On 26 April 2017, the prestigious Liechtenstein Palace in Prague was the location of the final conference of the project on “conservation, research and sustainable use of wetlands of the Czech Republic”, hosted by the Government Council for Sustainable Development. The cooperation project was coordinated by Ramsar’s National Focal Points in the Czech Republic, Libuše Vlasáková, and in Norway, Jan-Petter Huberth-Hansen. It was a cooperation programme of 8 partner organisations, such as the Czech Ministry of the Environment, Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape, Faculty of Agriculture of the University of South Bohemia, the Crop Research Institute, the Society for Ornithology, private research companies and the Norwegian Environment Agency (http://pdpmokrady.cz/en/).
During the project period 2014-2017, the biodiversity and status of 14 Ramsar Sites were assessed and monitored. A data base and portal on wetlands in the Czech Republic was established. During a study tour, 18 Czech wetland experts visited northern Norway focusing on awareness, education and wetland management, and in turn 15 Norwegian specialists toured the Czech Republic with a focus on wetland restoration. An hour-long movie on Czech wetlands will be released during a special celebration in September 2017, and short trailers for each of the 14 Czech Ramsar Sites were shown at the conference in Prague.
In October 2015, an international conference on “wetlands in agricultural landscapes: present state and perspectives in Europe” was held in České Budějovice as part of the project. It brought together about 120 specialists who focused on the impacts of dehydrated landscapes on climate change, landscape revitalisation through integrated river basin management, agricultural pollution and biodiversity, paludiculture and wetland crops in Europe, principles of biomass harvesting in rewetted peatlands, the role of landowners and volunteers as stakeholders in river management, and related themes.
The project activities, costing over one million euros, were financed to a large extent (80%) through a Norwegian EEA Grant, part of a multilateral programme, being Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway’s contribution to reducing economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area (EEA) and to strengthening bilateral relations with 16 countries in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. The portfolio of project activities was based on the Ramsar Convention approach and Strategic Plan. It shows an impressive way to boost wetland assessment and understanding and to increase international cooperation. Deputy Environment Minister Vladimir Dolejský stressed the Czech Government’s interest in wetland services to mitigate drought effects and retain flood waters in view of climate change.
Reported by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar Senior Advisor for Europe