State Committee of the Russian Federation on Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries of the Netherlands, the Severtsev Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Heritage Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation; together organised from the 11th until the 14th of March 1998 in Moscow the:
Willem Barents Memorial Arctic Conservation SymposiumThe Symposium celebrated seven years of Russian-Dutch co-operation in Arctic and presented the results of many expeditions, to areas of the Russian Federation such as: the White Sea, Pechora Delta, Novaya Zemlya, Taimyr and Lena Delta.
More than 140 participants from the Russian Federation, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Iceland, United States of America, Poland, the Ukraine and Spain, most of them involved in the international co-operation in Arctic: scientists, logistic staff, representatives of central and regional authorities etc. attended the Symposium and discussed a wide range of issues on historical aspects of Arctic exploration, bird ecology and migration as the main topics, protected areas, vegetation, conservation and sustainable management issues etc.
In their closing session on Friday the 13th of March the participants, in plenary, agreed to address to the responsible authorities in their countries as well as to the appropriate international organisations, particularly involved in the conservation of the Arctic such as the Arctic Council, The Programme for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), Arctic Programme of WWF. Wetlands International and others, also addressing the many national NGOs active in the field of Arctic Conservation, the following recommendations:
1. Call upon the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Netherlands to continue and, where appropriate, increase their successful co-operation on general Arctic scientific and conservation issues in the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (1991).
2. Call upon other countries to join this co-operation and/or develop mutual work programmes of their own in the field of conservation and sustainable management of Arctic resources in the broadest sense; call upon countries which are already active, especially members and observer countries of the Arctic Council to increase the exchange of information in this respect and where appropriate co-ordinate their activities.
3. Call upon the Russian Federation and the Netherlands to develop a five year research programme to deepen our understanding of Arctic ecosystems in order to underpin conservation and management measures in Arctic, and provide appropriate funding for such a period taking into account the current economic situation.
4. Underline the importance of standardised monitoring programmes of Arctic Flora and Fauna by using the existing infrastructure of Russian Arctic stations including the Russian-Dutch 'Willem Barents' Biological Station and the Russian-Swedish 'Lena-Nordenskjold' Biological Station.
5. Invite both governments to take an active approach towards the conservation and management of Arctic bird species on a flyway-level, through existing bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements e.g. the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. Both governments also are called to join forces to protect wetlands of world-wide importance, as they are the main habitats for migratory Arctic breeding birds and to seek to extend the number of designations of Arctic wetlands as Ramsar sites.
6. Urge both governments to make their successful Arctic co-operation known to a wider audience in order to provide information to general public and thus stimulate a greater interest in Arctic cultural and natural heritage.
7. Request both governments to continue to take into consideration the interest, culture and way of life of the Indigenous Peoples and take into account the interest of the Indigenous Peoples habitat protection in the establishment of protected areas. This may require the development of different types of protected areas, including ethno-ecological.
8.Call upon both governments to develop further the concepts of Pan European Ecological Corridors Network (EECONET) on the basis of the Maastricht Declaration (1993), taking into consideration national approaches and experiences of western and eastern european countries and extend this network into Northern Eurasia in order to preserve biological and landscape diversity, in particular Arctic coastal areas and the Western Palearotic Flyway.
9. Underline that support is necessary to continue ringing programmes of Arctic birds, in particular in the light of the aspects of climate change which may affect the Arctic more than any other ecosystem and may result in changes in migration systems.
10. Call upon both governments to continue to take a positive approach to the involvement of national and international NGOs in order to achieve the common goals of a good an sustainable management of Arctic and welcome in this respect the recent establishment of a Dutch NGO on Arctic issues.
Finally, the participants wish to express their sincere thanks to the organisers of the Symposium for taking this initiative and thus creating an opportunity for so many people involved in Arctic to present their research, to exchange their views on a wide range of issues and to work together on the conservation and sustainable management of Arctic.