Friday, 12th December 2008, Velenje, Slovenia

ERICo among the winners of the European Regional Champions Award 2008

The Institute of ecological research ERICo which has been a part of the Gorenje Group for a good year and a half is among the recipients of the European Regional Champions Award 2008, presented by the European Parliament and the Committee on Regional Development. The 30 best projects, selected among 250 nominees, also included the project COOT – Centre of Environment Technology Excellence, in which ERICo is taking part as a key partner. The project is coordinated by the Jožef Stefan Institute and financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The purpose of the award is to identify and acknowledge sound and successful practices and innovations in the EU zone, particularly in those regional projects that can set an example to other regions.

In the COOT project, ERICo is in charge of the activities in the field of Mycoremediation of sterile and contaminated substrates by production of wood, where wood pellets, populated and decomposed by the mushrooms of the species Pleurotus ostreatus, or oyster mushroom, are used to enable thriving growth of trees in areas that have deteriorated considerably as a result of human activity. The method yielded excellent results in the case of restoring the area between Velenje and Družmirje Lake, which deteriorated due to mining; at this test area, the method has been used since 2005. At the same time, an attempt to grow decorative coniferous trees for commercial sale was made in the area. In addition to the growth test, success of restoration was rated by a research into biotic diversity of ground fauna and butterflies; simultaneously, transfer of the technology to the waste disposal site Duplica near Kamnik was planned.

The project will presumably be carried on in the period 2008-2013 when long-term effects of the use of wooden pellets and mushrooms on tree growth will be evaluated and when the knowledge and experience thus accumulated will be transferred to the engineering practice and employed in the construction and restoration of roads, in power generation, production of saplings for gardening, in various waste disposal sites, and in the urban environment.