A city in bloom

Mass planting of white roses will help raise environmental awareness throughout SkopjeMass planting of white roses will help raise environmental awareness throughout Skopje

March 22, 2013 | By Katarina Georgievska
FLOWER POWER: Skopje students offer white roses for sale to the public. Photos by Marina Jovanovska and Milena Manova.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia holds its traditional "Days of Spring: Days of Ecology" festival from March 21-25. As the event kicked off on Thursday, the City of Skopje launched a special initiative called "Skopje, City of Flowers: Skopje, City of Roses" that featured a mass planting of white roses in public areas throughout the city. The Macedonian capital has adopted the white rose as a symbol of love, purity and harmony.

The rose is woody perennial that is both an effective extractor of heavy metals from soil and ambient air purifier. It is hoped that the proven environmental and aesthetic benefits of roses throughout Skopje will inspire citizens to take a more positive and active role in their community.

The REC Country Office Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has made significant efforts in recent years to educate younger generations about sustainable development, and is now supporting Skopje's primary schools with an action titled "Buy a Rose So that We Can Buy Roses".

TAKING ROOT: Volunteers plant roses near a main boulevard in Skopje.

Also, through a mobilisation effort involving all of the city's 10 municipalities, the REC developed creative guidelines for conducting workshops covering various subjects, such as the Macedonian language, history, geography, biology, natural sciences, art and music over a 10-day period stretching from March 12-21. During this campaign, students made handicrafts to be sold at markets throughout their communities. Funds generated through the sale of these handicrafts are being collected by the schools to buy white roses for planting in schoolyards. During the ongoing spring festival, the students will continue with awareness-raising efforts among their peers in the hope that lessons will in turn be transferred to their parents and other citizens of Skopje.

In addition to the engagement of local schools, the entire initiative is supported by more than 30 companies from throughout Skopje, including small business, private trade companies, factories and industrial firms. A total of 20,000 rose bushes will be planted in Skopje, along major boulevards and in parks, public squares, schools and hospitals.