Workshop on implementing the ecosystem approach in Europe


"Implementing the Ecosystem Approach of the CBD and the Water Framework Directive of the European Union"

The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation convened on the Isle of Vilm, from 28 September to 1 October 2005, an expert workshop on the subject of "Implementing the Ecosystem Approach (EsA) of the CBD - The opportunities provided by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) of the European Union".

Following presentations from the Convention on Biological Diversity and Ramsar Secretariats on a general introduction as well as on the principles, and on legal and economical aspects of the implementation process, the main emphasis of the workshop was focused on the application of case studies from the whole of Europe.

In addition to the single studies, the EsA sourcebook was introduced and explained in detail the example of the Ribble catchment in northwest England which includes the Ribble and Alt Estuaries Ramsar site. The Austrian presentation on the development of an assessment of backwaters and wetlands of large rivers was introduced with the example of the Morava River, which is based on the already existing cooperation from the trilaterally designated Ramsar site with Czech and Slovak Republic. Another contribution came from the German NGO "Grüne Liga" concerning the implementation of the directive along the Havel floodplains in the surrounding of Berlin and in the Brandenburg region, which are also designated as a Ramsar site. Besides the general presentation of the Bulgarian approach, a second speech was focused on different Ramsar sites such as the Belene Islands along the Danube River and the Lake Srèbana close to the Black Sea.

Finally the Swedish approach went across from inland to coastal wetlands with the example of the Kristianstad Water Kingdom at the Ramsar site Helgeån, which flows into the Baltic Sea in southern Sweden.

The discussion of the 12 principles of the Ecosystem Approach in relation to WFD implementation showed that already existing Ramsar tools may help to bridge the challenging gaps in the implementation process. Especially the Ramsar Handbooks offer a pragmatic tool to improve communication and participation on all levels, but also the fishery and management guidelines provide a wide range of topics for future development within the Commission's Water Policy. Another benefit of the discussion was the expression/ articulation of special challenges in east European countries.

In conclusion the case studies and discussions demonstrated the mutual support of all three approaches and the significant role the Ramsar sites network often plays in the development of a water management plan on catchment level. But it also made visible the need for better networking and promotion of the already existing mechanism and tools to enhance the effectiveness of the water and wetland management.

Dorothea August
Assistant Advisor for Europe

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The houses of the conference centre (typical with reed roofs)

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