Nordic-Baltic Wetlands Initiative (NorBalWet)
NorBalWet conference on monitoring of wetlands
In 2006 took place two very successful meetings under the Nordic-Baltic Wetlands Initiative (NorBalWet), one in Sweden focusing on the restoration of wet forests and mires, and one in Norway focusing on restoration of rivers, floodplains, lakes and deltas (cf. www.ramsar.org/mtg/caxref:2417). This was followed on 20-22 September 2007 by a conference on monitoring of wetlands, held at Lepanina, on the southern Baltic coast of Estonia, organized by the Nature Conservation Department of the Estonian Ministry of the Envrionment, the administrative authority for the Ramsar Convention.
Agu Leivits and Kai Kimmel, of the State Nature Conservation Centre, organized a very illustrative meeting focusing on practical aspects of wetland monitoring, in which about 30 experts from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and the Ramsar Secretariat participated. Specialists from the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management (the Ramsar authority), the Ecology Institute of Tallinn University, the Latvian Fund for Nature, the Estonian State Nature Conservation Centre and others used this opportunity to exchange experiences and look at wetland monitoring aspects in the field in recently restored coastal wet meadows, fen mires and raised bogs. The region, often referred to as “North Livonia” (named after the nearly extinct fishermen people of the Livs), shared between Estonia and Latvia, is particularly rich in coastal wetlands, river courses, mires and wet meadows. The area profited from Dutch project support (PIN-Matra) to develop a master plan for integrated wetland and forest management in the transboundary area. This is now succeeded by European Union co-funding (Interreg) of the project “Wetlivonia” working for the tuned management and monitoring of the transboundary protected areas in North Livonia, coordinated by Anneli Roosalu (Estonia) and Andris Urtans (Latvia), cf. www.north-livonia.org.
During the meeting, Estonia announced that it is preparing the designation of 14 new Ramsar sites until 2010, including the Kabli and Luitemaa Nature Reserves and restored Häädemeeste meadows along the Baltic coast, all now included in the EU “Natura 2000” network of sites for biodiversity and habitat protection. This will provide a contribution to the 2010 target (of the UN Millennium Development Goals) to reduce significantly the current rate of biodiversity loss. In Latvia, Ramsar Site N° 1385 “Northern Bogs (Ziemelu purvi)” is part of the large North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve. The state border crosses right through these impressive raised bogs. Estonia is about to designate its part, the Sookuninga Nature Reserve as an additional Ramsar Site, besides the existing Nigula Nature Reserve (Ramsar Site N°910).
The participants also discussed further steps needed for Nordic-Baltic wetland cooperation and how to develop their regional initiative in the future. The conclusions of these exchanges are summarized here (PDF). Leaving Lepanina Hotel at the Baltic shores, the participants agreed to meet in 2008 in Finland for the next NorBalWet seminar, and also during the 6th European Regional Ramsar Meeting to be held in Stockholm (3-7 May 2008).
Exchange of know-how at the edge of Nigula bog, (L to R): Anneli Roosalu (Wetlivonia Estonia, seated), Ieva Rove (Latvian Fund for Nature), Agu Leivits (Estonia Nature Conservation Centre), Alastair Brown (Dokku Delta Ramsar Site Norway)
Rainy autumn weather refuelling the Nigula bog hollows (Ramsar Site N°910 in Estonia)
A view of the Estonian part of Rongu bog, soon to become a Ramsar Site. The state border cuts right through this raised bog. Its Latvian part is already Ramsar listed (part of Northern Bogs “Ziemelu purvi” N°1385).
Participants of the wetlands monitoring conference visiting the nearby restored coastal meadows, providing an important stop-over site for migrating waterbirds, near the village of Voiste.