More recognition and quality of the Nature Guide training in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania

After a successful kick-off meeting in June 2021 in Wolgast/Germany, with representatives from the Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian (MWP) State Environment Agency, from the MWP adult education center association and from various protected area administrations in MWP, a lot has happened in case of the certified nature and landscape guides/ZNL training in MWP. The intention of this mentioned meeting in June was to upgrade and further develop the quality of the ZNL / Nature Guide training. Equally, this should help the trained Nature Guides gain more recognition in both the tourism and conservation sectors.

In various meetings and activities of these above-mentioned actors as well as in cooperation with the tourism association of district Vorpommern, the findings of the 4-year project work of the Nature Guide Network were taken up in order to increasingly align the ZNL/Nature Guide training with a modular and multi-stage of the original tourist guide training.

This process has three major goals: firstly, the prospective integration of the ZNL/Nature Guide training into the structure of the EN-DIN standard-oriented tourist guide association, which is recognized throughout Europe, should give the training an upgrade. Because of the EU-wide recognized tour guide standard and qualification, the Nature Guides receive more recognition in the tourism industry, can step out of their niche existence and position themselves better economically as actors in sustainable tourism.

Secondly, there had been initiated quality-promoting measures in the Nature Guide training, which try to compensate certain content-methodological deficits in the previous training. This includes, for example, the stronger emphasis on guiding didactics in the training, which is realized in cooperation with actors of the association Interpret Europe and correspondingly through higher practical proportions for the interpretation of nature during the training.

Nature interpretation in practise: Certified Interpret Guide/CIG course in March 2022 on Rügen island/Germany (Pic: B. Reimann)

Thirdly, it is important to already trained but also future Nature Guides from MWP to provide a more solid, thematically broader basic education which will be enriched by annual further training courses.

As a country with large area landscapes and only a few large cities, MWP has many cultural treasures in rural areas. Therefore, it makes sense that tour guides in MWP can offer guided tours in both the cultural and natural landscape, since both often appear to be closely linked and should be presented together thematically (e.g. manor houses/churches in natural surroundings).

As part of the above-mentioned developments, two further ZNL training courses in MV have already been successfully completed since June of last year: in October 2021, 13 graduates received their ZNL certificate and can now, with the support of the Usedom Nature Park and in cooperation with tourism players, offer their tours at the island of Usedom and the surrounding area.

Successful graduates of the ZNL- & CIG- course on Rügen island, May 2022 (Pic: B. Reimann)

Another 14 people were trained as ZNL in the period March to May 2022 for the regions around the Jasmund National Park and the Southeast Rügen Biosphere Reserve and at the same time completed a CIG degree (Certified Interpret Guide) through Interpret Europe.

At this point it should be mentioned again that all this was only possible thanks to the good cooperation between the State Environment Agency (as sponsor and quality guardian), the adult education center association (as provider of training), the protected area administrations (as specialist partner for regional and nature conservation) and the tour guide association (as a specialist partner for leadership quality) as well as due to the high motivation of all other actors involved in the nature guide training in MWP – a respectable achievement and a good sign for the future!

As early as September (16.9. – 26.11.22) another high-quality ZNL training for the regions around the Müritz National Park and the Feldberg Lake Landscape Nature Park will start. Here, too, the NGN, which has so far been thinly positioned, is to be expanded and strengthened. In addition, there will be another CIG course from Interpret Europe – registrations are still possible!

Title picture: B. Reimann