In 1964 a group of enthusiastic birdwatchers came together to exchange their knowledge of the birdlife in the state of Hessen. In the same year, Hensoldt AG, a company based in the Hessian town of Wetzlar, started to develop ZEISS optics for nature observation. It was only natural that the association, whose aim was to research the birdlife and habitat of Hessen, and the manufacturers of high-performance optics for nature observation, Carl Zeiss, would find common ground.
The Hessen Association of Ornithology and Nature Protection, or HGON, was formed in 1972 as an offshoot of the avifaunal working group. The aims of the Association were expanded and today, alongside their research into the native birdlife, the two themes of nature conservation in general and bird protection in particular play a key role.
"Commitment to Nature" - many HGON members, primarily volunteers, are involved in local working groups concerned with the research and protection of native Hessian animals and plants. These working groups get involved wherever nature is perceived to be in danger. The reintroduction of beavers in Hessen is in part due to the work of HGON, as are the introduction of a year-round closed season for birds of prey in Hessen and the special protection accorded to bats through securing their winter quarters and ensuring the official protection of their nursery roosts. Important habitats, orchards, wetlands, forests and tracts of open land have all been put under permanent protection in Hessen thanks to initiatives set up by HGON. The Association also runs research programmes, such as those involving red kites, their migration patterns and the dangers they face on their journey to Africa. In all its projects, HGON works closely with partnership associations across Germany. The protection of the natural world should, after all, be as widespread a concern as possible. At the same time, HGON operates the internet forums HGON-Birdnet and HGON-Faunanet. On these platforms, nature lovers can exchange information about current observations from the worlds of nature and birdwatching.
In addition to the protection and research of the natural world, HGON also wants to bring people closer to nature. It therefore offers a wide-ranging programme of lectures and excursions. There is something in the programme for everyone interested in learning more about nature; from seminars on the identification of plants, small mammals, reptiles or insects to photographic workshops and digiscoping seminars run in cooperation with Carl Zeiss.
Carl Zeiss is only too happy to support such a varied, often voluntary commitment to nature and nature observation in Hessen.