A message from Peter Bridgewater, Chair of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, UK


The following brief report describes the use of name badges used at the recent Parks Forum meeting in Australia, made from degradable, mostly recyclable materials by the local community at the Mabamba Bay Ramsar Site, in Uganda.

Dr Bridgewater reports that "the Parks Forum (www.parksforum.org) is an industry association of the parks management agencies in Australia and New Zealand, with some associate/interested membership from Europe and the USA. These agencies are of course responsible for management of the Ramsar sites in the countries concerned, as well a wide range of other protected spaces. The Forum has just held its biennial conference in Sydney Australia, under the theme “Common Ground”.

However, that’s not the main purpose of this item – which is that this meeting was a global first in offering participants a name badge made from degradable, mostly recyclable materials form the local community at Mabamba Bay in Uganda, a key and important Ramsar site for, among many other things, the Shoebill stork. But on original designation, as part of the community were very concerned that they could lose open and uncontrolled access to the area, the Nature Palace Foundation (NPF), guided by David Nkwanga Kintu, developed an approach which integrated ecotourism, efficient resource use, and alternative income generation. 

Women’s community groups are particularly well equipped to provide the skills, expertise and enthusiasm to make handcrafts from biodegradable and environmentally materials, including recycling banana and pineapple wastes, and careful use of some wetland products. I had the pleasure of visiting the community in 2006 on a follow-up visit to Uganda after COP 9, accompanied by former Chair of Standing Committee Paul Mafabi, and even then the achievements and potential seemed enormous. The NPF realised that many Conferences often used badge designs, which were made from plastics and other environmentally unfriendly materials. A chance contact between David and Andy Thompson the New Zealand Parks Forum Director, made the connection for the NPF at Mabamba Bay to supply the name badges for the Sydney meeting.

L-R: Kevin O’Connor, Department of Conservation, New Zealand; Michael Ayrton, Parks Forum Board member from New Zealand; Andy Thompson, Parks Forum Director New Zealand; Michael Wright, Dept of Environment, Climate Change & Water, New South Wales, and Parks Forum Board member; David Clarke, CEO Parks Forum; Greg Moore, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, San Francisco and Forum keynote speaker; Peter Bridgewater, Chair, UK JNCC and Parks Forum Trustee.

Parks Forum Delegates were especially pleased with the result, which was an attractive pouch containing name and affiliation, but also all tickets for events, and the pocket size programme. So it was much more than a “name badge” and, even if degradable, will have plenty of opportunity for use beyond the meeting. 

Ugandan Wetlands Commissioner and former SC Chair Paul Mafabi said “The Ramsar Centre for Eastern Africa (RAMCEA), which is now operational in Uganda, is in the process of documenting some of the best practices through Wise Use of Wetlands in East Africa, including these kind of activities.”

Much more information on the name badges and other activities from the Mabamba bay group is available at www.naturepalace.net. The accompanying photograph shows some Parks Forum personalities, and close up for the name badge of Carol Ritchie, Director of the Europarc Federation, who gave a keynote speech to the Forum.

For Ramsar related meetings, name badges from this group, connecting so many aspects of the Convention, especially that oft-forgotten one of ensuring sustainable livelihoods, is a must!"

Peter Bridgewater
Chair, UK JNCC
Secretary General 2003 - 2007.

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