Conservation is not isolation
“Conservation is not isolation” was the theme of the EuroEnviro 2012 in Slovakia. Beforehand, I wasn’t sure what it would exactly mean, but that question was answered very quickly: great, inspiring and with lots of fun!
During the first days in Bratislava, we got to know about the historic background of the country and how recent developments affect conservation issues, as well as current questions and tactics. The talks and lectures were really interesting and very diverse, with speakers from different backgrounds and countries. But we did not just sit in seminar rooms, we also went to the inland delta of the Danube, where we observed and discussed the impacts of a water power plant on the wetlands around.
The second part took place in the High Tatra mountains, the highest mountain range in Slovakia and the oldest Slovak national park. Here, we explored the practical site of conservation through hikes in the area – and also experienced the competition of different interests. Personally, seeing a desolate rocky skiing slope in the heart of a national park was very depressing, even more so because the High Tatra is just stunning. Even if one tries to avoid “fortress conservation”, development and nature protection often seem to contradict each other. There’s definitely a lot of work for those who want to go into conservation.
For me, coming from a country with a reasonably strong environmental movement active for several decades, it was really interesting to learn about conservation issues in the countries of other participants. I found it especially interesting to hear how some other countries tackle challenges resulting from lack of institutionalization in their nature management.
Meeting students from all over Europe was a great and wonderful experience and I learned a lot, not just about conservation in Slovakia. The organisers did a really good job, and the group was cool. I really recommend going to Helsinki in 2014 – see you there, hopefully!
Asja Bernd, M.Sc. student of Global Change Ecology
University of Bayreuth, Germany
Read the full final report of EuroEnviro 2012: