World Wetlands Day 2002: Austria

14/02/2002

Under the title "WasSerleben" (meaning "water life" as well as "experience something impressive" in German) the Austrian "Lebensministerium" (i.e. the "Life Ministry", the Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water, in charge of Ramsar), the Austrian League for Nature Conservation (Naturschutzbund Oesterreich) and the Austrian Federal Forests Ltd company (Oesterreichische Bundesforste AG) launched a campaign together with the Austrian Federal States, as a major contribution to the implementation of the national CEPA programme.

The aim of the campaign is to create more nature in all water-dominated habitats througout the country. A colourful leaflet recalls the functions and values of Austrias freshwater ecosystems, such as lakes and ponds, rivers, marshes, floodplains and riverine forests, peatbogs and wet meadows. These aquatic ecosystems are still threatened and diminishing, although the legal instruments for their protection and wise use exist, notably the nature conservation laws in the Federal States, the EU Natura 2000 programme and Water Framework Directive, and the Ramsar Convention. Austria currently has 10 designated Ramsar Sites, and an eleventh should soon be following.

A contest for the 100 best projects to conserve Austria's "WasSerlebensräume" (aquatic habitats) is launched with additional support from Gasteiner mineral water company, having its source in the Hohe Tauern National Park. Land owners, municipalities, schools, institutions, companies, artists, media specialists, scientistists and private persons are called to submit projects, either for the conservation of species and habitats, or for creative ways of creating awareness, until October 2002. The 100 best projects, to be selected by a special jury, will be announced in early 2003, the international year of fresh water.

-- Reported by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar

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