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World’s wetlands experts flood in to Cumbria

28 January 2014

Rachel Atkinson

Global symposium on wetlands and ecotourism is centred at UCLan’s Westlakes Campus and involves interested parties from across the world

Pic: Wetlands in the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

World-renowned wetlands experts are among the key speakers at an upcoming free symposium on wetlands and ecotourism.

The one-day event, which is taking place at the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Westlakes Campus, will focus upon the relationship between wetlands and ecotourism.

It is open to anyone who is interested in rural tourism, sustainable development and wetlands. There will be a host of top industry names who will be speaking at the event including Tobias Salathé and Dr Brian Irving MBE. Tobias is Ramsar’s Senior Regional Advisor for Europe and has written a large number of research reports into wetlands around the world. Dr Irving, Manager of the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), will be discussing wetlands as a tourism destination.

The free symposium, which is sponsored by the Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme and the Solway Coast AONB, takes place on Friday 31 January to coincide with World Wetlands Day.

“This is a great opportunity for all interested people to come along and learn more about the wetlands in our beloved area.”

Dr Rick Wylie, Samuel Lindow Academic Director at UCLan’s Westlakes Campus, said: “This is a great opportunity for all interested people to come along and learn more about the wetlands in our beloved area. It’s fantastic to get the calibre of speakers to this fascinating symposium at our superb campus at Westlakes.

“Wetlands are amongst the most productive of the world’s ecosystems. They provide essential resources around the world such as water, food, transport, construction materials and coastline protection. Worldwide, wetlands offer significant opportunities for tourism and recreation, generating income for governments, for the tourism industry itself, and create very significant local visitor economies by attracting tourists into otherwise quiet areas. Moreover, these wetland areas can also provide an authentic, natural experience of profound, emotional significance to visitors and locals alike.”

Some of the symposium’s key speeches are being broadcast online to ensure people across the globe can learn from this event. So far interested parties from as far afield as New Zealand and America have registered to take part. It is being held in collaboration with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and The Tourism Society.

“It is this ‘unknown’ Western and Northern Cumbria, which, in wildlife terms rivals the Danube Delta, the Camargue in France and Florida’s Everglades.”

Dr Irving, Manager of the Solway Coast AONB, added: “The Solway Firth is an internationally designated area for its wetland quality and its prime location on a major wildlife migration route across western Europe.

“Many of us think of the Firth as traditional seaside, Allonby and Silloth are prime examples of traditional seaside holiday destinations. However, by turning toward the inner estuary and the surrounding marshes, bogs and wetlands a whole new holiday destination is revealed. It is this ‘unknown’ Western and Northern Cumbria, which, in wildlife terms rivals the Danube Delta, the Camargue in France and Florida’s Everglades.

“The symposium will discuss, showcase and provide expert input to how the area can be made a sustainable tourism destination drawing on a wealth of examples.”

To reserve your free place contact Rick Wylie by email on rwylie@uclan.ac.uk or by telephone on 01946 517204. To access the event free online log on to www.uclan.ac.uk/apsu