member in action


Stepping Stones after GESA 2011

Anna Varga, Hungary (Global Environments Summer Academy 2011 participant)

My story is about my journey after GESA – a professional, intellectual and spiritual journey. I encountered what I call five ‘stepping stones’ on my way back home to Hungary. The first was the ‘Frontiers in Historical Ecology’ international conference in Birmensdorf in Zurich, Switzerland, from 30 August till 2 September. The second was a workshop on ‘Understanding Community Conservation in Europe’ held in Gerace, Italy, from 11-16 September. The third stone was the 2nd International Society of Ethnobiology Eastern-European Ethnobiologist Workshop on ‘Methodologies and Methods in Ethnobiology’ in Királyrét in Hungary (13-16 October). The final two stones were the VII Hungarian Nature Conservation Biological Conference in Debrecen in Hungary (3-6 November) and the traditional St. Martin day meeting of the Bakony-Balaton region herders in Nemesvámos in Hungary on 12 November.

If I had to choose only one thing from GESA which really influenced my research, it is the exposure I gained on community-based conservation. This became an incredibly important issue for me, which is why I was very excited at the possibility of attending the European workshop in Italy in September. (After a lesson, I checked the ICCA webpage and read about this workshop. I emailed Gary to ask about it and the very next morning, he told me there was a possibility I could attend it.) The workshop, on ‘Understanding Community Conservation in Europe’ (my second stepping stone), was the most useful and inspiring for my work – the place, the participants and the presentations too. During GESA, we had talked a lot about migration, something I did not have a deep personal experience in Hungary. So it was an eye opener during the workshop when we visited two communities where they now welcome migrants and we had the chance to meet the young migrants. It was a very deep, memorable and ‘live history’ experience.

The workshop gave me knowledge and understanding of past and recent community conservation efforts in Hungary through the European perspective. I used this to build on my existing knowledge, and conducted a presentation on Community Conservation at the Hungarian Conservation Biological Conference, introducing the concept of community conservation to Hungarian nature conservationists.

Apart from these five stepping stones, there have been a few other things I have been involved with since GESA – we started a Nature and Man Club for nature conservation management students at Georgikon University in Keszthely in September, and celebrated the 5th anniversary of the Nature and Man Folkschool in December. Besides keeping myself busy attending meetings and workshops, I am still working diligently on my PhD. research.

Additional information can be found at:

My presentation (please contact me at if you wish for more information on this): A. Varga & Zs. Molnár: History and Possibilities of Community-Based Management in Hungary and Romania.

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