In 2015 Vesko Valverde spent a 6 months internship at the provincial governmental office of the Province of North-Holland in Haarlem and worked on policy issues of defragmentation and connection of the provincial ecological infrastructure. This is his impression of a great internship.
After writing a thesis on science-policy interfaces I was very interested in an internship at the government to apply my knowledge on this interface. At first I had no idea where to look for such an internship, but soon enough I thought it was not about apply the knowledge of the science-policy interface, it was more important to take part in that interface. I was so fortunate that my internship coordinator tipped me on an internship at the province of North-Holland, provided through the 'Onderwijsloket' at that time.
I was quite interested in an internship at the province because this layer of the government had gained more responsibilities for nature. Next to this I was mainly interested in nature policy on a high level, preferably national, and this was an opportunity for me to get insight in how policy works at such a level. Additionally I was curious what the province actually does since this part of the government is almost invisible to a citizen in his everyday life.
The province asked me to find out how other provinces and some municipalities monitored and managed their nature defragmentation and connection measures. Therefore I dove into the archives to read about the policies of the different government institutes and I visited the provinces and municipalities to interview the involved policy makers. It was very interesting to see how the policy took different shapes in the different provinces and municipalities and the difference in how much was done for defragmentation and connection of nature. Surprisingly, none of the institutes worked on monitoring, was interested in how others did this and were also interested in a national platform for this topic. Of course I went into the field to see what I was actually writing policy advises for and met more nature policy makers and others who were interested in the research.
Initially I was asked to write an advice specifically for the province of North-Holland, but since the different provinces and municipalities also had similar questions, my supervisors agreed and allowed me to write a more general advice which everyone could use. This resulted in advising the provinces to communicate more with the municipalities, increase and map networks, support local initiatives with volunteers and develop a national monitoring platform for connections and defragmentation measures to make the research on the effectiveness of these measures cheaper and more effective.
My background in forest and nature conservation helped me a lot in writing this advice, but also in the execution of the research. I was trained in the required skills and methods by the university. But more important was the way of looking for solutions to the present problems. Governance, science-policy interfaces, stakeholder inclusion and more were needed to come to creative advises for the governments. All together this internship was a great conclusion of my study, demanding to use all my skills in practice.