welling When retired Chief Inspector Eduard Pinger from Welling took up his honorary post of “Phenological Observer” for the German Weather Service (DWD) in 1981, he certainly could not have dreamed that 40 years later he would be awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Although he could not be received by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin at the award ceremony, as is usually the case, due to the corona pandemic, the hobby botanist was delighted when – together with his wife Ingrid – on November 11, 2021, Mayor Maximilian Mumm invited him to the town hall in Maifeld, where he received a high award on behalf of the federal president, which was presented by Bianca Pflückhahn, head of the agrometeorological advisory service of the German Meteorological Service. On this occasion Mrs. Pflückhahn underlined: “Your data are a great treasure in the observation network of the German Meteorological Service and an indispensable part of agrometeorological advice in the Middle Rhine basin. Based on your data, we calculate, among other things, the number of pollen and the risk of forest fires. Plants are incorruptible, they show climate changes much more clearly than measuring instruments.”
Nature lover Eduard Welling, who was born in Naunheim in 1954 and has lived in Welling for about 50 years, spoke to BLICK aktuell about his long-standing interest in the world of plants.
WATCH now: “While today many young people are fighting for the protection of nature, they have been dealing with the development of plant life for several decades. How did that happen?”
Edward Pinger: “I’ve always been a naturalist. Biology was my favorite subject at school. We had a teacher at the high school in Mayen who would go directly into nature with us at any time of the year. When later, at the age of about 20, I wandered alone in the meadows and forests, I happened to meet the famous botanist Hans Hoffmann from Mayen-Hausen, who died in 2012. Since then, we regularly went out into nature once a week – mostly on Sundays – and identified plants. Due to the acquired knowledge, I was often asked to act as an expert and participated in many mapping projects, such as the first biotope mapping of the Rhine-Palatinate in 1980. In addition, together with Mr. Hoffmann, who at that time was already a phenological observer for the radio meteorological service, participated in the Central European mapping of plants. At his request I became his successor in the German Meteorological Service in 1981. Then he gave me not only all his documents but also those of his predecessor, so I have all the records from 1951. After documenting my observations in a phenology annual calendar for about 20 years, I also started working as a so-called “immediate reporter” and since then I have reported, for example, if a new color or even a new plant appears in the radius of my care. While at that time everything was still manually recorded and sent to the weather service by post, digitization has proven to be a welcome development here as well.”
WATCH now: “You have been retired now for five years. How did you manage to reconcile this rather extensive hobby with your no less demanding job?”
Edward Pinger: “Since the radius of my ascent here on the edge of the central Rhine basin is only 2-3 kilometers, my hobby was a welcome balance to my daily work. Also, thanks to my many years of experience, I don’t necessarily need to make diagrams to see that nature is waking up earlier and earlier. For example, the hazel tree that started to bloom about 10 years ago at the end of January, and this year it already bloomed on January 3rd. Interestingly, however, the times of some plants remain constant. So the lilac blooms unchanged between April 28 and May 5.”
WATCH now: “In the late 1980s, you were the president of the AHO (working group for native orchids), which set itself the task of researching, mapping and nurturing wild native orchids and ensuring their emergence by purchasing endangered biotopes. Have you been or are you still active in other clubs?”
Edward Pinger: “Since I have a wide range of interests, especially when it comes to nature, and I’m on the road a lot depending on the season, I don’t want to commit myself to the specific topics of numerous clubs. Another purely private hobby is watching the weather. So I installed a large and a small weather station in my garden so that I could accurately determine the values and meticulously record them every morning. My data is completed by a rain gauge that I also installed, which was developed by Professor Hellmann, a Prussian meteorologist, in 1886 and is still the standard for professional measurements today. Every morning I read all the values here and document them.”
WATCH now: “As an expert in botany, phenology and timing, and co-author of a booklet on sacred buildings in Welling, how about the commitment of climate activists?”
Edward Pinger: “I think there are a lot of non-militant groups because mostly young people recognize what is important for our nature. When I was young, young people weren’t nearly as interested in politics and nature. Of course, not everything can change overnight, because most people could hardly finance it. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong that young people sometimes tend to polarize, since climate change is ultimately about their future and they want to use it to shake up society.”
WATCH now: “Thanks for the interview!” FREE