Wetland conservation in the Nordic-Baltic region leading the way

Wetland conservation in the Nordic-Baltic region leading the way

16 June 2010

With support from the Nordic Council, an overview report and strategic analysis on “Nordic Wetland Conservation” was published at the occasion of the first Nordic Wetland Conference held in 2004 in the coastal commune of Brekstad situated at the entrance of Trondheim Fjord in Norway. This led to the creation of the Nordic-Baltic Wetland Initiative (NorBalWet) in 2005, when Norway invited Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Russian regions of Leningrad, Kaliningrad and Karelia, and Sweden to join a cooperative programme which has since become one of the most active Ramsar Regional Initiatives, as testified by a number of technical seminars organised over the last few years (see our regular web reports).

Three of the conference organizers, (l to r) Knut Ring (Ørland municipality), Aage Tørris Ekker (Sør-Trøndelag County) and Jan-Petter Huberth-Hansen (Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management) standing in front of the soon to be restored lake Rusaset

Early spring 2010 was the occasion for Norway to invite its Nordic-Baltic neighbours to a 2nd conference in Brekstad from 12-15 April, to take stock on progress with wetland conservation work, increasing of wetland awareness and the remaining challenges. Ably prepared by the Norwegian Ramsar focal point Jan-Petter Huberth-Hansen and his colleagues of the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management, with support from the NorBalWet coordination group, the County Governor of Sør-Trøndelag, Ørland Municipality and the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate, and financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment and the Nordic Council of Ministers, the conference brought together 60 wetland specialists and Ramsar focal points. They addressed the values of wetlands – emerging and important aspects, practical conservation and wise use; awareness of wetlands – communication, education, participation; the management of protected sites, and the restoration of wetlands to restore biodiversity values and ecosystem services and the meeting concluded with the adoption of conclusions and recommendations for the way forward. The conclusions, PowerPoint presentations and participants list can be downloaded from this web site:

Conference participants making their way to the
Været seabird sanctuary, a possible new Ramsar Site

The conference was the occasion to visit parts of the Ramsar Site N°310 Ørland Wetland System, composed of a series of coastal wetland ecosystems, and the Været Landscape Protected Area in the Tarva archipelago that would merit inclusion into an extended Ramsar Site. Proudly Hallgeir Grøntvedt, the Mayor of Ørland Municipality, announced his plans to open a Ramsar information centre in the community and public library hall in order to guide the many visitors to the different parts of the Ramsar protected areas. Following up on the concept of the National Park Municipalities and Villages, already successfully implemented in other parts of Norway, the Directorate of Nature Management announced that it was preparing the terms of references on how to obtain a new distinction of becoming a “Ramsar Municipality”, which was likely to be discerned for the first time to Ørland in the near future. A practical aspect of increased public communication about Ramsar’s approaches for conservation and wise use of the important wetland ecosystems was the inauguration of the first “Ramsar suite” in Brekstad’s Kysthotell (coast hotel) – informing privileged guests in their sleeping room about the nearby Ramsar site, its values and attractions.

Explanatory panels in the new "Ramsar Suite" at Brekstad's Coast Hotel

The participants departed from the conference with renewed enthusiasm and a number of new ideas, e.g. on how to celebrate this year’s World Wetlands Day on two occasions: through media outreach on 2 February when most Nordic-Baltic wetlands are covered by a thick layer of ice and snow, and on 2 September when the weather conditions are best to visit them in situ. Most of the participants will remember this conference well, as they embarked on a long and winding return journey, because all airports were closed due to the eruption of the Iceland volcano Eyjafjallajokull: a stark reminder of the dependence of our modern society on ecosystem processes and services.

Photos and report by Tobias Salathe