Nathalie Arnold – Chef du service Agriculture et Forêt – Région Alsace
Tell us about the role you play in the LIFE Alister Project.
As head of the Alsace Region Agriculture and Forest Department, I began working in 2013 to coordinate and finalise the LIFE project, as it had a tight deadline to be respected for submission to the European Commission. We had to find all the synergism between the various partners that was required to carry out this very ambitious project because when we started, we lacked a bit of coherency between the actions we were rolling out. And it was this joint construction work, which itself was ground-breaking, that probably convinced the European Commission of the merits of the Alsatian approach.
Ever since this project was validated, I have been supervising the implementation of all the actions, and the Region reports to the European Union for their application.
What drives you in this mission?
Firstly, the challenge is linked to protecting a species whose population is dwindling in our region. We had to find an agreement between partners whose interests would initially not seem to be shared, or even convergent, such as farmers and environmental protection associations, and for me, that in itself was a very gratifying goal. Lastly, participating in a European project that allowed me to use much of my training and former professional experiences, such as my post-graduate degree in European studies, Economics, and writing policies and partnerships.
Word has it that you’re also the Alister mascot’s ‘mum.’ What led you to create this huge stuffed animal?
You’re right, and I’m proud of it! It seemed important to me, to reach the largest number of people, to ‘materialise’ this project through a mascot, who would be friendly and easy to point out in a crowd. And we’re seen that over time, this mascot does fulfil this role: it attracts children whilst intriguing adults who want to have a closer look to know more. This communication technique, which to some, was simplistic at the beginning, has turned out to be very efficient to convey our messages to the general public about the Life Alister Project.