Amongst our 30 Frankfurt Spring School students are six KfW Foundation scholars, early career conservationists from key project areas scattered across the globe. They’ve each travelled to Frankfurt carrying the dream of an ambitious conservation project for an area dear to their hearts. For some these plans will become a reality after Frankfurt Spring School 2018 comes to a close.

The KfW Foundation aims to “encourage pioneering ideas, to create a diverse economy, environment, society and culture and to take responsibility for the world we live in.”

To help meet this objective, the KfW Foundation will generously fund three of our scholarship student’s proposed conservation projects. After a month of Frankfurt Spring School activities, each scholar will have the chance to enrich their project proposals with their freshly gained knowledge, before presenting their plans to the KfW Foundation committee that will decide who’s projects will receive the funding.

We asked each of our students “what are you hoping to gain from the Frankfurt Spring School and KfW Foundation Scholarship Programme”.

Joyce Mungure – TANAPA (Tanzania National Parks Authority)
“I’m here to gain knowledge and skills on planning and managing conservation projects as well as proposal writing. Coming from a developing country such as Tanzania, Africa, we still have a need for helping in the development of the local economy especially in areas around our protected areas. Project planning and management will help a great deal in planning projects that would have minimal impact on the environment but also a positive contribution to the local livelihood.”

Muluken Abayneh – The Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority
“I hope I will have a better knowledge of the project planning and management skill on the implementation of conservation-related projects which have a positive impact on my work now and also for the future.
My project is about livestock reduction in Bale Mountains National Park by doing artificial insemination on the surrounding local districts, which will improve the production yield of milk so the local people tend to have small number of productive cattle rather than having much more unproductive cattle which drives them to the park for grazing, which results in destruction.
Being part of KfW Foundation scholarship helps me to set up a clear project plan which will be important for easily implementing and also improves my skills in conservation project management, so it will be helpful for me for my next steps in conservation work!”

Kevin Ibanez – Frankfurt Zoological Society – Peru
“With this course I plan to increase the knowledge I have about project and personal management, improving my interactions with field partners, park guards and volunteers. What I will have learned in the course will be instantly applied in boosting my job performance by improving trimestral reports, writing proposals for supporting BSNP, replicating the information to other FZS projects leaders and proper planning for the implementation of new initiatives.
Finally, I believe FZS Peru will be greatly benefitted from my participation in the course. I am not only committed in continuing to make conservation count in Peru with this organization for all the years I may be allowed, but I plan to be a permanent support for everything that could be required in project matters, especially the fundraising, that is one of the key activities for the FZS dynamic fulfillment of conservation initiatives in Peru.”

Tinh Nguyen Thi – Frankfurt Zoological Society – Vietnam
“I wish to build my knowledge and skills in the CPM including: project planning, budgeting, financial management, evaluation in order to run effective conservation activities in Kon Ka Kinh National Park, Vietnam. Additionally, I would like to get advice and learning from experienced trainers as well as work with participants from other countries.”

Lalatiana Randriamiharisoa – Madagascar National Parks
“I am here to improve my technical conservation project management ability and to learn more about how to build a management project, particularly, budgeting the project. Also, to find a better way to conserve our beautiful biodiversity in Madagascar and help to manage my institution Madagascar National Parks in its mission through exchange with other participants and professors.”

Jennifer Montoya Lopez – Reserva de Producción de Fauna Marino Costera Puntilla de Santa Elena – Ecuador.
“”I hope to expand my knowledge with new tools for the development of conservation projects, and in this way improve the management of marine mammals in my work area. That is why my project purpose is to define actions for the management of the habitat of the dolphin community of Puntilla de Santa Elena Reserve. And in this way, strengthen the management of the protected area, as well as the capacities of park rangers in the field of biodiversity and natural resources management.”

But what are the consequences of success?

The opportunity that 3 of our scholars will get is an invaluable one. There is no better example of this than the achievements of Roxana Rojas, a recipient of the 2017 Frankfurt Spring School KfW Foundation Scholarship.
With her hard-earned funding, Roxana is carrying out crucial conservation work in Peru, with a goal of achieving the development of local communities and protection for the vulnerable Andean Bear.

How did the Frankfurt Spring School Progromme and KfW Foundation Scholarship help you?

“Frankfurt Spring School was very useful for me in different aspects, in a professional and personal way. On the one hand, I developed more professional skills that now I’m applying as a project coordinator (project design and monitoring, budget administration, human resources, personnel management and personal skills). Also, it was very interesting to know other perspectives of conservation efforts (from students, professionals and researchers), this let me understand that every type of support is necessary for wildlife conservation, ‘outside’ work is just as important as field work.
On the other hand, personally the Frankfurt Spring School programme taught me the necessity of understanding other realities and perspectives of life, that in the end influenced our professional work. Having the opportunity to experience Goethe University, Natural Museums, Kellerwald-Edersee National Park and Frankfurt city was very comforting and inspiring.

In conclusion, Frankfurt Spring School let me realize that my work in conservation is very valuable, and the efforts we do every day is very considerable for researches and professional in conservation. With developed skills during those weeks in Frankfurt, now I feel more confident as a professional to do a good job and continue working in Andean bear conservation.”

How was the funding you received used in your projects in South America?

“The immediate plan after Frankfurt Spring School was to develop our project (which finishes in July 2018), also to promote our project in international sceneries (bulletins in English, presentations in Ecuador and Colombia), and to develop our relationship between national institutions and look for more grants. Work in Andean bear is taking nowadays an important role in conservation efforts in Peru, leading the topic and has been the first example of attempting to tackle human-bear conflict.”

We wish all the best to this year’s KfW Foundation Scholars and thank them for the great contribution they’ve made to the 2018 Frankfurt Spring School experience.

With the first week of the 2018 Frankfurt Spring School on Conservation Project Management already behind us, we talked to two of our students, Claudia Hermes and Zsófia Puskás, to hear about why our students are here and what they’ve learnt so far.

What is your background prior to arriving at Spring School 2018?

Claudia: “I come from Freiburg, where I finished my PhD thesis last year, working on nature conservation in Ecuador.”

Zsófia: “I come from Vienna, I studied wildlife ecology and game management and finished my master thesis last year which was about wild boar population dynamics and management.”

What are your motivations for attending Spring School 2018? Is there anything in particular you’re hoping to gain?

Claudia: “I came to the Spring School to gain some insights into how a conservation project is actually run. So far, I have been involved in carrying out research on conservation problems, but I am wondering what all my scientific results are actually worth if they are not applied in an actual conservation project. I hope that the skills I am going to learn at the Spring School help me to set up practical projects to conserve biodiversity, which hopefully contribute to making a change.”

Zsófia: “I applied for the Spring School on Conservation Project Management, because I am motivated to do something for nature conservation. This Spring School is a great opportunity to be more competent and improve my chances to find a job in nature conservation.”

How did you find the first week of this year’s event?

Claudia: “The module on project planning was seriously great. Martin and Nick are great teachers. I sometimes came across things like problem trees and logical frameworks which I had never really understood before, and after this module I not only understand them, but I’m also able to create them myself!”

Zsófia: “This module made so much clearer what I have done wrong in the past because it has never been taught. I found it really great not just giving us the theory of “how to make it” but asking us to actively do the task in the real time. We challenged our minds to think logically and worked in a group to find out what the problems and solutions were. Learning by doing is the best practice anyway and I really enjoyed it.”


Thanks to Martin Davies, Nick Folkard and all of our students for a fantastic first week! After a well earned rest we’ll get right into week two.

With a combined half century of experience in conservation project management, planning and financing, Martin Davies and Nick Folkard are very much at home amongst the prestigious roster of our Spring School facilitators.

In his 37 years at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Martin became an expert in project planning and finance acquisition, utilising the “logical framework” approach to find success. His passion for teaching led him to start his own company dedicated to the training of aspiring conservationists.  During his career Martin frequently worked with Michael Brombacher, present day head of Frankfurt Zoological Society’s Europe department. It was this friendship that brought Martin to the 2017 Frankfurt Spring School, where he was rated highly by students for his enthusiasm and teaching style. Despite falling from a roof and breaking his leg just a month ago, there’s no stopping Martin, he’s back again this year.

Nick Folkard took the helm of the Project Development and Support Unit at the RSPB in 2003 and has since ensured the triumph of the society’s numerous international efforts. Like Martin, he loves to guide the next generation of conservation project managers through the maze of project planning. With his years of experience and two working legs, Nick’s contribution to this year’s Spring School is invaluable.

We’re already halfway through an intense four-day course in which Nick and Martin are getting our students hands on with the logical framework method of planning. They believe that engagement and teamwork are essential for a rich learning experience. With a wall of flash cards to drive discussion, it’s guaranteed that everyone’s ideas are shared and that nobody is snoozing in their seat by the end of the day.

When asked “What would you most like students to take away from their time with you at Frankfurt Spring School 2018?”, Martin said that in conservation, if you can be clear about what you want to do and why you want to do it, then you’re significantly more likely to find success. Clarity and succinctness are essential in influencing others and achieving the funding needed to execute your plan, and in turn will make getting support for the next project much easier.
Nick stresses that the logical framework is a wonderful tool but ultimately just a means to an end, not the end itself. In your work, it’s so important not to lose sight of the true end: the conservation. If you can keep that in mind, you’ll do just fine.

2017 saw the great success of the first ever Frankfurt Spring School on Conservation Project Management. 24 students and young researchers from various European nations, as well as six international KfW Foundation scholarship holders from Guyana, Indonesia, Nepal, Peru and Zimbabwe participated in the month-long event. A few of our students gave us their thoughts following graduation:

Katrin Hohwieler (Wien): The Conservation Project Management Spring School was a once in a lifetime experience for me. The four weeks were full of exciting topics, presented by people who have been working in the field and know what is important. It was incredibly well organized and if I could, I’d do it again!
Abhinaya Pathak (Nepal): It is the best platform to learn diverse subject matter efficiently in short time and in interactive ambiance from multiple stakeholders
Tessa Schardt (Frankfurt): I achieved the skills to bring my biological knowledge into the real world – putting practical use to a theoretical background, getting introduced to a very broad and complex topic via diverse approaches and different points of view.

With many speakers and partner organisations returning this year, as well as some new faces, we can’t wait to begin.

This weekend, 24 aspiring conservationists from around the globe will arrive for the 2018 Frankfurt Spring School on Conservation Project Management, a month-long series of talks, seminars, interactive group sessions and expeditions regarding the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the world of conservation.

Experts from world-leading conservation, biological and financial institutions and organisations will take to the stage, sharing their years of experiences from rich, diverse career histories with our Spring School students.

Throughout the month this blog will be regularly updated with stories about the Spring School proceedings and all those involved, both students and facilitators.

Join us for the 2018 Spring School adventure, it’s going to be an exciting one.