It’s again me, Alessandro! You should know a little bit about me, as I already published an article about my volunteering experience in Lithuania. Just to remind you, I am an Italian young man doing his IVY as an Interreg Project Partner in Venta Regional Park, a protected area in northern Lithuania, near the border with Latvia.
Yes, volunteering in my institution is really great, and everyday we have a new adventure, with the goal of helping to preserve nature in our pristine territory.
However, the conservation of nature is not only about long monitoring in forests. The communication of the natural and cultural values present in the territory of the Park is of fundamental importance too. Our Interreg LatLit project is helping a lot in this sense, as we are trying to promote ecotourism in the area of the Venta river, the main natural feature of our area, both in Lithuania and in Latvia.
In this background, on Tuesday 13th August, I organised “DisCoVer: Discovering and Canoeing on the Venta river”, my Citizens’ Engagement Activity (CEA), a canoe excursion on the Venta river.
The event was open to disadvantaged people of our border territory: of the 80 invited participants, 50% were from Lithuania (municipality of Naujoji Akmenė) and 50% from Latvia (municipalities of Skrunda and Auce). People could join us in Papilė, at the starting point of the event, thanks to the buses available with the money for the CEA.
By the time people arrived, the canoe rental had already prepared everything: canoes and life jackets. Also the catering service was already there, and each participant was provided with a portable breakfast. Time to quickly get to know each other and to leave. I went with a Latvian teacher in the last canoe, closing the group: in that position, we had to move really slowly, as 40 canoes were in front of us, and in some points of the river we had to get off the canoe, as there was not enough water.
The trip proceeded well. We reached an intermediate stopping place, where Nerijus Gudmonas, the ecologist of Venta Regional Park, up to that moment taking pictures from the bank, talked to us about the important role that a natural park has for the protection of the environment, and in particular how our LatLit project is giving the opportunity to jointly manage our natural resources, that are connected between Latvia and Lithuania.
The second part of the trip was also good. I was afraid that it would be too hot, but, instead, the temperature and the weather remained perfect. The effort required to row was, however, great, and especially the younger children must have been happy about reaching the final point of our journey. Here I helped the canoe rental owner to bring canoe back home. Together with the canoes, we also went back to the starting point, as the programme was not finished yet.
It was the time for Tomas Martinaitis, the vice-mayor of Akmenė, to talk about the policies of the town for young people, and how in the last years the relationships with the nearest municipalities, both in Latvia and in Lithuania, have strengthen.
And what could have been a better way to conclude the event than a lunch together? The catering service provided us with excellent food, water with lemon and tea. Some other chats together and the time to get back home quickly arrived. All the participants went back to their bus and left this adventure tired but happy. Me too. :)