The Tour du Valat research centre turns 60

The Tour du Valat research centre turns 60

9 July 2014

In 1954 Luc Hoffmann created the Tour du Valat research centre for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands at the heart of the Camargue, on the Rhone river delta.

During the centre’s early years of work, in 1962, Mr Hoffmann organized the seminal MAR Conference (MAR for marshes, marécages, marismas) at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, also in the Camargue, with the participation of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wetlands International (then the International Waterfowl & Wetlands Research Bureau, IWRB) and BirdLife International (then the International Council for Bird Preservation, ICBP). The conference’s participants called for a global list of wetlands of international importance and for a global treaty to focus on their conservation, starting the process that led to the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran. Mr Hoffmann’s role as one of the founding fathers of the Ramsar Convention was recognized through a Honorary Ramsar Award in 2011.

Emmanuel Thiry (France’s Ramsar Focal Point), Jean Jalbert (Tour du Valat Director) and Delmar Blasco (MedWet Coordinator) informing the audience about the cooperation between Tour du Valat and MedWet.

Over the years, the Tour du Valat launched many other projects and long-term programmes, described in the anniversary brochure (in French).

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Tour du Valat, on 30 June 2014, its main partners gathered for a seminar on the future challenges of wetland cooperation and on the partnerships needed to overcome them - locally, in France and more widely in the Mediterranean.

Jean-Paul Taris (Tour du Valat President) and Delmar Blasco (MedWet Coordinator) signing the cooperation agreement.

This was also the occasion to sign a framework agreement with Ramsar’s MedWet initiative for regional cooperation in the Mediterranean. The agreement recognizes shared objectives and interests and the will to increase cooperation, notably between the MedWet Secretariat, which recently moved from Greece to the Tour du Valat, and the Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory, a programme to monitor and evaluate the status of wetlands and related policies in the Mediterranean, run by the Tour du Valat on behalf of MedWet.

The Saint-Séren marsh in the Tour du Valat Nature Reserve and Camargue Ramsar Site. The Camargue, on the Rhone river delta, was the first site designated under the Ramsar Convention in France in 1986.

The Ramsar Secretariat congratulates Luc Hoffmann and his staff at Tour du Valat for their achievements and continued enthusiasm and looks forward to many more years of fruitful cooperation.

Luc Hoffmann surrounded by his children and partners of the Tour du Valat at the occasion of the anniversary celebration.

Report and photos by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar Senior Advisor for Europe