Thorsten Ludwig: What happend to this tree?
2. Kim Lüdtke: What what does this old oak tree have to tell?

How to motivate others to communicate with natural and cultural phenomena? Interpretation as a method of giving things an emotional meaning.

From March to May 2022 the Landesamt für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Geologie (LUNG) in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern organised training for certified nature and landscape guides (ZNL) on the island of Rügen. The course took place over five multi-day events and the IE Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) course was fully integrated in the ZNL as part of the teaching unit of management didactics and practice. This was the second time this training model had been tried out in the Baltic Sea region; last year, for the first time, it took place on the island of Usedom.

I don’t know about others on the first day of their CIG course, but I wasn’t very good at interpretation at first. I still remember how it took some effort to accept interpretation as a form of leadership didactics. But at some point an inner switch flipped and I understood that interpretation is a very important part of our communication. With every decision to give more or less importance to a fact, we interpret it in a certain way. By using interpretation as a method ourselves, we motivate others to enter into communication with large and small natural and cultural phenomena. We don’t just give facts, we invite other people to experience places themselves and to build a connection with it. Such an emotional experience goes beyond pure factual knowledge. And for me, this is an important aspect of environmental and heritage protection.

I also met many wonderful people and saw beautiful places. The exchange with the other course participants was very inspiring and the practical exercises with the group were a lot of fun. I learned that it can be very easy to exchange ideas with people about very simple things. Many different views and opinions transform every interpretation into a unique experience.

All in all, I learned a lot about the Baltic Sea region and the island of Rügen and also how I can pass on this knowledge. Motivating people to become active themselves and to exchange ideas with the phenomenon is now an important part of my work. I believe that we can find a sustainable approach to phenomena through interpretation and thus also address aspects of sustainable development in a meaningful way.

 Kim Lüdtke is a landscape ecologist, environmental and sustainable development educator. She became a Certified Interpretive Guide in May 2022 and is interested in youth enducation, communication critical future utopias and alternative developments. You can get in touch with her at: