Water and soils are limited and endangered resources. It is estimated that at least a quarter of the usable earth surface is affected by strong degradation to an extent which is substantially reducing the potential production of biomass for food, feeding as well as for resources for materials and bio-energy. In the context of an ever-growing world population this is a serious threat. While the world population in the past four decades grew from 3 to over 7.4 billion people, the agricultural area increased by only 8%, mainly through the transformation of forest into arable land. Land consumption through urbanization is further reducing the fertile cultivation area. According to climate projections for the coming decades, rainfall patterns and temperature distributions will also change significantly.
The 22 participants from 19 countries in this short course, which started October 11th, will deal intensively with the connections between land use and nutrient cycles in the context of water catchment areas as well as at a global level. They will be enabled to develop concepts for soil and water protection as an integral part of sustainable land management.
One of the first stops within the intense 4-weeks programme was the headquarters of the German Environment Agency (UBA) in Dessau. Here experts of the agency introduced the group to topics like land-take, soil protection and monitoring, as well as water reuse in the European Union among other things.
There are 3 more weeks ahead to discuss the value and importance of soil as a vital and finite resource for everybody: policy makers, development planners, soil scientists, agricultural extension officers, students and other practitioners.
photos by UN Photo & Anna Görner (CIPSEM)
On September 26th the 71st UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Conservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services came to an end in festive manner … but first let’s have a look back a few days into the course programme, where the participants got to know a guest lecturer from Brazil, invited with the support of TU Dresden’s Internationalisation Strategy. Mr. Nicholas Locke is in charge of the private reserve “Reserva Ecologica de Guapiaçu” (REGUA) in the Atlantic Rainforest in the state of Rio de Janeiro and not only shared his thoughts on the ongoing restoration projects on the property, but also talked about the challenges in building, maintaining and expanding such ambitious work. In addition to presenting valuable facts and insights, he was also able to transfer some of his very own passion to the group – here are some quotes on his lectures:
“Passionate and visionary person…Motivation 100% – Thanks!”
“Mr. Locke is a wonderful man, inspirational and full of good energy. We could learn a lot from this practical example.”
“I liked the passion behind the hard work Mr Locke has done in Brazil through his voice and presentation. I feel very inspired to go to my home country and make a difference. I feel privileged to meet such a great man.”
“From the great work that Mr.Locke had done in Brazil, the most important (and influential) for me was the point that he lived in the environment that he worked on. I am very motivated to do the same now.”
“It was an amazing presentation and gave us a lot of motivation for working in nature conservation even the difficulties.”
reflection on the past 4 weeks
“our heart beats for education”
Mr. Nicholas Locke during his speech at the award ceremony
With this motivation we release 23 course graduates back to their duties. We are sure their positive influence is to be noticed and a change towards the better is possible and these 23 individuals are among “those people who do understand what we’ve lost are the ones who are rushing around in a frenzy trying to save the bits that are left.” (Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See, 1990).
overview about REGUA here
photos by Harald Schluttig (weissraum)
The SC71-course hit the road and visited the National Park “Saxon Switzerland” as well as the Museum of Natural History in the city of Görlitz.
In the surroundings of the National Park and its visitor center the group experienced the stunning sandstone rock formations and the associated unique ecosystem on the one hand, but also learned about the environmental education work by the Saxony State Foundation for Nature and the Environment on the other.
Further east and pretty close to the border to Poland in the city of Görlitz, the director of the Museum of Natural History, Prof. Xylander, opened the doors not only to the public exhibition of the museum, but also provided insights “behind the scenes” into the research and conservation work. Course participant Mr. Sonam Tashi (Bhutan) describes his experience as follows: “The experience of the enormous collection of flora and fauna and diverse work carried out by the museum is commendable. It’s incredible actually. From tiny invertebrates to big vertebrates, the collection and all the texidermy work were highlights which shall remain as a ‘wow!’ factor for some of us. To see such work in search for scientific truth is not only a contributing factor in learning life sciences in general, but also works as an approach towards a sustainable earth; which we as citizen of earth needs more than ever. Coming from so called developing country, I am completely marveled and inspired to boost my work for biodiversity, perhaps to emulate the determination of this institution. Although, the tour in the museum and various departments was brief, however the knowledge and exposure were gigantic.”
(photos by Tamara Karp, Sonam Tashi & André Lindner)
For the 2017 group of International Climate Protection fellows, the mid-term study tour is ongoing. This year, the fellows get some rather deep glimpses into renewable energy technologies during a two-day workshop at the Renewables Academy (RENAC) in Berlin.
At the same time, five CIPSEM alumni meet during the selection conference for the next cohort of ICP fellows.
Who is recognizing them? Best wishes to all of you!
As a part of the programme of the 71st UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services, our diverse group from 21 countries (mainly from the tropics and subtropical areas) had the experience to visit an important place for tourists, scientists and environmentalists alike: “The Botanical Garden of TU Dresden”. With an extension of three hectares, the garden is home of around 10,000 species of native and exotic plants, that had been well preserved and managed by specialized gardeners, volunteers and dedicated scientists since 1822. Today the scientific head of the Botanical Garden is Dr. Barbara Ditsch, a woman with great knowledge and passion regarding plant conservation and management and to whom we are deeply grateful for sharing her knowledge and warm hospitality.
During this pleasant excursion, we could find a variety of native and endangered plants included in the red list of Saxony as Arnica montana; medicinal and toxic herbs as Colchium autumnale, tropical and subtropical aquatic, carnivorous or ornamental plants as Victoria cruziana, Nepenthes sp. and orchids respectively, as well as perennial plants and deciduous trees from Europe, temperate Asia, North America and the Mediterranean region. Also our excursion was warmed up with the visit into three wonderful and well managed greenhouses showing the tropical and subtropical regions, and even the humid weather of the Amazon or the warm and dry weather of Madagascar desert.
New concepts of conservation and plant management have been provided to our pool of knowledge, where we could learn that The Botanical Garden of TU Dresden is working with the aim to integrate several innovative proposals towards an important topic in this decade: “Ecosystem services”. In which it is relevant for the ex-situ plant conservation and for the local animal diversity (e.g. providing habitat for 120 bees that have been recorded here and in its surroundings), but also providing a harmonic space for tourism, education and research (estimated 100,000 guests/year), highlighting the multiple roles of botanical gardens within urban areas. This experience had contributed both in our cultural enrichment and also in our professional knowledge, in which the majority of us will be very glad to bring this innovative and multidisciplinary idea of conservation for our countries.
by Vanessa Wätzold Ospina (Colombia)
While the Short Course on Ecosystem Management is going on, we could also welcome the International Climate Protection Fellows in Dresden. To supplement their research stay in Germany, we organize a 2-week study tour (Learn more about the program and the partners involved).
At the beginning of the tour, we have been welcomed in the Dresden town hall by Deputy Mayor Ms. Eva Jähnigen, in charge of environment and communal services, and Ms. Ina Helzig, Head of the municipal climate protection office. We got to discuss the role of municipalities when it comes to mitigating climate change and to adapt to a changed climate.
Ms. Jähnigen and Ms. Helzig have introduced us to the climate protection activities in the city of Dresden.
Measures taken by the city are soft, based on incentives and awareness raising.
Germany is not on track regarding its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. What cities can do to mitigate climate change, and also to adapt, has been discussed intensively.
Dresden is in the comfortable situation to own its power plant as well as an extensive district heating network.
There are plans to include solarthermal energy in the district heating network. This would help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The city and several partners including active citizens promotes the use of climate friendly transportation, for example through advertisement campaigns and in the European Mobility week.
The links between air quality and climate change have also been discussed.
A final picture in front of the Golden Gate of the town hall.
We have also paid a visit to the Leibniz Institute for Ecological Urban and Regional Development, IOER. There we have been introduced to an extensive study on climate change in the region of Dresden. We have learned how the climate is likely to develop, and which measures the scientific community recommends to reduce negative impacts and use opportunities. It has been helpful to learn from the project coordinators how different scientific groups and stakeholders have been involved so that meaningful products could be developed. We also have been offered some glimpses into the current understanding of transformation science and different types of involvements of science in real-life issues.
The day after, everybody took on an out-of-the-ordinary role while enacting a conflict on the utilisation of water resources and infrastructure development in the context of the Bolivian Andes.
The group also got to explore the forest botanical garden and has learned from the staff of the Saxon state forest service how the uncertainty of climate change is being approached in forest management.
The day ended with an immersion into German and European culture. After a stroll through the Dresden Zwinger we have attended the amazing ballet Manon in Semper Opera.
On Saturday, many have participated in a guided tour, along with the fellows of the UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB short course on ecosystem management.
It’s ordinarady to be born in a place rather in a country unless your mother delivered precisely on an international boundary. That would be incredible indeed. However, no lesser is to celebrate your born day in different country with the people born in different country which is something equally special. Ms. Eunice from Ghana enthusiastically invited all the representatives from different country in her party. Food was delicious of course. Spicy: just like the participants. Cakes, balloons and beers were more part of the celebration. Music was really the catalyst. Dancing on beats of music which you don’t understand but can feel it was even more seductive. Songs from East European, Asian, Latin American and more so African. Grooves were dominated mainly by african, obviously. Azerbaijan and Brazil really tried though. It was fun. The international birthday. Perhaps, more birthdays and celebration to come. So, no less we shall enjoy as one family in this diverse world.
by Mr. Sonam Tashi (Bhutan)