A journey to biodiversity conservation – excursion to the island of Vilm

The journey began on Sunday morning to the Isle of Vilm, a very beautiful nature paradise at the Baltic Sea coast. The story goes back to some 6,000 years ago from the waves of the rising sea Litorina which created an island from Moraines that glaciers had left during the years of ice age some 12,000 years ago.

During the brief introduction given at the same night we arrived, it was clear that the academy for nature conservation working at the isle gives its all to protecting the natural biodiversity in and around the area. The biodiversity rich nature reserve in the island has about 300 species of flora accompanied by a rich variety of fauna ranging from birds, bats and insects with a pair of white tailed eagle nest on this very island.

IMG_6050.JPGAt 9 am the following morning the lecture began with staff members of the Academy by picking out the most pressing issues in conservation and biodiversity. We started with biodiversity and ecosystem services (ES), and brief insights to the convention on biodiversity (CBD) by Horst Korn and Kathrin Bockmühl. This part of the CBD gave us how things really go at the convention and the challenges we face when it comes to the real deal of keeping nations interested in a common goal.

On Tuesday evening, we took a walk through the places of the island and learn/witness the beautiful forest first hand, dominated by aged beech trees of approximately 250-300 years. The spectacular view at the rugged land towards the sea gives a sensational feeling to the soul and it says a lot about the endless beauty of nature. On the way back we had the chance to see the photos of trees with their spectacular structures taken at this very island being kept in a gallery for quite some time (15 years).

After spending almost 3 full days at the world class guest houses and conference rooms accompanied by staff members of the academy and CIPSEM secretariat; a journey awaited for us on Thursday to depart froT the isle to Jasmund national park located at the South East Rügen biosphere reserve. On our way inside we also visited the Konigsstuhl national park center which is found at the center of national park Jasmund on the island Rügen opened in 2004. It provides information about the national park by also making visitors’ experiences easier and fun. With its 2,000 sq.m exhibition on the theme ‘journey back in time’ took as back to the past of the ice ages. Without the need of tour guide it was amazing how information is passed through the headphones provided at the entrance. The last visit for the day was at the ‘Naturerbezentrum Prora’. On the way through we saw the ‘eagle nest’ viewing tower that enables to see the island and marine sceneries.

Authors: Gerald Lifa and Hilina Yohannes

Excursion to the island of Vilm

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.

(Photos: A. Lindner)