Verfasst von Marlies Dietrich und Marina Jecmenica
From 17th – 31st of August our workcamp took place in a small village near the capital city of Austria. The idea of this camp was to support WWF Austria in the natural reserve “March-Thaya Auen”. Fourteen volunteers from ten different countries worked in Marchegg for two weeks. Gerhard Egger, Marion Schindlauer, Michael Stelzhammer and the Storkhouse Marchegg introduced us into important tasks for conservation of threatened habitats and animals inhabiting these areas.
Answering the question whether SCI Austria and WWF should continue offering this workcamp next year, a volunteer replied: “Yes of course! There are still so many Robinia left to cut”. Cutting Robinia pseudoacacia was one of our major tasks during these two weeks. This neophyte from Northern America is a fast growing species that overshadows native plants, so that they are not able to grow in the same area. Furthermore we had to remove tree protections from plants that do not need them anymore, cut fences, so that animals do not get caught and have escaping possibilities during flood events. Also mowing pastures to increase plant diversity and cutting bushes to preserve habitats for rare bird species were completed. On another day, fruits of oak trees were collected and planted near the stork colony to provide further nesting places for future stork populations.
Working as a group in this pristine region of Austria was a very enriching experience for all of us and doing physical work with (chain) saws, racks and garden shears was quite a lot of fun.
Besides working in the field, there was enough time for getting to know each other and the different cultures. Every evening two persons were responsible for preparing dinner, which was usually something typical from their home countries. This was always the “highlight” of the day and except for one accident with risotto (who doesn’t like totally burnt rice?!), we enjoyed marvellous food. Especially our Taiwanese and Indian participants spoiled us with special meals. Bhupender, who told us that dinner would be ready at 7 o’clock, exceeded all our expectations, not only because we finally ate at half past 10pm (so it took him four hours!!), but also because it was the most delicious curry we ever had.
Our daily food shopping tours were routine soon and after two weeks we became experts in “how-to-get-two-tons-of-food-into-bicycle-baskets-that-can-only-be-filled-with-half-a-ton?”. These daily biking trips strengthened our community a lot and trained our bicycle skills (at least in most of the cases – “French lover boys” are always involved in accidents…).
Besides visiting a Christian festival, which took place at Schloss Marchegg, a biking trip to Bratislava and a sightseeing tour through Vienna were part of our spare time. Except of a little underestimation of the distance to Bratislava and always loosing Bhupender (how is it possible to get lost so many times? :P), we spent quite a nice time visiting these two capital cities.
Already after two days working, eating, laughing and living together we felt like knowing each other for a lifetime. So, having to say goodbye after two weeks was the hardest part of this camp.
Being camp coordinators of this workcamp was such an honor and leaves behind some very intense, extraordinary and great memories. We are glad to have been part of this amazing group of volunteers from all over the world and hope to see each other again one day!