An interview with a participant in the second series of participatory workshops on the benefits of nature

In November, the second series of our participatory workshops (continuing from the first series as part of the One Nature project) took place in the Slavkov Forest, Třeboň and Křivoklát regions. Once again, we invited representatives from a wide range of disciplines that have impact on the shaping of local nature and landscape. The content of the workshops was thematically related to the first series; this time, there were two group activities and a short excursion prepared for the participants.

We talked to one of the participants, Vítězslav Adamec, about his experience at the participatory workshop which took place on 2 November 2022. He is an specialist in cultural landscape, urban planning and spatial planning at the National Heritage Institute in Loket. Here, he is also in his second term as a councillor.

Participatory methods are quite popular abroad, but in our country such approaches are only just taking off…

“It was a very instructive experience for me – interesting and inspiring. At first I was worried about how the workshop would be conducted, because the combination of ecosystem services and participatory approaches was unknown to me. But as our group conversations at the workshop progressed and the discussion flowed, I found it very appropriate in the end, and I’m glad that I was able to participate. It’s also nice that we’re speaking almost a month after the event. I was rather surprised by the experience immediately after the seminar, but it’s safe to say that the whole experience has setteled since then, and I’ve better put it in context for myself.”

So, what experience had you had with participatory methods until then?

“Within the city of Loket, we had various public discussions with citizens on the topics of city development, which was basically based on some form of citizen participation. We held different types of events, both those that concerned the whole city and those concerning, for example, only one housing estate, which involved only its residents, who spoke about how their life there, how they would like to improve the place and so on.”

The One Nature workshops run from the spring of this year until 2024. Four meetings are planned in total. We are chatting after the second round of workshops. Could you please give a brief overview of how your day at this workshop went?

“I and the other participants met at The House of Nature for the Slavkov Forest in Kladská. First, we were introduced to the issues, and we also watched an excerpt from the upcoming short documentary on ecosystem services. We were then divided into groups which were set up to bring together participants with different professions and interests. Then, in that group, we did two activities during the day where we evaluated ecosystem contributions in the protected area and how those contributions interact with each other. In between the two activities, we also went on a field excursion on a walk around the Kladsko Pond led by Mr. Vladimir Melichar.”

Could you say which activity seemed most beneficial to you?

“Probably the assessment of the provision of different contributions by the most common ecosystems in the territory. I also liked the excursion a lot.”

You encountered many different views and approaches during the workshop’s discussions. Which perspective did you find enriching?

“There were participants from different disciplines in our group, so it was interesting to see the perspective of a naturalist, but also the perspective of representatives from the private sector. I would say that I had had some preconcieved notions about the big companies in the area. I had seen them as corporations that just extract and sell our resources. But in the end, I found out that they also take an expert and basically quite a sensitive approach so that they wouldn’t exceed any limits. In short, they take it seriously too. So, that’s perhaps what surprised me.”

Ecosystem services are a complex tool used to assess landscapes. Have you come across them in your practice?

“It’s a concept that’s used quite a lot. I first came across it in college, and then I would occasionally hear it or read it in some academic papers that regarded conservation from a more holistic perspective. I was sceptical of it because it seemed like a very technical view of nature. Now, after the workshop, I realise that it can truly be a benefit as well – to think about the different perspectives of people who make use of nature, to name what nature is actually for, and that it can help nature itself.”

Can you imagine using this concept effectively in your work?

“Yes, I believe that it could be used. For example, a part of our city is protected, but people should have a comprhensive view of nature; it shouldn’t be valuable only if it has status as a protected area. It is thanks to ecosystem services that people can be made to understand that nature and landscape itself, thanks to the ecosystem services it provides us, contributes to society as a whole.”

Thank you for the interview. We look forward to seeing you again at the third round of workshops!

Původní příspěvek v češtině je dostupný zde.

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