selection: Wolfgang Schleich digging water retention basins

Environmentalist Wolfgang Schleich sitting in his excavator in the German Vogelsberg region and digging a water retention basin
Wolfgang Schleich digging water retention basins

The image shows environmental activist and pensioned civil engineer Wolfgang Schleich working on his current project near Herbstein in the Vogelsberg region in Germany. 20 years ago Wolfgang became frustrated about how the water demand of big cities in the Rhein Main region is steadily damaging the Vogelsberg's eco system, exhausting its soil and depriving it of its water storing capabilities. Frankfurt is getting more than one third of its drinking water from sources in the Vogelsberg, the amount increasing every year. One day, Wolfgang climbed on his excavator and - with the approval of local authorities but his with own money - started digging the first retention reservoirs. By now, Schleich’s many decentralized reservoirs not only help to fill up the Vogelsberg’s groundwater and act as flood retention basins. The retention reservoirs have also turned into biotopes that serve as habitats for dozens of species. „I want to show how one can act against certain developments. And it gives me great purpose“, says Wolfgang. For two days I documented Wolfgang's work near Herbstein and will continue in the coming months. It took Wolfgang years to finally convince local municipalities of the importance of his work. Every now and then they support him with a bit of money. But he invested tens of thousands of Euros of his own finances and does his painstaking work mostly by himself, often until late at night. "I don't care as long as my work bears fruit", he says.