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International Federation of Wildlife Photography (IFWP) had its 22th General Assembly on 17th - 21th May in the Swedish landscapes of the lake Vänern. Besides the official meeting there were in the program many excursions to the best places in the region - chosen by the hosting association, the Swedish Nature Photographers Association.

It is nice to notice that the longer the distance the more numerous seems to be the participation: the Hungarians and the Dutchmen had both got a representative group to travel to the spring-time Scandinavia. Totally the meeting had got over thirty participants from seven European countries.We had the opportunity to make aquaintance with Kinnekulle, a hill 300 meters above sea level, which the internationally famous natutarlist and scientist Carl von Linné praized as one of the most varied environment he had ever seen. With its beautiful heaths, pasture landscapes, rich forests, and fruitful groves it’s without hesitation one of the most representative cultural landscapes in Sweden. Unfortunately the best time to see spring flowers was a bit over.

One of the most interesting excursions was the trip to the archipelago of the lake Vänern. The archipelago is called the biggest in its category - inner lakes - in the whole Europe. Vänern is the biggest lake in Sweden and the third in whole Europe. Maybe it’s the biggest pure lake in the whole Europe: it’s the source of drinking water for over half million Swedes. The lake has a nautical appearance with its glaciated rock landscapes, “framed” with some big ships in the horizon - but without the smell of the sea. The voices of primitive strenght, the black throated divers, echoing along the surface of the silent lake recalled a strong lake feeling.

The most famous Swedish nature reserve in the whole Europe which we visited was the lake Hornborga. A lake which has been restored to a famous bird-lake: the excess vegetation was removed and water-level raised - a 15 year project with 20 million Euros total costs. The restoration was the biggest project of this kind in Sweden. And they have succeeded. Nowadays there are rich water bird populations guarded by 10 000 noicy black headed gulls. During spring-migration 10 000 cranes are staying every year some weeks in Hornborga. Bird-watchers and nature- lovers from all over the Europe visit lake Hornborga - annually 200 000 people.

I think lake Hornborga has a quite big market share of all published European crane photographs. One reason is naturally that it is famous for its regurlarly visiting big crane flocks. The other reason is that there is good service for photograhers that you can hire a photographic hide in Hornborga and almost with a guaranteed possibility to take crane photographs, from a distance of only some meters. The only inconvenience is that you have to make a reservation one year before!

What kind of opportunities to photograph did we have during our excursions? Of course the opportunities are not so good in a big group. But in any case you make aquaintance with new locations and get a feeling what are the possibilities in various environments. And we always have the best possible guides, the local nature photographers, who are experts in their nature and who choose and show even their hidden places to the guests. If you like to come once more you know where to come and to whom take a contact. Of course the main objectives of these annual meetings and excursions is not only photographing but to meet each other and to exchange ideas with your colleagues.

In the agenda of the official General Assembly was among others the nature publications, specially the nature photo books. One of the main targets of the association is to preserve the quality of nature photographs which covers also the publication of the photographs. To promote this target IFWP encourages the national associations to select time and again “Nature Photo Book of the Year”. IFWP has also plans to make this selection internationally.

The Swedish association, the Swedish N(ature Photographers), had made a good work in organizing our annual meeting. Specially enjoyable was that Hans Kongbäck who had the main responsibility of organizing, guided us to his own landscape - to the landscape where he was born and to the landscape which is most important home district for him. We got a glimpse to the landscape which he knows thoroughfully and where he has lived over 50 years! Also the many Scandinavian food specialities he provided to us made a special impression. No wonder, that the Dutch accordeon played cheerfully in Göötalands spring night. Thank you very much!

Matti Torkkomäki