Nordic-Baltic Wetlands Initiative Expert Seminar 2011


A special focus on conservation and management of coastal and fjord wetlands

As part of the Norwegian chairmanship (2010-2012) of the Nordic-Baltic Wetlands Initiative (NorBalWet) the Nordic-Baltic Wetlands Initiative Expert Seminar took place 22-26 May 2011 in Troms County, Norway. The Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management hosted the event in cooperation with the County Governor of Troms and funded by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment. Established in 2005, the NorBalWet Initiative is a Ramsar regional initiative operating in the framework of the Convention (see Resolution VIII.30). Currently there are 14 active regional initiatives operating under the Ramsar Convention which act as a mechanism designed to strengthen the implementation of the Convention and its Strategic Plan on a regional level. Ten countries participate in the NorBalWet Initiative (Denmark incl. the Faroe Islands, Estonia, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Russia and Sweden).  The May 2011 seminar was the sixth seminar organized under this Initiative and followed seminars held in Hindas, Sweden (2006), Randsfjorden, Norway (2006), Lepanina, Estonia (2007), Kempele, Finland (2008) and Turku, Finland (2009) and a conference held in Norway in 2010. The series of seminars address different practical aspects of wetland management and research, and provide a platform for networking and information exchange at a regional level.

At this year’s seminar, 33 participants discussed and exchanged information about new developments relating to coastal and fjord wetland ecosystems in the region, showcasing efforts on how to restore, monitor, protect and manage these wetland types. In particular, the first day focussed on overviews of the state of coastal wetlands in Europe and the Nordic-Baltic Region, commitments under the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and wise use of these habitats, and presentations of efforts undertaken on a national as well as local level in NorBalWet countries in terms of monitoring, management and restoration. 

The  keynote speech by Deputy Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, Professor Nick Davidson addressed the 40th Anniversary of the Ramsar Convention, achievements of the past 40 years and future challenges. The Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management hosted a celebration of the Convention’s 40th anniversary in beautiful surroundings at the Trømsø cable car lounge overlooking the fjord system. At this dinner Nick Davidson presented Ramsar Site certificates for two newly designated Ramsar Sites in Troms County: Målselvutløpet and Reisautløpet.

Participants at the Trømsø cable car lounge on the occasion of a dinner hosted by the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management to celebrate the Ramsar Convention’s 40th anniversary.

The Ramsar Site certificates for two new sites in Troms County were presented to Marie Gabler, Senior adviser and Knut M. Nergård, Head of Nature Protection, both from the County Governor’s office of Troms (left and right) by Ramsar Secretariat Staff Deputy Secretary General Nick Davidson and Assistant Advisor for Europe Kati Wenzel (middle).

The second day was a field excursion to the nearby Balsfjorden Wetland System Ramsar Site, during which the group participated in the official opening of a new wetland exhibition at Fjordmuseet (Midt-Troms museum) on the shore of the fjord.

The evening view from the Trømsø cable car lounge over Trømsø during midnight sun.

Field excursion to Ramsar Site Balsfjorden Wetland System

DSG N. Davidson (left) opening the wetland exhibition at Fjordmuseet (Midt-Troms museum) (right: Heide Marie Gabler, Senior Advsior, County Governor’s office of Troms).

The Ramsar Convention featured as part of the newly opened wetland exhibition at Fjordmuseet (Midt-Troms museum).

The County Governor of Troms hosted a dinner event to launch a new book about the Balsfjord Wetland System, written and photographed by the guide for the day, Karl-Birger Strann and his colleagues. As well as information on flora, fauna and habitats of this Ramsar Site, the book also contains many beautiful pictures, a foreword by DSG Nick Davidson and an introduction of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Copies can be obtained from (price NOK 300 + postal costs).

An impression of the beautiful Norwegian Fjord ecosystems.

The illustrated book on the Balsfjord Wetland System, written and photographed by Karl-Birger Strann and his colleagues.

The final day of the symposium, on the nearby island of Sommarøy, was used to raise awareness of upcoming meetings, such as the Ramsar pre-COP 11 Regional meeting for Europe in Slovakia (27-30 September 2011) as well as possible cooperation with the Bonn Convention (CMS) and Ramsar on a regional scale. The Nordic Council of Ministers and in particular its Working Group on Terrestrial Ecology presented funding possibilities for wetland management in the region. The work of the recently launched Norwegian Red List for Habitats was also presented. A discussion session helped further define the status, future plans and priorities for the NorBalWet Initiative. Amongst other activities, the establishment of a common website is planned and a CEPA workshop will be organized for NorBalWet countries in January 2012. The workshop ended with presentations on Ramsar’s CEPA programme and on specific CEPA activities being implemented on country and site level in the region.

Jan-Petter Hubert Hansen, current chair of the NorBalWet Initiative, presenting on the status of wetland information centres in Norway.

Local newspapers featuring the seminar and drawing attention to the importance of wetlands in Norway.

Written by: Kati Wenzel, Regional Assistant for Europe
Photo credits: Nick Davidson, Gunnar Kjaerstad

For more information:

Nordic-Baltic Wetlands Initiative

Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management: Most of the presentations made at this seminar are available here.

The Ramsar CEPA programme

The 7th European Regional Meeting

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