Having a Ramsar site – it’s your development opportunity!
In 2008, the natural floodplains along the Upper Rhine, shared between Germany and France, became the largest Transboundary Ramsar Site so far. On World Wetlands Day 2010, the managers of the site invited their colleagues from the other Transboundary Ramsar Sites for a seminar to exchange know-how and experience (cf. our report). On 6 May, the Mayors of the floodplain communes of Sasbach (Germany) and Marckolsheim (France), together with the NGO “Living Rhine”, invited the representatives of local authorities in the floodplain, communal executives, and regional administrations to discuss how best to make use of the international “Ramsar” distinction.
They concluded that the “Ramsar logo” should henceforth distinguish the particular quality of their wetland ecosystem and the services it offers to the local population and the numerous visitors from nearby and further away. Based on the Europarc Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas, and with the financial support from an EU Interreg project, their main activities will focus on the restoration and reconnection of oxbow arms with the main branches of the Rhine, on the development of public awareness (through guided tours, establishment of nature discovery trails, information days, etc.) and by developing a fully-fledged economy based on wetland services, including products from organic farms in the floodplain and the elaboration of “Ramsar” tourism facilities, including holidays on the farm, hotels in trees, bicycle trails and others.
The Mayors and representatives of a dozen municipalities embarked on an ambitious programme to make the “Ramsar” distinction better known, by using it as a marketing brand with the aim of becoming an ecological quality label for well managed local economies based on the wetland ecosystem (cf. the summaries of the interactive day in French and German). Hopefully an exercise that inspires many other Ramsar Site management authorities.
Marc Boissaye, responsible for discovery trails development of the environmental education organisation Ariena.org explains
the history of floodplain reclamation and restoration along the Upper Rhine.