Martin Spray (WWT’s Chief Executive), Matthew Simpson and Bea López visited Changshu, China, a few days ago to participate in the workshop “Good practices for integrating urban development and wetland conservation”.
The workshop (co-hosted by Nanjing University, WWT Consulting and the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands – China Management Office) aimed to share best practice examples on urban wetland design and management. It was attended by a wealth of professionals showcasing their work on urban wetlands in the UK, China, Japan, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
During the opening ceremony, Ramsar’s Secretary General Martha Rojas-Urrego highlighted the urgency of retrofitting wetlands into the urban environment in order to make cities liveable, as it is predicted that almost 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050.
WWT and WWT Consulting presented on effective partnerships to deliver wetland conservation (showcasing London Wetland Centre); integration of urban planning with wetland conservation (Colombo Metro case study); and the benefits of small-scale wetlands to wildlife and people (UK case studies).
The presentation sessions were followed by a thought-provoking open discussion where ideas were put forward in order to agree what the general guidelines for urban wetland creation and management would be, which will hopefully be translated into a best practice guidance manual to be used by a range of stakeholders in the near future.
We also had the opportunity to visit some of Changshu’s most iconic urban wetlands, including Shajiabang National Wetland Park and Shanghu National Urban Wetland Park, as well as some of the city’s treatment wetlands which have seen their ecological function restored in the last two decades.
All in all, a very productive, inspiring (and chilly!) few days summarising the vital role of wetlands for environmental protection in the urban environment.