Amber Trail Greenways - Connecting Nature, Tradition And People


Historical Background


Through ages people used natural circumstances like mountain passes, river valleys etc. for trade and transport purposes and existence of trails resulted in prosperity and extensive development of sites located along them.

Trade contacts were accompanied by information exchange, bringing new technologies and achievements to less developed areas, increasing knowledge of the world, social, intellectual and cultural development.
It also resulted in outstanding cultural heritage, evidences of which could be admired on the areas, that ancient merchants used to rove. Thus existing in the past amber trail used to link settlements, which thanks to it were developing prosperously and their inhabitant were living richly.

The distribution of amber is evidenced as early as the Neolithic period, the amber trail itself functioned in the organized way already during the Celtic domination in Europe but its prosperity fell to the Roman Empire period, i.e. first three centuries after Christ. Mentions about expeditions undertaken northward to procure amber are known from written records.

Undoubtedly, the object of exchange was amber accompanied by other goods – perhaps furs, wool, honey or wax. The list of Roman imports, transported by merchants, was long, but only few categories poured in bigger amount. The most numerous were coins and beads, followed by frequent bronze, glass or ceramic wares, then adornments, parts of clothing and military equipment; more seldom keys, padlocks, trammels, mirrors, bells, pawns and dyes. Sporadically also statuettes of Roman gods were imported.

Goods were essential elements of the exchange but not the sole. Commercial contacts were accompanied by exchange of thoughts, introducing of technical innovations and civilization achievements, deepening of knowledge of the world, social, intellectual and cultural development. The amber trail used to serve not only as a trans-continental artery of trade, but also – and in some periods above all – it contributed to the inter-ethnic contacts, linking the biggest and most developed settlement centers of various cultural traditions.
The objective of Amber Trail Greenways is to create attractive tourist route connecting, like amber trail, interesting regions, people and their initiatives.

Thanks to strong local partners we develop heritage trail, that includes rich network of sustainable development good practices in micro-regions, representing economically strong sites, were inhabitants are aware of and protect their history, culture and tradition and at the same time care for nature conservation and maintenance. Attractiveness of regions depends in high degree on their inhabitants, ways of managing, using and promoting of local resources. Discovering and skilful using of genius loci, the spirit of the place, which inhere in features of landscape, nature and heritage of many generations of people that had lived before, can contribute to the improvement of the quality of life as well as can be an excellent magnet attracting, like symbolic amber in the past, visitors from various parts of Europe and the world.

The Amber Trail Greenways resonates with the numerous roles played by trade routes in earlier times -- economic, communication, religious, military, diplomacy, cultural exchange and social interaction. Trade relations were always accompanied by exchange of information for building local understanding about the wider world in terms of social, intellectual, religious, cultural and economic issues.

For centuries, merchants traveled along the ancient Amber Trail exchanging goods and ideas. These precious commodities linked people of different nations and cultures. Today, a new Amber Trail Greenways connects heritage places and environmental initiatives in Poland, Slovakia and Hungary of revitalized Central Europe.


The history of the ATG program begun in August 1996 when initial meeting was organized in Banska Stiavnica, Central Slovakia. The aim of the meeting was to agree on long-term goals, principles and methods of the Amber Trail Greenways program. The main initiators and idea-makers of the program were Krystyna Wolniakowski of the Environmental Partnership for Central Europe and Bill Moody of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Many years passed by after that meeting and we still work on achieving our ambitious goals. In the course of program implementation more than 300 local projects were initiated and supported, over 100 institutional partners and more than 1000 people were involved, over 400 000 US dollars were awarded in form of grants or direct support. As for today it is important to evaluate our work, what have we achieved, what change the program brought to the region.

Since 1996 the ATG program has resulted in various measurable and immeasurable achievements. Thanks to support of grass-roots local initiatives and working very closely with local people we had a chance to learn much about local potential, needs, priorities and expectations and understand better the challenges the rural communities face. We are more aware of the internal and external threads to the traditional values of rural areas (e.g. urbanization of minds, spread of uniform cultural models through TV, lack of regional ties, lack of common development vision, losing the roots and identity, economic transformation of the traditionally agricultural areas, etc.).

Through initiating and assistance in implementing of various undertaking we have reached numerous local communities and particular people of imagination and practical skills, committed to place they live and ready to face the challenges and aspire to introduce the development based on local natural and cultural values and strengthen local identity and ties. They are attached to their tradition and still open-minded and concerned with trans-regional cooperation. We have already established a network of places and people who identify with the ATG concept and mission.

We have gained experience in building partnership between people, particularly to involve representatives of various sectors. We have assisted in establishing both formal and informal local partnerships,  coalitions and joint initiatives. In some places we assisted local communities in establishing of almost 20 new local organizations interested in natural and cultural heritage protection and rural sustainable development. We provided them support and assistance in formalizing their operational structure as well as fundraising, public involvement, strategic planning, public and media relations etc. In this way, we increased engagement of people in the local development planning process.

We worked out a concept and a framework for the ATG, adapted to local needs and circumstances. We have achieved a consensus of interests and philosophy in three countries. During these years of co-operation we had opportunity to confirm our conviction of our similarities and differences, rooted in our unique histories, traditions, ethnics. We are apt to maintain both as we consider the diversity influences the value and attractiveness of the Program while similarity allows us to share and follow the basic principles.

Our partners and donours