Ramsar site managers in Switzerland

23/06/2008

First meeting of Ramsar site managers in Switzerland

On 15 March 2008, the Fondation des Grangettes (managing Ramsar site N° 504 Les Grangettes on Lake Geneva) hosted a meeting of Ramsar site managers in Switzerland and nearby France in the small town of Villeneuve at the edge of the Ramsar site. This was a first and very successful event, based on the reflections of the Swiss Ramsar Administrative Authority (the Federal Office of the Environment) about practical ways to improve Ramsar contacts at national level. Calling the managers of Switzerland’s 11 Ramsar sites and the representatives of the country’s large conservation organizations, representing Ramsar’s International Organization Partners at national level, for a meeting seemed to be a feasible first step towards a possible longer-term goal to formally call specialists from all 26 federal states (Cantons) to convene as a National Ramsar Committee. It was natural on this occasion to include a representative of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, also located on the shores of Lake Geneva some 60 km away.

About 25 Ramsar site managers and wetland specialists used this opportunity to exchange specific experience, know-how and problems encountered with managing Ramsar sites and their wider catchment basins. Particularly helpful was to compare Swiss experiences with lessons learnt in neigbouring Savoy (France), presented by the manager of Ramsar site N°1268 Lac du Bourget – Marais de Chautagne. The debate focused particularly on the need to make Ramsar more visible, on the ground through improved information provided to visitors to existing Ramsar sites, but also in political processes at local and national level. While celebrations for World Wetlands Day on 2 February have nearly become a household name in Geneva and at other parts on the shores of Lake Geneva, still a huge potential exists to expand such awareness and information activities and events to other Ramsar site areas and their surroundings. The participants concluded to spread the conclusions of their first meeting widely (the meeting report is attached in French) and to meet again towards the end of 2008, in order to take note of the results of COP10 in Changwon and discuss how best to implement its Resolutions. The organizers are to be congratulated for their initiatives and all participants are thanked for their interest and concern and wish to move on along this promising path.

Pierre Galland (right), president of Fondation des Grangettes, discusses with Nicola Patocchi, manager of Ramsar site N°231 Bolle di Magadino

Olivier Epars (left), manager of Ramsar site N°504 Les Grangettes, discusses with Catherine Strehler, manager of Ramsar sites N°79 and 505 along the shores of Lake Neuchâtel, listened by Pierre Goeldlin, of Fondation des Grangettes, President of Ramsar COP4 in 1990 at nearby Montreux.

After the successful meeting the participants had a quick look at the ongoing restoration works to recreate a pond in the lakeshore reedbeds, undertaken by Fondation des Grangettes.

-- Photos by Denis Landenbergue and Tobias Salathé

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