The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award winners for 2002

01/07/2002

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Recognition of Excellence

Dr Monique Coulet (France)

Dr Monique Coulet is being awarded a "Recognition of Excellence" for her outstanding contribution to wetland science and to wetland conservation and wise use on the ground.

Ms Coulet is one of those rare individuals who successfully brings together scientific research and a commitment to using the knowledge acquired through research in the field. Untiring and enthusiastic, Ms Coulet is also a talented teacher and field scientist, in addition to a charismatic negotiator in large nature protection issues. She has played a fundamental role in the biggest wetland conservation issues in France, notably for the protection of the Loire river and of the Doubs valley, as well as the Rhône river restoration.

In the field of research, Dr Coulet has been working particularly on the ecology of large rivers, notably the evolution of riparian wetlands and their response to various kinds of disturbances. She greatly contributed to the development of the concept of connectivity between ecosystems (interactions between wetlands and river and/or underground water; evaluation of the impact of the vegetation succession on the "life expectancy" of a wetland); and contributed to demonstrating that in terms of ecosystems it is advisable to preserve processes rather than particular habitats.

Monique Coulet has not only contributed to the discovery and elaboration of these scientific concepts, but she has also made a point of explaining them, making them easier to understand and implement, to managers, decision-makers, and land-use planners. In this area, Monique Coulet's contribution is particularly important, because she was at the same time defending specific sites and convincing various stakeholders that it was essential to save processes, functioning modes of ecosystems in the long term. In this way, she was working in a sustainable development framework long before this became commonly practiced.

In addition to her contribution to the advancement of wetland sciences, Monique Coulet has also made a most significant contribution to the long-term conservation of wetlands, notably the Loire river and the complex of the Doubs-Saône-Rhône rivers. In both cases, the rivers and their riparian ecosystems were threatened by ambitious development programmes. Dr Coulet was the co-founder of committees campaigning for the respect of these river ecosystems, of their values and of the fauna and flora they host. She devoted herself to producing and using novel scientific evidence to save these natural ecosystems. In both cases, her efforts and those of her fellow campaigners were rewarded and the development projects were abandoned. Moreover, Dr Coulet won the support of the Ministry of the Environment and was asked to help bring to the public the results of research on large river ecology and floodplain wetland conservation, and to help develop a large project to ensure the restoration of the Rhône's riparian wetlands.

The Recognition of Excellence of the Ramsar Convention is given to Dr Coulet in gratitude for her outstanding contribution to the knowledge of wetland ecology and to wetland conservation and wise use.

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