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)

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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)

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)

Excursion to the Saxon Dam Authority and Ecological Research Station Neunzenhain

Authors: Ahimbisibwe Alfred (Uganda) and Clement G Tweh (Liberia)

“Water is Life”

You wake up in the morning some minutes late and you decide to rush through your preparation to be in time for the office. You rush to the bathroom, open the tap and lo… there is no water flowing. Your mind switches to panic mode. Can you go to the office without taking a bath? Or even without brushing your teeth?

This is a disastrous situation that the Saxon Dams Authority strives to avert by ensuring that there is always sufficient supply of high quality drinking water available to households and industry at any time all year round. Participants in the 41st Postgraduate Course of Environment Management for Developing and Emerging countries held an excursion to the Saxon Dams Authority’s drinking water reservoirs in Neunzenhain on 3rd and 4th May 2018 to learn about drinking water supply.

Two staff members of the Saxon Dam’s Authority and Dr. Lothar Paul of the Ecological Station Neunzenhain conducted the excursion. The Saxon Dams Authority manages fresh water resources in the Free State of Saxony of which dams make up 20%, the rest being rivers. They are in charge of 153 reservoirs, 23 of which are for drinking water and the rest for flood control. They also supply drinking water to 40% of Saxony’s population with storage capacity of 100 million m3 of water.

Participants were informed that the Saxon dams Authority supplies drinking water to six regional contractors who distribute water in the various cities in the state. In order to balance demand and supply, some dams are interconnected through tunnel systems or open channels and that the water quality has significantly improved due to strict requirements for purification of flue gas from coal power stations and industries that were previously responsible for acid rain.

Talsperre Neunzenhain II

Neunzenhain dams were constructed to provide drinking water for the city of Chemnitz, which was growing rapidly due to industrialization in the 19th Century. The first dam was built between 1891 and 1893 while Neunzenhain II was built between 1911 and 1914 using natural stones from the region. It is gravity dam whose weight of stones holds back the water. To avoid siltation in this dam, two pre-dams built upstream reduce the sediment load of incoming water. Secondly, 25 km² of the dam’s catchment area is forested giving it the best quality of water. The rivers flowing these forests also carry little sediments. However, every 10 years the Dams Authority does a general de-silting operation to maintain the capacity of the dam.

The Neunzenhain II dam was extensively repaired between 1996 and 2000 making it more robust with more monitoring devices to ensure its life is extended. During these works, a new concrete was built behind the stone wall and a monitoring tunnel also constructed. Important parameters monitored include

  1. Pressure: Due to high pressure in the water column, water tends to escape below the wall. To mitigate this, ground water below the dam wall is sucked out and drained away.
  2. Dam displacement: Due to alternating seasons, there is dam displacement especially in summer due to temperature difference on both sides of the dam. A maximum displacement measured is 8mm.

Water can be drawn from five different layers in the reservoir and such thermo-stratification allows for continuous supply of clear water even if silted water enters the dam by drawing water from lower layers, which actually remain clear.

Ecological Research Station Neunzenhain

Participants visited the Ecological Research Station in Neunzehain which was established in 1959 focus on research on drinking water reservoirs. This was after a realization that activities in the surrounding areas of the dams affect the quality of water. It was founded as a hydro-biological field station and they have collected a lot of ecological data on reservoirs.

Dr. Lothar Paul and Ms. Henrike Beesk presented research that is going on at the station on Cyano bacteria in the drinking water reservoirs and other micro organism such as phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish. Cyanobacteria produce toxins which can cause sickness and death in severe circumstances. The team also presented ecological interventions used to maintain the quality of water such as bio-manipulation and sanitization of the catchment. Bio-manipulation involves stocking of predator fishes in the reservoirs such as pike and trout to hunt the smaller fishes thus favouring growth of zooplankton which in turn reduce the phytoplankton that degrade water quality.

Emerging Issues

  1. Per capita water demand in Saxony has reduced from 200 m3 to 85 m3 and this is attributed to increased efficiency in use and change in industry to less water intensive industry
  2. To increase forest resilience, broad leaf tree species have been introduced to the previous coniferous monoculture and this diversity improves forest productivity and resilience.

Excursion to Control Center of Public Transport in Dresden

(By Sandar Myint, Myanmar)

On 24th April of 2018, we visited the Dresdner Verkehrsbetriebe AG (DVB) (Dresdner Transport Services). The EM41 participants guided by Ms. Angela Francke from the TU Dresden Institute of Transport Planning and Road Traffic, went together to the DVB Control Center of Public Transport.

After arrival, we were warmly welcomed by Mr. Winfried Oelmann. Before the lectures and discussions, the EM41 participants asked him curiously what they want to know and what they want to include as a part on DVB Public Transport such as air ventilation inside the Tram, and an E-ticket system. He answered all questions thoroughly and started his presentation about the institutional organization and strength of DVB. In General Figures of his presentation, there are seven types of vehicles which are “Low Floor Trams, Older Tatra Trams, Diesel Buses, Hybrid Buses, Battery Buses, Ferry Boats and Freight Tram”. About 160 million of passengers travelled in the year and DVB was one of Dresden’s key employers with 1,851 employees and 97 trainees.

The main responsibility of DVB is to operate the local public transportation in Dresden, the capital of Saxony and also responsible for planning, marketing, driving, traffic and product planning, communication, investing, sales, maintaining and training. Every year DVB had already surveyed the satisfactory status on DVB services and transportation types. According to 2017 DVB survey, it accounts for over 47 % of very satisfied status, 33.5% of satisfied status, 0.4% of unsatisfied status and others on DVB services and also 12% -on foot, 27% – bikes, 39% -cars and  22% -public transport on transportation types.

The ticket price in Dresden is low on behalf of the environment, people, and the livable cities. Furthermore there are several discounts; children under 14 years and handicapped people ride for free; 75% are to pay by pupils and apprentices, 80% discounts for students and also 50% of the monthly ticket prices and 75% of 4-trip tickets to pay by poor people.

The ticket revenues cannot cover the costs of public transportation in Dresden/Germany and DVB has an annual gap of Euro 40 million. In this case, ENSO and DREWAG, which are responsible for energy, network, supply of power, gas, water, grid operator got always profits and filled the gap of DVB as a consolidation of companies in the case of public transportation funding of Germany. Also Mr. Oelmann compared the pros and cons between the use of private cars and public transports in rush hours with regard to facts of carbon emission, costs and time.

After that, another lecture is given by Mr. Andre′ Schiller, who is an IT coordinator to perform both technical and administrative tasks to ensure functionality and efficiency of computer and telecom systems in DVB, on the topics of Information and control system of DVB. We knew that the operator systems need the online different units which are not as easy as using smart phones. Every night DVB transformed the scheduled data to passengers via online systems to know the real time for all routes.

After that, we moved to the main control room for Information Center of DVB in which there are 22 employees who were working with the assigned tasks. According to the explanation by Mr. Schiller and Ms. Francke, we knew that one was mainly responsible for social media and the other ones were responsible to control the computer and telecom systems of all DVB transport operations with 3 shifts in 24 hours. The operating trams in the tram lines could be seen by the specified colors such as yellow and green within the computer systems. To operate the tram lines, it needs much energy.

After that, we went outside from DVB Center and moved to place for the tram stops in order to know the structures and tasks of the trams next to the DVB building. Tram routes were arranged by the respective tram lines in that place. In this case, Mr. Schiller explained well the structures of trams and the tasks which operated daily. On the body of the tram, there was the trade mark which describes the produced year and the company to know where the tram was build up. Also, the structures of the tram include the special features for the handicapped people.

In this interesting excursion to Control Center of Public Transportation in Dresden, we had fun with this excursion and then we came back to CIPSEM Center. I would like to thank CIPSEM Teams and all facilitators for their warm reception and supports and for every schedules and arrangements of knowledgeable lectures and interesting excursions on behalf of our [EM41] participants.

German Environment Agency (UBA) – back again

On April 12th and 13th we visited the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA). It was founded in 1974 and its mission is to protect citizens from environmental influences and the environment from external damages. On our first day, we were welcomed by Mr. Ralph Wollmann, who introduced us to the main objectives of UBA. After that, we had detailed lectures and discussions about environmental perspectives of Germany. The topics were related to energy transition, adaptation to climate change, transboundary water pollution and water resources management.

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Mr. Max Werlein started the first presentation about guidelines for political action in energy transition, which included economic efficiency, supply security, and environmental capability. The next lecture was given by Clemens Haβen which was about adaptation to climate change in Germany and was focused on the role of UBA on policy adaptation and policy cycle, as well as the impacts and consequences of climate change. After that, Mr. Gerd Winkelmann-Oei explained us about protection strategies of transboundary water pollution in Germany. The main topic was on crisis management of hazardous activities in European rivers and the tasks done by the International River Commission. The presentations were ended with a brief lecture about water resource management by Mr. Bernd Kirschbaum and were started by introducing us to general information and short overview about water use and climate. Besides, he presented about wastewater treatment and chemicals status of the surface in Germany. Finally, he pointed out the main problems and new issues of water resources management. This long and enriching day was completed with a short visit to the historical Bauhaus building and a delicious dinner at the fancy Radisson hotel in Dessau.

The second day began with a relaxing breakfast. Then, the first lecture was about sustainable development and green economy by Mr. Bjӧrn Bünger by which details were mainly on inevitable transformation to green economy and the current requirements of changes in consumption and production. He also added that the growth of green markets is a precondition for the green economy. The second lecture of the day was focused on international chemical management by Ms. Johanna Rose/Mr. Hans-Christian Stolzenberg and the lectures and discussions were on the need for global action on chemicals, chemical management at a global, regional and national level as well as actions taken. After lunch we made a short guided tour of UBA building with Mr. Max Bӧsecke. Finally, a short presentation and a case study in Costa Rica about tourism and environment were given by Ms. Ulrike Wachotsch.

For us, as reporters and CIPSEM fellows, the main purpose of this excursion was to understand German experience in environmental research and strategies proposals for policies; to make networking with government agency and scientists, and to improve our professional skills in environmental management.

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the authors: Ms. Lourdes Amparo Lares Acero, Peru (right) & Mr. Fisseha “Fish” Berhe Halefom, Ethiopia (left)

Excursion to the National Park of Saxon Switzerland (Bad Schandau) and the Museum of Natural History of Görlitz

by Ms. Alexandra Pedro (Brazil) and Mr. Emmanuel Suka (Cameroon)

On arrival at Bad Schandau, participants of the 41st International Post Graduate Course on Environmental Management were warmly received by the authority of the National Park Center run by the Saxonian Foundation for Nature and the Environment. The Center’s history, organization and up to date work was presented, highlighting interalia, concept of the foundation, information and exhibition in the center, nature conservation fund, visitors and education center, establishment of the academy in 1994, the volunteer, environmental education and academy programmes, and outreach to the local community, networking and partnership with over 240 members including neighboring nations like Poland and Czech Republic. Thereafter, participants were given a guided tour of the center, projection of a documentary and video of the National Park, and then a visit of the center’s garden where participants had their lunch.

After lunch, participants were guided into the National Park by Mr. Zenker. The forest walk in the park was very engaging and interesting thanks to the enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide. Mr. Zenker gave a vivid account of the park’s history, local culture and management of the park. He equally showed interesting sites in the park like the core-zone and its importance, an artificial cave, a historic European brown bear trap, sharp stone gorge with more than 30 species of ferns, identification of further forest and plant species in the park, conduction of a practical activity of building a human sand stone, hiking to the top of the Elbe sand stone mountain, teaching of traditional German conservation songs and dancing by the participants. Finally, to beat farewell to the participants he sang a German folklore song using a musical instrument “mouth organ”.

After breathing the forest air, hiking in the National Park of Saxon Switzerland, in the following day CIPSEM fellows visited the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History of Görlitz.

The meeting started with an introduction of the museum and the Senckenberg Society, by Prof. Dr. Willi Xylander. The museum has three research departments: Soil zoology, Zoology and Botany, where around 60 scientists work. We had the opportunity to talk to part of this team of experts about the museum collection and their current research.

In the Zoology department, the first meeting was in the Mammalogy sector. The mammal collection have been built up since 1980 and nowadays it is incremented by the research demands (e.g the Mongolia project) In the Geology sector we could see the ancient and the modern collection, containing from volcanic rocks to precious fossil plants. The Insects sector preserves a collection of around 18,500 species, from which we could observe some beautiful butterflies from all over the world and the diverse ants and beetles. We also learned about their current research on ant populations and taxonomy. Finally in the botany department, we appreciated a collection of species (some dated from 19th century) carefully maintained and their research about the land use effects on vegetation.

After lunch, we visited the library and afterwards the museum exhibition, through the enthusiastic guidance of Prof. Xylander. Starting with the geology exhibition of Upper Lusatia, with different colorful types of soil on the ground according to the cities in the region, we learned not only about the local geology, but also its biodiversity and history. Animals and plants from the tropical forests and the African savannas could be appreciated in another exhibition. We also could interact with a full size bear and painted walls for funny photos. To complete the visit, in the vivarium some fellows could direct interact with animals, feeding the fishes and having some species in hands.

The participants wish to thank all facilitators for their support and warm reception.