The 11th Seminar of Ramsar Site Managers was held from 6 to 8 November 2019, in Amiens in the Somme Department (France) in the heart of the Ramsar Site of “Marais et tourbières des vallées de la Somme et de l’Avre”.
It was organized by the ‘Conseil départemental de la Somme’ and the Ramsar France Association under the theme “History and evolution of wetlands in relation to anthropogenic uses: links with the preservation, management and enhancement of these environments“. This seminar brought together nearly 200 participants during the three days.
The seminar began with a presentation of Ramsar regional activities, conducted at the scale of the Hauts-de-France by the Forum des Marais Atlantiques, followed by regional Ramsar Sites’ and cities’ presentations: the Sacymarsh, Baie de Somme, the future Ramsar Site of Scarpe and Escaut plain, the Audomarois marshes, the city of Amiens, and the city of Saint-Omer.
The first day provided an opportunity for elected officials and representatives of the various bodies (city, water agency, association, department, state) to recall the importance of preserving and enhancing wetlands. Brigitte Fouré, Mayor of Amiens; Alain Gest, President of Amiens Métropole; Thierry Vatin, Director of the Artois-Picardy Water Agency; Christophe Lépine, President of the FCEN; Laurent Somon, President of the Somme Department; and Jérôme Bignon, Senator of the Somme and President of the Ramsar France Association, all expressed the necessity and the importance of meeting in order to exchange information and act on this theme.
In the afternoon, the Ramsar Site of “Marais et tourbières des vallées de la Somme et de l’Avre”, its formation and evolution, was presented. A round table discussion of the history and evolution of wetlands provided some concrete examples of the evolution of these environments.
Then, the participants separated into four workshops to work on the following themes:
- Living together in wetlands, how to overcome conflicts of use, what mediation can help to achieve this?;
- Wetlands: a history of uses, and what about tomorrow?;
- Users: “actors” in wetland conservation or just simple “consumers”?;
- The role of the user in the governance of Ramsar Sites.
The day ended with the General Assembly of the Ramsar France Association, including the validation of the Executive Report, the activity report, and the financial report. There followed the election to replace the outgoing third of its directors and a discussion of the future actions of the association, as well as the upcoming amendment of its statutes in order to integrate Ramsar cities into its functioning.
The second day was devoted to field visits to the Ramsar Sites of ‘the Baie de Somme’ and the ‘Marais et tourbières des vallées de la Somme et de l’Avre’, with rich exchanges of experiences with the stakeholders in those territories.
Four routes have made it possible to discover the meanders of the Haute-Somme, the restoration of an eelgrass bed, the training center of the French Agency for Biodiversity in Paraclet, the Boves National Nature Reserve, the Amiens Hortillonnages, the Samara Archaeological Park, and the village of Long in the lower Somme Valley.
The visit to the Cathedral of Amiens in the early evening concluded this second day of work.
The third day began with a plenary report of each workshop. Daniel Gilbert then discussed the potential contribution of French peatlands to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
A sequence devoted to the Ramsar Convention as a preservation tool for the benefit of territorial projects highlighted the facilitating role of the Ramsar label for local dynamics.
The morning provided an opportunity to reward the farmers who won the regional competition “Agro-Ecological Practices – Meadows and trails)” (formerly the Flowering Meadows Contest).
Finally, participants were able to discover the Bay of the Somme in the afternoon, through a visit organized by Qualinat nature guides.
These days will be the subject of published proceedings, which will be circulated as soon as they are released.
Download all the presentations during the Seminar here.
Ramsar France Association