Visit to Lignite Mine Reclamation Site in Lusatian Lignite District, Germany

Exactly one week after 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries (EM45) ended, we are happy to present you one last excursion report. On June 21, the participants headed to the Lusatian Lignite District to learn more about land reclamation of old mining sites. This time, participants Adriana Valeria Ramos Roncal from Bolivia and Anoj Khanal from Nepal kindly provided a summary of their field trip:

“Germany is still and by far the leading lignite producer in the world with a total reserve of 180 million tons. Despite of having multiple renewable energy sources and plants in operation, several lignite mines are still in operation with a majority of it being concentrated in the eastern side of Germany. Since the beginning of the 20th century, open-cast mining and lignite industry have turned the traditional rural region in a “man-made landscape”, with its very specific site conditions.

To understand the process and consequences of lignite mining, one-day field excursion was organized by CIPSEM and Technische Universität Dresden (TUD) on 21st June 2022. 16 participants from CIPSEM course (EM45) together with Master’s students from (TUD) joined together for a field visit on lignite mine areas in Lusatian Lignite District, Germany. Major objective of the field visit was to understand the complete cycle of lignite mining from lignite excavation, processing, use of lignite in energy generation, land acquisition from farmers and land reclamation initiatives after completion of mining activities.

How land reclamation works

Second spot of field excursion was focused on a land reclamation site where systematic interventions were made to reclaim the land and make it useful for agriculture. Participants were introduced to various techniques and tools to stabilize reclaimed area, focusing especially on soil nutrient protection. The facilitator conveyed the significance of different aspects like slope stability, soil nutrient, moisture availability and regular monitoring mechanism required for successful implementation of land reclamation strategy. Yield potential vs. time of cultivation was studied for the following 6 soil types from the mining area to understand the time required for getting the production rate equivalent to pre-mining time.

  1. Calcareous loam
  2. Carbonaceous (coal) loam
  3. Calcareous loam sand
  4. Carbonaceous (coal) loam sand
  5. Calcareous loamy sand
  6. Carbonaceous (coal) loamy sand

Assessment of soil profile from ancient mining site

Last destination of the excursion was an old lignite mine area with a history of more than 200 years. We were exposed to the old briquette factory area currently filled with good vegetation cover. A soil pit was dug in the middle of the forest to teach students about the soil profile from the area. Clear layer of lignite in the surface was well exposed in the area which serves as a raw material for briquette production. Sand and soil below such layer is coarse in nature with very less moisture content.

With the surrounding vegetation, it was also clear that long time gap and strict protection measures are crucial for making land reclamation feasible.

The excursion was ended with a good summary from the facilitator on existing and old mining activities in Saxony and how we can reclaim the natural environment even after the extensive mining for decades.”

by Adriana Valeria Ramos Roncal (Bolivia) & Anoj Khanal (Nepal)

Learning the soils: Light hiking tour around Dresden

On June 13, the participants of our 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries (EM45) left Dresden’s city center for a soil science walk in the city’s periphery. Participants Arely Neisa Palabral Aguilera from Bolivia and Peter Ernest Mkilindi from Tanzania prepared a report about this trip within the EM45 course which is about to end by tomorrow, July 14:

“It is another beautiful day in the outskirts of Dresden, one of the most beautiful cities in Germany; a group of international participants of the EM45 course gathers for one of the things they love the most, going out for excursions. On this brilliant cold morning, with glittering clouds that provided a sign of a rainy day, participants met Professor Karl–Heinz Feger, our leader and guide for this brilliant excursion which involved some other international students from TU Dresden.

Professor Karl-Heinz Feger briefed on what the day entailed and what everyone should expect. After a few minutes of briefing and plans for the day, a journey to our destinations had already started. There was neither a tram nor bus on this occasion; it was just a simple expedition! It was using our own feet as means of transport! Walking, discussing, knowing each other, and getting knowledge on soils from our polite, dedicated, and very professional leader, Professor Feger, and of course, Luca, his assistant.

All group was carrying backpacks, some with jackets in their hands, others with hoes and hammers, and others with chocolates and water bottles to ensure the plans of the day were not ruined by any predictable factor.

Professor Feger made several stops on the way to give lectures on soil formation, texture, and other properties, and this made our plain expedition even more delightful.

We heated the ground for quite long heading to the City of Freital, a popular place for uranium disposal and steel mining without getting tired or bored, some taking nice shots, others taking sips of water or juice, some just yawning! On the way, we saw several water monitoring stations for potential uranium-related radioactive dangers. It was also interesting to see that there is an underground connection between Freital and Königstein, which is about 30 km long!

We ended our day at a city viewpoint, with our hosts wrapping up the wonderful trip and bidding farewell to the group. It was such a wonderful day that everyone tried to imagine how possible it could be to have a similar experience someday, but this was a different and unique day you can never replicate.

by Arely Neisa Palabral Aguilera (Bolivia) & Peter Ernest Mkilindi (Tanzania)

Greening the energy sector: Examples from the beautiful small town of Pirna

On June 08, the participants of our 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries (EM45) visited Pirna and had the chance to meet two of Pirna’s representatives to exchange on climate action within the field of renewable energy. Participants Mustika Aji Hertanto from Indonesia and Jolly Kayiita from Uganda submitted an insightful report about what they took away from the meeting:

“On Wednesday, 08 June 2022 at 9.15 am, the participants of CIPSEM’s EM45 course arrived in Pirna, a town located 17 km away from Dresden, a place that would further surprise us on how they are involved in climate protection through their management in the energy sector. Before arriving in Pirna, we never thought that a beautiful small town with 40,000 inhabitants and 53 km2 area would teach us a lot with their achievement despite their minimum resources. It reminded us of an old saying that said “revolutionaries come from minimum resources”. Yes, Pirna is the real example of that, they restore our faith in the positivity, something that is very expensive lately, since we are too busy to deal with politics and interests.

We were warmly welcomed by Markus Dreßler, the deputy mayor of Pirna, and Thomas Freitag, Pirna’s climate protection manager at 10 am in front of the town hall. They kindly told us about a brief history of Pirna before inviting us to the meeting room inside the town hall. The friendly atmosphere at the time was blurring us that those two people in front of us were two of influential persons in Pirna, the persons who bring change to that beautiful small town.

Mr. Dreßler, in his welcoming speech explained that Pirna has been involved in the climate protection and focus on the energy. Recently, they also joined the European Energy Award (EEA) because it allows the structure of the municipality to deal with climate protection and its external guidance. They worked very hard to make sure that the city can contribute to the betterment of the world through renewable energy. This line was punching right on our face. How could a small town that was slowly left by its people to other cities for a better life, work really hard? They devote themselves as much as they can regardless the minimal resources they have and political interest they found in the process. The way they work is to avoid distraction and not to spend too much energy in analysis but in the implementation to achieve the target. As a result, Pirna is in a good way to receive a gold category in European Energy award (EEA). They have many milestones since 2008 and recently in 2021, they received a certification with EEA gold. They focus on their renewable energy in the heating system and to light the city.

Another learning we get from Pirna is on how they mix the top-down and bottom-up approach by considering the balance of the environmental impact and the financial balance. This is very important because as environmentalists we sometimes are too research-based and do not consider other interest. This is surprising because to their knowledge, this approach is effective to convince people that still do not believe in the climate change. Again, we learn how a small resource can be a revolutionary if they have an inspiring leader. Lastly in Mr. Dreßler’s closing remark, there is still a target that is difficult to achieve. It is to implement more PV in new building and the establishment of wind energy. The economic reason and many conflicts of interest become the reasons why such a good initiative is hard to implement.

In brief, we also learned a lot about the development of climate protection work in Pirna. In overall score, they have 79.4% assessed based on 6 actions of EEA:

  1. Development and spatial planning energy
  2. Municipal buildings and facilities
  3. Supply and disposal energy, water, waste water and waste
  4. Communication and cooperation
  5. Internal organization energy team
  6. Mobility public transport

In the process, they apply a municipal energy management which is a systematic and continuous development of non-investment and low-investment savings potential in the operation of municipal buildings. There are three main reasons why Pirna applies municipal energy management:

  1. Reduction of energy consumption
  2. The increasing costs for energy
  3. The increasing demand for energy

To not burdening the people, the municipal has a smart initiative by implementing leasing model in the photovoltaic system. They also have many environmental programs such as E-carsharing for the municipality fleet, city gardens Breite Straße, energy projects in school, exchange of experience with twin towns and many more.

Before finishing the excursion, we were invited to go to Carl Friedrich Gauß Schule, an exemplary of the passive house, a place that has a very low energy consumption. Built in 2013, the school implements 4 heating systems:

  1. Heating pump below the ground
  2. Heat and power plant combination
  3. Air exchange
  4. Heat capture system

The school has a very good control of air control, the running cos is even cheaper. Yes, there is a challenge in the investment cost, but compared to long term financial benefit, it is economically efficient. Another challenge is that there should be a zero error in the building planning. It needs collaboration between the architect and energy consultant.

In the return to CIPSEM, we were wondering that we were very lucky to have a chance to visit one remarkable town in the saxony. Somehow, we also reflect to ourselves that we may complain a lot about resources that hamper us in achieving the goals, even we sometimes use it as our justification why our target is not achieved. Pirna realizes us that we should not complain with the resources we have; Pirna reminds us that hard work combined with smart initiative are the key of a successful action; and lastly, Pirna inspires us that no matter how hard the challenge, everything is possible.”

by Mustika Aji Hertanto (Indonesia) & Jolly Kayiita (Uganda)

What makes the EM45 culturally interesting?

A small group of participants of the current 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management prepared a contribution on how they profit from the diversity within the whole group of participants. Please find their summary of ideas below:

“In January 2022, CIPSEM was happy to invite a group of international participants from different parts of the world for the 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries. Originally, the group was represented by participants from 19 countries: Armenia, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, Sudan, Tanzania, Ukraine, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It is an amazing experience to have such a group with diverse cultural backgrounds and this has made the course even more interesting. This is due to the following reasons:

Inspire creativity and innovation

This diverse group of participants has changed how others perceive the world. Members of this international team come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, and their diverse opinions, as well as their personal and professional experience, have provided new perspectives that have inspired each individual’s development.

We learn from one another and understand how to respect and value the different cultural backgrounds

The interaction among participants from all these nations is such an incredible experience. This increases the level of understanding about other cultures, the differences, similarities, and value one another through these similarities and differences. It creates a unique set of knowledge, skills, and attitude for many of the participants and this is crucial for personal and professional development.

Has propelled personal and professional growth

The program has attracted talented and ambitious professionals from all around the world, which adds to its appeal as it enhances personal and professional development. Working with people from all of these different cultures may be a really rewarding experience.”

by Adriana Valeria Ramos Roncal (Bolivia), Alkhansaa Saber (Sudan), Peter Mkilindi (Tanzania) & Rehab Tayfor (Sudan)

Memories from Island of Vilm Excursion

From May 16 to May 21, the participants of our 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries (EM45) had the pleasure to go on excursion to the Isle of Vilm for one week. Participants Sonam Yangkee Phurba from Bhutan and Abdulshekur Ahmed Husen from Ethiopia wrote a vivid report about their week:

“Since the starting of CIPSEM course, all the participants were eagerly waiting for May 16 to come by. It was this day when participants moved to the Isle of Vilm for one week excursion. We, Abdulshekur Ahmed Husen from Ethiopia and Sonam Yangkee Phurba from Bhutan, will kindly give you a brief report on the awesome one week, from May 16 to May 21, education excursion to the island of Vilm.

Day 1: Travel Day

On the sunny days of May 16, all the 17 participants, we believe, woke up excitedly and got ready. We met with Tobias of the CIPSEM team, who was very much afraid that we will be late, at Dresden main station and departed for Isle of Vilm at 07:19 AM. Passing through the incredible view of Berlin, first stop was made in city of Rostock for 45 minutes, where we had lunch. The team boarded the second train from Rostock than the third train from Bergen auf Ruegen and arrived at Lauterbach Mole from where we took the boat to Isle of Vilm.

After arriving at Vilm, as expected, everyone was taking pictures of the beautiful views. The beauty of the Island was incomparable and as they say, a gem of the Baltic Sea. We were warmly welcomed by Asja Bernd from BfN, our leader for the period of time. Warm welcome tea and snacks were waiting in the seminar room and Asja led the welcoming session by telling the history of the island. Asja Bernd is among the most exciting and energetic person we have seen during our course.

Day 2: Session Day

We started officially with the program on day two, May 17. The first lecture was on “Biodiversity and ecosystem Services; State, Trends and drivers of decline” by Asja Bernd. Followed by presentation on “Introduction to the Convention on Biological Diversity” by Jutta Stadler from BfN. After coffee break, Asja Bernd gave a lecture on “Biodiversity and Biofuels: Issues at stake”. The participants gave sensational participation and discussion.

After lunch, we did the most interesting simulation game. We took part in Negotiation of Biofuel in Conference of the Parties (COP) of Convention of Biodiversity (CBD). The game or the COP was moderated by Dr. Horst Korn, Jutta Stadler and Asja Bernd, BfN. We had participants from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, USA, EU, Ethiopia, Tuvalu and Greenpeace. Everyone got into their role and did a great job. If such negotiation happens in real life, it won’t take much time for world to be a better place. After the dinner, we streamed the fascinating documentary on Guardians of the Earth, UNFCCC-COP21 (Paris Agreement), and also shared our view on the documentary.

Day 3: Tour Day

On Wednesday, May 18, the day started little early with a session on “Nagoya Protocol and ABS” by Thomas Greiber, BfN. However, the day wasn’t filled with lectures. The highlight was the Guided Tour on Vilm. We went around the island along with Asja, and enjoyed the beauty of the nature, the sea and the mosquitos. The mosquitos were very festinated by group of diverse people that they never left us alone and we were VERY much touched by it (LITERALLY). After lunch, tired us, didn’t lose our energy and continued the learning program by a game: on Fish banks, facilitated by Asja Bernd and Tobias. It was very exciting to play the game where lots of strategy and brain needs to be used. It was also fascinating to see people becoming greedy over invisible money. The day was concluded with interesting discussions.

Day 4: Also a Tour Day

Thursday was also an exciting day, as we visited the Jasmund National Park and most importantly, we visited supermarket. The tasks for the day were to visit the National park followed by audio guided tour through the national park center. We were joined by Rico Markman, National park ranger, who gave us information on visitor management and value of world heritage designation. In 2 hours of walk, a millions of photos were taken. Then we headed towards National Park Centre for our lunch and, of course, toilets. We did the Audio guided tour after lunch, which was a very thrilling tour. The nature heritage was full of animal reserve and conservations. Walking through the sounds of birds and frogs, gave a peace of mind and it was relaxing.

We then returned to Lauterbach, not before visiting the supermarket. Since, we didn’t have much time, Cheva-Gaye, Ganna and Abdul volunteered to go along with Asja and participants were asking for chips, coke, juice and wine. While waiting, Martin was able to find some fries and the rest of people dug on his fries (Poor Martin; Happy Us!). We ended the day with a presentation on “Protected Areas: Trends and Concepts” by Gisela Stolpe, BfN.

Day 5: Final Session Day

May 20 was the last session day on Vilm Island. The day was packed with session starting with “Marine Nature Conservation” by Britta Knefelkamp, followed by “Assessing the conservation status through Red List Assessment” by Viola Clausnitzer from Senckenberg Natural History Museum Goerlitz. Unfortunately, it was conducted online. Nevertheless, Viola, assessed by Asja, made sure it didn’t affect the learning and it was a success story. After lunch, Gisela Stolpe introduced “Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs)” and facilitated a group work on the linkage between development initiative and conservation. With tea and cake, members started to work in group. The session day ended with an evaluation of the Vilm module and all members participated in pointing out what they liked and what could be improved.

But the day didn’t end there. At 08:00 PM, everyone gathered in the seminar room for a farewell get-together AKA Karaoke time. There was music, singing of songs from their countries, dancing, making tiktok and not to forget, drinks and snacks. It was made sure that night stayed young.

Day 6: Travel Day

Woke up by the singing birds on morning of Saturday, May 21, clear sky with not so gentle wind, everyone was getting ready to close the chapter. Packing the memories and appreciating the beauty of Vilm for one last time, everyone made their way to breakfast at 08:00 am. Walking toward the boat, with heavy heart, recollecting all the fun and crazy things, last goodbye was said and participants departed. The journey from Lauterbach Mole to Bergen auf Ruegen, then to Berlin Gesundbrunnen and finally Dresden Hbf, all of the participants were having a good time; sleeping. Around 05:00 PM, everyone reached CIPSEM building and got in their cocoon.

On behalf of 45th CIPSEM participants, we would like to thank Asja Bernd for her amazing energy and making us feel comfortable throughout our stay in Vilm Island, Tobias for leading us through the journey and patiently bearing with crazy mind of ours, CIPSEM team for organizing the program which gave us knowledge and memories, Staff of Vilm Island for taking care of our needs, and lastly International Academy for Nature Conservation, Isle of Vilm and German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) for having us.

P.S: Don’t forget gifts for mosquitos, when you visit the Isle of Vilm.”

by Sonam Yangkee Phurba (Bhutan) & Abdulshekur Ahmed Husen (Ethiopia)


On April 27, the participants of our 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries (EM45) had the pleasure to explore Dresden by bike. Participants Mamerto Fernando Massirela from Mozambique and Martin Bartels Awortwe from Ghana kindly prepared a review on their bike tour:

“On the morning of April 27th, a bicycle tour took place along the streets of the Dresden City, in which 15 CIPSEM students participated, 12 of them cycling and 3 in the taxi, accompanied by Prof. Angela Francke and Mr. Fabian Heidegger. The excursion is part of the practical component of the Sustainable Mobility class and lasted approximately three hours, covering a route of about 10 km.

There were 05 (five) stopping points along the route, with some strategic importance for the explanation of the mobility system in the Dresden City, giving space for dialogue between students and the facilitators, including questions and answers from both sides. During the tour, the photographer with CIPSEM for this purpose joined the team who took various pictures from the first to the last stopping point of the tour.

The excursion followed the following itinerary: Starting point – CIPSEM; First stop – Goßer Garten; Second stop – Robert Henze (Henzestraβe); Third stop – Borsbergstr. crossing; Fourth stop – River Bridge (Cycle lane)/Olbricht Platz; Fifth stop – Postplatz.

First stop (Goßer Garten)

In the Goßer Garten was explained the history of the place. It is one of the most visited natural environments in Dresden, with green spaces, clean air, infrastructure for the circulation of pedestrians and cyclists and other adjacent public infrastructure, including a restaurant and bar, as well as beautiful gardens. One amazing fact about the place was that vehicles are not allowed in the park space which makes the environment serene without noise.

The Großer Garten (English: Great Garden) is a Baroque style park that shapes and covers about 1.8 km². Originally established in 1676 on the orders of John George III, it has been a public garden since 1814. Pathways and avenues are arranged symmetrically throughout the park. The Sommerpalais, a small Lustschloss, is at the center of the park. The park was surrounded by urban areas by the second half of the 19th century. Dresden Zoo and Dresden Botanical Garden were added late in the 19th century. A miniature railway, known as the Parkeisenbahn, operates in the park from April to October. The train is operated by children, some of them start their career there. On the way to the second stop, there was a short stop at a traffic light, where were made known the procedures for mobility through the light signals and the need to activate the device so that the green light for cyclists could light up.

Second stop (Robert Henze/Henzestraße)

Henzestraße is a junction situated in a residential area. The junction is characterized by having two larger sidewalks, which separate the car parks (on the main road) from the secondary road. This feature allows visibility at the site and the guarantee of safety for users, both motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. At the site, was made known the operation of priority in transitability in different directions, recommending communication and understanding between road users when traffic is congested. A particular feature in this area is that there are no cycle paths and the maximum speed limit is 30km/hour.

Third stop (BorsbergStr. junction)

The Borsbergstr. is considered as the engineering junction, because, in the same place, all the urban mobility infrastructures can be found, namely for pedestrians, bicycles, cars and trains. The main road is very wide, however, the intersection does not have a traffic light, which requires greater care and attention when circulating at the intersection. Here it was made known that Dresden is a public transport city, unlike others that are for private cars and bicycles cities.

Fourth stop (River Bridge – Bike path)

The River Bridge bike path is located on the banks of the Elbe River. It is the longest cycle path connecting Hamburg to the Czech Republic. At the stop, there is a Bicycle Counter that automatically registers the bicycles traveling on the road, which allows for reliable statistics on the number of cyclists circulating. Due to its tranquility and safety characteristics, the same infrastructure is used by pedestrians for walking and running.

Fifth stop (Postplatz – City Center)

The fifth and last stop was Postplatz, one of the most important points of urban mobility in the City Center. This is considered as the sharing space because all urban transport routes cross this space, including pedestrian mobility. This is also an area of tourist interest, which is why it is equipped with public support infrastructure such as public taps for accessing water.

The visit ended at this point, followed by the streets of the City Center back to CIPSEM, where was made a brief analysis of the experience, with a positive evaluation of all the participants, whose faces were beaming with satisfaction.

The facilitators (Prof. Angela Francke and Mr. Fabian Heidegger) said goodbye to the students, with the promise of the next meeting in the theoretical classes scheduled for July.”

by Mamerto Fernando Massirela (Mozambique) and

Martin Bartels Awortwe (Ghana)

Saxon Switzerland National Park Adventure

On April 08, the participants of our 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries (EM45) went on a field trip to the Saxon Switzerland National Parl. Participants Cheva-Gaye Wright from Jamaica and Nondas Ferreira da Silva from Brazil have taken the effort to write a report about the tour:

“On April 8th, 2022 the day started with excitement. It was Arely’s birthday, the group sang Happy Birthday to her. Once Katharina had accounted for all her ‘children’ for the day we went to the Dresden Main Train Station. At the train station, Professor Stefan Porembski and his wife joined us. During the train ride, after passing Pirna onwards there were scenic views of the Elbe River and the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.

Upon arrival at Bad Schandau, we were warmly greeted by our guide, Ranger Armin Zenker. He led us to National Park Centre Saxon Switzerland which was originally a movie theatre built in 1953 and closed in 1990. The National Park Centre Saxon Switzerland opened in 2001. The national park has two parts Saxon Switzerland in Germany and Bohemian Switzerland in the Czech Republic. Ranger Armin guided the group to a movie room where he introduced us to Anna, our second guide. She is doing a volunteer ecological year with the national park centre.

We watched a short documentary titled A Perspective of Nature International Park Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland. The documentary gave us a vivid introduction to the history of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, river, streams, the trees, plants and animals that call Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland International Park home. It was a delightful introduction that had us ready for the next part of the tour. Ulemu Diana Makumba said, “This place is beautiful! We started looking at the video and I got an impression of what am expecting to see outside”.

Next, there was a tour of the centre’s exhibition on Saxon Switzerland National Park. It started with looking at the lower elevations of the forest where Ranger Armin told us a story about each picture on display. I can recall the story of how the spruce bark beetle killed the tallest spruce tree in the park. Ranger Armin had the voice of a Disney story narrator. We were fully captivated, laughed and listened to the information he shared with us.

Up some stairs, we went to higher elevations of the forest and saw pictures of the sandstone rock formations. There was an exhibit with a video on how the Elbe Sandstone Mountains formed. While watching the video at times you felt like you were underwater. There were samples of sandstone and shell fossils embedded in sandstone that we could touch to feel the texture.

The group then went on to look, touch, feel and kiss the animals, such as the wild boar and badger on display. When looking through the different view masters it seemed as if you were in the forest and not just looking at a picture. There was a room where we were surrounded by images and sounds from the forest with deer passing by. It was so lifelike that it felt real.

The display of the different types of owls, rodents and wild boar in a dark room playing the sounds they make in the wild made you appreciate listening safely inside. The game to move the round table with a model of Saxon Switzerland to get the ball into a small hole was a solid representation that nature conservation is a delicate balancing act.

Jolly Kayiita said, “This experience so far is so nice! Going to the museum and seeing all those kinds of animals and plants was so beautiful. I expect to see those high mountains, the peaks and the different plants there. I think it will be beautiful.” The Ranger, Armin Zenker, took us hiking in the forest. It was amazing, not just because of the beauty but, also the ranger made us feel like we belonged to the forest. There was music, dancing, exploring, stories and an amazing view of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.

It was not just a hiking experience; it was a connection with the different parts of the forest. We went to a cave where we lit candles making a wish in the end. Ranger Armin also told us a very sad story about the dangers of lightning. In the past, his brother was in the forest and lightning just hit the tree close to him and he died.  “I enjoyed everyone’s company the most today and feel lucky to be here”, said Arely Neisa Palabral Aguilera. Forests are a sacred and beautiful place, however, it is very important to respect nature and feel all the energy of the living beings in the surroundings. Humans and nature are part of one being, the planet Earth. Together we can have amazing adventures, like the one we had on this day. Thank you Armin for being a kind amazing human in this world and for sharing a little of your energy with our group.”

by Cheva-Gaye Wright (Jamaica) and Nondas Ferreira da Silva (Brazil)

Tour in the Forest Botanical Garden of TU Dresden

On March 24, the participants of our 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries (EM45) went on excursion to Forest Park Tharandt. Participants Rehab Ahmed and Alkhansaa Saber from Sudan kindly prepared a description of their field trip:

“The Forest Botanical Garden, is a botanical garden maintained by the Dresden University of Technology. Within the whole area of the botanical garden, plants are labeled with their scientific name and natural distribution. It contains geographically arranged sections of plants from Asia, North America etc. The Botanical Garden contains approximately 10,000 plant species from every climate zone and from a wide range of geographical regions.

We started walking from border part of the garden accompanied by Dr. Pietzarka and we stopped beside Heinrich Cotta statue, in 1811 he established the first oldest private forestry school worldwide, later it became a forestry college, he developed sustainable forests management methods. Now the botanical garden is a part of the faculty of environmental science, Technical university of Dresden. In 19th century, Cotta invited foreign students from different countries all over the world such as Japan, France, Indonesia, Russia, China, Finland and Spain, to develop forest management worldwide. He led science at that times, he met Alexander von Humboldt and other natural scientists.

We stopped beside the Champion tree it’s about 200 years old. And it’s the only one species in Germany, and its extension species in North America.

The scientific collection of plant species in the garden has about 3200 species and variety of woody plants. Native species, invasive species and endangered species, for the purpose of education for students in forestry management, and other related disciplines, and conservation of biodiversity and genetic diversity.

Also one of the most important topic provided by botanic garden is to introduce the concept of sustainability for children as target groups to increase their awareness about sustainability in simple and great way.

Then we walked around the garden in 500 meters and we stopped in area with about 3 hectares. Native species is dominant in this area, it is left to develop semi natural and it is used for timber production.

Then we crossed the bridge which is connecting the two parts of garden, American part and historic part of garden, then we walked between trees and we found varieties of trees with age 50 to 70 years. Then we climbed the artificial rocky mountain, it was really impressive picture from the top of mountain to see all the surrounding. The botanical garden is source of pleasure and inspiration for its visitors.”

by Rehab Ahmed and Alkhansaa Saber, Sudan

Germany’s Waste Management best practice as model for developing countries

On March 09, 10 and 11, the participants of our 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries (EM45) went on excursion to complement their lectures on waste management. Participants Marine Voskanyan from Armenia and Ulemu Makumba from Malawi kindly prepared a report about their field trip:

“Germany’s Waste Management is the model of the best practice of the waste management of developed country, which is not easy to realize in developed countries immediately, even the environmental consequences are obvious․ Germany’s Waste Management consists of five-level waste hierarchy that lays down a fundamental series of steps comprising waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and other elements besides, including energy recovery, and finally waste disposal. 20 fellows from ongoing 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management at CIPSEM, Technical University Dresden (TUD), Germany set out on an excursion to three-day site visits on waste management facilities within Dresden City. These site visits were meant to help the fellows see some of theoretical foundations that had been provided in class being implemented practically in industry. Even though some of the technologies were a little futuristic for most participants from developing countries, the visits were beneficial since there are possibilities that developing countries might get international financial investments to solve waste related issues.

During site visits, the participants raised many questions, and thanks to highly qualified workers they found the answers. The contacts were shared among the participants and the industry experts even after they get back to their home countries. Although Germany has achieved a lot already, it still faces challenges.

On Wednesday 9th March 2022, the first day site visits were at:

  • Stadtreinigung Dresden GmbH (Waste Collection Site, Recycling Center, Closed down Landfill / Landfill-gas Utilization),
  • Dresdner Abfallverwertungsgesellschaft GmbH (Closed down Biologic – mechanic waste treatment plant (BMA)/ Waste reloading facility),
  • Nordmineral Recycling GmbH & Co. KG (Mineral Waste Sorting and Recycling)
  • Lebenshilfe, inpuncto Werkstätten (Electric and Electronic Scrap Dismantling and Sorting)
  • Sewage Sludge Utilization (Stadtentwässerung Dresden GmbH).

The first site visited was the Waste Collection Site, a leading waste management company in Dresden. The company offers collection, transportation, treatment and recycling of waste. Residents of Dresden walk into the facility to drop off their residential waste at no costs also the company gets the waste from different households in the city of Dresden. The site is open from 7 am to 7 pm so that residents are ensured of depositing their waste at maximum time. Besides waste management, the company also offers cleaning and washing services (e.g. cleaning properties, streets, garages, car parks) and winter service where they clear and grit places e.g. streets.

Germany, like many other European countries, decided to close its landfills so that it attains its goal of turning into a circular economy that avoids generating waste and uses unavoidable waste as a resource wherever possible. Not only were the landfills closed for a circular economy but were also closed, because they posed serious environmental threats like reducing the quality of groundwater and surface water and have significant effect on landscape. Participants therefore were taken to a closed down landfill/ land fill-gas utilization in the same vicinity. There are people working on site where gas is produced and used for electricity generation and monitor leachate.

The Biological Mechanical Waste Treatment Plant (BMA)/ Waste Reloading Facility was a major thrill for Dresden as Dresden was the first major city in Germany to have ecological residual waste treatment, in which all material flows are recycled. The Biological Mechanical Plant was processing residual waste from households, waste paper basket and commercial waste. Unfortunately, the facility was closed down but with the possibility of the facility to open again later in the near future.

Later on during the excursion, we had a lecture on waste management in the city of Dresden. Participants were given the insights on how Dresden is working towards achieving waste management, whose aim was prevention, minimization, reuse, recycle, energy recovery and treatment and disposal. The city offers environmental/waste education for its younger generation so that they practice and never lose track as they grow older. There are also some activities involving the communities in cleaning up the city from waste.

Another interesting place seen during the excursion was the Mineral Waste Sorting and Recycling, Nordmineral Recycling GmbH & Co. KG. This facility is responsible for demolishing and managing construction waste and further grinds it to produce a new product that is used for road construction.

The next stop was the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Recycling Company. This company offers jobs to mental, physical or multiple disabled and chronically mentally ill people that cannot yet be employed on the general labor market due to their disability or illness. Inside the premises, participants were able to appreciate how electronics such as phones, laptops, and video cassettes were being dismantled, sorted and recycled. The aim of the company is to protect the environment and health. It also aims at conserving the natural resources where it aims to avoid waste and recycle the waste as efficiently as possible. With circular economy in mind, the company fixes some electronics where they are able to sell some second hand goods that they have managed to repair.

Water is a finite and vulnerable resource that requires protection and conservation. The Stadtentwässerung Dresden GmbH, Sewage Sludge Utilization facility, helps contribute to protecting the environment and careful use of valuable resources like water. The waste water treatment plant provides services in disciplines of the waste water treatment, environmental analysis and the planning and construction of waste water systems. The treatment plant is not only for Dresden but also surrounding municipalities. The company is able to generate electricity from the waste water/sludge and also able to treat waste water and make it clean water that’s let to flow back in the Elbe River.

After the first day visit impressions, participants thought there was nothing more that could amaze them, but little did they know that the second day held even more exciting activities. On day two, 4 sites were visited and these were:

  • Veolia Umweltservice Ost GmbH (Light Packaging service, Waste Packaging service),
  • Papierfabrik Hainsberg GmbH (Waste paper recycling),
  • RETTERA Freital GmbH & Co. KG (Bio waste composting),
  • REMONDIS Industrie Service GmbH & Co. KG (Hazardous waste pretreatment).

At Veolia Umweltservice Ost GmbH, participants saw how light packaging waste was put on conveyor belts and separated into different waste fractions using near infrared and air jet.

The second place to visit was Papierfabrik Hainsberg GmbH. This is a paper manufacturing company based in the Hainsberg district of Freital that specializes using waste paper to produce printing, office, packaging, envelope papers and colored papers. Fellows were first given a talk on occupational health and safety issues to be considered during the tour. They were also told that more than 80% of waste paper in Germany is recycled and besides paper production they got to see how the factory treated water that is harvested from the nearby stream for utilization in the factory’s industrial activities.

RETTERA Freital GmbH & Co. KG was the next port of call after the paper recycling factory. In this site, fellows saw organic waste was turned into composting and organic fertilizer. Organic waste is first shredded, and then placed into three composting chambers for about three weeks before been placed in 3 metres windrow rows for further maturation. The internal temperature of the compost has to reach more than 63OC in order to kill off pathogenic organics. Participants took turns to measure the temperature, which was an adventure for them. After the compost is matured, it is further sieved into different products which are sold to the public. Participants asked whether this activity was economically viable and they were told that it was as people paid to bring in their waste and paid money to purchase the compost.

After the composting visits, fellows had an opportunity to practice principle of waste avoidance! Participants found nice ceramic utensils in a skip bin close to their bus and took them as trophies!

The final site to be visited was REMONDIS Industry Service GmbH & Co. KG which does hazardous waste pretreatment. Fellows saw how hazardous waste was labeled using the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. They also saw how acidic chemicals were neutralized and stabilized.

After an interesting day, the fellows sat heavily into their seats and for the better part of the journey there was silence as people reflected on what they had seen during the day. A few occasional chats were shared when fellows saw photovoltaic farms along the way and connected them with what they had learnt in the renewable energy module.

The German Government funds projects on Bio-waste. The  participants were privileged to visit the TUD Institute of Waste Management and Circular economy in Pirna to learn more and understand the waste management system done there. The facility does research on digestive of waste where they get biogas and use for energy production where they are able to produce electricity and useful heat. This is environmentally friendly waste as a heterogeneous resource, they sort the waste where it is further analyzed. The facility has different laboratories, for example biological lab where soils and other waste are reduced by biological ways, preparation lab for sample preparation and hydrocarbons laboratory for analysis.

The 3 days’ excursion ended up with a unique journey back to Dresden’s past and experience the city in a 360° Panorama! Artist Yadegar Asisi’s panoramas tower of 27 m height is a visit card of exhibitions and museums in Dresden.

The participants were impressed by Panometer Dresden, where is located the world’s biggest panorama.

Professional and cultural exchange inspires fellows for the future stronger steps to develop their countries, to find local solutions for global achievement.”

by Marine Voskanyan (Armenia) & Ulemu Makumba (Malawi)

Dresden Discovery

On 04 February, the participants of our 45th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUV International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management for Developing Countries (EM45) took part in a guided tour through Dresden’s city centre. Participant Ganna Proskura from Ukraine kindly provided a little summary and photos of the tour:

“The morning in Dresden greeted us with cool air. During the tour, we learned a lot about the nature of the amazing and ancient city. Dresden is the capital of Saxony, a free federal state in East Germany. It turns out that Saxony was once a separate kingdom with its own king and corresponding privileges (1806-1918). Dresden was first mentioned in chronicles in 1206. Half a century later, the city became the capital of the Margraviate of Meissen until 1422. Next, there was a union with the Electorate of Saxony. Dresden flourished in the early 18th century under Augustus the Strong, who also became ruler of the Commonwealth. It was in his era that the capital of Saxony acquired its unique architectural appearance. As a result, palaces and museums remain in history, which still amaze tourists with their beauty.

Part of Dresden Zwinger, next to Semperoper; Copyright: Ganna Proskura

At the end of the tour, we learned a lot about Semperoper – the decoration of Dresden. Semperoper opened as the Royal Saxon Opera House in 1841, receiving the status of Dresden Court Opera. The opera is named after the author-architect Gottfried Semper, who created the opera in Dresden and Buenos Aires.

Also, we could not miss the theme of World War II, during which Dresden was almost completely destroyed. The night of February 13, 1945 will forever be remembered by residents. In one night, the place was completely broken. According to official figures, more than 35,000 people died. During the war, many Jewish diasporas and synagogues were lost. We visited the memorial site of the former synagogue. Also, we saw new synagogue buildings nearby. Our guide, Ms. Gürtler, said that today the Jewish community has been restored, mainly thanks to migrants. Local authorities attach great importance to the restoration of the historic city and its culture. That is why, as of 2022, you can see beautiful architecture, ancient buildings and many important historical sites.

Part of Dresden Zwinger, next to Semperoper; Copyright: Ganna Proskura

Of particular interest was the life story of the German alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger (1682-1719), who on the one hand was a charlatan, who promised the king to produce gold, and on the other he became the first European naturalist to receive white porcelain. The short life of the chemist was full of amazing discoveries, whether according to the recipe of gold, fame and restriction of freedom as a bearer of the recipe of porcelain and early death from poisoning by poisonous fumes. Our guide told his story near the monument of the inventor. Next, we learned about interesting facts from the lives of the kings Frederick Augustus I. and Frederick Augustus II. Also, we saw the sites of modern art galleries, the Art Academy.

The discovery for us was the event “Theft of the Century”, which took place in the most famous museum of values in Germany: the treasury of the Dresden Museum Arms Chamber “Green Vaults”. During the night, two robbers broke into the building, turned off the alarm, smashed a shop window, cleaned it and disappeared before police arrived.

Moreover, we got acquainted with the structure of the city in ancient times, and with the beginning of Dresden near the river Elbe. The whole tour was a great positive impression. Lots of thanks for organizing it to Ms. Gürtler and CIPSEM team.”

by Ganna Proskura, Ukraine