Wetland Link International launches Web site -- background



WLI - Wetland Link International - is a global network of wetland education centres.

Formed in 1991, WLI seeks to:

* encourage and support exchange of information and innovation at wetland education centres.

* advocate for, and assist in, the development of new wetland education centres throughout the world.

* improve the effectiveness of operations and learning at wetland education centres through training and expertise exchange.

* lobby for the greater inclusion of communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) for sustainable development within wetland-related conservation programmes at national, regional and global levels.

WLI is endorsed by the Ramsar Convention as an important way of undertaking CEPA for wetlands through wetland education centres.


The Web site will include a global directory of wetland education centres with illustrated site profiles. At present there are three profiles on the site. WLI will be contacting its members during the next few months to add their own profiles.

It is also planned that WLI members will be able to share information and expertise through an e-group. Eventually the site will include material supporting CEPA activities from centre design and interpretative planning to formal schools programmes and informal learning programmes for the general public.


At present the WLI Web site is in English, although French and Spanish versions are planned.

WLI is coordinated by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), the UK's largest organisation dedicated to the conservation of wetlands and their biodiversity.

-- reported by Malcolm Whitehead (WLI Coordinator), WWT London Wetland Centre, UK (malcolm.whitehead@wwt.org.uk).

Update from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT U.K.)
by Doug Hulyer, Director of Programmes & Development at WWT

[reprinted from http://ramsar.org/outreach_wetlandcentres.htm, 18 June 2003]

Coming Soon!

At the World Wetlands Day conference held at the London Wetland Centre on 4th February 2003, WWT committed to the rebirth of the WLI network and programme. Since the loss of the former WLI coordinator, Jane Claricoates, in January 1998, the WLI programme has been kept ‘ticking-over’ by WWT. For the past five years many new centre developments have happened across the world through bilateral arrangements with WWT, but the network aspects of WLI have fallen into decline.

Doug Hulyer, Director of Programmes & Development at WWT (and responsible for WLI within WWT) announced that funds had been secured to re-establish the network through the development of a WLI web-site and e-list. This site is now under construction and will go live on July 1st at www.wli.org.uk. Centres throughout the world will contribute to a profile and picture gallery of their centres, building up a global on-line directory of wetland education centres. The site will develop eventually into a one-stop shop for learning about the range of wetland centres and their programmes. It will also include guidance on the design, creation and management of wetland centres, areas for resource exchange and on-line projects for the network. From April 1st 2003, the responsibility for the development of the network has been shared between Doug and WWT’s Head of Learning (Resources & Outreach), Malcolm Whitehead. Some of the CEPA network members may remember Malcolm as one of the leading lights of international CEPA training through his former work with the International Centre for Conservation Education (ICCE) and his role as Education/Visitor Services Manager at the award-winning London Wetland Centre where he will continue to be based. Malcolm has been largely responsible for the creation of the WWT Learn web-site which was officially launched at the U.K.’s Education Show on the 13th March 2003 – have a look at www.wwtlearn.org.uk ….we’d be very interested in your comments and feedback and ideas for this teacher and student targeted resource on wetlands.

Further funds are now being sought by WWT to develop the work of the WLI network when fully re-established – ideas for this include training, regional workshops, French and Spanish versions of the resources, the establishment of an e-group to share ideas and information, and the regular publication of a paper-based newsletter for those without e-access. We hope that we can inform the CEPA list members of some success in securing such funding within a few months…. So watch this space!

One new aspect of the work of WLI will be the establishment of national networks organised by officially recognised and bone fide organisations. One such network has already been established by one of the original WLI founders, the Wetlands Centre, Shortlands, in Australia and plans are afoot to create a similar network in the United Kingdom. WWT and the Ramsar Bureau are very keen that this model is developed around the world. It is vitally important that the integrity of the global network is not compromised and guidance on how to go about setting up a national network will be provided on the WLI web-site when fully operational.

If CEPA list members would like to help the re-birth of the network through the provision of information on existing centres or are interested in developing national networks, please contact the WLI Coordinator, Malcolm Whitehead, malcolm.whitehead@wwt.org.uk, in the first instance.


What is a ‘wetland centre’?

For the purposes of the WLI network, WWT defines a wetland education centre as:

Any place where there is interaction between people and wildlife and CEPA activity occurs
in support of wetland conservation objectives.

This definition would include nature reserves with a wide range of visitor facilities on wetland sites (e.g. those of WWT and similar organisations), environmental education centres, field study centres, zoological and botanical gardens, many interactive museums of natural history and a variety of community site-based projects and programmes.

The functions of such centres should include:

CEPA for wetlands delivery
Capacity building for CEPA
Venues for training

What are the objectives of the WLI programme?

WWT believes that the bringing together of wildlife and people for the benefit of both remains a powerful tool in the CEPA process. The development of new and innovative methods of doing this, managing the interaction in ways that minimise impact and are sympathetic to both landscapes and natural systems, all deserve special attention – at a global level, the revised network will focus upon these processes and imperatives and the CEPA programmes associated with them.

WWT re-affirms the following objectives for the programme:

  • To encourage and support the exchange of information and expertise internationally between those involved in wetland education programmes, particularly those operating from wetland education centres and similarly targeted sites e.g. field study centres, environmental education centres, zoos, botanic gardens, aquaria, etc.
  • To advocate for, and assist in, the development of new wetland education centres and their associated programmes throughout the world;
  • To improve the effectiveness of operations at wetland education centres through sharing, training and expertise exchange;
  • To lobby for the greater inclusion of communications, education and public awareness (CEPA) programmes within wetlands and related conservation initiatives and instruments, and support the development of frameworks for subsequent implementation at national, regional and global levels.

Doug Hulyer, Director of Programmes & Development, The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire GL2 7BT, U.K.Tel: +44 (0)1453 891921; Fax: +44 (0)1453 890827; E Mail: doug.hulyer@wwt.org.uk, Web: www.wwt.org.uk & www.wwtlearn.org.uk

And the future . . .

With the professional expertise of WLI in developing wetland centres, the exchange of experiences and support between centres that the new WLI network can deliver, along with the combined supportive efforts of the Bureau and the CEPA Focal Points, our collaborative efforts should see wetland education centres delivering the wetland message on a global scale. Keep visiting this page for further updates.

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