'Nature Conservation in a Europe of Unification' conference
Tallinn, Estonia, 11-13 September
'Nature Conservation in a Europe of Unification' was the title of an international conference held in Tallinn, Estonia from 11-13 September and attended by the Regional Coordinator for Europe. The meeting was organized and hosted by the Estonian Ministry of Environment and opened by the Prime Minister of Estonia. There were more than 150 participants from 17 European States, representing Governments, intergovernmental and international organizations, universities, research institutes and environmental NGOs.
The first and third days were devoted to plenary and group discussions, with presentations covering diverse technical and policy issues. Wetlands received special attention, with several interventions on peatlands (of special importance in the Baltic region) and a presentation on the strategic role of national wetland policies by the Ramsar Bureau. Estonia presented a progress report on its own National Wetland Strategy, which is being supported financially by the World Bank, and which should be complete in time for presentation at next year's Pan-European Ramsar meeting.
One of the key themes of the Conference was the process (known as 'approximation') of adapting national nature conservation legislation and policy in preparation for future adhesion of Countries of Central and Eastern Europe to the European Union - a theme of special relevance to Estonia, for which EU membership is a top political priority.
The middle day of the conference was devoted to a field visit to the island of Naissar, lying some 8 km offshore from Tallinn. Naissar, which has forests and bogs of high nature conservation value, was formerly the site of a Soviet sea-mine assembly plant, but has now been established as a nature reserve, with a brand new interpretation centre.
Copies of presentation abstracts and a list of participants are available from the Bureau.
-- reported by Tim Jones, Regional Coordinator for Europe