Meeting of the International Contact Forum in the Barents Region, a platform for cooperation on habitat conservation


The sixth Meeting of the International Contact Forum on Habitat Conservation in the Barents Region was organized on 1 – 4 June 2010 in the old Russian city of Arkhangelsk by the Government of the Arkhangelsk Region, Institute of Ecological Problems of the North of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, WWF Russia, Province of Västerbotten (Sweden), Finnish Environment Institute, and Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management.

Plenary session on Boreal forests and forest sustainable use

Held every two years, the Forum is now a part of the activities of the Subgroup on Nature Protection of the Working Group on Environment of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council ( It represents a platform for cooperation on habitat conservation in the Barents Region (which is defined by the Barents Euro-Arctic Council as 13 regions in the northernmost parts of Finland, Norway, Russian Federation and Sweden, i.e. Kainuu, Lapland, Oulu, Finnmark, Nordland, Troms, Arkhangelsk, Karelia, Komi, Murmansk, Nenets, Norrbotten and Västerbotten). This region with a total area of 1,755,800 square km and with a population of approximately 5.5 million people is characterized by harsh climatic conditions, very sensitive flora and fauna and rich natural resources, including forests, fish, minerals, oil and gas. Wetland habitats are traditionally among the key topics of the Forum since in the Barents Region wetlands cover large areas and are represented by diverse types (including coastal and shallow marine areas, mires, wet forests, rivers and freshwater lakes). This region has 37 inland and marine Ramsar Sites with the total area of 10,728 square km and partly coincides with the region covered by the NorBalWet Ramsar Regional Initiative.

Northern Dvina bank - boat excursion after the Forum

About a hundred participants representing Ministries of Environment, national and regional authorities, universities, scientific institutions, NGOs and protected areas from all the four Barents countries, as well as Ramsar Secretariat and IUCN took part in the Forum in Arkhangelsk. This year, key topics of the Forum included: protection of wetlands and boreal forests; sustainable use of forests as well as marine and coastal ecosystems; synergy of natural and spiritual values; and Network of Protected Areas in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BPAN). An additional topic was the Pyoza River basin, which was examined as a prospective object of international cooperation in preserving old-growth forests and nature complexes. These topics were all discussed in the light of international agreements and initiatives, including the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Delos Initiative, and the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation on the Green Belt of Fennoscandia ̶ signed earlier this year by the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, the Ministry of the Environment of Norway and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation.

Signing of the Forum Resolution: Tapio Lindholm (Finland), Yuri Trubin (Russian Federation), Mats-Rune Bergström (Sweden), Knut Fossum (Norway), Galina Veselova (Russian Federation)

Discussions between sessions: Jan-Petter Huberth Hansen (Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management; Ramsar National Focal Point) and Nils Olaf Höjer (Swedish Environmental Protection Agency), Oleg Kuznetsov (Karelian Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences) and Valery Efimov (Institute of Ecological Problems of the North, Russian Academy of Sciences)

Next Forum will be organized in Northern Norway in 2012. It will focus on: protection and management of marine and coastal habitats; additional efforts to protect boreal forests in the Barents region; further development of the BPAN; follow-up on selected recommendations from CBD COP 10; synergies of forests and wetlands protection with climate change mitigation and adaptation.

A report by Nadezhda Alexeeva, Assistant Regional Advisor for Europe.

Additional information:

>Resolution of the VI International Contact Forum on Habitat Conservation in the Barents Region

>Programme of the Forum

>Working Group on Environment of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council

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