Nordic Wetland Conference & Ramsar Meeting, May 2004
Following the publication of the richly illustrated report "Nordisk våtmarksvern/Nordic wetland conservation" in a Scandinavian and English edition, with financial support by the Ramsar Secretariat (cf. our announcement at www.ramsar.org/w.n.nordic_book.htm), the Nordic Council of Ministers - representing the governments of Denmark and Greenland, Finland and Åland, Iceland, Norway and Svalbard, and Sweden - and the Directorate for Nature Management (the Ramsar administrative authority in Norway) organised a Nordic Wetland Conference and Ramsar Meeting on 4-7 May 2004 in Brekstad, a coastal village situated on the flat peninsula at the entrance of Trondheim fjord.
Around 50 participants from 10 countries, including invited delegations from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Russian Federation (focusing on the Baltic regions Karelia, Leningrad and Kaliningrad), representing national Ramsar authorities, nature conservation agencies, local authorities and managers of protected areas, gathered to discuss how to improve wetland conservation and awareness and possibilities for strengthening Nordic wetland cooperation. In plenary and break-out sessions current wetland topics were addressed, from global to regional perspectives, and focusing on site-based management approaches. A session "wetlands - more than birds" stressed the fact that Nordic and Baltic wetlands provide natural and cultural values that go far beyond their functions for migratory waterbirds, for which most of the Nordic Ramsar Sites had originally been designated. In a Closing Statement (available here), the participants concluded that lessons are to be learnt from one another and that opportunities for enhanced cooperation to improve wetland and Ramsar Site management should be seized.
A specific session looked at ways of increasing wetland cooperation among the Nordic countries, including the eastern Baltic region. To this end, Norway offered to convene a smaller planning meeting later in 2004 to consider the mandate, geographical focus, a possible work plan, funding opportunities and the lead responsibilities for wetland cooperation. This is proof of the continuing catalytic role of the Nordic countries for wetland conservation and through supporting international cooperation with transfer of know-how, experience and practical means (technical and financial) to their neighbours in the Baltic region and beyond.
An excursion was devoted to a visit of the nearby Ørlandet Ramsar Site, composed of four distinct nature reserves and bird sanctuaries, covering the tidal zone, mudflats and shallow marine waters along the cost of the peninsula and the islands Storfosna and Kråkvåg. This provided the opportunity to discuss management problems related to infrastructure developments (construction of causeways and bridges across shallow marine waters), agricultural development (drainage and landfill, effluents and water quality), seaweed harvest, and leisure activities. During a pre-dinner visit, the participants discovered the Austråttlunden historical park, illustrating the strategic importance of this promontory at the entrance of Trondheim Fjord, and the impressive Austrått manor. The organizers and the County of Sør-Trøndelag are to be congratulated for this conference and their efforts to strengthen regional wetland cooperation.
-- report and photographs by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar.
On 6 May, under a blue sky and with unusual summer temperatures of nearly 25°C, the Nordic Wetland Conference participants took a boat, the all wooden-built 19th century cargo sailing ship "Pauline", to go round the Ørlandet peninsula to look at the distinct parts of the Ørlandet Ramsar Site:
Tidal zones of Grandefjaera Nature Reserve, important staging and feeding areas of wintering waterbirds (further north on their breeding grounds during our spring visit)
Tidal zones of Hovsfjaera Bird Sanctuary at low tide, together with an information panel (where the Ramsar logo will be added prominently) and observing conference participants
Next to the shallow waters and intertidal zones of the Ramsar Site, some small oceanic bogs and bog pools can be found, with dwarf birch (photographed by STRP member Tatiana Minayeva) and bog rosemary
Ramsar focal points Torsten Larsson, Ann Wahlstroem (both Sweden) and Timo Asanti (Finland) in conversation on the "high seas"
Jan-Petter Huberth Hansen, the conference manager of the Directorate for Nature Management (facing the camera) on the 19th century cargo vessel (that used to sail from Norway to Archangelsk in the White Sea) "Pauline" used for the Ørlandet Ramsar Site visit
Entering Bjugnfjorden, passing Kjeungskjaer fyr, an historical lighthouse . . .
for a seafood lunch at Uthaug fishermen's harbour, in the historical warehouse that was a temporary "home" for 200 Russian war prisoners when the Nazis occupied the area during World War II (Ramsar focal point Sten Asbirk from Denmark is on the right)
Austratt county manor, from outside and within, visited by the conference participants, plus the modern Austratt farm in the evening light