Ramsar Study Tour to French Ramsar sites and prospective Ramsar sites, June 2005
Ramsar Study Tour
Sunday, 26 June 2005
Visit to French wetlands on the far side of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva)
The Dranse Delta
Rémy Dolques welcomes Ramsar staff members and friends to the Dranse Delta Nature Reserve on the southern side of Lac Léman, where the mighty river Dranse flows down out of the mountains of the Haute Savoie and threads its way to the lake amid recreational and industrial embellishments. The site can be seen across the lake (with a good pair of binoculars) from the Ramsar Secretariat in the IUCN HQ in Gland, Switzerland.
The Delta of the Dranse is one of several parts of the Ramsar site no. 519 called Rives du Lac Léman ["shores of Lake Geneva"], which includes four river stretches, the Château de Ripaille and its forest, and different parts of the lake, important for migrating and wintering waterbirds.
An abandoned gravel quarry nestled between the main course of the river and the campgrounds and yacht marina of Ripaille.
Rémy Dolques identifies the various birds to be seen through the telescope. Ramsar staff was joined by Sibylle Vermont (white shirt) of the Swiss Office fédéral de l'environnement, des forêts et du paysage, with her family.
Ramsar's Tobias Salathé provides English translation for the multinational Ramsar staff.
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Looking upstream at the main channel of the Dranse.
On the lakeside
A Swiss lake steamer passing the site from Thonon
The Maravant mire, Pays de Gavot
Away from the lakeside, Stéphane Machinal explains the set-up of the new discovery path at the Maravant mire, one of the three new paths inaugurated on 24 June 2005, on the plateau of the Pays de Gavot overlooking Lac Léman above Thonon and Evian, France.
Stéphane explains that a number of small wetlands on the plateau of the Pays de Gavot are in the process of being designated as a new Ramsar site and describes the process by which some of the waters filter down over towards the lake over two decades to become the pure spring water of the Evian water company and the Evian curative baths.
Ramsar staff and friends traversing a deliberately tricky walkway across the mire, meant to separate the wetland enthusiasts from the mere picnickers.
Ramsar Assistants Lucia Scodanibbio, Dorothea August, and Adrián Ruiz-Carvajal memorialize the moment.
Ramsar staff seeks frogs
The Ramsar Centre at Pré Curieux
The Pré Curieux ('very strange meadows') is a nature interpretation centre operated by the city of Evian on the French lakeside, a dedicated wetland exhibit and Ramsar Information Centre.
The Ramsar Centre at Pré Curieux was inaugurated in September 2002 with an outdoor lunch in a vicious freezing wind. More information about the Centre and its activities can be seen here.
The solar-powered boat that ferries visitors to Pré Curieux from the Evian pier -- that's all solar panel stuff on the roof. It doesn't go very fast, apparently, but no one's in a hurry anyway, it's just a nice relaxing day out.
The old mansion, now a wetland interpretation centre, and the original formal gardens on the right.
Sylvain Rochy explains the biodiversity to be found in the small ponds formed by the original gardens.
'It's not all just dragonflies and dead snails, there's a lot more stuff down in there.'
A pond thoughtfully provided for showing school groups some of the wonders of wetlands
Inside the interpretation centre, with Ramsar exhibits
Photos by Tobias Salathé and Dwight Peck.