Mitmachmöwen is a project that was established to implement the Bavarian Strategy for Biodiversity and the Bavaria 2030 Biodiversity Programme in cooperation between the governments of Lower Bavaria and Middle Franconia. It originated as an initiative by Philipp Hermann (Government of Lower Bavaria), who had already introduced the concept of ring reading in the urban area of Landshut. The objective of the project is to open up opportunities for members of the public to get closer to nature by offering unique experiences that bring them into direct contact with animals. Opening up the natural world to the public does not have to involve special or rare species. Enthusiasm for different types of animal and habitats can also be fostered through contact with “everyday species”. In Landshut, Nuremberg, and many other cities in Bavaria, black-headed gulls enable direct contact with “untamed nature”. The short flight distance of the gulls makes it possible to observe them at close range. Photographing a ringed gull, reading its ring and finding out about where it comes from and where it has been offers an ideal opportunity to carry out an exciting citizen science project.
As part of the project, a website was developed that provides information about gulls and a number of other bird species. It is possible to report observations (e.g. bird rings), upload pictures and get access to a wide range of information. When a ring is found and reported, the ring data and other sightings – if known – are sent to the person reporting the find. However, it is also possible to report black-headed gulls without rings as well as other birds observed on the rivers and lakes, allowing bird spotters to fill their own digital field books with their observations.
At the same time, an environmental education concept was developed to educate a number different groups about the goals and results of the project. The idea was to make the concept appropriate for primary school grades 3 & 4, secondary school grades 5 & 6, A-level grades as well as open it up to interested citizens of all ages, with a particular focus on people from other nations living in Germany.
In addition, a school holiday programme – the “Gull Challenge”/“Möwenchallenge” (autumn, winter and carnival vacations) – was commissioned.
These concepts, along with the “Gull Challenge”, are to be initially implemented in the pilot region of Nuremberg, in and around the Centre for Energy and Environmental Education at Lake Wöhrder See. In principle, however, they can be applied or implemented in comparable habitats throughout Bavaria and are available for download here (German only) for use at other environmental centres and (environmental education) institutions in Germany.
The “Mitmachmöwen” project implements the Bavarian Strategy for Biodiversity and is financed by the Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection. The concept, project management and coordination of the different measures are carried out by the governments of Middle Franconia and Lower Bavaria as part of the Bavaria 2030 Biodiversity Programme.