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Ann Matschke

Tribute to Ann Matschke.

Herewith the text of a speech given by Person Unknown in recognition of Ann’s work in Andorra, 2015.

Ann Matschke

 All of you here tonight will agree that it is necessary to pay tribute to people, who are often in the shadows, who have contributed enormously to the knowledge of the environment in our country.

On the evening of this year’s Cultural Agora, we pay homage to Ann, who with her late husband Horst came here to Andorra from Zambia in the late 1970s.

Ann was born in Alton (Hampshire,UK) Ann Evelyn Rodwell, born 15th October 1939, and has travelled to countless countries, interested in the culture, archeology and above all passionate about the diversity and richness of nature. 

I know Ann in her various passions: reading, classical music, pre-history -especially wall art-, and mainly everything related to nature.  Ann is interested in everything from the swallow’s flight to the majestic Pyrenean Marcolian, to name two examples. I also know several virtues, but I will highlight only one: perfectionism.

We met Ann in 1986 at the Association for the Defense of Nature (ADN). This is a non-profit NGO that has historically based its purposes on three basic lines of action: research, dissemination and conservation of the natural heritage of Andorra. One of the important factors in the cohesion and integration of people (regardless of nationality, religion or culture) is the passion and love for common elements, and nature is a global one. 

Needless to say, Andorra offers the lover of nature an exceptional diversity, within a small territory. Today we know it but we must recognise that 25 years ago, biodiversity in Andorra was a complete unknown. A handful of people, with effort and perseverance, have dedicated from altruism, much of their time to travel paths, trails and cross country to detect, identify and record their observations in a database.

Ann is one of them. She has worn out the soles of many mountain boots to traverse the corners of the country, patiently scanning the horizon to follow the pattern of migratory birds, stopping to hear the birdsong, and quickly crouching down to identify an insignificant flower. There is no doubt that the intimacy of the nature of our country is known to few, but Ann has excelled.

  Ann has been actively involved in:

– the Atlas of the Nesting Birds of Andorra which involved six intensive years of fieldwork and three more years for the writing and validation of the texts -1992-2001-.

– The Action Plan for the Conservation of the Badger (PACT) started in 1999-until what year? – 

– The BMS (Butterfly Monitoring Scheme) which allows year after year to follow the study of diurnal butterfly populations -initiated by Ann in 2007-

– The LANIUS program, which has had two axes: monitoring the reproduction of various endangered species as a result of the work of the Atlas, and the monitoring program for common bird populations in both spring and winter -2005 -2009-.

– The PERNIS program on monitoring the post-nuptial migration of birds of prey and gliders -years-

– The floristic catalog (Check-list) -2003- and the Red Book of the Flora of Andorra -2007-

– The participation and coordination for many years of the European Birdwatch within the international program of Birdlife International with the aim of disseminating to society the wealth and value of birds.

– The publication of the book FLORS for ADN

There is no doubt that Ann has a naturalistic intelligence: she is able to understand the natural world using skills linked to observation, intuition, formulating approaches and hypotheses, and in a simple and effective way she arrives to answer questions of our complex ecosystem. 

The event that we are celebrating together today is mainly an act of recognition for the dedication, will, generosity and effort of people who, like Ann, have taught us to know and have accompanied us in loving our country.  I want to thank Agora for the well-deserved recognition she has been given today.