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Internship at the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation – BfN (2017)

From 13th March to 2nd June 2017, Elizabeth Karger did an internship at the office of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz, hereafter referred to as BfN) in Bonn. She was in Division I 1.4, which is the competent national authority responsible for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and the corresponding EU and German regulations.

Foto: Elisabeth Erber

The Nagoya Protocol is an international instrument under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which creates the framework for access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits arising from their utilization. Therefore, the work of the competent national authority at the BfN is relevant at the international, EU and national levels.

During her internship, Elizabeth Karger had the opportunity to travel with members of the team to the BfN's office on the Isle of Vilm, located in the Baltic Sea. A workshop was held there with other competent national authorities from around the EU. At the workshop, experiences and ideas were exchanged regarding the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and the corresponding EU regulation.

One of her main tasks during the internship was to assist with the preparation and editing of the proceedings of the workshop, which will be published by the BfN as a resource for the people working in this field. Her other main task was to research the use of digital sequence information sourced from genetic material. This is one of the current, unresolved and controversial topics under the CBD and Nagoya Protocol.

Whilst at the BfN, she also had the opportunity to visit other divisions and to find out about their work. The BfN has a broad range of responsibilities, including scientific work, project coordination, implementing compliance measures and issuing of approvals etc. The BfN also deals with a wide range of topics. E.g. the interns were given a tour of the BfN's display room and storage room where the goods made from endangered plants and animals, which had been confiscated from travellers and traders, are kept. Examples of such products include medicines, instruments, decoration, jewellery and clothing. Other divisions deal with topics like wilderness areas, large protected areas such as national parks and biosphere reserves, waterways, genetically modified organisms, the relationship between nature and society, forest and agriculture etc.

The BfN office is in Bad Godesberg, which is south of Bonn. She is not sure if it is by chance, but the BfN is located on the opposite side of the river to the famous Drachenfels, which was one of the first nature protection areas in Germany. That seems quite fitting!

To conclude, she had very positive experience at the BfN and in Bonn in general. The people are very friendly and open.

Text: Elizabeth Karger

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