance. Extensive use of green land is the basis for some 700 dairy cows, property of one big landowner. Apart from that, some landowners have taken the chance to re-establish agricultural enterprises after collective farming endeavors were discontinued. They specialize on breeding cattle on open meadows, produce rapeseed for rapeseed oil and take care of the ecologically valuable Nature Preserve Gavurky. Any wood from the forest, which is property of the municipality, is used to build new residential homes, farms or communal buildings. In addition the forest offers a lucrative income through hunting rights.

The approximately 180 pupils of the public school go to their classes in a school building from the 1960s, which was refurbished in 2008 and is now up to the highest quality and energy standards. Apart from fitting new windows and updating the insulation of the walls, the classrooms were also given a fresh look, as were the sport facilities. The curriculum of the school includes traditional disciplines as well as modern courses. Some 30% of the pupils qualify for attending grammar school later on. Right next to the school is a Kindergarten offering full-day care.

In view of the economic outlook, the municipality is well prepared through a wide range of trade and craft enterprises. The present requirements of communication are met with a private Internet connection for only 9 EUR per months. Maintaining tradition and customers is also important to the populace: a former farm newly renovated and turned into a small museum shows exhibits of former village life and is home to the popular art group Dobrona, which also has a dance group for children.

The Nature Preserve Gavurky created in 2004 is of high importance for the landscape. It has 60 ha of oak forest, a rarity in Europe. From 2004 to 2008 the Nature Preserve has been scientifically researched and a little book was published in cooperation with the district government, the University Bratislava and the local municipality. Now the area is maintained through farming, supported with European funds. Instructional paths have been created to guide visitors. Focus for future settlement developments will be the internal development, exemplary for many other municipalities. This constitutes a welcomed rethinking in regard to the ever-growing settlements alongside the cross-regional road connections between the individual localities.

Dobrá Niva was awarded the European Village Renewal Award for its exemplary social and cultural activities, the creation of a cultural landscape and the maintenance of natural habitats as well as for maintaining the historical heritage and the local traditions while at the same time being open for future challenges.