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Internship at the Office of Ecological Studies

As part of the Master’s program, Ange Raharivololoniaina Nomenjanahary carried out an internship at the Office of Ecological Studies in Bayreuth (BföS) focusing on the field of Nature Conservation. It was a two month internship taking place from the beginning of August until the end of September 2016. The internship was a combination of office and intensive field work.

Saale river valley

On the first hand, I learned a lot about conservation and ecology related topics through the internship's field work. The topic was: valorization of potential conservation areas following the European Habitat Directive (Fauna-Flora-Habitat Richtlinie) and the German Federal State Guidelines for Nature Conservation. I assessed vegetation and habitats of the EU-Habitats Directive along the rivers Selbitz and Saale (Upper Frankonia, Bavaria). The aim was to evaluate the diversity of habitat types along the rivers Selbitz and Saale, to delineate them and to check for habitat quality, threats and impairments for a management project.

On the second hand, I also worked at the office digitalizing the collected field data on Quantum-GIS. This was an excellent opportunity to practice and apply my previous knowledge.

As an international student, my internship at the BföS was very challenging at the beginning, as my spoken German was in fact limited regarding the new technical words. The internship, however, became an amazing experience over the weeks, where I did not only manage to improve my German skills, but also learned and experienced more about the German culture and its landscapes during the field work. I also got important professional experiences in the field of Nature Conservation and Ecology during my stay at BföS, which I can compare to previous Nature Conservation experiences in Madagascar's Botanical Park of Antananarivo and at the Institute for Conservation of Tropical Environments.

Finally, I would say nature conservation strategies in Germany and in Madagascar are totally different. Madagascar is a developing country under a national nature conservation law, whereas Germany is a developed country under federal law without a common national conservation strategy. Furthermore, Germany lacks - contrary to Madagascar - a Program of Work for Protected Areas (PoWPA) necessary according to the CBD and the Aichi-targets, and a National Action Plan for protected areas, which should be designed in the next three years.

Madagascar has still many steps left to do in order to achieve its conservation goal. I hope, after my study in Germany, to bring my little contribution to my home country. My internship in this regard, was hugely rewarding; the work environment was stress-less and I was surrounded by inspiring and passionate people willing to share their own experiences.

Text: Ange Raharivololoniaina Nomenjanahary

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