In the surroundings of the National Park and its visitor center the group experienced the stunning sandstone rock formations and the associated unique ecosystem on the one hand, but also learned about the environmental education work by the Saxony State Foundation for Nature and the Environment on the other.
Further east and pretty close to the border to Poland in the city of Görlitz, the director of the Museum of Natural History, Prof. Xylander, opened the doors not only to the public exhibition of the museum, but also provided insights “behind the scenes” into the research and conservation work. Course participant Mr. Sonam Tashi (Bhutan) describes his experience as follows: “The experience of the enormous collection of flora and fauna and diverse work carried out by the museum is commendable. It’s incredible actually. From tiny invertebrates to big vertebrates, the collection and all the texidermy work were highlights which shall remain as a ‘wow!’ factor for some of us. To see such work in search for scientific truth is not only a contributing factor in learning life sciences in general, but also works as an approach towards a sustainable earth; which we as citizen of earth needs more than ever. Coming from so called developing country, I am completely marveled and inspired to boost my work for biodiversity, perhaps to emulate the determination of this institution. Although, the tour in the museum and various departments was brief, however the knowledge and exposure were gigantic.”
(photos by Tamara Karp, Sonam Tashi & André Lindner)
On 15th may 2017, the participants of the 40th UNEP/UNESCO/BMUB International Postgraduate Training Programme immersed themselves in a natural landscape of forest, history and magical forms of sandstone and basalt. Between caves with secret passages, rocky ridges and centennial trees, the participants learned how over millions of years this amazing landscape was sculpted by wind and water.
The participants also visited the National Park Information Center in Bad Schandau where they experienced how with creativity, images, sounds, colors and shapes, it is possible to make the visitors discover and explore this unique landscape in a fun and exciting way.
Dancing and singing was the amazing way to teach the participants how quartz grains are kept together shaping the sandstone with a fantastic art that only nature can do.
It was inspiring to experience how exploring nature with different options (climbing, guided walks, excursions, workshops, educational programs, etc) is ideal for creating awareness in people. This is by combining knowledge and emotions, the way that people feel themselves as a fundamental part of nature and responsible for taking care of it.
“…The experience was breathtaking, and being there made us one with nature…”
Joyce Kiruri (Kenya)
“…Great hike and dark caves! Learning about sandstones in a fun way is the best approach for environmental education. Learning by playing! Five stars to our amazing guide!…”
Andrea Vera (Perú)
“…It was great experience; landscape, professor, what we learned and how we learned. All was inspiring…” Ramshid Rashidpour (Iran)
For the last excursion of the EM38 course, the group headed once more to Leipzig. This time a visit at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) was scheduled. The iDiv research centre is a joint institution between the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Leipzig University. The research center was established in 2012 and conducts top-level research in biodiversity sciences with special focus on environmental change, sustainable development and bioresource management.
On the second day the group headed to Thuringia to visit the Hainich National Park. The park is part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany’ and includes the largest unexploited area of broadleaf forest (50 km²) in Germany.
The National Park Saxon Switzerland is located virtually right at our doorstep, so the EM38 course headed out on a sunny Friday to pay a visit to this scenic landscape with its bizarre sandstone rock formations.
The tour started at the National Park Centre which was – after being hit by the Elbe river floods in June 2013 – newly renovated and reopened just three weeks before our visit. An exhibition with seven thematic stages illustrated the special characteristics of the local nature and gave a good example of methods in environmental education.
We finished the day with a walk at the Schloßberg to the Schomburg ruin.