Mid-Scandinavian Symposium on Trondheimfjord management

Mid-Scandinavian Symposium on Trondheimfjord management

28 October 2004

Trondheimfjord - a wetland area of international importance

A Mid-Scandinavian symposium on the management of Trondheimfjord took place on 8-10 October 2004 in Stiklestad, Norway, organized by the Nord-Trøndelag county group of Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, the BirdLife International partner in Norway.

Trondheimfjord is one of the longest fjords in Norway, surrounded by much agricultural land. Especially along its eastern shores, an important number of tidal and shallow water zones and flats, river estuaries and shoreline wetlands remain. Currently the two counties of South and Nord Trøndelag harbour six Ramsar Sites. Three on the Atlantic coast: the mires of the Havmyran Nature Reserve (4000 ha), Froan archipelago, a protected marine area of 48,400 ha, and the Ørlandet Wetland System on the shores of the large peninsula at the northern entrance of the fjord. Two Ramsar Sites are part of the fjord: the Nature Reserves of the island Tautra & Svæt, a shallow channel separating it from the mainland (2054 ha) and the Trondheimfjord Wetland System (670 ha) made up of the closed Eidsbotn bay (a bird sanctuary), the Nature Reserves Gaulosen and Rinnleiret with their river estuaries and shallow bays, plus the Ørin saltmarshes. The sixth Ramsar Site Øvre Forra (10,800 ha) lies somewhat more inland, including the Forra river and adjacent mires, an important breeding site for waders. In addition, the regional authorities identified about 25 more coastal wetlands along the fjord and in its surroundings. At least nine of them, composed essentially of shallow tidal areas, qualify for Ramsar designation and should be included in an extension of the Trondheimfjord Wetland System Ramsar Site.

The symposium brought together about 60 people, scientists from different research institutions and universities in Norway and Sweden, bird specialists, reserve managers, local and regional authorities, mayors and local councilors, representatives of the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management (Ramsar's administrative authority, Ms Gunn Paulsen) and of NGOs as well as local stakeholders from industry, agriculture and other land owners. A number of substantial presentations provided an overview of the ecological importance of Trondheimfjord, at the crossroads of waterbird migration routes linking the fjord on an east-west axis with the North and Norwegian Seas and the Bothnian Gulf, but also with Svalbård and the Skagerrag along a north-south axis. Furthermore, Trondheimfjord is not only important for migrating waterbirds, but also as a coastal habitat for cold water coral reefs and a number of fish species of economic and ecological importance - criteria which should also be taken into account for future Ramsar Site designations.

"How to make best use of the Ramsar Convention tools by using them as an instrument for environmental planning and management" was the theme of a presentation at the symposium and of a special meeting of Ramsar's Adviser for Europe with the national and regional environment authorities and the mayors of the communes alongside Trondheimfjord. The briefing provided a useful occasion for conveying Ramsar's integrated approach at catchment basin level, including biological factors, but also social, institutional, economic and cultural aspects.

The participants of the symposium visited the estuary of the river Verdalselva, composed of the saltmarshes of the Ørin Ramsar Site, the Kausmofjæra Nature Reserve and a polder originally foreseen for the expansion of the industrial port and oil rig construction site of Verdal. This provided the occasion to inaugurate a new observation tower, overlooking the shallow estuary with its many staging birds and ideally situated on a cycling and walking trail. Furthermore, plans to modify the industrial port site were presented and discussed. The opportunity now exists to modify the extension plans in a way that an important part of the diked-off polder could become part of the tidal Verdalselva estuary again. This would also provide the opportunity to expand the existing Ramsar Site to include the adjacent Kausmofjæra Nature Reserve and the restored estuary area. After the short field visit, with autumn coulours, the participants felt that the symposium did indeed help to develop the dialogue among the different stakeholders to progress with integrated environmental planning and management for Trondheimfjord. The organizers of NOF, especially Inge Hafstad, are to be congratulated for this.

Tobias Salathé, Ramsar

After the successful meeting on Ramsar instruments for environmental planning between the mayors of the communes around Trondheimfjord, the regional and national environment authorities and the Ramsar Secretariat, some participants leave the historical coffee house on Tautra island, a Ramsar Site in Trondheimfjord, where the informal meeting took place:

The Mid-Scandinavian symposium on the management of Trondheimfjord took place at the Stiklestad Cultural Centre next to the fjord. A place of historical importance to Norwegians, as it was here where King Olav Haraldsson was killed in the Battle of Stiklestad in the year 1030. This marked a turning point in Norwegian history, the transition from paganism to Christianity. Later the king became Olav the Saint, buried in Trondheim cathedral, and St Olav's cult spread rapidly through the Nordic countries, the British Isles, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Poland, Estonia and other places.

Pictured are Olav Church, built on the battlefield, and historical houses of the outdoor museum.

{Below} Inauguration of the new observation tower overlooking the estuary of river Verdalselva at Kausmofjaera Nature Reserve.

On the left stands Inge Hafstad, the NOF organiser of the symposium.

Opposite the tower lie the saltmarshes of the Oerin Ramsar Site, next to the port and industrial rig construction area of Verdal town. The tidal flats of the estuary are filled with migrating waterbirds, eagerly observed through the telescopes by the symposium participants.