Baltic Green Belt bike tour in Germany


Pedaling from pearl to pearl-

for a better protection of the Baltic Sea Coast

 

From August 7th to 14th 2011, some two dozen environmentalists from different parts of the Baltic Green Belt are cycling the German Baltic Coast calling for a better protection from human activities for the nature pearls. This blog documents the bike tour and the accompanying activities aiming which aim at awareness raising among both politicians and the general public. We invite everyone interested in the Green Belt work at the German Baltic coast – our nature treasures, our hot topics, our activities - to follow our tour blog right here on this website throughout the next week.

Why do a bike tour? In Germany, the Green Belt has gained noticeable media attention during recent years and thus, knowledge among politicians and the general public about the Green Belt has risen considerably. However, the Green Belt is mainly perceived as the border strip along the former inner German border, and not many people are aware that a similar situation exists at the Baltic coast of eastern Germany (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) and even all across Europe along the former Iron Curtain. In order to really foster long-term conservation of the Green Belt at the German Baltic coast, more people need to know about it.

What do we do?: The tour therefore aims at increasing knowledge about the Green Belt as such as well as the treasures of nature that exist and the threats they are confronted with. This is persued by a mixture of presentations, guided field trips, information stands and - last but not least - media events.

Where do we go? The tour will take us from Rostock the largest city at the Baltic Green Belt in Germany towards the east. The destination is Wollin National Park on the eastern side of the Polish border. The main stops and topics of the day will be:

  • Warnemünde: pedal along the Iron Curtain Trail with MEP Michael Cramer
  • Rostock Heath forest: better protection status needed - make it a nature monument
  • Stralsund: Ozeaneum - underwater world at a glance
  • Greifswald: information stands
  • Lubmin: nuclear waste disposal at the Green Belt? No way!
  • Peenemünde:
  • Zinnowitz, Usedom island: going underwater
  • Świnoujście: cross-border meeting with MEP Reinhard Bütikofer and Polish colleagues

Who's involved? The bike tour was initiated in early spring 2011 by BUND Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Within the Baltic Green Belt project it is supported by BUND Schleswig-Holstein, the Polish Green Federation GAJA and Kiel University. In addition, several crucial partners in the region were involved, among them:

  • the German Cyclists Association (ADFC) of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania who is currently involved in developing the Iron Curtain Trail
  • the museum Ozeaneum which is not only dedicated to Baltic Sea life but also one of the highly frequented museums in Germany (> 1 million visitors per year). 
  • the diving gondola team who has introduced the new idea of tourists going under water in a dive cabin to the Baltic Sea region just two years ago.
  • the Russian NGO Friends of the Baltic based in St. Petersburg who may become a partner in a future Green Belt project.
Jörg Schmiedel (BUND Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania)

The main organiser is Jörg Schmiedel, who is not only an experienced landscape architect and expert for nature conservation in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but also one of the initiators of the Baltic Green Belt project. Four years ago, he arranged a similar campaign for the Green Belt – but by boat not by bike. The sailing tour in 2007 was a great success and helped to get supporting letters and voices from politicians and other decision makers from the region. Without this tour, the Baltic Green Belt project proposal would have probably never been submitted in the first place. Now, Jörg is organising this bike tour as one corner stone of a large set of information activities carried out over the three years project lifetime.

Political support is crucial to the Green Belt development - this has been recognised and acknowledged by the founders and main supporters of the initiative and must also be taken into account by everyone engaged in Green Belt development at the local, regional or national scale. Getting political support needs continuous efforts to inform and involve politicians into the activities on the spot - especially in a country like Germany. For the bike tour, BUND Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania managed to involve several politicians:

Reinhard Bütikofer (vice chair of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance) is a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and - among other topics - active in the EP's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. He supports the bike tour by joining it on the final day. As energy (on and offshore wind energy production, nuclear power) is one of the hot topics at the German Baltic coast, we hope for fruitful discussions.

 

MEP Michael Cramer (member of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance) is in the EP's Committee on Transport and Tourism and has been promoting car free mobility and bicycle tourism for years. He established a bicycle trail along the Berlin Wall and extended the idea of maintaining remnants of GDR times for cultural (bike) tourism to  all of Europe: The Iron Curtain Trail. The Iron Curtain Trail and the European Green Belt are - just by topic - prone to work together closely. Michael Cramer will officially start the tour and pedal along with the group along part of the Iron Curtain/ Green Belt.