Noa, a young nature lover from Belgium, joined an European Solidarity Corps project to support the restoration of the ecosystems and the biodiversity in the Riet Vell Nature Reserve in the Ebro Delta, Spain. In this blog post, she shared her experience with us.

Hi everyone! I am Noa, 23, nature lover coming from Belgium and here is my memorable story of volunteering.

After my master’s degree in Communications and Public Relations with a specialisation in sustainable communication and CSR, I wanted to feel useful and work concretely to contribute to the values that are important to me. As nature is a big part of my life, I joined the ESC to embark on an environmental volunteering. I lived one month close to nature and worked for SEO/BirdLife in the Riet Vell Nature Reserve.

The arrival

From my native Belgium, I boarded the high-speed train to Barcelona. What a memorable journey! Although I was kind of stressed and impatient of discovering what was waiting for me, comfortably installed in my seat, I was able to see the landscapes change as I headed south. The train really lets you appreciate the ride and enjoy the scenery. And to leave to an environmental volunteering, it wouldn’t make sense to travel otherwise, right?

After spending one night in Barcelona, I left the city behind to dive into the atypical atmosphere of the Ebro Delta. Two of my fellow volunteers picked me up at the station. Here we go to Riet Vell, the Nature Reserve where I will work for the next month!

The Ebro Delta is located 180km south of Barcelona. If you look at the map of Spain between Barcelona and Valencia, you’ll easily spot it. It forms a small triangular-shaped outgrowth that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea. The Delta is the result of thousands of years of alluvial deposits brought down by the Ebro River. It is 30km long and is made up of wetlands. 80% of the land is rice fields, the rest of the area is a nature park with lagoons.

Working in the Delta

You now may wonder what I concretely did there. Being part of the SEO volunteers team implied several aspects. My tasks included restoring ecosystems and supporting biodiversity through hands-on work (management of invasive species, maintenance of nesting platforms, etc.). I took part in censuses to gather data on mountain, wetland, and seabirds, contributing to research and conservation efforts. I also worked in the visitor center, answering questions from people who come to watch the birds at Riet Vell.

I could enjoy the mild autumn weather of Spain and the surprising landscapes of the Delta and Catalonia. I met wonderful people and we went together for hiking and for city trips (Barcelona, Tarragona, Tortosa).

Meeting with other organisations

The most rewarding thing for me was meeting other environmental organisations/volunteers and working with them on different projects. I got the chance to learn more about ecosystems restoration, bat and mountain birdwatching, sustainable gardening and even traditional Catalan building. Collaborating with all those passionate people highlighted a shared desire to take action for the environment and to preserve nature.

Enjoying the journey

These few weeks working in Riet Vell allowed me to reflect on what I want and reinforced my resolve to make a real commitment to protecting the environment and biodiversity.

Now that I’m back in Belgium, I’m going to work for a company whose mission makes sense to me, because I know that’s what makes me happy.

I am so grateful for this experience that made me grow as a person. I would like to thank the ESC for this chance, SEO/BirdLife, my hosting organisation for its welcome but also Anca from Views International for her unfailing support through my whole volunteering project.

Categories: Volunteering