Annual Meeting: Latvia 2010

„Pimp my woodland”

23th August – 2nd September 2010

 

The annual meeting was held in Latvia from 23th August till 2nd September 2010. This year theme was „Pimp my woodland” which included the idea of modern urban planning, ecological life-style promotion and its integration in the urban environment and everyday life. 

The ELASA meeting was planned in order to better reflect the Latvian landscape uniqueness, variability, diversity and beauty and also to make their contributions to its development. Participants in thirteen days were able to visit towns like Jelgava, Jurmala and view the protected area Slītere, outline the Gauja valley in Sigulda and enjoy a variety of Riga. Program was not only guided tours and other attractions in attendance, but also work in groups, workshops and public presentations. The first workshop was held in Jelgava and the theme was „The urban jungle”. The Planning area includes the two islands in Lielupe – Post and Castle islands, which are an important symbol of the city of Jelgava. On one of the islands the castle and wild horses were located and the other islands the locals inhabitants used for recreation. Students had the opportunity to develop their proposals and visions of islands development. Slītere National Park members had direct contact with the forest, were able to enjoy the atmosphere, pick berries and mushrooms which were then used in a delicious group meal. During the workshop in Jurmala participants looked in the ways to maintain and design the area in the city centre. Area includes mixed park– like forest and dwelling place with old Pine trees, which are iconic features of Jurmala. Participants searched solutions of ecological continuity in tree and plant species and looked in the ways to maintain suburbia as it will be a big part of future cities.

In Sigulda students tried to resolve conflicts between city construction sites and the natural environment areas of the National Park of Gauja. They offered solutions and ideas for maintenance, creation or transformation. Consecutive workshop, participants presented their ideas on other participants, as well as other interested parties, for example, a presentation in Sigulda was attended by town planning experts, to develop new ideas and become familiar with different views on development options.

The participants before the workshops had the opportunity to listen to talks, which were delivered by foreign and  Latvian lecturers – Roland Gustavsson (Professor Landscape architect), Ģirts Runis (Graduate Landscape architect and planner), Erik Skärbäck (Professor Landscape architect), Simon Bell (Forester, Landscape Architect and Author) and Friedrich Kuhlmann (Professor at the Estonian University of Life Sciences). As well as meetings with each of the instructors, the session was concluded with a discussion in which participants were able to show further interest and ask questions. 

The last day participants visited the Salaspils Botanical garden and in continuing tradition, organizers of the next meeting planted a tree. Finishing back in Riga participants celebrated in style the end of a successful and enjoyable meeting.  

The spirit of ELASA is indeed at the heart of its success. As part of the meeting participants took part in an official Representatives meeting which – of course – established the host of next year’s meetings. The decision has been made – Germany with students from Munich University will host the 2011 annual summer meeting and the next one in 2012 will be held in Belgium. 

The personal and professional benefits from participating are endless, with individuals leaving with friends and contacts all over Europe and an insight into the profession abroad. Through all activities participants obtained new ideas, exchanged views, experienced positive and creative atmosphere and tasted the spirit of ELASA meetings. 

 

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