Management of Protected Areas: preparing future professionals
Implementing Ramsar’s mission of the conservation and wise use of all wetland ecosystems for water security and biodiversity maintenance is at the heart of sustainable development. And to do so, we need well-trained professionals. This is why the Ramsar Secretariat joined the advisory board of the international post-graduate Master course developed by Klagenfurt University (Austria), based on a concept by the consultancy firm E.C.O. (http://mpa.e-c-o.at/). The education programme is trans-disciplinary and organised in a set of work modules (1-2 weeks) taking place at Klagenfurt University and in different protected areas in central Europe. This allows the students to follow the course and prepare work on their Master thesis in parallel to their daily work in relation to the management of protected areas and natural resources. The students are currently in the midst of the two-year curriculum and will work on their individual Master thesis later this year. This cohort of students comes from Albania, Austria, Brazil, Croatia, Germany, Malaysia, Nepal, Romania and Ukraine. The next, fifth curriculum will start in February 2014 (see leaflet here).
|Students working on a Ramsar Information Sheet for the Lendspitz wetland area adjacent to the Klagenfurt University campus|
Since its first curriculum in 2006, this state-of-the-art education programme is also an opportunity to teach the students about the largest global network of protected areas: the Ramsar List. An introductory course presents the Ramsar Convention, its mission and tools. It is followed by more practical office exercises on how to set up a management plan for a Ramsar Site, illustrated with a real-scale case of Karavasta lagoon in Albania. During the most recent Ramsar lecture on 27-28 January 2013, the students were taught how to prepare the designation of a new Ramsar Site. And they used to this end the Lendspitz nature reserve adjacent to Klagenfurt University at the shores of Lake Wörth.
They evaluated if this area with a shallow lake bay, fens and wet forests has the potential to become Austria’s 22nd Ramsar Site? The good news is that many students graduating from the former courses are since then actively working for the management of Ramsar Sites and other wetlands ecosystems. And they confirmed how useful this specific training was for them.
Report & photos by Tobias Salathé, Senior Regional Advisor for Europe