Ramsar Study Tour to a new French Ramsar site, June 2003

04/06/2003

 Ramsar Bureau Study Tour

Sunday, 1 June 2003

Visit to the Bassin du Drugeon Ramsar site, France

A momentous occasion all the way round -- it's "Green Days" in Europe, all the first week of June 2003, and it's the "National Days of Sustainable Development" in France. And here's the Bassin du Drugeon, a new Ramsar site designated as of World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2003, preparing to go public locally with the good news.

And at the gracious invitation of the authorities of the Communauté de Communes du Plateau de Frasne et du Val du Drugeon, Ramsar Bureau staff and their friends and relations traveled an hour over the Jura mountains at the Swiss frontier and got the guided tour.

Ramsar's Regional Coordinator for Europe, Tobias Salathé (orange shirt, facing elsewhere), explained the day's itinerary at the trailhead to an assembled mass of humanity from Ramsar, WWF, IUCN, and some Ramsar parents. Wellingtons on, everyone!

Ramsar staff and friends, and an equal number of swamp afficionados from the local community, tramp over to the mires. Whilst they're walking along in the considerable heat, not bad when there's a breeze, here's the entry on the Bassin du Drugeon from the Annotated Ramsar List, succinctly composed by Sergei Dereliev.
Bassin du Drugeon. 02/02/03; Franche-Comté; 5,988 ha; 46°50'N 006°10'E. Proposed Site of Community Importance EC Directive. A peatland landscape complex in the Jura foothills with a rich variety of natural habitats including dry grasslands, alkaline moors, active mires, river floodplains, ponds and lakes. It holds important populations of threatened plants including Saxifraga hirculus, Liparis loeselii and Hamatocaulis vernicosus. Of conservation interest are the local populations of waterbirds, including corncrake Crex crex, spotted crake Porzana porzana, and snipe Gallinago gallinago, of the toads Alytes obstreticans and Bufo calamita, the newt Triturus cristatus, the rare butterfly Euphydryas aurinia, and a number of dragonflies. The Drugeon river course was restored in large parts during the 1990s with the help of European Union LIFE subsidies, including measures to improve its water quality, reduce water pollution, and make agricultural practices more environmentally friendly. The main land uses are agriculture and forestry, some hunting and fishing, cycling and walking, plus the beginnings of nature tourism benefiting from the newly established mire track. Ramsar site no. 1266

The étang Berthelot, a privately owned pond in the middle of the site.

A wet meadow, where Polish horses are let to graze to keep the forest back and mechanical aids are brought in every fourth year.

Botanist Max André explaining the positive changes in the diversity of vegetation over the past several years.

Geneviève Magnon, the manager of the protected area, leading the tour and explaining the management practices being used.

Ramsar study tour with cows in the entourage (left), in the French Jura.

Tobias and Geneviève Magnon (left), Michel Sauret demonstrating a frog or toad.

Insight into management techniques

Bridge over the mighty Drugeon -- Valerie (center), Julio, Julio's mom, Liazzat.

Geneviève Magnon explaining the restoration of the Drugeon following years of agricultural drainage and channeling.

Tobias' views of the marais (above and below)

The river Drugeon (left); Michel Sauret, an ornithologist on the management team who is also responsible for the horses used in grazing, demonstrating the sluice works that channels a certain percentage of the river's flow into the lake or around it.

M. Jean Patoz, foreground, is the President of the Communauté des Communes du Plateau de Frasne et du Val du Drugeon, the association of local municipalities that is working together for the management of the area.

Superb visit to the new Ramsar site. Now how about some lunch.

That said, click here.

Photos by Sandra Hails, Tobias Salathé, Dwight Peck.

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