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Europe Chapter Events

Upcoming Events

2020 SWS Europe Chapter Meeting- May 25-27 2020 Wageningen, Netherlands 

This meeting has been CANCELLED due to concerns regarding Coronavirus(COVID-19).  

Meeting Website. HERE 

Past Events

14th SWS Europe Chapter Meeting - June 17 -21, 2019 Aarhus, Denmark 

The SWS-Europe chapter held its 2019 annual meeting with WETPOL from June 17-21, 2019 in Aarhus, Denmark. SWS-Europe had a special symposium "Wetlands and ecosystem services: water quality improvement, climate regulation and flood control."  For more information about the meeting, please go to the meeting website at www.wetpol.com.

13th SWS Europe Chapter Meeting - April 30-May 4, 2018 Ohrid, Macedonia 

Management of Wetland Ecosystem Services: Issues, Challenges and Solutions
Exploring novel approaches for wetland conservation and wise use, water management, sustainable use and ecotourism, restoration of degraded or lost sites, pollution control and climate change

Ohrid, Macedonia, April 30 – May 4, 2018
St. Clement University of Ohrid, Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality

The SWS Europe chapter held its 13th annual meeting in Ohrid, Macedonia, on April 30 - May 5, 2018. Ohrid is an authentic town with a scenic location on the north shore of Lake Ohrid, the oldest lake in Europe. Other natural highlights in the vicinity include Galichica Mountain and Lake Prespa. The threatened Studenchishte wetland, on the shore of Lake Ohrid, has been protected for the foreseeable future with help from SWS, and was a location of one of the field trips. 

Scientific Committee
Rob McInnes (RM Wetlands & Environment Ltd,
Nick Davidson (Nick Davidson Environmental, UK)
Matthew Cochran (ORBICON, Denmark)
Keith Edwards (University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic)
Matthew Simpson (WWT Consulting, Slimbridge, UK)
Jos Verhoeven (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Alenka Gaberščik (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Karin Tonderski (University of Linköping,
Stefan Weisner (University of Halmstad, Sweden)
Diederik Rousseau (University of Gendt, Belgium)
Nadezda Apostolova (University of Valencia, Spain)
Slavco Hristovski (University St Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, Macedonia)
Zlatko Levkov (University St Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, Macedonia)
Trajče Talevski (Hydrobiological Institute, Ohrid, Macedonia)

Organizing Committee
Matthew Cochran (ORBICON, Denmark)
Keith Edwards (University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic)
Matthew Simpson (WWT Consulting, Slimbridge, UK)
Jos Verhoeven (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
Dragana Velkovska (E.D.E.N., Skopje, Macedonia)

Plenary speakers
Trajče Talevski
Slavco Hristovski
Marina Talevska
Aleksandra Cvetkoska

Program Schedule
Download full program

April 30
18.00-20.00 Registration
20.00 Welcome reception – Royal View Hotel, Jane Sandanski 2, Ohrid

May 1
08.00-08.45 Registration, St. Clement University of Ohrid, Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality
Kej Makedonija 95

08.45-09.00 Welcome to the meeting – Matt Simpson, Slavco Hriskovski, Jos Verhoeven

09.00-10.00 Keynote lecture - Slavco Hristovski and Valentina Slavevska-Stamenkovic "Natural values of Ohrid Prespa system with emphasis on Studenchishte wetland"
- Chair: Jos Verhoeven

10.00-10.30 Coffee

10.30-12.30 Oral session A – Wetlands and water quality – Chair: Matt Simpson
10.30 - A1 – Jan Vymazal - Removal of nutrients, organics and suspended solids in vegetated agricultural drainage ditch
10.45 - A2 – Hristina Bodin - Attenuation of pharmaceutical substances: Phytoremediation using constructed wetlands
11.00 - A3 – Mette Carstensen - Increased hydraulic loading rate to full-scale subsurface flow constructed wetlands decreased phosphate and methane release
11.15 - A4 – Rory Harrington - Management of limestone quarry drainage: a new challenge for the Integrated Constructed Wetland (ICW) concept
11.30 - A5 – Ines Cindric - Removal of SDBS from wetland water using eggshell as a low cost adsorbent
11.45 - A6 – Jasna Halambek - The influence of orange peel powder and orange peel charcoal on copper adsorption on soil
12.00 – A7 – Ruud Kampf - The role of wetlands in the urban water cycle: Amsterdam to Kisumu, towards a circular economy?
12.15 - A8 – Geoff Sweaney - How to convince regulators that wetland treatment is effective

12.30-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.00 Keynote lecture – Aleksandra Cvetkovska "Quaternary climate change in the southern Balkans: Lake Prespa diatom paleolimnology from the last interglacial to present"
- Chair: Keith Edwards

15.00-15.30 Coffee

15.30-17.30 Oral session B – Ecological quality and restoration of wetlands – Chair: Matt Cochran
15.30 - B1 – Keith Edwards - Nutrient and hydrologic effects on plant structure and functions in two wet grasslands
15.45 - B2 – Scott Winton - Managing hydrology and waterfowl grazing to reduce wetland methane flux
16.00 - B3 – Stefan Lorenz - Exposure and vulnerability of small lentic water bodies to pesticides
16.15 - B4 – Ülo Mander - Riparian grey alder forest ecosystem response to sudden flooding: The FluxGAF experiment
16.30 – B5 – Thomas Hein - Riverine landscapes and their floodplains in transformation – challenges for utilization of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation in the Danube River
16.45 – B6 – Kimberli Ponzio - Development of hydrologic criteria for managing subtropical wetlands in Florida, USA
17.00 – B7 – Kris Decleer - Flanders (Belgium) lost 75% of its wetlands during the past 50-60 years. But restoration pays back
17.15 – B8 – Christopher Craft - Tidal marsh restoration: Tracking 50 years of wetland soil development

17.30-18.00 Coffee

18.00-19.30 SWS Europe Business Meeting

May 2
09.00-10.45 Guided tour through the old town of Ohrid

11.00 Field trips to Studenchishte Wetland and River Drim

20.00 Conference dinner. Royal View Hotel, Jane Sandanski 2

May 3

08.00-08.30 Registration, St. Clement University of Ohrid, Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality
Kej Makedonija 95

08.30-09.30 Official session (Chair: Jos Verhoeven):
- Mayor of Ohrid
- Representative of Ministry of the Environment
- Dean of the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality, Ohrid University

09.30-10.30 Keynote lecture - Trajce Talevski "Lake Ohrid - Current Situation and Dangers"
- Chair: Matt Simpson

10.30-11.00 Coffee

11.00-13.00 Oral session C – Wetland conservation and the Ramsar Convention – Chair: Keith Edwards
11.00 - C1 – Rob McInnes - Challenges with describing the ecological character of Ramsar Sites: a case study from Myanmar
11.15 - C2 – Patrick Grillas - The contribution of seed bank mapping to conservation programmes: Lythrum thesioides case study
11.30 - C3 – Martina Eiseltová - The challenge of wetland conservation under the intensification of agriculture
11.45 - C4 – Rob McInnes - The SWS/WWN 2017 citizen-science survey of the state of the world’s wetlands: issues and results
12.00 - C5 – Daniel Montagud - Proposed measures for restoration of Studenchishte wetland (Ohrid, Macedonia)
12.15 - C6 – Mateja Germ. - Macrophyte community structure affects the presence and abundance of the Dytiscidae aquatic beetles in waterbodies along the river
12.30 - C7 – Alenka Gaberščik - Invasive alien vines alter characteristics of riparian vegetation habitats
12.45 - C8 – Igor Zelnik - Diversity of diatom communities in different habitats of the pool spring Zelenci (Slovenia)

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.00 Keynote lecture – Marina Talevska "Macrophyte vegetation in Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa" - Chair: Matt Cochran

15.00-15.30 Coffee

15.30-17.00 Oral session D – Biogeochemical aspects of wetlands – Chair: Jos Verhoeven
15.30 - D1 – Keith Edwards - Distribution of mineral nutrients in littoral vegetation of an ancient shallow reservoir
15.45 - D2 – Fons Smolders - Oxygen prevents eutrophication and can make turbid waters clear again
16.00 - D3 – Mateja Grašič - Silicon accumulation in the wet meadow species Deschampsia cespitosa from different habitats
16.15 – D4 – José Orellana - Updating the hydrogeological model of the Gallocanta Lake (Spain): a contemporary approach
16.30 – D5 – Valentini Maliaka - Sediment quality investigations in Lake Lesser Prespa (Greece): tracking the impact of eutrophication through new knowledge
16.45 – D6 – Ülo Mander - Nitrous oxide emission from nitrogen-rich organic soils

 17.00-17.30 Closing session

Field Trips
Studenchishte Marsh
Containing peat layers over 5 m deep, Studenchishte Marsh is one of the few remaining habitats of its kind in the Republic of Macedonia. Situated at an altitude of 695 m in the south-west of the country on the eastern shore of UNESCO Lake Ohrid, the wetland’s previously extensive range has been reduced over the past century to just 50 ha with marshy and peaty habitats displayed in 25 ha. Despite its diminished extent and ongoing degradation, the wetland continues to furnish significant additional biological and habitat diversity to a region already world-renowned for the exceptional richness of its natural world. Over 50 species of birds are still recorded at Studenchishte; 14 native fish taxa swim through an adjacent channel; 9 beetle species unknown elsewhere in Macedonian territory clamber through the vegetation; Red-Listed dragon and damselflies zoom above; and small populations of rare plants continue to cling to life here. In addition, Studenchishte supports oligotrophic conditions at ancient Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest and most biodiverse inland waters on Earth, some of whose 200-plus endemic species can also be found in the wetland.

In recent years, changes to the General Urban Plan for the city of Ohrid opened Studenchishte Marsh to drainage and urbanization as part of a large-scale tourism development drive. Cooperating with Ohrid SOS, a local citizens’ initiative devoted to the protection of Lake Ohrid, the Society of Wetland Scientists has been an active and important participant in the so-far successful movement to overturn those destructive proposals.

Studenchishte marsh


StrugaMacedonia’s city of poems, Struga is the third largest of all the towns on the Lake Ohrid shore with 16,559 citizens set within a municipality population of over 60,000. Heavily influenced by Albanian culture, it marks the gateway to the Lake Ohrid’s only outflow, the Black Drim River, around which the town’s life is concentrated. In previous years, wetland habitats extended over 500 ha in the vicinity of Struga. These have all but disappeared, although remnants survive, especially between the villages of Kalishta and Radolishta. Hopes for wetland rehabilitation in the region now depend upon the protection of Studenchishte Marsh, which can provide a blueprint for reconstruction, and the eventual pathway of the proposed European Corridor VIII railway that will connect the Black and Adriatic Seas. Current plans are thought to reduce opportunities for wetland restoration.

Lake Prespa

To the east of Lake Ohrid on the other side of the National Park Galichica mountain massif is Lake Prespa, which, at an altitude of 855 m is the highest of Macedonia’s three tectonic lakes. Owing to its comparably long existence yet more acute isolation, Prespa delivers an even greater proportion of endemic ichthyofauna than Lake Ohrid with 9 of its 11 native fish species found only here on the planet. All but 1 appear on the IUCN Red List. Meanwhile, Prespa’s shallower waters present excellent conditions for birds, which are represented by 216 species or 42% of the Europe’s avian diversity, most famously the Dalmatian pelican. Three significant wetland areas border Lake Prespa: Ezerani, Stenje and Perovo. Both Ezerani and Stenje are strictly protected zones hosting rare and endemic species, while the former is a designated a Monument of Nature.

Lake prespa


Sveti Naum
Sveti naumAn unusual feature of Lake Ohrid is its inflow. 53% of arriving water travels (largely from Lake Prespa) via karst aquifers, which feed into numerous sub-lacustrine and surface springs in a process that contributes both to Ohrid’s oligotrophic conditions and its wide diversity of life. Named after a 9th century saint who founded the regionally renowned monastery here, Sveti Naum contains a major complex of these springs at Lake Ohrid’s south-east corner. With discharge of up to 20 l/s, these coastal and underwater springs form a small lake with exceptionally clear waters, a particularly important wetland phenomenon that is home to fascinating flora and fauna, including micro-locally endemic invertebrates.

The Constructed Wetland Association’s Annual Conference 

Constructed wetlands: natural systems for water management was held on September 27 - 28, 2017 in Slimbridge, UK. The conference included the following themes:

  • Natural infrastructure vs hard engineering approaches
  • Multiple benefits of wetland treatment systems 
  • Latest technology and developments in natural treatment systems

Visit the Constructed Wetland Association's website to learn more.

7th International Symposium for Wetland Systems for Water Pollution Control (WETPOL) The Constructed Wetland Association’s Annual Conference

The 7th International Symposium for Wetland Systems for Water Pollution Control (WETPOL) was held August 22-26, 2017, at the Big Sky Resort in Big Sky, Montana, USA. WETPOL is the preeminent global conference that brings together scientists, engineers and practitioners, working on the use of wetlands for water quality improvement. For the first time in the U.S., this conference created unique opportunities for collaborative exchange. There was a full program, focused on domestic wastewater treatment wetlands, urban stormwater wetlands and bio-swales, riparian wetland restoration, wetlands in agricultural settings and wetland biogeochemistry. The conference included one day of field trips to explore examples of constructed, restored and unique natural wetlands and riparian areas in the region. Learn more at wetpol.org, or check out this informational flyer

12th SWS Europe Chapter Annual Meeting

Th 12th Annual Europe Chapter Meeting was organized with the European Pond Conservation Network (EPCN), and took place the first week of May, in Faro, Portugal. There were keynotes on Doñana National Park, Wetlands for removal of pharmaceuticals and on Paludiculture. A special highlight was the signing of a new Memorandum of Cooperation between SWS and the Ramsar Convention, by SWS President Gillian Davies and Ramsar Secretary General Martha Rojas Urrego. The SWS Europe Chapter also signed Memorandums of Cooperation with the Wetlands for Pollution Control (WETPOL) and with the Constucted Wetlands Association (CWA)Read more here.

At the meeting, there were elections for all three officer positions, for a new three-year period. It was also decided to expand the board by adding a past-president position, representatives from WETPOL and CWA and two student representatives. Since May 5, 2017, the board comprises of the following members:

  • President: Matthew Simpson
  • Past President: Jos Verhoeven
  • Secretary: Keith Edwards
  • Treasurer: Matthew Cochran
  • WETPOL observer: Diederik Rousseau
  • CWA observer: 
  • Student member: Dan Roberts (Bangor University, UK)

The first SWS European Student Association was set up by Professor Chris Freeman at Bangor University, in Wales, UK. This group of Master's and Ph.D. students will carry out wetland research and share their experiences through the SWS Student Association network.

The Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) program has now been implemented in Europe by the successful application of Matthew Simpson as the first-certified, European Professional Wetland Scientist. The procedures and legal dimensions will be further elaborated in the near future.

The SWS Europe Chapter has continued its efforts helping to protect Lake Ohrid and the Studenchiste Wetland by sending Jos Verhoeven to Macedonia. A Round Table meeting was held in Skopje that brought together various stakeholders from Ohrid SOS and other NGOs, universities and the Ministry of the Environment. A document with the conclusions of the Round Table can be found here. In addition, the 13th annual meeting will be organized in Ohrid, Macedonia, on April 30 - May 5, 2018. The planning for the meeting has already started. Tentatively, we hope to have two days of presentations (oral / poster) as well as two field trip days. Ohrid is an authentic town with a scenic location on the north shore of Lake Ohrid, the oldest lake in Europe. Other natural highlights in the vicinity include Galichica Mountain and Lake Prespa. The threatened Studenichiste wetland, on the shore of Lake Ohrid, has been protected for the foreseeable future with help from SWS, and is a location of one of the proposed field trips. All are welcome to come join us in what promises to be a very interesting and beautiful location. Start planning early. Look here for future information concerning registration, fees, accomodations, etc.

Download the EPCN-SWS Abstract Book here.


From left to right: SWS Europe Chapter President-Elect Mathew Simpson, SWS Europe Chapter President Jos Verhoeven, Ramsar Convention Secretary General Martha Rojas-Urrego, SWS President Gillian Davies, SWS President-Elect Arnold Van der Valk, SWS Ramsar Section Chair Nick Davidson.

11th SWS Europe Chapter Annual Meeting 

Around 100 people from 23 countries gathered from 17-20 May, 2016 in the beautiful and historic city of Potsdam, Germany for the 11th annual meeting of the SWS Europe chapter. The theme of the meeting was “Wetland-Science and Society: Knowledge transfer, conservation conflicts and restoration management”. A special guest was SWS President Kim Ponzio. Our hosts, Dominik Zak and Jorg Gelbrecht, and their colleagues did a wonderful job in planning and running the meeting. There were two days of oral and poster presentations with a plenary talk on each day all being well focused on the meeting theme. The first plenary speaker was Dr. Karsten Reise of the Alfred Wegener Institute. Dr. Reise is a marine biologist who has concentrated on tidal flats. He gave a very interesting talk on the importance of coastal wetlands in dealing with global sea level rise with examples from the Wadden Sea and the importance of people learning to work with nature and not against it. The second plenary was given by Dr. Chris Freeman, Bangor University in Wales, UK, who presented a clear review of the enzymatic latch concept and how the role of phenolics and extracellular enzymes are central for enhancing the carbon sequestration properties of peatlands. There were good discussions during and after the oral sessions and poster presentations, with the discussions continuing later in the restaurants and pubs of historic Potsdam. Special mention must be made of the contribution of two participants from Macedonia who gave a presentation about the Studenchishte Marsh and Lake Ohrid and the plans for turning the last intact wetland bordering the lake into a tourist facility, an idea that the presenters and others opposed. During the meeting, it was learned that, because of their efforts with the assistance of SWS, the wetlands will be protected from future development. Another special item of interest was when SWS President Kim Ponzio announced that the chapter was awarded a grant from SWS for expanding membership and presented chapter Treasurer Matthew Simpson with a check for $2500. Lastly, Vittoria Giannini, of the Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna in Pisa, Italy, was the poster presentation winner.

A field trip day took place in the middle of the conference. The morning saw the participants divided into two groups with group one taking a tour of a re-wetted fen (Polder Stangenhagen) and group two visiting a post-mining area (Schlabendorfer See). Both groups joined for lunch, which was quite good and consisted of numerous specialties of German cuisine. After lunch, all went to see a wet meadows restoration project which is an EU Life project (Topchiner Seen).The multi-faceted restoration project of this calcareous fen includes not only re-wetting of previously drained meadows but grazing management using water buffalo. Unfortunately, we did not see any buffalos during our visit.

The conference dinner followed that evening with a boat ride along the River Havel, which flows through Potsdam and joins the River Spree in nearby Berlin. The food and views made for a very enjoyable evening.
All in all, it was a highly stimulating and productive meeting which was thoroughly enjoyed by all. We are all looking forward to the next annual meeting which will be held in Faro, Portugal in the first week of May, 2017 in conjunction with the European Pond Conservation Network (EPCN). Look to this space for details. A meeting website will be set-up and running by the end of this September.

10th SWS Europe Chapter Annual Meeting

Around 50 people gathered from 10-13 May, 2015 in the beautiful town of Bled, Slovenia for the 10th annual meeting of the SWS Europe chapter. Our host, Alenka Gaberščik, and her colleagues did a wonderful job in planning and running the meeting. There were two days of oral and poster presentations with a plenary talk on each day. The first plenary speaker was Prof. Dr. Boris Sket of the University of Ljubljana who gave a very interesting account of the history of cave research in Slovenia, described the hydrogeomorphological and biological characteristics of caves and emphasized their importance as wetland habitats in karstic regions. The second plenary was given by RNDr. Jan Květ, CSc. who presented a clear review of the ecological services provided by wetlands. There were good discussions during and after the oral sessions and poster presentations, with the discussions continuing later in the restaurants and pubs of Bled.

A field trip day took place in the middle of the conference. The first stop was a tour of several of the caves in the Škocjanske jame Park, which is a biosphere reserve and a world heritage site as well as being designated as the first underground Ramsar wetland of international importance. Following a delicious lunch at an agro-environmental restaurant and inn within the park, the participants visited the second site, Lake Cerknica, an intermittent lake with a wide belt of herbaceous wetlands surrounding the borders of the lake.

The conference dinner followed that evening with entertainment provided by a choir composed of faculty members from the University of Ljubljana. The quality of their singing of Slovenian folk songs would rival many professional singers. All in all, it was a highly stimulating and productive meeting which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

To view Abstracts from the meeting please click here

9th SWS Europe Chapter Annual Meeting

More than 300 wetland scientists and practitioners travelled from 27 countries to the beautiful city of Huesca, Spain to discuss, debate and most importantly of all to celebrate wetlands. Informal debates, individual presentations and panel discussions have highlighted the importance of the wise use of wetlands and the key role they play in maintaining human wellbeing across Europe and beyond.

2014 annual meeting pic

Key highlights from the meeting:

- Important and interesting topics were covered in presentation sessions ranging from the role of wetlands and buffer zones within green infrastructure, water treatment functions of wetlands, the key biological features of wetlands, socio-ecological aspects of wetlands and their management and the impact climate change is having on European wetland ecosystems.

- Two interesting panel discussions were held sparking energetic debates on 'Linking the wise use of wetlands with the challenges for sustainable development' and 'Integrating wetlands into the social-economic landscape: from theory to practice'.

- Dr. Jan Kvet from the Czech Republic received an award for his lifetime service in wetland science.

- Allison Gandar from the Universite de Toulouse won the student poster competition for her poster on 'Crossed-effects between temperature and pesticides on a freshwater fish of wetlands'.

- Four field trips to visit wetland restoration sites in the Gallego and Ebro river floodplains and to constructed wetlands for the treatment of agriculture runoff were an excellent opportunity to see wetland restoration and constructed wetlands in an arid climate and provided the perfect chance for participants to exchange their experiences with different restoration and design techniques.


 The first SWS Europe Annual Meeting was held in Bangor, Wales, on January 5 and 6, 2006.

Europe Chapter