More than 300 river restoration specialists will gather in Vienna (Austria) from 11 to 13 September to celebrate their successes and address continuing challenges at the 5th European River Restoration Conference. They will also consider how to maintain and restore the ecological functions of rivers in light of the growing demands for water, energy and food, and the increasing pressures from climate change. Despite these challenges, “Pan-European policies and directives offer reasons for optimism”, according to the conference chair, Bart Fokkens.
The conference will also be the occasion to award one of the four finalists (Orbigo river in Spain, the Mura-Drava-Danube rivers in Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia, the international river Rhine and the Upper Drau in Austria) with the prestigious 1st European Riverprize, launched by the International RiverFoundation.
Many rivers in Europe, and especially their related floodplain wetlands, have been altered, degraded or destroyed in the recent past. However, there are new techniques today to manage floods and droughts, reduce the impact of invasive species, control the flow of pollutants into waterways, make sound decisions on water extraction, and control harmful infrastructure development. We have also made great progress in working together with our neighbours to care for a shared river basin. Ramsar specialists and its international partner organisations WWF and Wetlands International will debate these issues in 12 sessions and three side events. Over 60 poster presentations, based on latest evidence and hands-on experience, will help participants to share ideas and further thoughts.
This gathering provides a unique opportunity for the Wetlands Convention to offer the Ramsar River Poster Prize to the best-rated poster. The winner will be rated by the participating experts for its stunning message and clear information content, for its attractive lay-out, good illustrations and effective text, and for managing to explain well the need to maintain and restore wetland ecosystem services, and how best to restore river wetland ecosystems.
You can still be part of this. Have a look at the conference programme here [PDF] and its stunning photos. It is not too late to register and experience progress in river wetland restoration programmes at first hand. We hope to see many Ramsar experts in Vienna next week!
Report and photo by Tobias Salathé, Senior Advisor for Europe