Seminar on wise use of wetlands in European New Independent States, Armenia, September 2003

09/01/2004



The International Seminar

"CURRENT ISSUES OF CONSERVATION AND WISE USE OF WETLANDS AND WETLAND BIODIVERSITY IN THE EUROPEAN NEW INDEPENDENT STATES"

Sevan, Armenia, September 15-19, 2003

Summary Report

Chairman
Organizing Committee

Simon
PAPYAN

Executive Secretary
Organizing Committee

Karen
JENDEREDJIAN

President
"Orientation"

Gagik
KIRAKOSSIAN

1. BACKGROUND

For the very first time the idea of conducting in Armenia the international seminar on wetlands issues in the European New Independent States was shared between the NGO Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union (briefly 'Orientation') and the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia in 2000. On 23 April 2001 the Minister of Nature Protection endorsed project proposal "Regional Seminar "Current Issues of Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands and Wetland Biodiversity in the European New Independent States"". The project proposal has been submitted to the Ramsar Convention Bureau for possible funding through the Ramsar Small Grants Fund for Wetland Conservation and Wise Use (SGF). Although the proposal was assessed by the 26th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on Wetlands (Gland, Switzerland, 2001) as of "high priority for funding" (A2), it wasn't funded for 2002 cycle due to lack of funds. On the next year the Minister of Nature Protection endorsed (15 March 2002) once again for SGF funding the project with minor changes. Again the project proposal was assessed as of "high priority for funding"… but again not approved for immediate funding by the 28th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee (Valencia, Spain, November 2002). Fortunately the situation has changed in March 2003 due to additional funds and the 29th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee (Gland, Switzerland, March 2003) has approved the project for immediate direct funding from the Ramsar SGF.

Orientation already has certain experience on organization of wetland meetings. The following 'wetland' training courses proceeded to the Seminar:

  • First National Training Course on Wetland Management, Sevan, Armenia, 11-23 October 1999 funded by the Ramsar Convention's "Evian Programme" (1999, closed) [Outputs: a) 12 participants form the Institute of Land Use Planning, Ministry of Agriculture (1), Department of Especially Protected Natural Areas, Ministry of Nature Protection (2), Sevan National Park (3), Pedagogical Institute after Kh. Abovyan (1), Institute of Hydroecology and Ichthyology, National Academy of Sciences (2), Institute of Vegetables and Melons, Ministry of Agriculture (1), Brusov State Institute of Foreign Languages (1), Department of Water Resources Protection, Ministry of Nature Protection (1); b) draft management plans for Gull Islets and Noradus Fishponds]
  • Second National Training Course on Wetland Management, Sevan, Armenia, 9-21 October 2003 funded by the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (2000, closed) [Outputs: a) 12 participants from the Gegharquniq Marzpetaran Administration (2), Sevan National Park (8), Institute of Botany, National Academy of Sciences (1), Institute of Hydroecology and Ichthyology, National Academy of Sciences (1); b) draft management plan for restored Lake Gilli wetlands]
  • Regional Training Course on Wetland Management for Technical Staff of Wetland Conservation and Management Institutions in the New Independent States of the European Region and simultaneously Third National Training Course on Wetland Management, Sevan, Armenia, 9-23 September 2001 funded by the Ramsar Convention's Small Grants Fund with additional support from the Office of the Agricultural Counselor at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Kyiv (2001, closed) [Outputs: a) 19 participants from 6 countries: Armenia (6: from the Sevan National Park, Biological Faculty of the Yerevan State University, Gegharquniq Marzpetaran Administration, Joint Stock Company "Torgom & Gevorg", Joint Stock Company "Ararat-Ishkhan", and the Ministry of Nature Protection), Belarus (1), Georgia (3), Moldova (1), Russian Federation (2) and Ukraine (6); b) draft management plans Lake Lichk Rehabilitation Plan and Improvement of Management of Torgom & Gevorg Fishponds; c) resolutions about 1/ Importance of Regional Collaboration on Wetland Issues and 2/ Conservation of Endemic Fish Ishkhan (Salmo ischchan)]
  • Fourth National Training Course on Wetland Management, Yerevan, Armenia, 27 October - 3 November 2002 funded by the World Bank Small Grants Fund in frames of project Wetland Management and Poverty Reduction in Mountain Regions Difficult of Access: Lake Arpi and Mount Aragats. Mitigating Problems through Public Awareness and Training (2002, closed) [Outputs: a) 14 participants from Shirak Marz (6), Aragatsotn Marz (6) and Republic of Nagorno-Kharabagh (2); b) Brochure Wetland Values and Functions; c) Brochure Guide for Wetland Management Planning]

2. INTRODUCTION

As all mentioned above Wetland Management Courses, the International Seminar Current Issues of Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands and Wetland Biodiversity in The European New Independent States had been organised by the NGO Orientation under the patronage of the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia.

Primarily the Seminar was planned for only 40 persons from 6 countries: Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russian Federation and Ukraine. So, the first welcome news was unexpected high number of applications (102) form 17 countries to the deadline (1 August 2003). This compelled organisers to quest for additional funds in order not to reject many very good applications and to make the Seminar more cost benefit. Finally it was possible to obtain funds for Armenian applicants due to generous support of U.S. based international organization LakeNet with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (US$ 6,500).

The International Seminar was set up in Sevan, Armenia, from 15 to 19 September 2003. In general the Seminar was satisfactory. The overall goals of the Seminar seem to be achieved. This was able because of experiment available, good cooperation between the Ministry of Nature Protection and NGO Orientation, between the local and international members of the Seminar's Organizing Committee during the preparation of the Seminar (See para 3.1).

3. PREPARATION OF THE SEMINAR

Actually, preparation of the Seminar started during the Ramsar COP8 in Valencia, Spain in November 2003, far before approval of the project proposal for SGF funding. During informal communications of Armenian delegation (Ms. Ruzan Davtyan, Dr. Susanna Hakobyan, Dr. Karen Jenderedjian) with colleagues from Belarus (Dr. Alexander Kozulin), Czech Republic (Dr. Josef Chytil), Georgia (Ms. Anna Rukhadze), Moldova (Dr. Ilya Trombitsky), Russian Federation (Ms. Tatyana Minaeva), and Ukraine (Dr. Valentin Serebryakov) became clear that it is time, and there is a good perspective for regional Seminar in the European New Independent States (NIS) for the following reasons:

  • European NIS have similar environmental and scientific problems: shortage of funds for nature protection and research, neglected protected natural areas and research institutions, and limited opportunities for meetings and exchange of views;
  • The Seminar is good opportunity to change experience peculiar for the region, to renew interrupted contacts, to know and understand each other better than before;
  • The Seminar is good chance to establish co-operation for management of shared and transboundary wetlands.

They agreed also that the Seminar should be executed in Armenia because:

  • Armenia is the only European NIS experienced in organisation of wetlands events on regional level;
  • Armenia represents European NIS in the Ramsar Standing Committee (1999-2005).

3.1. Activities during the Preparation of the Seminar

The contacts during the preparation of the Seminar were aimed to:

  • identify the appropriate staff;
  • identify the appropriate auditorium;
  • identify the appropriate goals;
  • develop a programme of the Seminar suitable for current regional needs;
  • identify the appropriate venue;
  • identify suitable sites for field excursion;
  • identify suitable sites for cultural events;
  • plan the practical organisational matters.

In late March 2003 the Minister of Nature Protection, Mr. Vardan Ayvazyan, endorsed the composition of the Seminar Organizing Committee (see para 3.2.1), and Dr. Gagik Kirakossian, President of the NGO Orientation approved the composition of Support Stuff (see para 3.2.2).

In early April 2003 the draft Announcement that consists of Information Letter (see para 3.5.1) and Application Form (see para 3.5.2) have been disseminated for comments to all members of the Seminar Organizing Committee.

In late April 2003, Dr. Karen Jenderedjian, the Executive Secretary of the Seminar Organizing Committee, announced officially the launch of the Seminar during the 1st Regional Session for Europe of the Global Biodiversity Forum and introduced for the first time the final versions of Announcement and Application forms (2003, Chisinau, Moldova).

On 28 April 2003 Information Letter and Application Form in Armenian, English and Russian has been send to 181 e-mail addressees, including Ramsar Administrative Authorities, Ramsar International Organization Partners, other international organizations (see para 3.5).

In order to find appropriate venue for the Seminar, in May and July Dr. K. Jenderedjian and Dr. G. Kirakossian visited a number of perspective venues in two well-known resort zones of Armenia: Lake Sevan area ("Harsnakar", "Sevan 2", "Motel", "Blue Sevan", "Arevik", "Tufenkyan Center") and Tsakhkadzor area, between capital Yerevan and town Sevan, 20 km from Lake Sevan ("HadiGaz", "Writers Creation Hause"). Finally the "Motel" (see para 3.9) on the northern shoreline of Lake Sevan has been chosen based on quality- and cost-based selection.

In June 2003 Dr. K. Jenderedjian and Dr. Susanna Hakobyan, Member of the Organizing Committee, have visited Burlington (Vermont, the USA) in order to participate in the Regional Workshop for Europe, Central Asia & the Americas "Sharing Experience and Lessons Learned in Lake Basin Management". The special goal of this mission was to negotiate with Ms. Lisa Borre, Director of LakeNet, Member of the Organizing Committee, and Mr. David Reed Barker, President of LakeNet. The main result of negotiations was principal agreement with the LakeNet to support the Seminar with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In July, August and September 2003 Dr. K. Jenderedjian, Dr. S. Hakobyan and Ms. Ruzan Davtyan, Member of the Organizing Committee, Head of the Division of Projects, Department of International Relationships, Ministry of Nature Protection, have visited a number of sites for field excursion and cultural events around Lake Sevan (Dzknaget Valley Former Floodplains, Sevan Peninsula, Sevan Fish Breeding Factory, Lchashen Cove, Gull Islets, Gavaraget Floodplains, Noradus Fish Ponds, "GOS" Fish Breeding Factory, Lake Lichk, Madina Valley Floodplains, Karchaghbyur Fish Breeding Factory, Former Gilli Lake System, Churches of St. Apostle and St. Virgin of IX century, Church Hayrivank of X century, Noradus Cemetery of IX-XV century) and in Ararat Valley (Armash Fish Ponds, Poqr Vedi Wetlands, Ararat Salinas, Torgom & Gevork Fish Breeding Factory, Lake Ayghr, Metsamor Historical Museum, Echmiadzin Cathedral, Khor-Virap Monastery, Sardarapat Memorial). Finally the full day circle trip around Lake Sevan has been chosen with the stops on Sevan Peninsula, Church Hayrivank with a view on Gavaraget Floodplains, "GOS" Fish Breeding Factory, Lake Lichk, outflow of the canal Arpa-Sevan, and 'Restoration of Lake Gilli' GEF project area. Initially planned (and announced) excursion to Ararat Valley was cancelled due to intensive road construction works.

In mid August the Seminar Organizing Committee choose 68 perspective participants representing 17 countries that received official invitation letters on behalf of Simon Papyan, Chairman of the Organizing Committee, First Deputy Minister of Nature Protection of Armenia. More 10 people were placed on the waiting list. Just before the beginning of the Seminar 7 persons from the waiting list received official invitations to attend the Seminar.

In early September the final version of Seminar Programme (see para 3.6) was compiled and sent to participants in English and Russian.

3.2. Contacts during the Preparation of the Seminar

During the preparation of the Seminar permanent contacts had been established between all members of the Seminar Organizing Committee, whether local or international. Local members had meetings headed by Chairman once a month and headed by Executive Secretary once a week. With international members of the Organizing Committee communications were mainly via e-mail. Seminar matters have been discussed during the meetings of Dr. K. Jenderedjian with Dr. Tobias Salathe in April 2003 in Moldova, and during the meetings of Dr. K. Jenderedjian and Dr. S. Hakobyan with Ms. L. Borre in June 2003 in the USA.

It is obvious that the permanent contacts had been established with the number of agencies (Biodiversity Resources Management, Water Resources Management), departments (International Relationships) and divisions (Biodiversity Conservation, Land Conservation, Water Conservation) of the Ministry of Nature Protection of Armenia (Minister Mr. Vardan Aivazyan), Administration of Sevan National Park (Former Director Mr. Gagik Martirosyan, Acting Director Mr. Hamlet Feroyan), Department of Environment Protection of the Administration of Gegharquniq Marzpetaran (Head, Mr. Hambartsum Hambartsumyan).

3.2. The Staff Involved in Preparation of the Seminar

3.2.1. Organizing Committee:

  • Simon PAPYAN, Chairman, First Deputy Minister of Nature Protection, Armenia
  • Karen JENDEREDJIAN, Executive Secretary, Head, Division of Animal Resource Management, Agency of Biorecourse Management, Ministry of Nature Protection, Armenia
  • Olga ANISIMOVA, Programme Leader, Wetland International, Russia Office, Russia
  • Lisa BORRE, Director, LakeNet, USA
  • Tatyana DANIELYAN, Head, Division of Biodiversity and Water Resource Conservation, Department of Environment Protection, Ministry of Nature Protection, Armenia
  • Ruzanna DAVTYAN, Head, Division of Projects, Department of International Relationships, Ministry of Nature Protection, Armenia
  • Susanna HAKOBYAN, Board Member, NGO Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union, Armenia
  • Gagik KIRAKOSSIAN, Chair, NGO Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union, Armenia
  • Vasiliy KOSTYUSHIN, Project Coordinator, Wetlands International, Black Sea Office, Ukraina
  • Tobias SALATHE, Regional Coordinator for Europe, Ramsar Convention Bureau, Switzerland

3.2.2. Support Stuff:

  • Aram GEVORGYAN, Interpreter
  • Anahit GHURSHUDYAN, Accountant
  • Arpine JENDEREDJIAN, Assistant
  • Edward MELKUMYAN, Driver
  • Siranush MURADYAN, Adviser
  • Vardan VARDANYAN, Computer

3.3. Seminar Set-up

Based on the abstracts received a Seminar set-up was drafted that consists of opening and plenary sessions, working groups on 1. Conventions and International Cooperation, 2. Ramsar Site and Wetland Conservation, 3. Wise Use of Wetland Resources, field excursion.

3.4. Seminar Objectives

The organisers aimed on the following objectives (as it is in project proposal):

3.4.1. General objectives:

  • Promote efforts to develop national wetland policies in the countries of the region (O.O. 2.1).
  • Promote integration of wetland conservation and wise use in decision making on land-use (O.O. 2.2).
  • Promote the development and wide dissemination of studies which give economic evaluations of the benefits of wetlands (O.O. 2.4).
  • Promote scientific inventories to identify wetlands which need restoration and rehabilitation (O.O. 2.6).
  • Promote development of new wetland training opportunities in the region (O.O. 4.2)
  • Promote identification of regional needs for managing transboundary wetlands (O.O. 7.1).
  • Promote strengthening cooperation and synergy between Ramsar and other international treaties in the region (O.O. 7.2).

3.4.2. Specific objectives:

  • To re-establish lost contacts between the wetland colleagues in the region.
  • To identify common problems on conservation and wise use of wetlands and wetland biodiversity.
  • To increase mutual understanding on current wetland issues.
  • To promote development of environmental friendly activities (i. e., eco-tourism) on wetlands, including especially vulnerable (i. e., mountain wetlands).

3.5. Seminar Announcement

The Seminar was announced at the end of April 2003. Specific e-mail communications had been sent on behalf of the Seminar Organizing Committee to the Ramsar Administrative Authorities in 35 countries (Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, I. R. Iran, Japan, Kyrgyz, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan), Ramsar International Organization Partners (BirdLife International, IUCN - The World Conservation Union, Wetlands International, WWF International), other international organizations (LakeNet, International Mire Conservation Group, International Peat Society, CIC - International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation).

Due to kind offer of the Ramsar Convention Bureau and the LakeNet, information about Seminar, Information Letter and Application Form in English and Russian languages were placed on the Ramsar and LakeNet websites:

http://www.ramsar.org/w.n.armenia_seminar1.htm
http://www.worldlakes.org/initiative/armenia_seminar.htm

Besides, the Seminar was announced by local radio and television.

3.5.1. Information Letter

The Information Letter consists of information about composition of Organizing Committee, proposed Seminar Themes, Working Languages, Who can Participate, Concept and Aims, Venue and Date, Schedule, Costs and Fellowships, Deadlines for Applications and Abstracts, and Guidelines for Abstracts. Armenian, English and Russian versions of Information Letter are given in Annex 1A, Annex 1E, and Annex 1R, respectively.

3.5.1. Application Form

The Application Form requires the following information about the applicant: First and Last Name, Sex, Date of Birth, Nationality, Position, Academic Degree, Organization, Contacts: address / e-mail / telephone / fax, Presentation Title and Category, Importance of Entry Visa in Armenia, and Importance of Financial Support and Contacts. Armenian, English and Russian versions of Application Form are given in Annex 2A, Annex 2E, and Annex 2R, respectively.

3.6. Seminar Programme

Based on the abstracts received the Seminar Programme was drafted according to the Seminar set-up and taking into account auditorium, venue, facilities available, transport possibilities, meals, and own experience earned from previous wetland management courses. English and Russian versions of Seminar Programme are given in Annex 3E and Annex 3R, respectively. Due to kind offer of the LakeNet the Programme is also available on the LakeNet website:

http://www.worldlakes.org/docs/Program_Armenia_seminar.pdf

3.7. Participants

Upon the deadline (July 31, 2003) and later in total 102 applications were received from 17 countries, of which 78 had been recognized as suitable: Armenia (31), Belarus (3), Czech Republic (1), Denmark (1), Georgia (8), I. R. Iran (1), Kyrgyz (3), Lithuania (2), Moldova (2), Netherlands (1), Russian Federation (12), Switzerland (1), Turkmenistan (2), Ukraine (3), United Kingdom (1), USA (3), and Uzbekistan (3).

Already far in advance before the deadline became clear that the interest to the Seminar is much more higher than was expected. In order not to reject many very good applications and to make the Seminar more cost benefit the organizers began to quest a funds for additional 10-30 participants (the number of initially planned participants was 40). Finally it became possible to obtain funds for Armenian applicants due to generous support of LakeNet with US$ 6,500 funding from the USAID.

For selection of participants among the applicants the Organizing Committee used the following criteria:

  • full regional representation;
  • recommendation of leading organization or supervisor;
  • relevance of the proposed presentation to the objectives of the Seminar;
  • quality of the abstract;
  • knowledge of English and/or Russian.

In case of equal conditions the preference was given to:

  • women;
  • those persons who have more relevant experience;
  • those persons who have higher education;
  • younger persons.

On 10 August 2003 the Organizing Committee during its meeting selected 68 applicants that on the next day received invitation to participate in the Seminar; more 10 participants were included in the waiting list (figures are given in brackets): 25 (6) from Armenia, 2 (1) from Belarus, 1 from Czech Republic, 1 from Denmark, 7 (1) from Georgia, 1 from I. R. Iran, 1 (2) from Kyrgyz, 1 (1) from Lithuania, 1 (1) from Moldova, 1 from Netherlands, 6 (6) from Russian Federation, 1 from Switzerland, 1 (1) from Turkmenistan, 3 from Ukraine, 1 from United Kingdom, 3 from USA, and 1 (2) from Uzbekistan. Later on apologies have been received from 3 Armenian, 2 Georgian, 1 Russian, 2 Ukrainian, 2 American and 1 Uzbek selected applicants. On 8 September 2003 they were replaced by 2 Armenian, 1 Georgian, and 1 Russian applicants from the "waiting list". The final list of participants is given in Annex 4.

As it is shown in Annex 4, of total 64 participants 27 (42%) are women. The participants represent the staff of central and regional state environmental bodies (17), protected areas (13), research institutes and universities (14), international organizations (8), national NGOs (10), private sector (2).

3.8. Abstracts

The organisers compiled in advance A5 format 64 page ABSTRACTS: The International Seminar "CURRENT ISSUES OF CONSERVATION AND WISE USE OF WETLANDS AND WETLAND BIODIVERSITY IN THE EUROPEAN NEW INDEPENDENT STATES" Sevan, September 15-19, 2003, which consist of the following parts:

  • First Cover Sheet /page 1/
  • Acknowledgement /page 2/
  • Table of Contents /pages 3-4/
  • Welcome Address of the Minister of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia /pages 5-6/
  • 38 abstracts /pages 7-54/ in alphabetical order whether only in English (8), or only in Russian (26), or in Armenian and Russian (1), or in Russian and English (3)
  • The List of Participants and Authors /pages 55-61/
  • Sheet for Comments /page 62/
  • The Set-Up of Wetland Data Base of ?rmenia /page 63/
  • Last Cover Sheet /page 64/

The ABSTRACTS brochure is enclosed to this Report.

3.9. Seminar Location

The Seminar venue was former Soviet Intourist building, better known as "Motel", on the most northern part of Lake Sevan: newly repaired living apartments, specially equipped conference hall, computer and workshop rooms, banquet hall, and lobby. Because of the time of the year this could be bargained for a price that was feasible with the budget.

3.9.1. Living Apartments

Living apartments are of two types, with one and with two rooms, both for 2 persons, both with electricity, television, cold and warm water for the whole day.

However, in spite of limited funds the organizers tried to ignore as much as possible the 'Soviet style of economy' by distribution of more than one person in one apartment without prior request or, in extraordinary cases, without prior permission of appropriate participants. People living in apartments with windows to the South enjoyed not only magnificent view on Lake Sevan but also breathtaking wind (the latter fortunately not always).

3.9.2. Conference Hall

Sunny 12x15 m conference hall for this event was specially equipped with tribune for speakers and comfortable chairs and tables enough for 70 participants. Computer and projector for PowerPoint presentations were kindly provided for free by the NGO Khazer, the whiteboard for announcements by NGO Orientation.

3.9.3. Computer Room

The organizers equipped special room with four computers, scanner and printer. All equipment was open free of charge for use for everybody during the Seminar days. Regretfully the facilities of the region don't allow access to the Internet and those people who need to send or receive their e-mails, could do it only from capital Yerevan.

3.9.4. Workshop Rooms

The administration of the venue provides the organizers of the Seminar with 2 comfortable rooms for group workshops.

3.9.5. Banquet Hall

Ten tables for 8 persons each were used for meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, during the opening banquet one table for 100 persons was served. In spite of this here still was enough dancing place.

3.9.6. Lobby

Huge lobby with few tables surrounded with armchairs was used for coffee/tea breaks as well as for informal meetings in small groups.

3.10. Translation

The working languages of the Seminar were Russian, English and Armenian. Simultaneous interpretation was provided during the plenary sessions and, in case of importance, during the group workshops.

3.11. Transportation

The van "Sobol" for 12 passengers which belongs to NGO Orientation was used during the all period of preparation of the Seminar to attend case areas, to visit important persons and to make purchases, as well as to meet participants in Zvartnots airport.

During the execution of the Seminar the coach "Ikarus" for 46 passengers was rented to bring participants and invited guests from Yerevan to Sevan and back, and for field excursion.

In some cases vehicles owned by organizers and participants also were used on the voluntary basis (only with reimbursement of fuel).

4. EXECUTION OF THE SEMINAR

4.1. Mission of the Ramsar Regional Coordinator for Europe in Armenia

It is difficult to exaggerate the role and input of the Ramsar Regional Coordinator during preparation, organisation and execution of the Seminar.

A permanent contact with him has been established far in advance, yet during formulation of the objectives and goals of the proposed meeting, drafting the Seminar set-up, adoption of the program, etc.

In June 2003 the Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia invited Dr. Tobias Salathe, the Regional Coordinator for Europe of the Ramsar Convention Bureau, to visit Armenia in September 2003, to participate in the Seminar and to make presentations under the topics Introduction Ramsar and Key challenges of the Ramsar Convention for the triennium 2003-2005.

Dr. T. Salathe arrived in Yerevan international airport Zvartnots early morning on 15 September 2003, just in prior to the opening Seminar and departed early morning on 19 September 2003. During his stay in Armenia he has meetings and discussions with high officials in the Ministry of Nature Protection: Minister, First Deputy Minister, Head of Division of Biodiversity Conservation, Head of Division of Projects, National Ramsar Focal Point.

4.2. Opening session

The opening session was headed by First Deputy Minister of Nature Protection Dr. Simon Papyan, who first gave the floor for the welcome speech to the Minister of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia, H. E. Vardan Ayvazyan, following by short welcome speeches of Dr. Simon Papyan (on behalf of seminar organizers), Dr. T. Salathe (on behalf of Ramsar Convention Bureau), Mr. A. Mnatsakanyan (on behalf of the Sevan National Park), Dr. Dave Pritchard (on behalf of BirdLife International), Ms. I. Kamennova (on behalf of the Wetlands International Russian Programme), Dr. Nukzar Zazanashvili (on behalf of WWF Caucasus Office), Mr. David Reed Barker (on behalf of the LakeNet), Ms. Amalia Hambartsumyan (on behalf of the Armenian NGOs).

Outside the participants and the organizers of the Seminar (see Annex 4) among those who participated in opening session were

from the Ministry of Nature Protection:

  • Mr. Arsen Darbinyan, Deputy Minister
  • Mr. Samvel Amirkhanyan, Head, Working Stuff
  • Miss Naira Alaverdyan, Head, Secretariat
  • Mr. Artsrun Pepanyan, Head, Information Department
  • Mr. Aram Ter-Zaqaryan, Head, Department of International Relationship
  • Dr. Aram Gabrielyan, Head, Division of Air Protection
  • Dr. Edgar Pirumyan, Head, Division of Water Protection
  • Dr. Ashot Vardevanyan, Head, Division of Land Protection
  • Mr. Ashot Harutyunyan, Head, Division of Environment and Bioresource Economy
  • Prof. Artashes Ziroyan, Head, Agency of Bioresource Management
  • Mr. Harutyun Galoyan, Deputy Head, Agency of Bioresource Management
  • Dr. Karapet Afrikyan, Head, Division of Plant Resources Management, Agency of Bioresource Management
  • Dr. Aram Aghasyan, Head, Division of Especially Protected Natural Areas, Agency of Bioresource Management
  • Dr. Alfred Nersisyan, Head, Agency of Water Resource Management
  • Mr. Hosnik Kirakosyan, Deputy Head, Agency of Water Resource Management
  • Mr. Volodya Narimanyan, Deputy Head, Agency of Water Resource Management
  • Dr. Boris Ghazaryan, Deputy Head, Department of Environmental Expertise

from Yerevan based international organizations:

  • Ms. Anahit Simonyan, Portfolio Manager: Environment, UNDP
  • Dr. Marina Vardanyan, Environment and Natural Expert, USAID

from Sevan National Park:

  • Mr. Arshak Mnatsakanyan, Deputy Director for Economy
  • Mr. Zhora Gharibyan, Chief Accountant
  • Mr. Henrik Karapetyan, Deputy Head, Vardenis Section
  • Miss Nelli Voskanova, Senior Researcher, Museum

from research institutes and universities:

  • Dr. Emil Grigoryan, Dean, Biological Faculty, Yerevan State University
  • Dr. Karlen Vardanyan, Chair, Department of Ecology, Biological Faculty, Yerevan State University
  • Dr. Alexander Yesayan, Reader, Department of Lowest Plants, Biological Faculty, Yerevan State University
  • Dr. Hasmik Khachatryan, Academic Secretary, Zoological Institute
  • Mr. Simon Mnatsakanyan, Director, Sevan Botanical Garden, Institute of Botany
  • Mr. Karen Soghomonyan, Director, "GOS" Fish Breeding Factory

from mass media:

  • TV Hayastan 1
  • TV Prometheus
  • TV Sevan
  • Weekly newspaper Sevan News

Opening session included also welcome dinner. As one can expect, the dinner was going on in a very friendly and lively atmosphere. The speeches were polite, nice and brief. Foreign participants experienced Armenian folk music and dance.

4.2. The Main Body of the Seminar

The programme was almost fully executed as planned (see Annex 5) due to perfect organisation made on the basis of experience of previous years.

4.2.1. Presentations

The programme was composed of 43 presentations (31 oral and 11 poster, including 4 cancelled but available in the Abstracts brochure), of them 7 were about national governmental systems in their implementation of mainly the Ramsar Convention, but also other international instruments and synergy between them (Armenia, Russia, USA, Ramsar /2/, BirdLife International, International Council for Game and Wildlife), 4 - international cooperation (Czech Republic, Turkmenistan, Wetlands International Russian Programme, WWF Caucasus), 8 - national wetland policies (Armenia /2/, Belarus, Kyrgyz, Moldova, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), 5 - wetland management and conservation (Armenia /2/ , Georgia /2/, Lithuania), 3 - wetland restoration (Armenia, Belarus, Uzbekistan), 10 - threats to wetlands (Armenia /5/, Denmark, Georgia, Iran, Russia /2/), 2 - legislation (Armenia, Ukraine), 2 - invasive species (Armenia, Russia), 2 - inventory (Armenia, Wetlands International Russian Programme).

Most of the present countries wetland resources are under severe pressure from society. It seems to be typical for all European new independent states, that management is difficult due to lack of economical resources, although the situation varies significantly in different states/regions. The host country, Armenia, (regarded as one of the absolute poorest countries in Europe) showed a variety of examples of wetland management loosing momentum due to the weak economical situation of the country. However, plans for conservation programmes and restoration of degraded wetland areas do exist, and responsible people in the state administration and NGOs show a clear will to conserve and safeguard wetlands, just as the interest for bi- and multilateral co-operation internal in the region, and particularly also with foreign investment, is growing. The host site for the seminar, Lake Sevan, is a perfect example.

A main focus was on the "Caucasus eco-region" (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, part of Iran, Russia and Turkey), which has very special features due to peculiar peatland and alpine ecosystems with very important wetland ecology resources - some being region-typical including several endemic species of flora and fauna. In the context of migratory birds the region plays a major role as stopover and wintering site for a broad variety of waterfowl species from East-Eurasian flyways.

Management of the Kolkheti National Park in Georgia was presented. A strategic plan for the next 6 years has been developed including protection schemes combined with measures for wise use. The Kolkheti area has a specific role as a vast peatland ecosystem, hosting for instance a broad variety of migratory birds, and furthermore, one of the few remains of the tropical and partly sub-tropical landscape belt stretched as an almost unbroken line over the vast Eurasian continent in the Tertiary Period (10-40 mil. year ago).

A good example of trilateral cooperation in wetland management was given by the Czech representative (based in WI Czech Rep.). The Morava-Dyje Floodplains are shared by three nations: Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia. Immediately after the political changes in Central Europe at the end of 20th century initiative was taken as to integrate management of this ecosystem. The process has so far come to the signature of the MOU between the three governments (2001). A so-called "Platform" has been created to promote conservation. The threats to the ecosystem are huge, including planning of channel constructions between rivers Odra, Danube and Labe. Major concern to the irreversible destructive impact of this plan was given.

The Kyrgyz Republic representative gave an outline of the wetland situation of his country covering 199,900 km2 mountainous areas with great wetland resources. The Kyrgyz Republic ratified the Ramsar Convention in 1992. The wetland resources are dominated by three lakes, of which the Issyk-Kul Lake with its 6,300 km2 surface is the most important. It plays a major role for biodiversity values - both local (and some endemic and red listed) species and 66 species of migratory birds, including a breeding population of the Indian Goose (Anser indicus).

The Caspian Sea plays a major ecological and socio-economical role in the Caucasus Eco-Region and a very interest presentation of an integrated cross-border conservation and management plan, was given by the representative from Turkmenistan. 9 countries around the Sea have jointly set up a programme running until 2008 and works from thematic centres in 5 countries. All relevant components - conservation, economy, sustainable use, community development are involved.

Lake Sevan was described in a number of presentations and also during excursion. Lake Sevan is one of the World's largest alpine lakes. The watersheds comprise one-sixth of the country's total area and play a very significant role in Armenia - both ecologically and socio-economical. The lake provides habitat for fish and crayfish, nursery zones for many aquatic and amphibian species, and resting place for numerous migratory birds. During the Soviet regime water was taken from the lake for irrigation at rates substantially greater than the natural inflow causing the water level to lower by 19 meters over a period of forty years. Since then attempt have been made to reverse the situation, but due to the fact the infrastructure has been established close to the present bank, the possibilities of a total re-establishment seem to be very limited. Instead an action plan has been set up to restore the strategic value of Lake Sevan, stabilise the ecological situation, protect and enhance biodiversity, improve opportunities for tourism etc. This process has been funded by international programmes, such as the World Bank and Governments of Finland, Sweden and Switzerland. A special Project for restoration of Lake Gilli - an adjacent ecosystem that was drained completely - has been developed and works now as a GEF pilot project in the area. This project was described in details.

Other items described in brief:

  • A biodiversity database is under the development in Armenia (BIOWETOS - based on Access.). It includes model features. Need for coordination with other similar systems in Europe, especially in Mediterranean (MedWet).
  • The problems of invasive species were covered. Reference also to the general Ramsar concern about this.
  • Synergy of Ramsar Convention with Helsinki and New York Conventions.
  • Use of Ramsar, CMS and AEWA tools in preparation of state policy for wetland conservation.
  • Global Peatland Initiative in the context of important input into implementation of the Ramsar Convention in the region
  • Links of Ramsar Convention with Conventions Biodiversity and Climate Change.
  • Wetland inventory activities under the Wetlands International Russian Programme. Description of 35 Russian Ramsar sites covering 10.3 mil. ha.
  • An example of sustainable use of peatlands in Lithunia was given. Ecological corridors between protected areas are prioritised.
  • Belarus Ramsar priority: 7 sites appointed. Agricultural activities cause problems. Also uncontrolled fires have negative impact.
  • New approaches to sustainable use of the new Moldavian Ramsar Site and Natioinal Park "Lower Dniester".
  • Conservation of the wetlands and water-ecosystems in Uzbekistan.
  • Restoration of Lake Sudochie located in the central part of main Siberian-Central-Asian flyway - of great importance for both migratory and breeding avifauna.
  • Economical problems of wetland conservation and wise use.
  • Parasite levels in waterbirds (waders) and the physiological impact. Life-cycle with Molluscs (Littorina). Contamination level monitored by respiration of Molluscs. Research on University of St. Petersburg.
  • Change detection of mangroves in Nayband coastal wetland by oil pollution during the 1001 Persian Gulf War. More the ¾ of the ecosystem was destroyed.
  • Non-toxic shot - Danish history, phasing out lead shot for hunting in wetlands based on the Danish experience and with reference to the formal AEWA documents and also the CIC MBC Helsinki May 2003 resolution on the statement.
  • Parasites in fishes; possible impact on commercial fishery.
  • Human induced changes in the trophic structure of zoobenthos in Lake Sevan.

4.2.2. Plenary Sessions

One full (Tuesday, 16 September 2003) and a half (Wednesday, 17 September 2003) working days were dedicated to oral presentations. During the plenary sessions 15 minutes (with few exceptions) has been given for each presentation and 5 minutes for questions and answers. Most of the presentations were PowerPoint, well illustrated and extremely interesting. More 20 minutes has been given after each morning and evening sessions for discussions that were lively and fruitful.

4.2.3. Poster Session

Poster presentations were organized between 11.00 and 13.00, Wednesday, 17 September 2003, in a small but comfortable lobby. Again, most of the presentations were well illustrated, interesting and raised a lot of questions and discussions.

4.2.4. Working Groups

Three working groups have been established: 1. Conventions and International Cooperation, 2. Ramsar Sites and Wetland Conservation, 3. Wise Use of Wetland Resources. Groups were established on the basis of submitted abstracts and taking into account preferences of participants. The role of the facilitators in the groups took Dave Pritchard from BirdLife International (Conventions and International Cooperation), Susanna Hakobyan from the Institute of Hydroecology and Ichthyology of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia (Ramsar Site and Wetland Conservation), and Tatyana Minaeva from Wetlands International Russian Programme (Wise Use of Wetland Resources). Via group work three recommendations were drafted, but not finished during the seminar. Tobias Salathe, Dave Pritchard and Karen Jenderedjian have done farther drafting of recommendations. Second drafts have been distributed among participants of Seminar and authors of presentations via e-mail on 26 November 2003 (Recommendations on Conventions and International Cooperation), and on 8 December 2003 (Recommendations on Ramsar Sites and Wetland Conservation and Recommendations on Wise Use of Wetland Resources). Farther 11 responses have been received till the deadline on 20 December 2003 from Silva Adamyan, David Barcker, Anna Belousova, Josef Chytil, Steve Kadivar, Niels Kanstrup, Nadejda Mazur, Larisa Poddubnaya, Dave Prithchard, Tobias Salathe, Vardan Vardanyan. All of them were considered and most of them have been taken into account and accepted.

The addressees of recommendations are everybody who has attitude toward wetlands and wetland resources management and conservation: ministries, Ramsar administrative authorities, local administrations, managers of protected areas, and businessmen.

4.2.4.1. Working group on Conventions and International Cooperation

The working group discussed several aspects related to the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements at national level. To this end, the countries represented in the group (Armenia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Russian Federation, and Ukraine) presented their respective national experiences with the implementation of the requirements of international treaties. This was complemented by observations from BirdLife International and the Ramsar Bureau about creating synergies between different conventions at national level. The outcome of these discussions can be summarized in a number of key points, arranged in recommendations under six topic areas.

The group concluded that international conventions influence the situation at national level essentially in three ways: they act as driving forces to improve the situation at national level, they are a harmonizing factor, providing a common reference framework for evaluation of progress, and they help to identify priorities and set national targets. The first step of signing an international convention often stimulated the preparation of management plans for specific protected areas in the country concerned. Then, once management plans had been established for protected areas, they often changed governmental attitudes and had subsequently a positive influence towards the preparation of necessary improvements of existing legislation.

In particular, the working group welcomed the intention of the Government of Turkmenistan to join the Ramsar Convention.

The Recommendations of Working group on Conventions and International Cooperation are given in Annex 6E in English and Annex 6R in Russian.

4.2.4.2. Working group on Ramsar Sites and Wetland Conservation

The representatives of Armenia, Georgia and Russian Federation introduced current situation related to wetland conservation in their countries. The working group agreed the wetlands currently are underrepresented in the network of protected areas in respective countries.

The group concluded that designation of Ramsar sites influence positively the situation at national level regarding conservation of wetlands: designations of Ramsar sites give managers additional responsibilities for protection and conservation, better perspectives for fundraising.

However the group agreed that conservation of wetlands and wetland biodiversity is at a loss for abject poverty of population. Often wetland resources are the only source of life for people living in and around the Ramsar sites.

The Recommendations of Working group on Ramsar Sites and Wetland Conservation are given in Annex 7E in English and Annex 7R in Russian.

4.2.4.3. Working group on Wise Use of Wetland Resources

Participants of this group were representatives of Armenia, Belarus, I. R. Iran, Lithuania, Russian Federation, and Ukraine. The working group discussed different aspects of utilization of wetland resources whether of biotic or abiotic origin. Valuable observations from CIC Migratory Bird Commission about development of alternate activities, such as ecotourism, and especially birdwatching were given.

The working group had a consensus that on the basis of wise use of all types of wetland resources should lay the principle of reimbursement i. e. used resources should not exceed natural replenishment. The group agreed that the Ramsar Wise Use principles should be implemented much more sufficiently in the European new independent states. The group agreed also that all stakeholders should be identified and involved in wetland resources management.

The Recommendations of Working group on Wise Use of Wetland Resources are given in Annex 8E in English and Annex 8R in Russian.

4.3. Excursions

4.3.1. Boat Trip

The trip had been aimed to introduce to participants Lake Sevan and its problems aroused from the artificial water level drop on almost 20 m. Since then attempts have been made to reverse the situation, but due to the fact the infrastructure has been established close to the present bank, the possibilities of a total of the natural water level aren't real; however, the scientists predict that water level raise on 6-8 m will change the situation to the best due to restoration of the hipolimnion. For this purpose an action plan has been set up to restore the strategic value of Lake Sevan, stabilise the ecological situation, protect and enhance biodiversity, improve opportunities for tourism etc. International programmes, such as the World Bank and Governments of Sweden and Switzerland, have funded this process.

In total 48 people participated in the boat trip.

4.3.2. Coach Trip

The circle trip around Lake Sevan with 210 km total length had been aimed to introduce to participants Lake Sevan, wetlands in the basin of the lake, socio-economic life, cultural heritage, problems and achievements in wetland conservation and wise use.

First stop was on Sevan Peninsula, island till 1949. Participants had a chance to climb on the top of the peninsula, where Churches of St. Apostle and St. Virgin (both constructed in 874) are situated. Besides, on the peninsula are located Theological Seminary, Writers Creation House (venue of all previous wetland activities - 3 National and 1 Regional Wetland Management Training Courses), Sevan Hydro-meteorological Observatory, and a number of holiday houses, including Government Holiday House. Here organizers have introduced briefly the history of Christianity in Armenia, and the history of research of Lake Sevan.

Second stop was with the aim to visit Museum of Sevan National Park. The Museum is situated in the Palace of Culture if the Town Sevan. Here participants saw rather chaotic but interesting collections of flora and fauna, stones, soils, coins, utensils, models of churches, homes, etc. Here the guide of the Museum has introduced the history of Sevan National Park.

Third stop was near the Church Hayrivan (X-XIII century) situated on the rock just near the shoreline of the lake with a perfect view on the lake and its surroundings. Participants had a chance to see so called Khachkars - cross-stones of different age, size and ornament. The attention of participants was drawn to the wetlands of Gavaraget River mouth that play important role for waterfowl breeding but threatened seriously by grazing and haying.

Fourth stop was "GOS" fish breeding factory, one of four fish breeding factories in the Basin of Lake Sevan. Fish breeding factories play important role in reproduction of endemic fishes - Ishkhan (Salmo ischchan) and Koghak (Varicorhinus capoeta sevangi). All of them are privatized and currently relations with Government are regulated mainly through the State orders. This is not enough for survival and fish breeding factories seeking for alternate incomes, such as crayfish growing in the ponds as participants made certain on the example of "GOS" fish breeding factory.

Fifth stop was near the outflow of the Canal Arpa-Sevan from the 48.42 km long tunnel under the Vardenis Ridges. After 17 years long construction Canal Arpa-Sevan has been ready for exploitation on March 1, 1981. Since then up to 250 million m3 of water per year is able to divert to Lake Sevan from the Kechut Reservoir (basin of River Arpa). Another, 21 km long canal Arpa-Vorotan with storage capacity up to 165 million m3 of water per year is under construction.

Sixth stop was on 'Restoration of Lake Gilli' GEF project area. In 1960, the government of the former Soviet Republic of Armenia decided to drain the Lake Gilli and turn its land into agricultural activities. Lake Gilli was situated in the southeastern part of Lake Sevan basin in the mouth of the Masrik River. It used to be a wetland complex with a water surface of about 1,000 hectares and a nesting area for more than 100 species of migratory water birds. The remnants of the lake remain the largest highlands nesting for waterfowls in Armenia and hosts about 25 species of water and near water birds. The project target area hosts the largest colony of Armenian seagull, an endemic species. Thanks to its geographical position and microclimate, Lake Gilli acquired national and international significance. The majority of other rivers, lakes and ponds in highland Armenia do not contain wetland vegetation and therefore do not provide good habitat for near-water birds and waterfowls that are either in Armenia or using Armenia as a migratory path.

The visit to Lake Lichk Reserve Zone had been aimed to introduce to participants small flowing lake as a common case as well as the project for wetland rehabilitation and wetland management planning. Regretfully visit to this area has been cancelled due to bad weather conditions and wash out its road. In total 36 people participated in the coach trip.

4.3.3. Post-Seminar Tour

Post-seminar tour to Garni and Geghard had been organized on 21 October 2003 for those participants who were departing on 22 and 23 October 2003. During 6 hour and 120 km long trip they visited Romanian style temple in the Village Garni of I A. C. century, Church Hayrivanq-Geghard of XII-XIII century, as well as took glance on biblical Mount Ararat (5165 m a. s. l.), central part of Ararat Valley (800 m a. s. l., granary of Armenia), Azat River Canyon (300 m deep), paddles of Vokhchaberd - the only present habitat of Syrian Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates syriacus) in the country. In total 7 people participated in the coach trip.

5. EVALUATION OF THE SEMINAR

5.1. Opinion of the Participants

There wasn't any evaluation form distributed among the participants. All data obtained is the result of informal contacts of organizers with different participants.

Concerning the opinion on the contents of presentations all participants in common agree there were interesting and useful. They indicated that they had come to share and to increase their knowledge about international treaties, different aspects of wetland ecology, wetland management, wetland restoration, and their expectations in large extend are satisfied. However, some participants mentioned that a number of presentations were too much scientific and narrow specialized.

As far as the objectives of the Seminar are concerned, all participants felt that they had come to re-establish contacts and to know and understand each other better than before. Many of them felt to increase their knowledge about the wetlands. All interviewed participants indicated the objectives (see para 3.4) are achieved.

As far as the set up of the Seminar is concerned, they felt that the choice of participants was good. Also the choice of presentations was good; however, some oral presentations should have been poster, especially those that where were too much scientific and narrow specialized.

The location was considered good but rather remote and windy, the facilities good, and the organizational aspects of the Seminar excellent.

The excursions were very much appreciated.

5.2. Opinion of the Organizers

The organizers are very positive about the resulting conclusions of the Seminar regarding Conventions and International Cooperation, Ramsar Sites and Wetland Conservation, and Wise Use of Wetland Resources that are reflected in the Seminar's Recommendations (Annexes 6-8). The participants worked hard, especially during the preparation of recommendations that organizers considered important outcome of the Seminar.

As far as the objectives of the Seminar are concerned, the organizers are also quite positive:

  • there is significant progress in the European new independent states is efforts to develop national wetland policies due in no small part to the work of participants of the Seminar (O.O. 2.1).
  • a number of presentation promote integration of wetland conservation and wise use in decision making on land-use (O.O. 2.2).
  • the Seminar itself and particularly the ABSTRACTS of the Seminar promote significantly the development and wide dissemination of studies, which give economic evaluations of the benefits of wetlands (O.O. 2.4).
  • the Seminar itself and particularly the ABSTRACTS promote scientific inventories to identify wetlands which need restoration and rehabilitation (O.O. 2.6).
  • the Seminar gives a good base to development of new wetland training opportunities in the region (O.O. 4.2)
  • the recommendation of the Seminar clearly identify regional needs for managing transboundary wetlands and create important basis for strengthening cooperation in this field (O.O. 7.1).
  • the participants have made a step forward in the strengthening cooperation and synergy between Ramsar and other international treaties in the region (O.O. 7.2).

6. CONCLUSIONS

6.1. The quality of participants was high. The participants were very enthusiastic: most of them brought own input to achieve the objectives of the Seminar.

6.2. Three full working days was enough to reach the desired objectives.

6.3. While planning excursions alternate options should be better considered in order to be less dependent on weather and other unexpected occasions.

6.4. The Seminar is a good experience and perspective for future regional meetings not only on wetland issues but wider: management of protected areas, water resources management, natural resources management, etc.

6.5. From the organisational point of view the Seminar is easier for 40 participants as it had been planned initially. From the financial point of view for 64 participants the costs are more effective.

6.6. The input of all members of the Organizing Committee was extremely useful and efficient, including the inputs of all international members: Olga Anisimova, (Wetland International, Russia Office, Russia), Lisa Borre (LakeNet, USA), Vasiliy Kostyushin (Wetlands International, Black Sea Office, Ukraina), and Tobias Salathe (Ramsar Secretariat, Switzerland).

7. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The organisers are indebted to the Minister of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia, H. E. Vardan Ayvazyan for valuable help and fully understanding of the problems raised during the preparation of the Seminar, and to Mr. Aram Ter-Zakharyan, Head of International Cooperation Department for constant interest during the preparation and execution of the Course.

Our thanks to Mr. Arsen Arakelyan, Director and the staff of the "Motel" for good service and sincere hospitality; to Mr. Soghomon Soghomonyan for organisation of 'alternate' lunch during the excursion around Lake Sevan.

The organisers give special thanks to the Ramsar Secretariat, to the Small Grants Fund for funding the project.

Our special thanks to Dr Tobias Salathe for valuable advices during the preparation and execution of the Seminar. Without his kind assistance the Seminar scarcely could be so successful.

We intend our thanks to Mr Dwight Peck for timely placing of Seminar announcement and other materials in the Ramsar Web Page and Ms Annette Keller for useful advices.

The organisers give special thanks to the LakeNet for substantial financial support to Armenian participants. The organisers also thank the U.S. AID for providing funds for this purpose.

Our special thanks to the LakeNet key persons: to Mrs Lisa Borre for her assistance and permanent interest during preparation of the Seminar, to Mr David Reed Barker for active and constructive participation in almost discussions during the execution of the Seminar, and Mrs Laurie Duker for distribution of Seminar abstracts in the LakeNet Web Page.

8. BUDGET

As has been already mentioned, the Ramsar Standing Committee at its 29th Meeting approved a grant of CHF 40,000 from the Ramsar Small Grants Fund for Wetland Conservation and Wise Use in support of the project "Regional Seminar "Current Issues of Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands and Wetland Biodiversity in the European New Independent States"" proposed for up to 40 participants. According to the Letter of Agreement, 80% (CHF 32,000) of the total amount the Ramsar Bureau transferred to organizers after receipt by of the countersigned copy of the Letter of Agreement and remaining 20% (CHF 8,000) will be transferred upon receipt and satisfactory review of the Final Report (current document).

Additional funds for 25 Armenian applicants became available due to US$ 6,500 support of the LakeNet with funding from the U. S. AID; 90% of total amount (US$ 5,850) has been handed to organizers just before the Seminar.

For this turn became possible to increase the number of participants till 64 (Annex 4).

Then, the financial report composed from two parts: general (Ramsar SGF funds) and additional (LakeNet money from MOU programme).

8.1. Financial report: Ramsar SGF - General [not included in this reprint of the report]

9. ANNEXES

Annex 1. Information Letter in Armenian, English, and Russian [not included in this reprint of the report]
Annex 2. Application Form in Armenian, English, and Russian [not included in this reprint of the report]
Annex 3. Seminar Programme in English and Russian [not included in this reprint of the report]
Annex 4. List of Participants of the Seminar
Annex 5. Seminar Programme as it has been executed [not included in this reprint of the report]
Annex 6E. Recommendations on Conventions and International Cooperation in English
Annex 7E. Recommendations on Ramsar Sites and Wetland Conservation in English
Annex 8E. Recommendations on Wise Use of Wetland Resources in English

Annex 4. List of Participants of the Seminar

Name, Country, Organization

1. Aghajanyan Suren, Armenia, Sevan National Park
2. Badalyan Norik, Armenia, Sevan National Park
3. Balyan Luba F, Armenia, NGO Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds
4. Charchoghlyan Ashot, Armenia, Institute of Botany of the National Academy of Sciences
5. Danielyan Tatyana F, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
6. Davtyan Ruzan F, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
7. Feroyan Hamlet, Armenia, Sevan National Park
8. Galstyan Siranush F, Armenia, University of International Relationships Anania Shirakatsi
9. Gevorgyan Aram, Armenia, NGO Professional ?nd Entrepreneurial Orientation Union
10. Ghasabyan Mamikon, Armenia, NGO Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds
11. Ghazaryan Raya F, Armenia, Farmer
12. Ghazaryan Shakro, Armenia, Farmer
13. Grigoryan Erik, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
14. Hakobyan Susanna F, Armenia, Institute of Hydroecology and Ichthyology of the National Academy of Sciences
15. Hambartsumyan Amalia F, Armenia, NGO Khazer
16. Hambartsumyan Hambartsum, Armenia, Administration of Gegharquniq Marzpetaran
17. Hambaryan Lusine F, Armenia, Institute of Hydroecology and Ichthyology of the National Academy of Sciences
18. Hayrapetyan Marine F, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
19. Jenderedjian Arpineh F, Armenia, Yerevan State University
20. Jenderedjian Karen, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
21. Karapetyan Vardkez, Armenia, Sevan National Park
22. Khanjian Nazik F, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
23. Kirakossian Gagik, Armenia, NGO Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union
24. Manusajyan Valeri, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
25. Manvelyan Karen, Armenia, WWF Caucasus, Armenian Office
26. Melkumyan Edward, Armenia, NGO Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union
27. Mikaelyan Hasmik F, Armenia, Yerevan State University
28. Mnatsakanyan Ashot, Armenia, Sevan National Park
29. Muradyan Siranush F, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
30. Papyan Simon, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
31. Rubenyan Haykaz, Armenia, Institute of Hydroecology and Ichthyology of the National Academy of Sciences
32. Rubenyan Tatyana F, Armenia, Institute of Hydroecology and Ichthyology of the National Academy of Sciences
33. Sargsyan Artak, Armenia, Sevan National Park
34. Vardanyan Meruzhan, Armenia, NGO Kaputachya Sevan
35. Vardanyan Vardan, Armenia, Yerevan State Linguistic University after Brusov
36. Voskanov Mikhail, Armenia, Ministry of Nature Protection
37. Voskanova Nelli F, Armenia, Sevan National Park
38. Kozulin Alexsander, Belarus, Institute of Zoology of the National Academy of Sciences
39. Sosnovsky Vladimir, Belarus, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection
40. Chytil Josef, Czech Republic, Palava Biosphere Reserve
41. Kanstrup Niels, Denmark, CIC Migratory Bird Commission
42. Gabunia Mzia F, Georgia, Georgia's Protected Areas Program
43. Kandaurov Andrey, Georgia, Institute of Zoology of the National Academy of Sciences
44. Matchutadze Izolda F, Georgia, NGO Society of Wild Nature Conservation "Tchaobi"
45. Rukhadze Anna F, Georgia, Ministry of Environment
46. Skhiladze Nana F, Georgia, NGO Society of Wild Nature Conservation "Tchaobi"
47. Zazanashvili Nugzar, Georgia, WWF Caucasus Program Office
48. Bagherzadeh Krimi Masoud, I. R. Iran, Department of the Environment
49. Bektemirov Alymjan, Kyrgyz, State Forestry Service
50. Pivoriunas Danielius, Lithuania, Ministry of Environment
51. Mazur Nadejda F, Moldova, NGO Society "Biotica"
52. Van Der Weide, Netherlands, Georgia's Protected Areas Program
53. Arakelova Katherine F, Russian Federation, Zoological Institute of Academy of Sciences
54. Belousova Anna F, Russian Federation, All-Russian Institute of Nature Protection
55. Kamennova Irina F, Russian Federation, Wetlands International Russian Programme
56. Minaeva Tatyana F, Russian Federation, Wetlands International Russian Programme
57. Poddubnaya Larisa F, Russian Federation, Institute of Biology of Internal Waters of Academy of Sciences
58. Tuniev Boris, Russian Federation, Strict Reserve Kavkazskiy Zapovednik
59. Veselova Galina F, Russian Federation, Ministry of Natural Resources
60. Salathe Tobias, Switzerland, Ramsar Convention Bureau
61. Rustamov Eldar, Turkmenistan, Ministry of Nature Protection
62. Gutsal Olga F, Ukraine, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources
63. Dave Pritchard, United Kingdom, BirdLife International
64. Barker David, USA, LakeNet

Annex 6E. Recommendations on Conventions and International Cooperation

1. Use international conventions to strengthen national measures

  • To become more effective, international conventions should identify and provide financial resources for implementation activities at national level (from donor organizations and the private sector).
  • Conventions should encourage international organizations and others to assist with rapid response mechanisms in acute cases of difficulty in implementing the provisions of the conventions.

2. Use joint international approaches to solve shared problems and problems at shared sites

  • Joint approaches between different conventions and different countries should be undertaken for the prevention and remediation of negative changes affecting wetlands and other natural ecosystems. Notably in the case of drought damage, joint efforts should be undertaken to rehabilitate and restore degraded and disturbed ecosystems.
  • Joint assessments of environmental impacts of projects, plans and programmes which impact on more than one country should be undertaken, especially with regard to migratory species.
  • Common management plans should be prepared for important transboundary wetlands, including peatlands.

3. Improve enforcement and monitoring of legal compliance

  • National mechanisms should be established (e. g. through National Ramsar Committees) to monitor the implementation of the obligations in international conventions.
  • Rapid response mechanisms should be put in place to be able to react appropriately in cases where convention requirements may be being breached.
  • Management plans should become mandatory for all protected areas, including wetlands.
  • Existing legislative frameworks for conservation, restoration, management and sustainable use of wetlands needs to be improved in most countries.

4. Harmonize the implementation of relevant multilateral environmental agreements at national level

  • An important need exists at national level to establish good coordination mechanisms among all administrations dealing with environmental conventions whose aims are linked, notably Ramsar, CBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC, World Heritage Convention, CITES, CMS, UN-ECE Transboundary Waters, Aarhus, Berne.
  • National clearing house mechanisms to promote and monitor harmonization activities (including terminology) should be established.

5. Facilitate implementation of convention requirements at national level

  • Dedicated financing should be provided for the work of national focal points to further the implementation of conventions requirements.
  • Up-to-date wetland inventory, assessment and monitoring should be undertaken as an essential foundation for improved implementation of the Ramsar Convention.
  • Socio-economic valuation of wetlands, including wetland resource use by local communities, needs to be undertaken at many sites and in many regions.
  • Special regionally based wetland management training system should be established for personnel of protected wetland areas.
  • Legal aspects of hunting on wild migrating waterfowl species should be brought in correspondence with international treaties.
  • National Focal Points should keep themselves up to date concerning information on available financial mechanisms and funding possibilities. In parallel, convention secretariats should facilitate this by dissemination of information about funding opportunities and guidance on making applications.

Annex 7E. Recommendations on Ramsar Sites and Wetland Conservation

1. Make Ramsar site management more integrated, systematic and consistent

  • Ramsar Site boundaries should be drawn widely enough, or extended, to include any integrally related peatlands and floodplain wetlands as well as adjacent natural and sub-natural habitats.
  • Management capacities and human resources involved in Ramsar site management should be strengthened through the provision of specific training.
  • The involvement of local communities and local administrations in Ramsar site management should be strengthened. Informational kits and training tools intended for environmental education of the local population should be issued.
  • The development and increased implementation of site management plans at Ramsar sites and other important wetlands remains a high priority. Integrated water resource management approaches at water catchment / river basin level should be applied more widely.
  • The new guidelines WISE USE OF MIRES AND PEATLANDS should be disseminated widely, applied in relation to the threat in many countries from large-scale peat mining in particular, and developed in further detail.
  • Geographic Information Systems should be used widely for the planning, preparation and monitoring of management measures and their effectiveness.

2. Include all Ramsar sites and other important wetlands in national protected area networks

  • Establishment of protected areas on existing Ramsar sites remain highest priority.
  • Financing the projects on sustainable development by inclusion of Ramsar sites in the network of biosphere reserves, especially transboundary, is a high priority.
  • Additional protected areas should be designated and the conservation of existing ones strengthened, giving high priority to wetland sites.
  • Legislative basis should be established for official recognition of protected areas established on others than state-owned lands. More rights should be given to local authorities in designation and further management of protected areas.

Annex 8E. Recommendations on Wise Use of Wetland Resources

1. Develop alternative forms of economic activities

  • Full support should be provided to the development of organic agriculture, as well as to the methods of traditional land use on wetland areas.
  • Inter-sectoral cooperation as an important pre-condition of wise use of wetland resources should be considered. Wetland resources should view as an ecologic treasure that has economic value.
  • Ecotourism, and bird watching in particular, should remain priority as alternative forms of economic activity on wetland areas. Special attention should be given to elaboration of tourist routes.
  • The standards, including the use of ecological criteria for the transfer / re-transfer of low-productive agricultural lands or wastelands into the wetlands should be elaborated.

2. Strengthen legal aspects and adopt tax policy to environmental needs

  • Legislative basis based on the principle of "polluter shall pay" should be developed to compensate for damage caused to wetlands and wetland biodiversity by different economic practices.
  • Clear objectives and terms of taxes for use of biological resources should be set out. The taxes for use of biological resources should be realistic and reflect both economic and ecological values of given resource. A scheme of tax incentives for environmentally friendly activities is important to adopt.
  • Flexible scale of compensatory payments for reimbursement of damage caused to wetlands and wetland resources should be developed and apply in practice. Methods of carrying out the assessment of damage caused to wetlands and wetland biodiversity by different economic practices should be elaborated.

3. Strengthen scientific basis of wetland resources use

  • Important to create, manage and make wide use of databases on wetland resources of biotic and abiotic origin.
  • National and regional Red Data Books of endangered plants and animals should be based on IUCN Nature of Categories of threatened species and reflect the state of varieties.

4. Involve local communities and private sector in management of wetland recourses

  • Local administrations and people should be more actively involved in wetland management and conservation programmes.
  • Economic mechanisms for involvement of private sector in the ecological restoration of valuable natural ecosystems (particularly wetlands) should be developed.
  • Approaches of wetland restoration should be attractive to local people from economic point of view. Financing such projects on wetland restoration remain a high priority. The experience gained in wetland restoration should be disseminated widely.

PICTURES

Lake Sevan with Gull Islets and Sevan Peninsula on the background

Boat trip: Arpine Jenderedjian and Danielius Pivoriunas (Lithuania)


David Read Barker, President of the LakeNet

Niels Kanstrup (CIC) and Karen Jenderedjian


Evening party: "Swan Dance", Dave Pritchard, BirdLife International

Lunch time: D. Pritchard, Josef Chytil (Czech Republic), K. Jenderedjian, Tobias Salathe, D. Barker

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,181 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,545,658

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