Excursion to the Botanical Garden of TU Dresden

As a part of the programme of the 71st UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Short Course on Ecosystem Management – Biodiversity Conservation and Ecosystem Services, our diverse group from 21 countries (mainly from the tropics and subtropical areas) had the experience to visit an important place for tourists, scientists and environmentalists alike: The Botanical Garden of TU Dresden. With an extension of three hectares, the garden is home of around 10,000 species of native and exotic plants, that had been well preserved and managed by specialized gardeners, volunteers and dedicated scientists since 1822. Today the scientific head of the Botanical Garden is Dr. Barbara Ditsch, a woman with great knowledge and passion regarding plant conservation and management and to whom we are deeply grateful for sharing her knowledge and warm hospitality.

During this pleasant excursion, we could find a variety of native and endangered plants included in the red list of Saxony as Arnica montana; medicinal and toxic herbs as Colchium autumnale, tropical and subtropical aquatic, carnivorous or ornamental plants as Victoria cruziana, Nepenthes sp. and orchids respectively, as well as perennial plants and deciduous trees from Europe, temperate Asia, North America and the Mediterranean region. Also our excursion was warmed up with the visit into three wonderful and well managed greenhouses showing the tropical and subtropical regions, and even the humid weather of the Amazon or the warm and dry weather of Madagascar desert.

New concepts of conservation and plant management have been provided to our pool of knowledge, where we could learn that The Botanical Garden of TU Dresden is working with the aim to integrate several innovative proposals towards an important topic in this decade: “Ecosystem services”. In which it is relevant for the ex-situ plant conservation and for the local animal diversity (e.g. providing habitat for 120 bees that have been recorded here and in its surroundings), but also providing a harmonic space for tourism, education and research (estimated 100,000 guests/year), highlighting the multiple roles of botanical gardens within urban areas. This experience had contributed both in our cultural enrichment and also in our professional knowledge, in which the majority of us will be very glad to bring this innovative and multidisciplinary idea of conservation for our countries.


by Vanessa Wätzold Ospina (Colombia)


Celebrating new friendships and the last days of summer

We are enjoying summer while it lasts. Today we had a barbecue with both the participants of the Ecosystem Management short course and participants and facilitators of the INOWAS summer school on managed aquifer recharge. It has been good to recharge the batteries after a long day of excursion and classes and a nice opportunity to get to know each other (better) … and also to witness so many barbecue styles.

What keeps Dresden moving?

Excursion to DVB Mobil – Dresden

From the day we first landed in Dresden, we admired the transport system in this lovely city i.e. the trams and buses especially by the level of efficiency and time management! How does this system operate so well? We wondered. On 23 March 2017, we finally got the answers, through an excursion to the Dresdner VerkehrsBetriebe (DVB) Mobil, the public transport company in charge of transport services in Dresden. Winfried Oelmann the head of operations gave a presentation on the company operations, specifically on the history of the company, work environment, training opportunities, route network, ticketing system, infrastructure, social activities among other things. The overall presentation was quite enlightening.

Afterwards, we were taken to the control room which operates 24/7 and it is where all the action happens. We got to learn how the entire system is synchronized i.e. the route network, time & efficiency of the trams and buses. There is also a customer care hotline which operates fulltime to respond to any inquiries or emergencies. Basically, this section is the heart of the company!

Key lessons learnt: 

There was so much to learn from this excursion it would not be possible to exhaust it all in this article. However, in summary, the highlights were;

  • Efficiency: DVB is highly efficient, ensuring all trams and buses operate as scheduled and all the route networks are operational through the control center
  • Incentives: DVB offers incentives to companies, students and the general public through discounts on individual and group tickets hence encouraging people to use public transport. From the environmental perspective, the more people use public transport, the less vehicles on the road and therefore less carbon emissions ☺
  • Public relations: DVB has a strong social media presence and a customer service team to keep the public informed/updated and to respond to enquiries and/or emergencies.

Overall, it was a great experience and there is so much our countries can borrow from this system, which would go a long way in improving most of our public transport systems and most of all, restoring our faith in government-run systems. Many thanks to the entire DVB team that made this excursion a joy!

Text and photos by Joyce Kiruri, EM40 course participant from Kenya.

So, how good is the air you breathe?

In critical physical situations, the longest time that people can survive without water is 3 days, without food is 3 weeks, but without oxygen from air is only 3 minutes. It is remarkable how air is the by far most important requirement for life on this wonderful planet.

On 06 March 2017, we had an excursion to the Air Quality Monitoring Station in the Neustadt part of Dresden which is one of 29 fixed automatic monitoring air quality stations in the network of the Federal State of Saxony. Among those, each station measures meteorological parameters (temperature, wind direction, wind speed, precipitation, humidity, etc) and air quality parameters (PM10, PM2.5, NOx, SO2, O3, BTX, etc).

By the time we have visited the station, the data showed that PM10, NOX, and O3 were 20.3 µg/m3, 0.125 ppm, and 11 ppb. Whereas the Benzene, Toluene, m.p-Xylene, and o-Xylene (BTX) were recorded 0.8, 1.8, 1.5, and 0.6 µg/m3, respectively. “These data show that no parameter exceeds EU standards. However, concentrations at the Neustadt site are still higher than at other sites in the city of Dresden. This may be linked to the station’s position where traffic is characterised by high vehicle density”, said Dr. Kath, air quality expert from the Saxon Environmental Operating Company (Staatliche Betriebsgesellschaft für Umwelt und Landwirtschaft, Sachsen). In addition, due to the weather conditions at the time, air emission from vehicles activities could not be well mixed into the atmosphere.

Finishing the excursion, the Earth still moves, all of us still have to breathe, and cars still run on the road with emissions. Let’s enjoy the fresh air after the rain but remember that more actions need to be taken to protect our living environment.


Text and photos by Dr. Hoang Anh Le, EM40 course participant from Vietnam.

UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB courses for experts in environmental management in 2017/18

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We are glad to announce the programme for our 2017/18 course year and look forward to another year of exchange and mutual learning towards sustainable development with a focus on developing and emerging countries.

All the details and requirements are available on our website, including an extensive FAQ section.

Please spread the news about this opportunity widely among qualified colleagues and friends who want to make a difference.

Thank you!
Your CIPSEM team

A glimpse in to the history and future of e-mobility

While sustainable mobility must include a wide range of approaches, using electric drives instead of combustion engines must be an important component.

Therefore, we started exploring the issue during a tour through the e-mobility exhibition in the Volkswagen transparent factory. Highlights were the e-bikes or pedelecs – there are already millions on the road… and also the electric scooters on show.

Later on, we will explore other ingredients for more sustainable mobility during lectures and excursions with Prof. Udo Becker and his colleagues from the chair of transport ecology at TU Dresden.

Towards closing the loop

The 1st February the course visited several solid waste management facilities where the processes of the Biological-Mechanical Waste Treatment, Mineral Waste Sorting and Recycling, Electric and Electronic Scrap Dismantling and Sorting, Light Packaging Sorting and Waste Paper Sorting where observed. These visits allowed us to confirm that the waste does not really exist, but it is raw material that can generate innumerable goods developing a closed loop economy with both economic and socio-environmental benefits.

It allowed us to recognize that those responsible for the management of these “wastes” are not only the waste management companies, but all the actors involved for closing the cycle.

It was also inspiring to see how government and private companies work synergistically in a series of organized processes to recover more of the so-called “wastes” which are collected, separated and recycled to generate energy and excellent quality products such as bricks, bottles of glass, paperboard, paper, compost, dry stabilitat, among others.


author: Natalia Jimenez, EM40