Blanche Danede Testimony
“Olá guys! My name is Blanche, I’m a 21 years old French girl. During this two months (September-November) I have been part of a great volunteering with the NGO Plantar uma Árvore. Further to the obtaining of my degree in Geography and Planning I decided to do a gap year, although the current context with the COVID-19 seemed and still seems not helpful in order to travel and gain some experiences. Nonetheless, I had the chance to be contacted by the association allowing me to do something during this period, that above all, is linked with my studies and my career objectives since I would like to work in favor of the environment’s protection and management. Moreover, it was a good initiative to discover a new country, try to learn some portuguese words and train my english with my frenchy accent. Through my volunteering I had the possibility to get involved in the two main actions of Plantar uma Árvore, namely the maintenance and plantation work. While the first one taught me how to take care of plants that have been already planted in the previous season; control and remove the invasive plants (ex: acacias) or practice natural engineering building several fences made of wood with the aim to strain the waterway, the second one taught me the way to plant in a sustainable and efficient way and the importance of native and endemic plants for the biodiversity of an area. This highlighted the importance of the two periods for a sustainable restoration. Also, the field trips enable me to understand that the conservation work may differ according to the natural area’s ecosystem, and in my case I discover distinct landscapes of Nature, from the island of Pico in the Azores during the Volunteer Escapes Camps Program to the Mata do Bussaco, and not forgetting the one where I work the most, Afonsim in Serra do Alvão. Beyond the environmental dimension it’s also a human experience, by knowing and living with people from different parts of Europe, even though you are away from your house you feel at home with the people who are working with you and the coordinator who try its best so you can feel right. Therefore, I would like to thank Plantar uma Árvore to have offer me this opportunity, that I hope it was as much enriching as mine.
NB: French wines and cheeses are still the best ;)”