41st UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management – Closing

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On July 12th 2018 another 21 fellows from 21 countries were awarded with the Diploma in Environmental Management after spending 6 months at CIPSEM and now return home and will continue to work towards a more sustainable management of our natural surroundings we all depend on.

Who are those fresh alumni and what do they think about CIPSEM:

During the ceremony four “Best-Final-Paper-Awards” were given to:

Ms. Alexandra Aguiar Pedro (Brazil), for
“Urban community gardening as a strategy for avoiding the expansion of informal settlements over vacant land and making the informal surroundings greener“

Ms. Vika Ekalestari (Indonesia), for
“Optimization of facultative aerated lagoon system: Strategy in complying with the newly enacted wastewater effluent standard in Indonesia“

Mr. Ramoudane Orou Sannou (Benin), for
“Pastoral communities and participatory forest management in Benin: A case study from the Three Rivers Forest, Borgou Region“

Mr. Eduardo Francisco Esteves Vélez (Ecuador), for
“Rehabilitation of mined land by using compost“

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Keep the CIPSEM spirit!
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Leipzig!

Authors: Ramoudane Orou Sannou (Benin) and Maksym Makukha (Ukraine)

On the sunny Wednesday of July 04th, nineteen out of 21 EM41 participants were preparing for the last excursion of the course program. This excursion planned to last from Wednesday to Friday took place in Leipzig which is about 100km from Dresden. Leipzig is a beautiful historical German city with the 2nd oldest university in Germany and has been home to many world renowned celebrities such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and... The city differs from Dresden in its cultural diversity, marked by a strong foreign presence. As proof, the presence of a Georgian restaurant – “Chito Gvrito” – where EM41 participants gathered for their 1st dinner.

About what we learned…

The first point of visit for the excursion was the Helmhotlz Centre for Environmental Research which is famous for its cutting-edge research in the field of environment. Being already a huge facility, the Helmhotlz Centre for Environmental Research  is part of Helmhotlz research organization which is also one of the three largest German research associations. The first stage at the Helmholtz centre has been a presentation about constructed wetlands followed by field visit. Constructed wetlands are low tech but highly productive technology that could help – and actually, already do – rural communities all around the world to treat waste water.

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Secondly, we had interesting presentations about the ongoing projects of the centre in the Middle East. These projects deal with spatial planning of water treatment, that also includes components on participation of various stakeholders and children education. We had an impressive 3D visualization that brings us deeper into the very advanced 3D models being used by the centre for spatial planning. Later we had other presentations on different research topics of the centre such as chemicals in our environment, urban planning, and the interesting topic of land use (TALE project).

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Party again!

During the night of the 2nd excursion day, CIPSEM invited us for dinner in a place that was first kept secret from us. In fact, the dinner took place at the MoritzBastei restaurant near to Leipzig University. “The Moritzbastei is the only remaining part of the ancient town fortifications of Leipzig. Today it is widely known as a cultural centre. From 1974 the Moritzbastei was rebuilt under the supervision of the University of Leipzig. More than 30,000 students were engaged in the reconstruction of the bastion, among them the current Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (Yes-Yes, she has also studied there!) – (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moritzbastei).

Biomass, new fuel???

The last excursion day was dedicated to visiting the German Center for Biomass Research also located in Leipzig, two tram stop from the Helmholtz centre. This institution explores usage of biomass for energy supply mainly by combustion. It aims at producing biogas and biofuels for transport. Of course biomass cannot substitute all our demand for energy mainly because we also need land to produce our food. But a good option could be to use lands that are not suitable for food production to grow biomass for energy production. This lab also explores ways  for producing liquid fuels such as biodiesel or biokerosene to meet our needs for environmentally friendly fuel in the future.

 

The EM41 last excursion ended being about what should be called the “fuel of the future!” And that was the END!

Good bye, Leipzig!

Humans, Economy and Biodiversity Conservation – Sustainability in the Centre

Tales from the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Upper Lusatian Heath- and Pond Landscape” – EM-41 excursion, June 6, 2018

As challenging and complex as it might seem, the heath- and pond Landscape of Upper Lusatia has managed to embrace both, biodiversity conservation and human well-being, yet no doubt anyone can be convinced the project is sustainable, the secret being including people in the scheme: “by the people for the people”.

It started about 800 years ago when the Slavic people first arrived in the area which was almost 20% swampy landscape. Due to scarcity of land for cultivation, the monks tried to drain the area to suit cultivation. As a result there was influx of German people in the area. Due to the agricultural activities over the last 8 centuries most of the indigenous plant species were lost. To date only 1% of the plants are endemic in the natural habitat.

The success story begins with zonation to cater for the conservation, residency and economic activity in harmonious manner.  ‘Designation as a UNESCO biosphere reserve means much more than protection of the natural landscape, because it also envisions sustainable development of the region. Economic development should be promoted whilst the cultural value of the landscape should be preserved.’ Walter Hirche, President of the German Commission for UNESCO

(i) Nature/Biodiversity Conservation

Although the heath- and pond landscape of Upper Lusatia has a long history; it was until 1992 when it was formally set aside as a conservation area with 30.102 hectares.  In 1996 the area was recognized and approved as UNESCO biosphere reserve. The aim is the protection of natural ecosystems and their long-term productivity and functional capacity.

Today the area is a home to 1.100 plant and 3.600 animal species. This reserve is important for conservation in Germany; for example it is the only place where Bog Violet (Viola uliginosa) is found, furthermore it hosts more than 50% of Moss Grass (Coleanthus subtilis). Regarding fauna, the site hosts 20% of Saxony’s (about 5% of Germany’s) wolf population (Canis lupus)  and an estimate of 5-10% of European otter (Lutra lutra) just to mention a few. In addition to this, the presence of 350 ponds in the biosphere reserve covering 125 hectares host 1000 breeding pairs of over 90 bird species making the site incredibly important and uniquely beautiful attracting lots of local and international tourists.

(ii) Economic Sustainability

Support should be targeted towards sustainable development options in the various sectors of the economy, e.g. organic farming, ecologically adapted forest management, and environmentally and socially compatible tourism. Fish farming, crop cultivation, cattle keeping and tree plantations are some of the viable economic activities in the Biosphere reserve.

Carp is one of the fish species farmed in 12 of 305 ponds at “Gutter Teiche” fishery ponds. Carp farming goes hand in hand with reeds management giving best scenic views to tourists who visit the area while bringing income to farmers and healthy meal to consumers. The whole view of ponds with associated species, e.g. reeds, ducks and other water birds are breathtaking!

 

(iii) Heritage Crop and Variety Project

With increasing healthy eating and lifestyle, the village Kreba-Neudorf has been keen and ventured to engage in crop cultivation. The project only grows old and seriously threatened grains of rye, wheat, oats and spelt. The cultivation follows the organic farming standards with no external agricultural inputs, the yield are said to be a rich source of vitamins, minerals and taste better. Rye bread is particularly good for people allergic to gluten.  Furthermore products diversification and value addition chain has been in place by installing grinding mills, bakeries and specialty local brew brand.

(iv) Research and Sustainable Development

For sure this projects would not be successful without investing and collaboration between researchers with an interdisciplinary outlook aiming at hands-on sustainable development through constructive participation.

Acknowledgement

IPicture7t is said seeing is believing. We would like to thank CIPSEM team, especially Tamara Karp, Susanne Barisch and Dirk Weis from the Biosphere Reserve, and the Ladusch family for facilitating this field training to EM41 participants on 6 June 2018 which convinced us that it is possible to embrace conservation also at the same time it is possible to practice other economic activities in a compatible manner while restoring the degraded area. At the end of the day environment is conserved, better income, healthy and happy living.

 

by Francisca J. Malembeka (Tanzania) & Dr. Liu Zhao (China)

Solving a forest belt problem in Ukraine – a Role Play @CIPSEM

The “Role Play” plays a significant role in problem-solving activities. Its concept follows the “power-free dialogue.” The German sociologist Jürgen Habermas designed this concept. The EM41 CIPSEM participants used this technique (29/05/2018) to find the solution to the following problem:

A forest belt system was planted in the former USSR to combat erosion, droughts and increasing yields. Depending on the planted species, it could increase yields by 20-100 . After the collapse of the USSR the department responsible for forest belt management was terminated. The follow-up legislation was not created accurately in Ukraine. Communities in cooperation with an NGO who have registered a forest strip cutting outside the settlement have applied to the local government body. In the public cadastral map, there is no cadastral number for the forest belt, therefore it is not possible to legally install an owner. On the other hand the State Administration stated, that their powers do not apply to agricultural forest bands. The State Geo Cadaster declared that these bands were transferred to the collective ownership of the collective farms, and therefore belong to the successor who did not correctly draw up his right, so they are subject to transfer to the Rural Council as a “waste of property”.

The following stakeholder groups were represented in the role play:

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Land Use
  • Ministry of Environment
  • Regional Government and land use planning
  • Council of villagers, composed of small-scale farmers
  • EcoLtava (regional NGO, doing consultancy services)
  • Large-scale agro-holdings
  • Timber and fuel producer

The fellows had an excellent discussion about the forest belt, land use change, legislation, environmental management, stakeholder collaboration and made their recommendations and solutions for the forest belt issue in Ukraine.

by Mkhitar Avetisyan (Republic of Armenia)

Alumni portraits – Mr Ganga Datta Nepal

Recently, 2012 alumnus Ganga Datta Nepal visited the CIPSEM team during a research stay in Germany and shared his story.

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Alumnus Ganga Datta Nepal (right) during a visit to CIPSEM in June 2018

Ganga Datta Nepal is working with Government of Nepal on issues related to Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and can draw on more than 20 years of experience in the WASH sector with donors, I/NGOs including bilateral and multilateral programs. The donor-supported project focuses on water quality and includes aspects such as
– water safety plans,
– climate resilient water safety plans and climate-resilient WASH,
– as well as total sanitation.

As a team member, Mr Ganga Datta Nepal was involved in the formulation of a national level guideline, a handbook and training materials. He is active to develop the capacity of operators, engineers and managers and also to support the implementation of water safety plans in rural, peri-urban and small towns of Nepal to ensure water quality and hygienic sanitation.

He summarises his experience:
“I attended the short course in September 2012 on “Integrated water resource management and climate change adaptation” with CIPSEM. It has given me the way up to start different options to implement climate change perspective in Nepal. We have now climate resilient water safety plan and climate resilient WASH intervention. Also, I will soon complete my PhD research on WASH and climate change. I must say, the training played an important role in starting the climate change business in both my professional career and ongoing PhD, too.

During the course, we were 22 persons from 22 different countries of the world. Most of us are still in contact using social media like Facebook and LinkedIn. We also have a sharing mechanism country perspective. I can say our relationship built by CIPSEM is excellent for connection as well as expertise for sharing. Personally, I did Masters Degree under the DAAD fellowship and learnt the German language till DSH. It also made it easier to make connection around Germany to share our problems and to get to some kinds of solution. ”

Mr Ganga Datta Nepal is now doing a small research on wastewater treatment at the level of communities, which can hopefully be replicated later.

He wrote “For me, the CIPSEM course was important as I could use the knowledge in capacity development from a different perspective. It is helpful that problems around the world are similar, so we have to find the solution to every problem based on our perspectives. Personally, as I am a WASH expert, I have challenges on sustainability aspects of constructed water supply projects, maintaining and ensuring the water quality and different solutions for the sanitation, i.e. sustainable sanitation, waste water treatment etc. It is always essential to have capacity development from CIPSEM, and it is good to know who did what course in CIPSEM and how much the training content has been used taking into account the country perspective. ”

Mr Ganga Datta Nepal suggested CIPSEM could recruit the help of alumni experts for the selection of training participants who can implement their new insights, taking local conditions into account. We appreciate this suggestion and always appreciate when CIPSEM alumni recommend qualified colleagues.

Nature calls EM-41 !!! Arrival on Isle of Vilm

Within the module of Conservation and Restoration Ecology, the flagship excursion of CIPSEM EM-41 to the International Academy for Nature Conservation (INA) at the Insel Vilm started on May 13, 2018. The moment CIPSEM fellows stepped onto the island, the joyous faces were apparent and the excitement was at its zenith.

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Ms. Kathrin Bockmühl, Scientific Officer at the INA, welcomed the fellows, provided an overview of INA’s work in nature protection at the national and international level since 1990, and briefed on sessions planned on biodiversity conservation and governance for the cohort. It started with an introductory talk by Ms. Gisela Stolpe and Dr. Horst Korn on biodiversity conservation and ecosystems services, and the UN-Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). With an objective of giving hands-on experience of CBD conferences, a simulation exercise on decision-making was conducted. The fellows represented CBD State Parties including regional unions, small island countries and NGOs, and deliberated on drafting decisions regarding the use of biofuel. Also, a session on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), with an Ethiopian case study provided important insights into the importance of sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. The exercise provided interesting impressions on importance and challenges of global treaties concerning biodiversity conservation.

The afternoon of the second day started with the theme of marine nature conservation and a role-playing game called Fish Banks Ltd. was simulated. The aim was to realize the challenges of managing resources sustainably in a common pool resource setting. Dr. Chrtistian Pusch talked about the importance and challenges in fisheries and marine national parks management in today’s global scenario with case studies on German exclusive economic zones.

As expected, we could not leave the island without a guided walking tour on local biodiversity including the famous last remnants of beech forest in Germany, untouched for about 500 years. With a cloudy sky and pleasant temperature (with mosquitoe clouds as well unfortunately), we walked through the circular trail learning about the beech forest and ecology of several associated species. Thanks to our excellent facilitators Ms. Kathrin Bockmühl, Dr. Katharina Stein and Dr. André Lindner.

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The fellows also visited the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Southeast-Rügen to learn about the ongoing conservation programs in the biosphere reserve. Later, we arrived at Jasmund National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site inhabited by beech forest. All the fellows were delighted with the beautiful views of Baltic Sea and had the pleasure to see the largest chalk cliffs in Germany called the Königsstuhl or King’s chair.

Words are missing to describe the extraordinary week we had. Special thanks to Ms. Kathrin Bockmühl who opened the doors of this beautiful place for the CIPSEM EM-41 fellows. The excursion at the Insel Vilm was a unique experience, which we will remember for its extraordinary landscapes, beech forest and the knowledge acquired to manage ecosystems and biodiversity. The experience will be engraved forever in the memory of all the fellows.

by Mariela Yapu Alcazar (Bolivia) and Dhruv Verma (India)

CIPSEM alumnus appointed as Minister of Nature Protection

Upon the proposal of the Prime Minister, under Article 150 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Erik Grigoryan was appointed as the Minister of Nature Protection on May 12th, 2018. Congratulations!

Mr. Erik Grigoryan was participant of the 30th UNEP/UNESCO/BMU International Postgraduate Course on Environmental Management in 2007 and finished the course with a final paper on “Development of Economical Mechanisms for Environmental Management in Armenia and Experience and Practice of Germany”