Kilts and bagpipes. Mountains and lochs. Urban across the Central Belt and the rural Highlands in the North. This was almost everything I knew about Scotland, when I received an answer from greenspace scotland in January this year, accepting my application for an internship. Before starting with my master’s thesis, back in Hanover (Germany) in the field of Environmental Planning, I wanted to do an internship abroad and learn how other countries approach the topic of environmental and sustainable planning in practice.  April the 30th became the magic date I waited for, to move to Stirling and start my internship.

The time until spring went by quickly and I started into my first day at greenspace scotland a bit nervous, but very excited. I quickly realised there was no need to be nervous at all – the whole greenspace scotland team gave me a warm welcoming and made me immediately feel as an equal part of their team. Just like greenspace scotland’s projects are covering a wide range of different topics, my work at the charity included a variety of different tasks as well, giving me the opportunity to discover and learn even more about policy and practical environmental planning in Scotland.

One primary project I was involved in the past few months was ParkPower. ParkPower is exploring the potential for parks and greenspaces to provide energy services and support green energy infrastructure, offering the opportunity to generate long-term income and savings for parks and greenspaces. I did desk research about best practice in renewable energy projects, which fed into the ParkPower Exemplar Sites as well as helped with writing case studies about existing green(space) energy projects. Furthermore, I got the chance to apply some of my software knowledge and worked with a Geographical Information System (GIS) where I did analyses about greenspaces and energy demand.

Due to the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 each local authority is required to prepare a food-growing strategy for its area. greenspace scotland provides support in the development of Local Food Growing Strategies and was working together with Glasgow City Council, when I started my internship. I assisted in the preparation and delivery of community workshops about local food growing in Glasgow. This offered me the opportunity to gain further experience in the field of community engagement, but also to get in touch with locals and get a sense of the place and the people.

Most of the greenspace scotland team are also judges for the Green Flag Award, which rewards well managed parks and green spaces. I had the opportunity to participate in one full “desk assessment”, as well as in a number of smaller “mystery shops”. Thus, I have discovered a set of wonderful parks and greenspaces, that I would have missed otherwise. To take up on that experience I have applied to become a judge for Germany as well and am hoping to see a lot more lovely greenspaces in the future.

In addition to my “office” work, which included many days outdoors, I was given the opportunity to attend several environmental and greenspace related conference and workshops. These included the CARES Conference (The Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme Conference) in Perth as well as the International Making Place Conference  and the CSGN Forum in Glasgow.

Sadly, my three months in Scotland and my internship are drawing to a close now. Looking back at my time at greenspace scotland, I am looking back at a glowing time full of new experiences, innovative projects and interesting conversations. greenspace scotland’s work to give nature a voice and establish new sustainable management approaches to preserve and unlock the potential of greenspaces for people and the environment is inspiring. I feel delighted that I got the chance to learn from and work with such a dedicated, motivated, skilled and friendly team. Thank you to whole greenspace scotland team for providing me with so many opportunities to learn and discover new things. I had great three months with you!

I am returning to Germany with a lot of precious memories and new knowledge. After my stay here, I will now always think about Scotland as a country with lovely green assets and inspiring, creative and dedicated people.

Anna-Lena Vollheyde