The 8th Seminar of Ramsar Site Managers was held from 19 to 21 October 2016 at Pont-Audemer (Normandy). It was organized by the municipalities of Quillebeuf sur Seine, Beuzeville and Pont-Audemer, and the Regional Natural Park of Boucles de la Seine Normande, in partnership with the Ramsar France Association, and brought together more than 200 participants during the three days of workshops, plenary presentations and field visits.
Presentations. Photo credit: B. Coïc
The first day provided an opportunity for elected officials and representatives of the State to recall the commitment of France to its 44 Ramsar Sites. They expressed their continuing interest in preserving wetlands and in meeting in order to exchange information on this theme.
The day was also dedicated to signing off on the management plans for some of the Ramsar Sites. The plans are an expression of commitment towards the Ramsar Convention, recalling the role of each coordinator, what the management plan is, and what measures are in place for the wise use of the site.
Finally, the day ended with the General Assembly of the Ramsar France Association, with the validation of the moral report, the activity report, and the financial report.
The second day was devoted to the theme of the seminar: “The value of Ramsar Sites: support to the development of territories.”
The morning was devoted to a review of the main issues related to wetlands in France. It began with a presentation by Olivier Cizel on legal issues: the new Biodiversity Law, the GEMAPI application and other recent initiatives.
The Association Ramsar France, represented by its President Senator Jerome Bignon and its Treasurer Thierry Lecomte (a rancher in the Vernier wetlands), presented the work done in relation to cattle breeding in wetlands for the concerned Ramsar Sites. Exchanges with the audience confirmed the need for this measure, given the agricultural crisis in progress, particularly in terms of cattle breeding.
Exchanges. Photo credit: B. Coïc
The afternoon featured two workshops in plenary: the first one on the opportunity to develop an agricultural sector related to wetlands, and the second on the development of tourism and recreation.
The exchanges during the first workshop have shown the advantages of an agricultural sector within natural sites: economic benefits, but also the maintenance of a sustainable activity, protection of local characteristics, and creation of links and identity within the territory.
The discussions in the second workshop revealed that Ramsar was not necessarily the most appropriate label for promoting tourism, as the name is little known. Nevertheless, it contributes significantly to the preservation of landscapes and nature, thus making a contribution to the needs of tourists.
The consultation process around the Ramsar designation could, however, contribute to sustainable tourism by maintaining or recreating the activities in the territory, while avoiding an excess of visitors, which would pose problems with the sense of belonging by locals.
Finally, the third day was devoted to field visits to two Ramsar Sites: Vernier and Risle maritime marshes. These visits allowed participants to discover the Vernier marshes, the natural reserve of Bouquelon Courtils, the Grand’Mare, and the Risle maritime marshes.
During the Field visit. Photo credit: B. Coïc
More details about the seminar HERE (French link)