Day 1: October 1, 2018 

Delta Lady project partners gathered in France in the Regional Natural Park of Camargue, to organise the kick-off meeting and the 1st Interregional Learning Event dedicated to the learning and exchange of experiences on the regional policies and good practices in the delta regions. The director of the Natural Park of Camargue, Régis Vianet, welcomed the partners and opened the meeting. 22 participants from 9 partner organisations took part in the meeting. The meeting was attended also by stakeholders from France and Romania, namely the representative from the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration of Romania,  a National contact point Interreg Europe from French partner side, and local area stakeholders from the Park.  

After the introduction round by partners, lead partner briefly presented the main aspects of the project, and after, each partner presented a background of their organisations. During the meeting partners discussed the issues and challenges related to their deltas. The rationale behind their participation is no specific reference to the use of ecosystem services in the regional policies. All partners address policy instruments for valorisation of ecosystem services in the deltas for regional economy. Some start from the perspectives on tangible activities (e.g. Po, Danube, Rhone with fishing, reed, rice, tourism, education), whereas others address methods (distribution of benefits, effectuation, collaboration). All presentations are shared between partners and are available on a project's shared platform. Administrative issues related to the project management, communication and finances were discussed with partners as well.

In the afternoon, the study visit to the Camargue delta was organised. The weather was warm but the wind was blowing hard. Partners visited the rice farms, fields with bulls and white horses, salt production location and visited the “moving” sea coast line. Camargue delta is rich in biodiversity and ecosystem services. Next to nature protection, husbandry of bulls and horses, cultivation of rice and reed beds, fisheries and salt production are important. Birds and wild horses are major for tourism. Tourism activities are very diverse, from mass tourism on the seashore to cultural and natural tourism in the park area. The director of the Natural Park of Camargue and stakeholders’ group presented their views on the issues related to the rice farming, reed beds and fishery. Rice in Camargue is the main crop. Higher salinity of soil is a major issue. Balancing of the fishery yield which covers fish, shrimps and mussels is the major issue as well.

Day 2: October 2, 2018 

The second day started with reflections of partners on day 1. All partners were satisfied with the content, management and study tour of the first day. Expectations about the implementation in the region and cross-regional learning are high. After reflections, partners discussed the set-up of their regional stakeholder groups (RSG).

RSG of Camargue was represented by four stakeholders: the Director of the Park, the fisherman, the reedbeds harvester and representative from the Rice Centre France:

  • Rice: The issue is presented by Cyrille Thomas from the Centre France Rice (Centre Français du Riz, CFR). In Camargue rice is the main crop though productivity is lower than in Spain and Italy. Higher salinity of soil is a major issue. Promotion of local rice can increase value but herbicides are needed because of invasive species while intercropping (e.g. trifolium) reduces productivity. The challenge is how to continue.
  • Reed beds: The issue is presented by Laurent Prevost, reedbed farmer. Delivery of low cost reed is possible thanks to the mechanization but sales price and sales volume are difficult to reach. Changes of climate must also be anticipated, moisture and salinity. The Danube delta shows their capabilities in the reed products and designs. It is agreed on cooperation.
  • Fishery: presented by Patrice Cardona, Fisherman (Camargue Natural Park). Fishery covers fish, shrimps and mussels. Balancing of the fishery yield with regeneration is the major issue. Eel is particularly sensitive. Breeding of eels is under development in Camargue. The Po delta shows film about their positive efforts and results with simple methods. It is agreed on cooperation.

 After, the Steering Group meeting was conducted. During the meeting the following main findings were observed

  • An overarching strategy is to put ecosystem services on the agenda of the EU Regional Development with illustrative operational instruments for deltas; 
  • The best practices address issues that are resolved in the past and the case studies address the upcoming issues; 
  • In addition to the best practices and case studies, it was suggested to identify a “wish list”, it is what policies can be introduced/what can be done in the future;
  • To use more visualization media  and present showcases.