Raising the profile of Russia’s wetlands

Raising the profile of Russia’s wetlands

22 May 2013
Russian Federation

Forty five people involved in wetland communication from all over Russia, 18 presentations on their work, and two intense days of sharing , listening and discussing on 14 and 15 May has set Russia further along the way to a Wetland CEPA Action Plan (CEPA refers to communication, education, participation and awareness). This plan will be based on the activities of an effective network of wetland education centres and will be the first National CEPA Plan of its kind for Ramsar – a good model perhaps for other countries to follow*.

The workshop took place in the privately managed Vorobyi Bird Park in the Kaluga Region of Russia, about 90 minutes drive from Moscow, and represents a further step in an ambitious programme of work by Wetlands International’s Russia Office which began in 2012 as a project to establish the network and produce a CEPA Action Plan. 

The workshop brought together a diverse group of people and organizations all currently active in raising awareness about wetlands through wetland centres. Participants came from nature reserves located in western and central Russia as well as NGOs and experts from universities and museums. Also present was Chris Rostron, Head of Wetland Link International and myself as Ramsar’s CEPA Programme Officer to give input as required. 

Organized by Irina Kamennova, the CEPA NGO Focal Point for Russia, the workshop was opened by Ms Galina Veselova from the the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation who emphasized the positive attitude to water and wetlands since 2000 in Russia and welcomed the developing CEPA Programme as an important tool for wetland wise use.

The meeting set out first to share participants’ current activities from the development of simple leaflets about wetlands, to online materials, designing centres small and large, designing exhibits for centres and travelling exhibits, working with teachers in centres and in schools, organizing cultural festivals to bring people to centres, designing walking trails, surveying visitors to assess current knowledge levels and attitudes to wetlands – and much more. A great diversity of materials, activities and creativity associated with centres.

A second aim of the workshop was to formalise the establishment of the network and re-visit a draft CEPA plan of activities to be delivered by the centres with a view to finalising it. After discussion a small group of people and coordinator present at the meeting were identified as a Steering Group to take forward the finalisation of the action plan and an annex of on-going and future activities.

Finally the group agreed to identify an online mechanism for sharing the many creative materials presented during the workshop and work on this has begun already.

Progress was definitely made in this workshop and I am hopeful that this network and their CEPA Action plan will become working models for others to consider.

*Norway published its National CEPA Action Plan in 2012 and this identifies a significant, although not exclusive, role for wetland centres in implementation of the plan. More information here.

Report by Sandra Hails, CEPA Programme Officer.  Photos by Sandra Hails and V. Bogdanov (group photo). Additonal photos of the Vorobyi Bird Park below.

Birds provided a pleasant work environment... and the avian inhabitants looked very healthy!