Digitize the Planet e. V., founded in March 2020, is a very young association. As such, it fulfills its non-profit mission to promote conservation with a start-up mentality. This is reflected in its innovativeness and agility. The goal of Digitize the Planet e. V. is: to digitize all relevant regulations, including laws and local rules, for the use in nature. With this intention, the association serves the general public and does not pursue any economic interests itself.
Board of Directors
Representatives from nature conservation, tourism, outdoor sports, and tour portals form the four-member board. The association thus has broad expertise, knows the needs of the players, and is well networked.
Effective visitor guidance is only possible on a digital basis. Because once the guest is on site, it is too late. On a digital basis, every guest can find out which areas are freely accessible and which are closed. One can get a picture of local regulations and laws as well as prohibitions.
After graduating in engineering from the University of Munich, Hartmut Wimmer founded his own engineering firm in 1994 before focusing on tourism infrastructure. When faced with problems in tour planning, he decided to find a solution to capture valuable information uniformly. From this thought, he founded Outdooractive in 2008. Since then, Hartmut’s goal has been to create the world´s largest outdoor platform using groundbreaking technology. Hartmut is a great outdoor enthusiast with the aim to create a virtual home for like-minded people to share their experiences in nature.
He has been involved in the Digitize the Planet association since its founding as its first chairman. Through his pioneering work in digitization, he knows what is important for our new association.
Dr. Neele Larondelle
Digital guidance of visitors is a constantly growing challenge for the administrative offices of the National Natural Landscapes. Increasing numbers of visitors and a large variety of (often untested) digital offers make it difficult for visitors today to be informed sufficiently about prevailing rules and prohibitions. The goal must be to protect sensitive areas in Germany’s most valuable landscapes and at the same time continue to enable impressive nature experiences. This only can be achieved with good information and communication. The development of a corresponding database from “one source” is an essential step – and I am glad to be involved in shaping the process at Digitize the Planet from the very beginning.
Neele Larondelle studied regional science at the University of Potsdam and natural resource management at the TU Dresden. After various stays abroad, she completed her doctorate at the Chair of Landscape Ecology at Humboldt University in Berlin. In cooperation with the New School in New York City, she investigated social-ecological relationships in cities and developed assessment and modeling methods for ecosystem services. Until 2016, she worked at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, where she investigated conflict potentials and communication strategies in the recreational space of urban forests.
Since 2016, she has been at Nationale Naturlandschaften e. V., where she heads the Protected Area Management and Nature Conservation department and has been deputy managing director since January 2020.
She has been involved in the Digitize the Planet association as 2nd chair since its founding and gives the National Natural Landscapes a voice there.
Nature-based sports and outdoor activities are increasingly driven by digital information: digital map services, offers from the travel area, tour operators, tour portals, recommendations, or from the community. To avoid hopeless confusion, it is urgently necessary to structure this data in a customer-oriented way. To prevent conflicts, valid regulations (e.g. access rights, detours, seasonal offers) should be taken into account as a matter of course. To this end, information on these regulations must be available. I see a need for action here and am pleased that the association is addressing this matter in a structured and consistent manner.
Mathias Behrens-Egge studied landscape and open space planning focused on tourism economics and regional development at the University of Hanover (Dipl. Ing.). He was a founder and managing partner at BTE since 1989 and is furthermore active in teaching as a guest lecturer “Tourism Economics for Planners” at Leibnitz University Hanover since 2009. At BTE he manages the departments of active and nature tourism as well as regional development. Destination development and moderation are further focal points of his work.
He has been in the Digitize the Planet association since its founding as its 3rd chairperson. He contributes his experience in tourism and destination development as well as outdoor tourism.
Tilman Sobek is one of the founders and managing directors of absolutGPS, a company that emerged from the University of Leipzig and is a developer of numerous active tourism concepts ranging from hiking and touring cycling to mountain biking. He is also the initiator and founder of the Mountainbike Tourismusforum Deutschland e.V., an industry association dedicated to the professionalization of mountain bike tourism in Germany.
A three-member team continues the mission of Digitize the Planet e. V. – to create a responsible relationship with nature through open, standardized, and internationally digitized rules.
Jasmine has been part of the Digitize team since September f2021 and strengthens the association with her experience in communications. The tourism graduate has worked in destination management for over ten years. During this time, she has accompanied several positioning processes. She was involved in the founding of a nature park and the subsequent reorientation of the destination. Her main areas of expertise included destination management and regional development as well as marketing and product management.
With Sebastian Sarx, the first full-time position in the association has been filled since May 2020 and the work of digitizing the rules for the use of nature has begun. Sebastian studied geography in Bonn and Innsbruck and focused on sustainability and geodata during and after his master’s degree. He is also a passionate mountaineer himself and would like to contribute to the harmonious relationship between outdoor sports and nature conservation. He will support the association as project manager and work closely with the board to achieve its goals.
Dr. Steffen Gebhardt
Data and Technology
Steffen has been working at the association since August 2021. After studying cartography at the TU Dresden, he earned his doctorate at the University of Bonn. He then worked as a research assistant at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen and for the Mexican Biodiversity Commission in Mexico City, among other positions. Since 2016, he has been involved with colleagues in a GeoIT company and has also worked as an international consultant for the UN-FAO, among others. Steffen’s focus is on management, processing, automation of (geo)data. In the association, he is responsible for data and technology as senior manager. After at least 10 moves within and between Germany, India, USA and Mexico, he now lives and works in his old home country and enjoys life with his family in the countryside.