Symposium on transboundary wetlands in Europe, Eger, 2006

01/09/2006

Progress on transboundary cooperation in Europe

Report from a Symposium

On 23-26 August 2006, more than 1500 scientists, conservationists, politicians, media representatives and various experts gathered in the historic Hungarian city of Eger on the occasion of the first European Congress of Conservation Biology. In the plenary sessions important issues were presented by eminent speakers and discussed. These included:

  • the dramatic and continuing loss of biodiversity in Europe;
  • a certain ambiguity in the European Union plans to stop the loss of biodiversity by 2010, as the question of whether we should conserve biodiversity itself or natural processes remained unanswered;
  • the impact of climate change upon the development of the Natura 2000 network; this network of protected areas is now moving to a management and conservation phase, but might require significant changes in the future due to warmer climatic conditions and sea-level rise;
  • the understanding that biodiversity loss cannot be stopped solely by good science, but also (or mainly) by policy, lobbying and public awareness work.

The plenary sessions were complemented by numerous technical events, during which many papers were presented, orally and through posters, whose quality and interest varied considerably.

One of the major events was the Symposium on 'Diversity of important transboundary wetlands in Europe' convened by Saulius Svazas (Lithuania), who co-chaired the meeting with Thymio Papayannis, with financial support provided by OMPO. The Symposium focused on the less well-known instances of developing multilateral cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe.

After an introduction by the two chairpersons, incorporating the latest information provided by the Ramsar Secretariat, the following case studies were presented:

  • Transboundary wetlands in the Carpathian Basin (by András Bohm).
  • The Prespa Park shared by Albania, Greece and the FYR of Macedonia (by Thymio Papayannis).
  • The Danube Delta (by Valentin Serebryakov).
  • The Prypiat River Region shared by Belarus and Ukraine (by Olga Belyakova and Alexander Kozulin).

Finally, Saulius Svazas spoke on the use of cross-border inventories of biological diversity as a tool for the conservation of the major wetlands shared by Belarus, Lithuania and Russia.

The general conclusions of the Symposium included:

  • the realisation of the progress made on international exchanges for wetlands in this part of Europe, but the need for more systematic, formal and all inclusive cooperation;
  • thus, the need to involve local communities and NGOs in all activities related to management and conservation of transboundary wetlands;
  • the significant benefits that could grow from the dissemination and the sharing of experience and know-how both on the technical and on the political / social levels;
  • the crucial importance of developing among the people a common vision of major wetlands across borders.

The papers presented will be made available through publication in an appropriate journal. The Web site of the Congress can be found at http://www.eccb2006.org/.

-- reported by Thymio Papayannis

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