"The Role of Wetlands in Biosphere Reserves" was the theme of a EuroMAB workshop convened by the Czech National Committee for the UNESCO Man-and-Biosphere (MAB) Programme, the Czech National Ramsar Committee, and the Pálava Biosphere Reserve from 13-18 October in Mikulov Castle, Southern Moravia.
About 70 participants from 19 European, Central Asian and North American countries presented papers and posters and debated the following themes:
a) wetlands as sources of biodiversity in Biosphere Reserves,
b) buffering effects of wetlands on water budget and water quality in Biosphere Reserves and the role of water resources (including groundwater) for wetland maintenance,
c) management (including restoration) of wetlands for sustainable functioning in Biosphere Reserves, and
d) resolution of conflicts between economic use and environmental quality of wetlands in Biosphere Reserves, towards the application of the "wise use" concept.
Among them were many Ramsar national focal points and wetland and Ramsar site managers who contributed their specific experience to the interesting debates. Therein, eight action points listed for increased cooperation between MAB and Ramsar are most noteworthy. More about UNESCO's Man-and-Biosphere programme and possible synergies to improve efficiency can be found on the joint Ramsar-MAB website at: www.unesco.org/mab/ramsarmab.htm .
During the workshop, a special visit was organized to the nearby Pálava Biosphere Reserve and the Ramsar sites Lednice fishponds (Lednické rybníky) and Floodplain of the lower Dyie river (Mokrady dolního Podyjí). The area of the confluence of the Morava and Dyie rivers constitutes one of the few remaining floodplains with important natural features in central Europe. The region shared between the Czech, Slovak and Austrian Republics is the focus of a trilateral Ramsar agreement and four NGOs instrumental in furthering wetland transborder cooperation, conservation and restoration activities are among the 2002 Ramsar Award winners.
After the workshop, most of the participants moved west, to learn more about the role of the wetlands in the Trebon Biosphere Reserve in Southern Bohemia, including the Ramsar sites Trebon mires (Trebonská raseliniste) and Trebon fishponds (Trebonská rybníky). The latter was listed on the Montreux Record in 1994 due to possible threats arising from the privatization process. Since 1997, the adverse effects of intensive fish farming and hunting became more significant due to nutrient-enrichment (eutrophication) and the destruction of littoral zones and surrounding habitats. More recently, wetland restoration projects were launched which have already produced positive results in reducing these effects.
While Josef Chytil of the Czech Ramsar Committee and Pálava Biosphere Reserve (right) is acknowledging the efforts for floodplain restoration undertaken by the director of the State Forestry Enterprise Zidlochovice and his specialists (standing left), Jan Kvet, chairman of the Czech MaB Committee and organiser of the workshop (in the background) is listening.
Recently re-flooded riverine meadows near the Dyie-Morava confluence, an important habitat for threatened birds and insects, as well as a foraging ground for an important number of game species living in the extensive riverine oak and mixed forests.
Workshop participants at the water inlet of Hlohovecky fishpond with a lowered water level, shortly before the annual autumn harvest is taking place.
Hlohovecky fishpond is part of the Lednice fishponds Ramsar site. The private fish farm is therefore bound to specific regulations and restrictions in order to assure a long-term sustainable exploitation. The director of the fish farm proudly shows a carp of harvest size to the workshop participants.
The impressive, recently restored, Mikulov Castle overlooking the Pálava limestone hills, the Dyie-Morava floodplain and the vineyards and traditional cultures of Southern Moravia and the Austrian Weinviertel provided the setting for the EuroMAB workshop, here in session in one of the historical halls.