World Wetlands Day in Hungary
in cooperation with Slovakia
World Wetlands Day 2007 in Hungary
In 2007, the Hungarian Ministry of Environment and Water celebrated World Wetlands Day together with representatives from the Slovak Ministry of Environment. The event was held at the headquarters of the Aggtelek National Park Directorate in Jósvafo, next to the famous subterranean transboundary Ramsar site, Baradla - Domica Cave System.
Cooperation between the state nature conservation organisation of Hungary and Slovakia are particularly good, especially in the field of wetland conservation: already before WWD2007, the two countries had designated two transboundary Ramsar sites: the Baradla-Domica subterranean wetland (karstic cave system), and the Upper Tisza area (which is hoped to be extended also by Romania and the Ukraine).
The celebration of WWD2007 on 2 February was preceded by meetings of the Slovak-Hungarian Nature Conservation Working Group and the Hungarian Ramsar Committee on the previous day. The Ramsar Committee was introduced to the Slovak-Hungarian NCWG, and possibilities of joint programmes, with special regard to wetland conservation, were discussed.
The first part of the WWD2007 celebration was devoted to Slovak-Hungarian collaboration in the field of wetland conservation and related nature education. The heads of delegations of the two ministries spoke about the common programmes of the two countries, including the designation of, and joint actions in transboundary Ramsar sites, collaboration under the Carpathian Wetlands Initiative, and harmonisation of reporting under the Habitats Directive. Mr. László Haraszthy, State Secretary of the Hungarian Ministry of Environment and Water, handed over Ramsar game sets recently published in Hungarian, Slovak and English languages to the Director Jozef Kramarik, the head of the Slovak delegation, and to representatives of two local primary schools. Other sets of the game were given to three Hungarian national park directorates for free distribution to schools along the Slovak-Hungarian border.
The next programme was a recently made film on the conservation of amphibians and focusing on the Alpine Newt (Triturus alpestris), the logo animal of the Carpathian Wetlands Initiative: this was the first time the film was shown to the public. A copy of the film was also handed over to the Slovak delegation, so that a Slovak version could be produced and used for nature education purposes. Both the Ramsar game and the film were co-financed by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Food Quality. The first part of the programme culminated in the signing ceremony of a letter of intent of the two countries to designate the Ramsar sites Ipoly valley and Poiplie as a transboundary site. The realisation of this cooperation will be supported, among others, by an Interreg project which aims to carry out joint biodiversity monitoring along the rivers Danube and Ipoly/Ipel, as well as joint actions along the river Ipoly/Ipel for the development of nature education, such as the creation of two nature trails and the restoration of a traditional rural house as a folklore museum.
The second part of the celebration focussed on the recommended theme of WWD2007: a presentation was held by a university lecturer on the past, present and possible future of Hungary's fish fauna in natural wetlands, the threats posed by invasive fish species to aquatic ecosystems and proposals for wise use. In order to help spread information on how wetland restoration and wise use projects can be started off, a presentation was held by Ms. Eszter Kovács, counsellor of the Hungarian Ministry of Environment and Water, on new project opportunities under the National Development Plan that receives funding from the European Union.
After lunch, a visit was made to the Baradla Cave, to get acquainted with the beauties of this subterranean Ramsar site, national park and World Heritage site.
The number of participants at WWD2007 was over 70, representing state nature conservation and water management bodies of Hungary and of the Slovak Republic, NGOs, academic institutes, local governments and schools.