Report on Odesa wetland workshops, September 2000

05/10/2000

Wetland Workshops in Odesa

(in Ukrainian, the name of the town is written with only one S - "Odessa" is the Russian version)

Two important wetland workshops took place in Odesa (Ukraine) from 26-27 September and from 28 September to 2 October. The first one on the "Conservation, restoration and wise-use of wetlands and wetland resources along the Black Sea coast" was organised by Wetlands International with support from the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries.

Participants from Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine presented a draft directory of Black Sea coastal wetlands. A special session was devoted to an action plan for coordinated waterbird surveys, including the preparation of a "mega-census" in January 2003. Then, the participants presented an update of the 1994 Action Plan for Black Sea Wetlands (published as IWRB Publication 33 in 1994) and concluded that the elaboration of National Wetland Policies in each country should be given highest priority. The last session was devoted to the discussion of the development of a regional Black Sea wetlands initiative, following the successful example of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet). Invited delegates from Armenia and Azerbaijan expressed their wish to see the initiative enlarged, to cover also their countries forming the link with the Caspian Sea. The "Odesa 2000 Declaration on Black Sea Wetlands" concluded that activities for the Black-Azov Sea wetlands should be intensified in a coordinated approach and that the international cooperation on wetland cooperation in the Black-Azov Sea region should be enhanced. The workshop concluded that a small coordination group should follow up the proposal and organise the next steps for the development of a coordinated network of experts and action programme, provisionally named "BlackSeaWet".

Most of the participants stayed on for the second workshop on "Water issues and natural resources management", also organised by the Wetlands International Black Sea Office. This was the final meeting of the Programme on Technical Twinnings between Ramsar Sites in Closed Seas Deltas, a MedWet project in cooperation with Eurosite, with financial support by the Ramsar Evian Initiative of the Danone Group and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM).

A first session debated the wise use of water and natural resources of deltas, monitoring water resources in deltas as a component of river basin management, and the hydrological and chemical characteristics of the delta ecosystems along the NW shores of the Black Sea. Then, the delegates of nine closed sea deltas in the Mediterranean (Ebro in Spain, Rhone in France, Po in Italy, Axios-Loudios-Aliakmon in Greece, Goksu in Turkey), in the Black Sea (Danube in Romania and Ukraine, Dniper in Ukraine), and in the Caspian Sea (Volga in Russia) presented the conclusions of their exchange visits during 1999-2000. It was felt that these visits were highly beneficial for both sides (visited and visiting experts). The participants concluded therefore that these exchanges should be continued at a more specific level, in the form of technical workshops and on-the-job training courses. Their network of European delta Ramsar Sites should make its experience of "best-practice" widely available and could finally be recognised by Ramsar’s COP8 as a new regional Ramsar network, following the successful example of the MedWet Initiative. The participants concluded that, besides of the development of further technical exchanges, they should meet at least annually. The regular conferences "Delta Chiama Delta" (‘delta calling delta’), organised since several years by the Ferrara Province (Italy) with the Po Delta Nature Park, seem to be a particularly useful venue for such meetings.

The workshop continued on 30 September to 2 October with a field visit to the Dnister Delta Ramsar Site, west of Odesa, and a visit of the Ukrainian Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve in Vilkovo (the "Ukrainian Venice"), including the Smensovskie marsh restoration site and the nature reserve at the mouth of the Kilyia branch of the Danube river.

  -- reported by Dr Tobias Salathé

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