Civil Society

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NABU Münster Naturschutzstation and Stadtverband

Story featured in the Made in Countdown 2010 publication


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Action

Since 1996, Münster’s volunteers of NABU – one of the oldest and largest environment associations in Germany, encompassing more than 450,000 members and sponsors – have helped trim the branches of fruit trees, plant 3,800 trees, and harvest the orchards’ products in the region. Fair prices are an incentive for farmers to conserve their orchards, and ensuring consumption of the orchards’ fruit contributes both to the protection of existing orchards and the plantation of new ones. Every year NABU purchases 70 tons of apples, pears and plums from farmers to produce juice and 10 tons of fruit to be sold on the market. NABU also organises the “Apple Day” and “Blossom Party” and attracts tourists to walk on old fruit routes in the area. To appeal to the hearts of the general public, not only to their brains, NABU organised a photograph competition entitled “Sag mir wo die Blumen sind” (Where have all the flowers gone). People were invited to send pictures that show the beauty of blossoming fields of different plant species or the threats to their status. The competition was supported by the famous German singer Katja Ebstein.

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Before

In the countryside of the Münsterland Region in North Rhine-Westphalia, traditional orchards were planted centuries ago. These were situated directly behind farmhouses and provided farmers’ families and the inhabitants of the area with fresh fruit. They provided not only different fruit varieties (about 3,000 types of apples), but also served as habitats for nearly 5,000 wild species, including the Little Owl (Athene noctua). 75% of the orchards were lost between 1950 and 1990 due to changes in farming and the economic situation along with the expansion of urban areas. At the same time, in the City of Münster and the surrounding countryside, plant species in particular were vanishing from the agricultural landscape due to the rising intensification of farming. This was causing not only the loss of species, but also the loss of German culture and beauty. For instance, poppies – the beautiful flowering field species which are the part of country’s identity – were disappearing.

Now

Consumers recognise old fruit varieties which remind them of their childhood. They have become supporters of traditional orchards which are hotspots of German biodiversity. The amount of traditional orchards in Münsterland has increased and the population of the Little Owl has expanded. Traditional orchards are now not only the link between sustainable agriculture, production of healthy food and rich habitats for wildlife, but are also attractive spaces for the local community. NABU’s “Apple Day” and “Blossom Party” have become popular events, showing growing interest in protecting and promoting traditional orchards in Germany. The photo competition received nearly 4,000 pictures taken by more than 1,000 people. The campaign gained extensive publicity and pictures have been displayed in many places across Germany.

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Photo: Primula veris, the winning photograph of NABU’s picture contest “Sag mir wo die Blumen sind…” © Radomir Jakubowski/NABU