Drugeon Basin Ramsar Site in the spotlight

26/04/2012

“Sustainable Development in Lake Areas” was the topic of a project bringing together actors from a dozen European countries and Ramsar Sites through a series of five interactive workshops in Estonia (lake Vörtsjärv), Poland (Milicz fishponds), Slovenia (Triglav mountain lakes), Greece (Nestos delta) and, on 18-21 April 2012, in the Drugeon and upper Doubs valleys in France. The main objective of the project was to support local initiatives in sustainable development by exchange of good practices to increase the capacities of private actors, NGOs and local authorities in environmentally sensitive areas. Sustainable development depends on actors - actors that are willing to persistently strive for sustainable ways of life in their daily behaviour and take initiatives to depend on renewable energies, consume locally grown products and use sustainable services.

Workshop participants overlooking the Varot peatbog and Entonnoir lake


The over 40 participants visited different parts of the Drugeon Basin Ramsar Site and discussed with mayors of local communes, civil servants, technical experts, farmers and foresters the successful ways of cooperation between different stakeholders towards a number of common goals for the sustainable development of this outstanding wetland landscape with its mires, raised bogs, meandering rivers, fish and frog ponds, reedbeds, lakes, forests and pastures that provide the natural resources for sustainable economies based on dairy farming for high-value Comté cheese production, forestry, fisheries and nature tourism. The participants learnt about the crucial support provided by the public authorities (locally and regionally) towards a development consensus shared by the agricultural actors and other traditional user groups. They concluded that it is important to have decision-makers (locally elected people) who show leadership and vision for a sustainable way of local development. Transferring professional traditions of natural resource uses from the old generations to the younger ones is essential to maintain sustainable business models. What started about twenty years ago with the need of the Drugeon communes to find a practical solution for their waste water treatment, developed over the years into a basin-wide integrated land management and water resource use plan supporting the outstanding wetland and forest biodiversity through many river and habitat restoration measures, and state-of-the-art research on carbon recycling in raised peatbogs – bogs that were used at some time in the past for short-lived industrial peat extraction.

Explanations in the “Maison de la réserve” environmental education centre at lake Remorey nature reserve.

The workshop was organised by the Ramsar Site managers (i.e. the Communauté de communes du Plateau de Frasne et du Val du Drugeon) with support from the French wetland resource centre on peatlands (Pôle-relais tourbières et Conservatoires d’espaces naturels). The “sustainable development in lake areas” project was coordinated by the Forum Synergies (with financial support from Fondation de France) and the Living Lakes network of the Global Nature Fund (www.globalnature.org/livinglakes/) bringing together an important number of actors at specific Ramsar Sites. More information on the project and short workshop reports can be found here: http://www.forum-synergies.eu/rubrique24.html.

Further financial support for the workshop was provided by the French water management authority (Agence de l’eau RMC) and the regional authorities (Conseil régional de Franche-Comté) plus the Ramsar Convention Secretariat through its business partnership “Fonds Danone-Evian pour l’eau”. The lively and enriching exchanges of experiences, ideas and know-how showed how important it is to implement the objectives of the Ramsar Convention through participatory approaches at the levels of local water catchment basins and with the support from local administrations. The participants discussed several options for follow-up projects in the field local wetland tourism development, environmental education and training. An impressive partnership initiative, hopefully inspiring to others.

Photos and text: Tobias Salathé

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