For one whole week the EM38 course escaped the rush of the city life and headed to one of the remotest areas in Germany: the island of Vilm in the Baltic Sea. As part of the Southeast Rügen Biosphere Reserve, the whole island is designated as nature reserve and a dream for nature-lovers, especially as access is strictly regulated and limited. Without shops, television and other distractions, Vilm is the perfect location for our course attendees to fully focus on different aspects of conservation and restoration ecology. Talks, simulation games, group work, discussions were on the schedule, all in the context of topics such as ‘Biodiversity and the CBD’, ‘Marine nature conservation’, ‘Protected areas’, and the ‘financing of nature conservation’ .
Of course outdoor activities did not go short and the group also explored the island’s exceptional nature. The last logging on the island took place around the year 1527, which led to the development of undisturbed, mixed forests consisting of impressive individuals of beeches, oaks and sycamore maples and a remarkable biodiversity: 1312 different species were found during an assessment in 2002, considering the island is less than one km² in size, an astonishing number.
From the classroom to the jungle was the slogan today as the course paid a visit to the university’s botanical garden. About 10.000 plant species from all climate zones grow here on an area of about 3 ha…and not only plants.
Today, as part of the module ‘Conservation & Restoration Ecology’ Ms. Micheletti gave an insight into the life of a population ecologist. The course participants had to slip into the role of wildlife biologists and find out how many black bears (Ursus americanus) live in Alaska by applying a mark and recapture technique. Thereby the course was split into four groups, each using different numbers of marked and recaptured animals to show how important a well-elaborated methodology is for successful wildlife management. Unfortunately due to time reasons the group was not able to go to Alaska this time, but the black bean (supposedly Phaseolus vulgaris)-experiment was at least equally suitable.