The European Wilderness Society has the unique and privileged position that their main office lies in Tamsweg, a city with just over 6,000 inhabitants. This city is found in the Austrian Alps, in the heart of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Lungau and surrounded by national parks. When I got in contact with my colleague Max to talk about the possibilities for me to join the Wilderness Team, this was one of the reasons working for the European Wilderness Society sounded so appealing to me. I am not somebody wants to work for nature conservation, that needs to live in a big city as I described in the previous post.
Please also read: The symbiosis of Wilderness and Research
During my first week in Tamsweg, I asked my colleagues whether there was a good gym around. They took me with them and just outside of the village we started hiking up this trail to an alpine hut at 1895 meters. Once we were at the top, we had a great view over the Lungau valley and it was that moment when Max told me: “Here is your gym with no roof and membership is free!” And he was right, what a nice and rewarding work-out to hike up there and enjoy the beautiful nature.
I always liked the outdoors, although I am from a city in The Netherlands, a country with virtually no “real” wild areas let alone Wilderness left. During the last years, I’ve lived in some places that were remote to some extent. Living in a rural countryside makes much more sense if you are working on nature conservation projects in that area, in my opinion. To be able to visit your project, you would want to stay close for practical reasons. But it will personally also make the whole experience ten times more valuable.
By this time, I spent my first two weeks in Tamsweg and am convinced that this is a unique organisation. In the morning, I walk to the office, while the cows are staring at me as I walk past. From the office you smell the alpine meadows and glance at the white-capped peaks of mountains over 2,700m above sea level. A lunch break from the office does not mean a walk around the block, where traffic pollutes your air and buildings block the view. Here in Tamsweg we are in the middle of the mountains, you get the feeling that the European Wilderness Society is actually where the action is nowadays, when it comes to implementing nature conservation policies, the return of the wolves and the conflicts with livestock owners, the problems urbanisation causes to rural areas and the natural rewinding of the depopulated landscape. There are trails in many of the surrounding valleys, leading up to different huts. And here is the perfect lunch spot, as we enjoy the cheese from Slovakia, sausages from Spain and bread from the Lungau.
PS Did you ever write a project proposal on an Alpine hut.. wait for my next post 🙂