ZEISS Supports NABU Naturschutzjugend in Hamburg

People generally associate Hamburg with bustling trade and busy streets, and not with nature. Apart from its port, Hamburg is a typical big city in Europe – with a large number of paved areas.
The locals only encounter nature in one of the city’s parks or once they venture further afield. And yet there are a great many children and young people who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors and are committed to nature conservation.

“In a big city like Hamburg, there are plenty of things for children and young people to do in their free time. It’s not always easy to position our Naturschutzjugend activities. Still, we have quite a number of volunteers and popular youth groups,” says 19-year-old Jan Göldner. When Jan isn’t studying for his high school diploma or working a shift at the hardware store, he spends a lot of time as a regional youth spokesman for Naturschutzjugend and runs a youth group that focuses on nature conservation.

“The kids learn about taking responsibility for nature in a practical way and without being lectured.”

Jan Göldner

Naturschutzjugend is the young people’s version of NABU, the German BirdLife association.
Just like many other NABU youth groups in Germany, Jan Göldner and his team put up wildlife fences and tend to orchards: each year, this group of 8–12-year-olds led by Göldner save the lives of 800 toads and frogs.

But what’s really special in the big city is what NABU calls StadtNatur. Unlike in other areas with plenty of rural surroundings, here the name of the game is the renaturalization of areas that were previously used for other purposes, as well as urban gardening. Redesigning even small areas creates space where many species can thrive.

“To me, Naturschutzjugend is a platform where we can learn a lot about nature and meet interesting people.”

Sara Dekubanowski

23-year-old trainee teacher Sara Dekubanowski is particularly fond of the insects. Together with Jan and many others, she builds insect hotels and turns parks into butterfly fields. Sara also has a lot going on with her studies and her part-time job at the Operettenhaus theater, but working with kids and young people in nature is so important to her that she doesn’t mind giving up a big chunk of her free time to do so. In fact, she even plans to incorporate it into her future career as a biology teacher.

She was particularly impressed with the exchange programs with SPNI, Israel’s leading environmental non-profit organization, in which young conservationists from Cyprus, Italy and Romania also took part.

Despite the differences between the various organizations, they all run very similar activities. In Israel in particular, a country with a small area, people understand the challenges facing big-city conservationists.

For Sara and Jan, the next major project is Coastal Cleanup Day: this is a day dedicated not only to young people cleaning up the banks of the river Elbe, but also to presentations and group evening activities that promote the joys of nature conservation. During their preparations, Jan and Sara can rely on the support of the youth training consultant at the NABU branch in Hamburg. Birdwatching optics are available at the Carl Zeiss Bird Station in Hamburg’s Wedel district.

The Station brings people closer to nature and has been receiving support from ZEISS for many years. Nevertheless, responsibility and decisions for the activities lie with the young volunteers, who don’t want to miss a beat.