Sustainable management of wetlands and shallow lakes

Sustainable management of wetlands and shallow lakes

10 February 2004

In Palencia, Spain, 27-31 January 2004, Senior Advisor for Europe Tobias Salathé participated in the advisory board meeting of a Life project on two Ramsar Sites in Spain and Greece and a seminar on the management of protected areas, with his costs covered by Global Nature Fund. Here is his brief report on the project.

"Sustainable management of wetlands and shallow lakes" is the title of a demonstration project carried out by the Living Lakes partnership of the German-based Global Nature Fund, cofinanced (49%) through the European Commission's LIFE-Environment budget line.

The project focuses on the restoration and long-term sustainable development of two demonstration wetlands and Ramsar Sites in Spain (Laguna de la Nava de Fuentes and nearby Laguna de Boada) and Greece (Nestos delta and adjoining lagoons), including the improvement of the water quality of the shallow lakes and coastal lagoons, the protection and conservation of the biodiversity and wildlife dependent on the sites and the development of management plans, also in accordance with the requirements of the European Union Water Framework Directive. The project started in mid-2001 and will end in late 2004. It provided the NGOs Fundación Global Nature (in Spain) and the Society for the Protection of Nature and Ecodevelopment (in Greece) with the needed support to develop, in close cooperation with the local authorities, the necessary management measures, including the installation of new technology "green filters" to improve the water quality. For further details on the project activities, visit .

Within the framework of this project, a workshop on the "Implementation of management plans in natural areas" was organised by the Province of Palencia (Castilla y Leon, Spain) and the project partners. It brought together some 50 specialists of protected area management, mostly from Spain, but also from Portugal, the UK and BirdLife International. The detailed workshop programme and further information is available on the website indicated above.

The work undertaken, the solutions found, and the experiences gained when applying a participatory approach to wetland management at these two Ramsar Sites can provide useful hints for other wetland managers. The LIFE project plans to disseminate such experience through a number of training courses. Some have already taken place and another two are scheduled for the coming months: on 19-24 April 2004 in Norwich, UK, close to the Broads National Park and Ramsar Sites, and on 8-12 June close to the lake Constance Ramsar Sites in Germany, organised by two more project partners: the Broads Authority and the Lake Constance Foundation. The courses are free (except for travel and subsistence costs), the detailed programmes can be found on the above website, and interested candidates can contact to obtain more information.

Participants of the workshop are waiting for the geese to come to spend the night on the Laguna de la Nava de Fuentes: here R. Specht (environmental authority of Radolfzell, Germany, LIFE project on lake Constance), H. Jerrentrup (Society for Nature Conservation and Ecodevelopment in the Nestos Delta, Greece) and F. Jubete (Fundación Global Nature, education centre at Fuentes de la Nava).

Former grain stores and pigeon houses, built with mud and reeds from the shallow lakes, are disintegrating here at Laguna de la Nava de Fuentes. However, if properly maintained, as at the nearby Laguna de Villafafila RS, they could easily become a tourist attraction.

The participants in the Palencia workshop visited the Laguna de la Nava de Fuentes RS on a rainy afternoon, situated in the cereal steppe area of the Castilla y Leon region in Spain. Mayor J. Gutierrez of Fuentes de la Nava (second from left) explains the positive effects on the local economy of the restoration activities undertaken by the regional government (Junta de Castilla y Leon), in addition to the management planning and education work by the Fundación Global Nature. The RS is important for wintering geese and other waterfowl, as well as a key area for Great Bustards and other open country animals, including Little Bustard, crane and wolf.