Wetland training courses at the Tour du Valat Biological Station, France


tourduvalat.jpg (20234 bytes)Project title: Training

Project leaders: Christian Perennou - Emmanuel Thévenin

Partner organizations

In the Mediterranean: Istituto de Conservaçao da Natureza (ICN) (Portugal), Dogal Hayati Koruma Dernegi (DHKD) (Turkey), Ministry of the Environment (Turkey), CAR-ASP (Barcelona Convention), Ministry of Environment of Slovenia, Ministère chargé des Eaux et Forêts - Maroc

En France : Atelier Technique des Espaces Naturels (ATEN), Ministère de l’Aménagement du Territoire et de l’Environnement (MATE), Centre National de Promotion Rurale (CNPR), Syndicat Inter-Départemental Montagne-Elevage.

World: Training Task Force, World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN)

[Note: Most of the Tour du Valat courses are conducted in the French language.]


Since 1993, the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat has developed an expertise in training provision for the conservation of wetlands and natural areas in general. Its aim is to transfer our knowledge on the management of natural areas, and our ability to develop and provide training programmes adapted to different national contexts, to our Mediterranean partners.

The training activities are based firstly on an analysis of training requirements, then the production of training modules that can transfer the results of research to a wider public that has the technical or political responsibility for deciding on the future and conservation of wetlands. Finally, the training modules are capitalised on and the ability to adapt them is transferred and they are then used in different national contexts, to strengthen the skills of our Mediterranean partners in terms of managing natural areas and in training. Many training products have been produced up till now, including methodological guides and training modules on particular subjects.

Tour du Valat has built up a large network of partners, through training provided in France and in many Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Slovenia, Turkey, Portugal…), disseminates information on management methods and techniques, informs political decision-makers and reinforces the skills of technical operators involved in wetland management. More than 30 different training courses have been organised from 1994 to 2000, always in partnership with the authorities in the country in question and have involved people from from almost all Mediterranean countries. These have enabled us to build various training modules adapted to the national context, in the language of the country (Turkish, Slovenian, Portuguese, etc.).

Tour du Valat has been a member of GIP ATEN (Groupement d’Intérêt Public - Atelier Technique des Espaces Naturels) since 1997. This partnership is reflected by the secondment of a Training Project Leader to this structure for producing joint international actions. The ATEN's role is the development and dissemination of conservation management methods for protected areas in France and abroad. Through this association, the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat has become part of a vast network of professionals that enables it to mobilise technical expertise on protected areas other than wetlands.


  • To reinforce the capacities of those people involved in the management and conservation of wetlands in the Mediterranean basin.
  • To promote the inclusion of wetlands among the main training systems in France and throughout the Mediterranean.
  • To complete and disseminate the methods and tools elaborated in 1993-2000.
  • To maintain training provision adapted to the needs of Mediterranean wetland managers and meet specific request from our partners
  • To develop a planned approach to training and management among managers of protected Mediterranean areas.
  • To develop and disseminate methods for managing and enhancing the conservation value of wetlands.

Activities 2000:

Courses given

  • "Management of Mediterranean wetlands by grazing" (14-18 February), training course for managers of French Mediterranean wetlands.
  • "Initiation course on Mediterranean wetlands", course for youth employment scheme employees in the Languedoc-Roussillon working on wetlands, at the Centre du Scamandre and at the Marais du Vigueirat (14-17 March).
  • "Management plan methodologies": two courses per year for the BTS-GPN correspondence course students, in partnership with the CNPR (20-24 and 27-31 March).
  • Course in Portugal in collaboration with ICN, for help in the transfer and adaptation of the "Management plan" training module (17-20 April).
  • Course in Turkey in partnership with the DHKD, for help in the transfer and adaptation of the "Management plan" training module (5-10 June).
  • A course for managers of wetlands in French speaking Africa. Initiated by a Tour du Valat study, this training conducted as part of the Danone project in favour of the Ramsar Convention of Ramsar was provided by ATEN (13 to 27 March).
  • "Management of wetlands by grazing" (26-28 October), course for managers of Spanish Mediterranean wetlands (follow up of course in February 2000), at Flix + Ebro Delta (Catalonia), in partnership with the "Departament de Medi Ambient de Catalunya" and the "Grup de Natura Freixe" (ONG).
  • "Management of exotic plants in wetlands", course for staff of the Conservatoire du Littoral in the Languedoc-Roussillon (Camargue, 11-12 October).

Courses to be given before the end of 2000

  • "Management plans: production and putting into practice". Practical course (field trip to the Camargue) for managers of the LIFE project "Lake Manyas" (Turkey), follow up of the course of June 2000. In partnership with the Turkish Ministry of the Environment (1-8 December 2000).

Teaching documents published

  • English version of the "Wetland monitoring" module.
  • The "Wetland management plans" module has been translated/adapted into Portuguese (collaboration with the ICN) and into Turkish (collaboration DHKD).

Activities planned in 2001

The programme aims especially at strengthening the capacities of players having a potential impact on wetlands. According to the strategy established for the next five years, this programme will include the following activities:

Development of training partnerships

The current training partnerships (CNPR, Ecole des mines d’Ales, ATEN…) will be developed and new ones (CNED…) created. These partnerships are particularly effective at:

  • Helping Tour du Valat in the formalisation and dissemination to target audiences of management methods and tools (BTS GPN students with the CNPR, senior officers in the Ministry of Works with the Ecole des mines d’Alès….).
  • Answering requests from organisations that fall outside the scope of the Station's field of intervention (training of wetland managers in French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa–Danone Ramsar programme, ONC programme in West Africa) and with which Tour du Valat has special relations. From 2001, ATEN should be involved in the training section of CAR-ASP's SMAP programme for the management of protected marine areas.

At the end of 1999, a meeting in Italy of the "Training Task Force" of the IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) concluded that there was a need to create a network to bring into contact the considerable, but isolated, efforts being put into training for the management of natural areas in the Mediterranean region. Following this conclusion, the organisation by Tour du Valat and ATEN in early 2001, of a meeting of training organisations in the Mediterranean, should provide an opportunity to identify the respective competences of these organisations and produce a regional network that could strengthen Tour du Valat's action in terms of training.

The development of these partnerships should enable us to continue expanding the activities of the conservation team in terms of training, despite the stabilisation in funding. This "externalisation" of some of the services that we provide does however imply that the team's skills in terms of training course leadership and training methodology must be strengthened and that the team must continue to give much thought to directions that the work will take in the next five years.

Development of our expertise in training methodology

The improvement of our expertise in training methodology (analysis of requirements, assessments, etc.) will account for a large proportion of the work in 2001. A publication by ATEN (as a follow-up to the Leonardo programme conducted in 1998–1999) on these aspects is planned.

Another major area of work for the training team will be the strengthening of the capacities of the institutions involved in the MedWetCoast project for the preparation of and conduct of training courses.

The work of leading and conducting training courses will also be continued, especially with the implementation of the "training" sections of the GEF UNDP MedWetCoast and GEF World Bank projects for the management of protected areas in Morocco, with special emphasis on the application of and assessment of training. The training programme drawn up as part of MedWetCoast will, for example, involve 6 countries and training courses in 4 languages which will be given at national and regional level.

At the same time new partnerships will be developed.

Special effort will be given to the assessment of the training activities provided by the Station (either directly or through partnerships) since 1994. The search for indicators, the setting up of trainee monitoring and a study aimed at determining where the tools sent out by the Station have ended up and how they are used could be undertaken in 2001. This study could be the subject of a request to ATEN as part of its work of improving assessment. The ATEN would use the training given by Tour du Valat, and which is the only example in which made-to-measure teaching materials exist, as a case study for assessment.

Development of new training methods

New training methods will be developed:

  • As part of the MedWetCoast project. The training section of this project that concerns 6 countries and 4 different languages will probably be used in training. Because of the diversity of actions to be undertaken with a very wide audience of decision-makers, scientists, site managers, and institutions involved at national or local level, the training of trainers and project implementation training (tutoring, accompanying) and training actions promoting exchanges between the parties involved will be favoured.
  • As part of the establishment of a partnership with the National Correspondence Course Centre (CNED) which is preparing a teaching module on wetland management, based on information provided by Tour du Valat. This module will be prepared in partnership from 2001 onward and will be put into operation by the CNED.

Development and renovation of training tools relating to the improvement of planning methods and the setting up of management programmes

The projects in progress, and particularly MedWetCoast, should allow us to renew the training tools by developing new subjects relating especially to integrated management of unprotected areas, the socio-economic study of a territory and site management using a territorial approach (the catchment, emerging institutional structures, etc.). The development of these new modules should allow the Conservation team to open new networks of partners such as the IRD (Institute of Research and Development) and the CIRAD (Centre for international cooperation in agricultural research for development, etc.).

Programme for producing teaching documents

  • Completion, translation and publishing in English of a training module on "Grazing and Wetlands" for site managers.
  • Updating the "Management plan" module, expanded to the integrated management outside of protected areas, as part of the MedWetCoast project.

Distribution of teaching tools (training modules, methodological guides, self-teaching tools)

At the same time as developing new modules, tools that have already been produced (training modules and methodological guides) will continue to be sent out on request from our existing or future partners.

These will be mainly handed out during the currently planned training courses (see below).

Organisation of courses on particular subjects for decision-makers, site managers and trainers

This activity is an essential factor for missions 1 and 4 of the Conservation team for the period 2001 – 2005 (Formalisation and dissemination of management methods and tools and giving impetus to operational networks).

The courses currently planned in 2001 are aimed at different audiences:

  • Students who will become site managers in the future:

Two courses as part of the BTS correspondence courses on "Nature conservation and management" in partnership with the National Centre for Rural Promotion (CNPR). These are group classes within the correspondence course on the subject of management plans (April 2001).

  • Senior officers in the regional offices of the Ministry of Works:

A course for officers of the DRIREs (Regional Departments for Industry, Research and the Environment) in partnership with the Ecole des Mines d’Alès.

A course for local authority officers, in partnership with the CNFPT (June 2001).

  • The agents of the Interdepartmental Agency for Mosquito Control (EID), in partnership with the CNFPT (May-June 2001).
  • Managers of French Mediterranean wetlands:

A course is planned at the end of the year on a subject yet to be defined depending on the demand from the target audience (Wetland Restoration? Hydrology?), possibly in collaboration with the "Across the Waters" programme of WWF-Mediterranean.

  • Portuguese site managers and institutional decision-makers:

A course in a foreign country (Portugal?), accompanying the transfer and adaptation of existing modules.

  • The various parties involved in the MedWetCoast project:

Six categories of target audiences were identified by ATEN during the analysis of training needs conducted in 2000. These target audiences (Project staff, Site diagnosis teams, Agencies or Ministry of the Environment responsibility for executing the project, institutional partners of the project (especially other ministries involved), Universities and Research Institutes and NGOs).

National and regional training courses will be prepared by ATEN and conducted with national authorities with technical and educational support from ATEN.

  • Managers of protected areas in Morocco:

As part of the GEF World Bank project, support for "Management of protected areas in Morocco", the Station biologique de la Tour du Valat and ATEN submitted an offer of service provision in 2000 for conducting the training section of this project, which involves about fifteen sites (National Parks and Sites of Biological and Ecological Value) throughout Morocco. ATEN will be the leader.

  • Various short-term operations are already planned with the Mediterranean Agricultural Institute–Montpellier, and the Regional Environmental Agency (ARPE PACA)

For more information: Dr. Christian Perennou, perennou@tour-du-valat.com

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