World Wetlands Day 2009 -- Ramsar Secretariat in Geneva


"Upstream-Downstream" - the Ramsar Secretariat celebrates World Wetlands Day 2009 in Geneva!

It has become a tradition for the Ramsar Secretariat and many other local environmental organizations to gather together on the first Sunday of February on Geneva's lakeside promenade in front of the "Jetée des Pâquis" to celebrate World Wetlands Day. This year was no exception as we joined forces with the Museum of Natural History of Geneva, Pro Natura Genève et Pointe à la Bise, la Libellule, Association Sauvegarde du Léman, HES Lullier, l' école de pêche, and the Junior chapter of Nos Oiseaux to celebrate WWD.

The slogan for WWD 2009 Upstream-Downstream: Wetlands connect us all, designed around a focus on the role our wetlands play in their surrounding environments, encouraged Geneva's Département du territoire to invite partners from its "River contracts" initiative that brings together the managers of rivers and watersheds in neighbouring France whose waters run into Lake Geneva. Their presence allowed for informal discussions and was a concrete example of transboundary river basin management being alive and well in the Geneva catchment area.

This 7th local celebration of World Wetlands Day took place last Sunday, 1 February 2009 in Geneva. In contrast to the fabulous sun of last year, the weather decided this year to remind us that wetlands - to stay wet - also need water, and indeed for most of the day we were accompanied by snow and sub-zero temperatures! However this didn't discourage the people that stopped by out of curiosity during the day …amongst those were people met in previous years who came to check "what's new". Alas it was too cold and wet for children to linger and construct one our frogs from the material available.

Bird watching points with telescopes positioned on the lake shore were made available to the public together with activities for children, quizzes and various informational materials. Thanks to the GMC Association, hot drinks and warm wine were kindly offered from their World War II-era truck, making the atmosphere a bit warmer!

The Ramsar Secretariat congratulates and thanks the dynamic Christina Meissner from the Canton of Geneva and the other local organizations for the efforts made to keep citizens and tourists aware of the importance of our wetlands!

Text: a joint-effort from Sandra Hails, Valerie Higgins and Monica Zavagli, Ramsar Secretariat
Photos: from various members of the WWD team

The Ramsar stand

The Association Sauvgarde du Léman explaining the challenges of conserving Lac Léman (called Lake Geneva in English)

A young birdwatcher helping an older member of the community identify Lake Geneva's birds

The challenge of bird watching with young children!

Part of the Ramsar Secretariat team that braved the cold temperatures: Abou Bamba, Nadia Castro, Cynthia Kibata, Ann Aldersey, Nadia Alexeeva, Maria Rivera, Monica Zavagli (missing, Anna Goodwin, Sandra Hails and Valerie Higgins)

The Canton of Geneva's stand with plenty of information about local wetlands
- including a model river basin

A model of a river basin where water can be added upstream to flow downstream through streams and marshes to the lake. The bridge in the middle can be replaced by a sponge to show how wetlands store water, releasing it more slowly to flow downstream

On display, an excellent A3 leaflet produced by the Canton of Geneva for use in schools: an excellent document to help children understand more about their local wetlands, what animals and plants are there, what are the main threats, and what everyone can do to help. (A similar leaflet for another local area can be downloaded here from the Geneva web site here)

So if it's too cold to make paper frogs maybe eating biscuits will do instead!

The fisherman's association stand

Finding out about the microscopic life of local rivers

Essential tea, coffee and mulled wine to ward off the cold provided free of charge by the GMC Association

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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