The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award winners for 2002

01/07/2002

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Banrock Station Wines
(Australia)

The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award and Evian Special Prize - 2002

Banrock Station Wines has set a remarkable example of a private sector company taking a wide range of measures to benefit wetland conservation and wise use - locally, nationally and abroad. Its Banrock Station Initiative is being given the Ramsar Award in recognition of the innovative approach and support to the wise use of wetlands that the company has adopted.

Since 1992, Banrock Station Wines has taken measures to rehabilitate the wetlands on its property in partnership with Wetland Care Australia. The Banrock Station wetland complex is located on the floodplain of the River Murray (South Australia). Formerly subjected to regular natural flooding, it became permanently inundated after the installation of a dam, and this permanent inundation, along with the impacts of the invasive species European carp, sheep and rabbit grazing, and rising saline groundwater, seriously degraded the wetland complex. Since 1992, measures have been taken to reinstate a semi-natural cycle of wet and dry periods in the floodplain and to remove the invasive carp, sheep and rabbits. Adjoining woodland has also been rehabilitated. These measures have considerably improved the condition of the floodplain wetland as well as its adjacent wooded buffer zone.

On the slopes around the floodplain, the grape growing areas are managed according to stringent environmental conditions, using minimal water through efficient irrigation methods, electricity conservation practices, and recycling. The Banrock Station complex operates as a fully integrated model for ecologically sustainable development. Visitors can learn more about wine, but also about wetlands and the work carried out to rehabilitate the site at a Wine and Wetland Centre, which has been added as an education and public awareness component.

Since 1995, the company has continued to support wetland conservation and wise use, not only in Australia but internationally as well, through financial assistance to wetland projects. A percentage of the revenue generated by the sale of Banrock Station Wine is being allocated to wetland conservation activities in Australia and abroad, notably in Canada, the USA, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand, countries in which the company markets its wines. Expansion of this sponsorship to other countries is being evaluated.

The Banrock Station Initiative is an impressive demonstration of a private sector company working to rehabilitate and manage its own wetland property, and support and encourage other wetland projects globally. In addition, the application of wise use principles and practices in viticulture, including education and public awareness activities has also been demonstrated through the Banrock Station initiative. Furthermore, it is an exemplary model for innovative sponsorship by the private sector of wetland conservation activities.

Banrock Station Wines has indicated that it will use the US$ 10,000 cash Evian Special Prize "to help support and advance the programmes of the Ramsar Convention, especially in developing countries."

Interview with Tony Sharley, manager of Banrock Station Wines


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