Internship in Latvian Fund of Nature 2021: Severija Bunkutė
Hi, my name is Severija. I come from the Latvian sister country – Lithuania. Having expected to feel like my home country I experienced Latvia to be both: familiar and undiscovered land.
Although both Baltic countries have very similar natural and cultural landscape and share the same plant and animal species, with more and more travels around Latvia, which were an inseparable part of our day to day work, one is ever more amazed by the width and color of rivers, extensive forests, tranquil bogs, misty sandstone rocks and meadows full of life. No less impressive are the urban settlements: the outstanding abundance of Art nouveau décor in Riga, plenty of historical and natural attractions in Cesis, Sigulda, Talsi and Kuldiga.
Grasslands being our main fieldwork place except for occasional data input at home differed in species composition, terrain, moisture. So, no surprising me and my colleagues would start our day in a very dry scattered plants calcareous grassland, move on to assess vascular plant biodiversity in pastures with cows grazing around and end up collecting Carex biomass in water knee-height (rainboots – always a good idea!). Not only I had a chance to learn new plant species and habitat types, but also ways of evaluating conservation measures’ success by applying transect, quadrat methods, collecting biomass or fostering the growth Rhinantus sp. and Gladiolus imbricatus. I found it interesting to learn about cattle behavior specifics: who could have thought that a cow can wait for a better weather to give birth to a calf?
I could not imagine my internship being so joyful without people that I met. The care and support I received from internship coordinator, supervisor and work colleague were full-scale: I was accommodated in a lovely central apartment, advised on work or health matters, taken to carefully planned group trips to mention but a few. Moreover, I feel blessed to have met other interns. Not only they became my flat mates and work colleagues, but real buddies that were fun to hang around with in our free time. We will guard our warm memories of cooking together, going to youthful Tallin’s kvartals pub area and watching the sunset at the romantic Daugava’s mole until the moment we can meet somewhere on hike in Europe.
It is nearly impossible to conclude my three months experience in Latvia in several sentences. It was indeed a time for professional growth, gaining theoretical and practical insights on grasslands conservation, likewise extending knowledge of other cultures by building relationships with locals and foreigners I had great pleasure to meet." - Severija Bunkutė, Lithuania