The two-year wait is over! Amidst the beating sun of Sharm-el-Sheikh comes a project from the cold, dark winter of Northern Europe. At the occasion of the 2nd Wildlife Forum, the recipient of the sixth CIC Markhor Award was announced. The winner: the ‘Return of Rural Wetlands LIFE+ Project’! This successful initiative has been running since 2010 in Finland.
The project, led by the Finnish Wildlife Agency focuses on restoring rural wetlands through cooperation between landowners, hunters, local associations and regional authorities working with environmental issues.
The outcomes include an increase in the quality, variety and number of wetlands in rural areas under the project. Importantly, the project also led to the creation of a new working framework for the conservation, restoration and re-creation of wetlands. A framework that is heavily reliant on local community cooperation.
The motivation, skills and co-operation of local people, especially hunters, and regional authorities for the wetland conservation, restoration and re-creation at local and regional level increased substantially during the project.
CBD Executive Secretary, Dr. Cristiana Paşca Palmer who is also a member of the CIC Markhor Award Jury congratulated all those involved in the project. In her speech, Dr. Paşca Palmer recognized the crucial role of communities in nature conservation: “This project shows how local communities from different backgrounds can successfully work together towards a common goal. It is good to see that the sustainable use of biological diversity, one of the three objectives set out in the CBD’s first article, is seen as a crucial tool for achieving this common goal.”
This is the first CIC Markhor Award winner from the European continent. It shows that, despite an increasingly urban society in Europe there is still a way for local communities, hunters and regular landowners to shape the natural environment and to restore and manage wetland habitats on a voluntary basis, even in areas dominated by agriculture and forestry.