Conference Report of the 5th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties


5th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
Kushiro, Japan
9-16 June 1993




Friday 12 June: 0900 - 1230; 1400 - 1800

Co-Chairpersons: Mr J.M. de Benito (Spain), Ms L. Lakos (Hungary)

Secretariat: Mr M. Smart (Assistant Secretary General), Mr T.A. Jones (IWRB/Ramsar Liaison Officer)

Rapporteurs: Dr M. Herzig Zürcher, Mr R.C. Prentice

(a) Current Status of the List of Wetlands of International Importance

Opening the workshop, the Co-Chairperson for the morning session (from the delegation of Spain) invited the Assistant Secretary General to give an overview of comments in the national reports on the status of Listed sites. The Assistant Secretary General referred participants to document DOC. C.5.16, paragraphs 151-264 and to his earlier presentation in plenary session. The Co-Chairperson invited further comments on the national reports from the floor.

The observer from the Hokkaido Nature Conservation Society, on behalf of several Japanese NGOs, expressed concern regarding the effects of the planned Chitose River diversion channel near Lake Utonai Ramsar site, and of chemical run-off into Kushiro-shitsugen.

The delegation of Japan reminded the workshop that it had stated its position on this matter in plenary session and offered more detailed information, outlining the planning and public consultation procedure that had been followed in arriving at the proposed development near Lake Utonai. The delegation of Japan stated officially that it was aware of the importance of Lake Utonai Ramsar site and pledged that it would act in sincerity in carrying out the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and in ensuring the conservation of Lake Utonai Ramsar site.

The Assistant Secretary General thanked the Japanese delegation for this detailed information and noted the Convention Bureau's willingness to cooperate with the Government of Japan in monitoring and environmental assessment of the Chitose River diversion channel. With regard to possible pollution of Kushiro-shitsugen as a result of chemical run-off, he noted that this was a common problem, and the Convention Bureau could help to provide assistance from elsewhere.

The delegation of Japan noted NGO concern regarding potential changes in the ecological character of Kushiro-shitsugen Ramsar site, but indicated that there was no evidence of such changes at present and assured the workshop that it would proceed carefully in monitoring the biodiversity of this site.

The observer from the Wild Bird Society of Japan considered the Chitose River Diversion to be a major threat to Lake Utonai, and welcomed the statement given by the delegation from Japan. He asked whether Japanese experts and the Convention Bureau could together perform an EIA on the proposed project. The Assistant Secretary General stated that the only practical option was application of the Monitoring Procedure, if invited by the Japanese Government. The delegation from Japan reminded the workshop that it had stated its position, and reaffirmed its intention to carry out an EIA with sincerity and full responsibility, and to keep the Convention Bureau informed of the results of any EIA or other measures taken.

The observer from Friends of the Earth noted that the Review of National Reports indicated that about 10% of listed Ramsar sites were suffering change in ecological character, yet his organization assessed that closer to 38% of sites were so affected, and would forward their report to the Convention Bureau when it had been completed.

The observer from CIPFE (Uruguay) noted that the report of the Monitoring Procedure mission to Bañados del Este y Franja Costera was not yet completed, although CIPFE had listened to parliamentary debates which considered that the site was not in danger.

The delegation of Iceland commented that its two Listed sites, Myvatn-Laxa and Thjorsarver, should be removed from the Montreux Record in view of the measures that the Government of Iceland had taken in order to safeguard them.

The delegation of Hungary provided additional information on the status of the Convention in Hungary. The Convention text, together with the Paris Protocol and Regina Amendments, had been included in an Act passed by the Hungarian Parliament a few weeks previously.

The delegation of Trinidad & Tobago commented that, since the Convention had only entered into force for her country in April 1993, no national report had been submitted. However, ecological change was already occurring at Nariva Swamp. This provided a good case study on the implications for local and international law, as the government had won a court case filed by local farmers, who were now appealing against this decision. The delegation sought the advice of the Convention Bureau on application of the Monitoring Procedure at this site, to which the Assistant Secretary General replied that this would be appropriate, providing the necessary funds could be located.

The delegation of Zambia provided further information on the status of implementation of the Convention in its country, indicating that two further sites were being considered for designation and that new administrative structures which would assist implementation had been created in 1991. Problems affecting the Listed sites included peat-mining, overgrazing and river regulation, especially at Kafue Flats.

The delegation of Morocco provided further information on the implementation of the Convention. At Merja Zerga, an EIA had been completed on a proposed motorway development. This had indicated that no direct impacts would result, but indirect impacts might occur due to intensification of agriculture. An inventory of protected wetland areas was underway, and it was intended to establish a Ramsar Committee.

The Co-Chairperson then invited delegates to report on progress in relation to the recommendations arising from the Fourth Meeting of the Contracting Parties.

The delegation of Spain, in relation to Recommendation REC. C.4.9.1, stated that a panel of experts had produced a report which had been well received. Implementation of its recommendations had begun, including discussion of a plan for sustainable development of the area around Doñana National Park. A major tourist development proposal near the National Park had been shelved. The observer from the Asociación de Derecho Ambiental complimented the Government of Spain on developing a model process in relation to Doñana National Park including public participation.

The Co-Chairperson invited the delegations of Greece and Jordan to make brief presentations concerning the actions undertaken by their Governments with respect to Recommendations REC. C.4.9.5 and 4.9.3. The delegation of Greece reported that some modification of the provisional wetland zonation maps submitted to the Ramsar Bureau was likely to take place, mainly with regard to the buffer zones. Progress had been made towards the legal establishment of definitive Ramsar site boundaries; draft legal texts had been prepared for five sites and texts for a further three sites would soon be finalized. The observer from Turkey noted that the Greek Ramsar site named Evros Delta formed part of a cross-frontier wetland known in Turkey as the Meriç Delta. He expressed the wish that a transboundary management plan for the whole site could be established in the spirit of Ramsar's Article 5.

The delegation of Jordan thanked the Ramsar Bureau for its role in helping to secure substantial financial support from the Global Environment Facility for conservation measures at Azraq wetland, which had been the subject of a specific recommendation at Montreux beacuse of the impact of groundwater pumping at this Ramsar site.

The Co-Chairperson invited the delegation of Hungary to respond to Recommendation REC. C.4.9. The delegation announced that Lake Tata was now locally protected and year-round Ramsar listing would be given as soon as possible. Lake Balaton was not in a position to be given year-round Ramsar listing at present, due mainly to privatization problems.

The delegation of South Africa detailed developments at St. Lucia System (also mentioned in REC. C.4.9), with the release of an environmental impact report in March 1993 for public scrutiny and comment by the end of June 1993.

An independent review panel would review the EIA process, the environmental impact report and the public comments, and submit a report to the Minister of Environment Affairs. Its recommendations, together with those of the Ramsar Monitoring Procedure mission, would be considered by the Minister when formulating his submission to Cabinet. A decision on whether mining was to be allowed in the St. Lucia System area would only be taken later in the year.

The observer from the Campaign for St. Lucia rejected the interim finding of the EIA that the proposed mining would not cause irreparable damage. This finding was in direct conflict with the findings of the Ramsar Monitoring mission report which stated clearly that the mining would cause major impacts which would permanently compromise the ecological integrity of the site. The observer had consulted with the South African delegation and proposed a paragraph for inclusion in draft recommendation REC. C.5.1 on Ramsar sites in the territories of specific Contracting Parties.

The observer from Friends of the Earth emphasized the value of wetlands on small islands such as the Salinas de Ibiza y Hormentera (Balearic Islands, Spain) and called for establishment of a management plan at this prospective Ramsar site.

The delegation of the United States indicated that ecological changes were occurring in the Everglades Ramsar site, that there was no objection to the site being placed on the Montreux Record, and that the Government would continue to work diligently to resolve the problems.

The observer from BirdLife International congratulated the Convention Bureau on the production of the 'Directory of wetlands of international importance', drawing attention to the important role of NGOs in the updating and implementation of conservation sections.

The delegation of Malta, supported by the delegation of Sweden, offered to sponsor draft recommendations presented by BirdLife International. The Co-Chairperson proposed establishment of a small drafting group made up of Malta, Japan, and Trinidad and Tobago, the observer from BirdLife International, and the Assistant Secretary General.

The delegation of Germany provided information on Leybucht Ramsar site, which had been the subject of a Monitoring Procedure mission and a case in the European Court of Justice, as it had been thought that proposed dyke construction would contravene EC Directive 79/409 on the conservation of wild birds. The court had ruled that construction of the dykes was legal, and compensatory measures were planned. Following construction, the area was intended to receive the highest protection status, and shipping traffic would be further from the core area. An EIA would be conducted and dyke improvement works would be close to the original dykes so that there would not be a significant loss in area.

The delegation of Venezuela accepted the inclusion of Cuare Ramsar site in draft recommendation REC. C.5.1 on Ramsar sites in the territories of specific Contracting Parties.

The delegation of Uganda expressed concern that developing countries faced problems in designating new sites to the List, as a lack of resources meant that it was difficult to implement the obligations of the Convention.

The delegation of Hungary invited the Convention Bureau to publish document DOC. C.5.16 as a separate document, incorporating revisions. The delegation also expressed deep concern at the poor response from the Contracting Parties in submitting national reports to the Convention Bureau, and drew the attention of all delegations to the importance of this issue.

The delegation of Croatia drew attention to the fact that Kopacki Rit Ramsar site was under occupation and therefore out of the control of Croatia. The delegation proposed that the site should be added to the Montreux Record and that the Monitoring Procedure should be applied.

The delegation of Mauritania expressed concern over a possible routing of the Inter Maghreb highway inside the Banc d'Arguin National Park, and requested the Conference to include a reference to the site in draft recommendation REC. C.5.1 on Ramsar sites in the territories of specific Contracting Parties if appropriate.

(b) Review of Regional Wetland Inventories and National Scientific Inventories of Wetlands

The IWRB/Ramsar Liaison Officer presented his report on the operation of the Ramsar Database.

Responding to the issues raised in the report, the Co-Chairperson expressed concern at the supply of information from the Contracting Parties to the Convention Bureau. First, insufficient data had been supplied for many listed sites and, secondly, some wetlands on the List did not comply with the criteria for qualification. The IWRB/Ramsar Liaison Officer clarified the latter issue, indicating that the status of only those sites for which insufficient information had been received would need to be reviewed.

The Co-Chairperson drew attention to the fact that not all national inventories were carried out by NGOs, for example Spain.

The delegation of India described the preparation of its national wetland inventory, mangrove and coral reef directories currently under way, and mapping of wetlands.

The delegation of the Netherlands stated that the Dutch national list of wetlands, which dated from 1985, would be reviewed. It was not a question of not meeting the criteria, just of an updating exercise which was being carried out in close cooperation with BirdLife-Netherlands.

The observer from BirdLife International suggested certain amendments to draft recommendation REC. C.5.2 on 'Procedure for initial designation of sites for the List'. The delegation of France proposed certain amendments to the fourth active paragraph of this draft. The delegation of Hungary proposed that the first active paragraph be amended to read 'URGES Contracting Parties to ensure that any new sites to be added...'.

Mr. Faizal Parish, Executive Director of the Asian Wetland Bureau, presented a review of the current status of regional wetland inventories. Most of the world's surface had now been covered by wetland inventories, the main gaps in this coverage being the countries of the former Soviet Union which were now the subject of an international effort coordinated by IWRB, and the Middle East, where an Important Bird Areas project was currently being implemented by BirdLife International. The importance of inventories as a basis for monitoring was stressed, and also the need for inventories to provide information relevant to the identification of conservation priorities and the management of sites.

The delegation of Indonesia gave a presentation on the preparation of a national inventory of wetlands in Indonesia.

Ms. Geneviève Barnaud, of the National Museum of Natural History, France, gave a presentation on national wetland inventories and monitoring in France.

Opening the afternoon session, the Co-Chairperson of the session (from the delegation of Hungary), outlined the main topics which participants would be invited to consider:

  • development of guidelines for interpreting 'ecological character' and 'change in ecological character';
  • review of Monitoring Procedure; post-Montreux developments and prospects for the next triennium;
  • discussion of the need for a Technical/Scientific Committee.

(c) Montreux Record and development of Guidelines for interpreting 'ecological character' and 'change in ecological character'

On behalf of the Standing Committee sub-group which had considered the issue, the delegation of the United Kingdom presented a review of considerations which had led to the preparation of draft recommendation REC. C.5.3 on the 'Montreux Record'. He also drew attention to the Annex attached to draft recommendation REC. C.5.3 entitled 'Montreux Record - Record of Ramsar sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur'.

During the ensuing discussion, interventions were made by the delegations of Morocco, Senegal, Spain, and Trinidad & Tobago and amendments were proposed for both the draft recommendation and the Annex. It was agreed that a revised draft of this recommendation should be presented to the plenary session.

The observer from IWRB made a technical presentation on the results of a workshop conducted in November 1992 on the subject of ecological change in wetlands, prior to discussion of draft recommendation REC. C.5.4 on 'Guidelines for interpretation of Article 3 ("ecological character" and "change in ecological character")'. Several delegations, notably those of Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Malta, Morocco, Senegal, Trinidad & Tobago and United Kingdom, made several specific recommendations for inclusion in REC. C.5.4, and further expressed the view that this topic was so complex that it was difficult to agree on the guidelines suggested during the present meeting. However, consensus was reached that a recommendation would go forward to the plenary session.

(d) Review of Monitoring Procedure - post-Montreux Developments and Prospects for the next Triennium

At the invitation of the Co-Chairperson, the Assistant Secretary General made a brief presentation of document INF. C.5.13 concerning operation of the Monitoring Procedure. This information was based largely on the relevant sections of document DOC. C.5.16 ('Summary of National Reports and Review of Implementation of the Convention'). He noted that under Article 3.2 of the Convention, Contracting Parties accepted the obligation to transmit to the Bureau without delay reports of actual or possible changes in ecological character at listed sites. The value of national reports was underlined by the fact that most Contracting Parties preferred to communicate information on change in ecological character in their reports to the Conference of the Contracting Parties.

A presentation by the delegation of Austria summarized the efforts being made to conserve the Donau-March-Auen Ramsar site. The Federal Government of Austria had asked for the Monitoring Procedure to be implemented at the site and a German-speaking mission had duly visited Austria in May 1991. Acting upon the recommendations arising from application of the Monitoring Procedure, the relevant authorities had initiated the steps necessary to maintain the ecological character of the floodplain wetlands.

The delegation of Venezuela described the beneficial effects of the application of the Monitoring Procedure at Cuare Ramsar site. Part of the recommendations presented by the Bureau to the government of Venezuela had already been implemented and four Presidential Decrees had been promulgated for conserving the site. Venezuela looked forward to obtaining the international funds necessary for the consolidation of activities already initiated.

The delegation of Uruguay informed participants of legal and technical efforts undertaken by the national and local governments to prevent further deterioration of Uruguay's Ramsar site, Bañados del Este. The delegation emphasized the great importance of the region to the country's economy and stated that the Uruguayan authorities were examining carefully the recommendations resulting from application of the Monitoring Procedure at Bañados del Este in May 1993.

The observer from WWF then reviewed the status of Ramsar sites from an NGO perspective. WWF recognized that the Montreux Record was not an infraction procedure but a means of identifying those sites most in need of active conservation measures. It was stressed that a sufficient budget was required for the Monitoring Procedure if the mechanism was to continue being of service to the Contracting Parties, in providing advice and technical expertise, as well as help in seeking funds for technical assistance. WWF believed that initiatives needed to improve implementation of the Convention by Contracting Parties included: clear policy commitments, preparation of management plans for all listed sites, timely submission of all national reports, submission of annual reports on steps taken with regard to sites contained in the Montreux Record, follow-up of Monitoring Procedure recommendations, and the completion of wetland inventories.

(e) Need for a Technical/Scientific Committee

The Assistant Secretary General then presented document INF. C.5.14 'A review of the need for a Technical/Scientific Committee', which outlined the different technical and scientific tasks to be carried out. The document stimulated lively debate, notably on the status of such a committee, the method for appointing its members, the role of partner organizations, and financial implications, with interventions from the delegations of Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Guinea, Netherlands, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, United States and Venezuela. It did not prove possible to reach a consensus in the time available, and the Co-Chairperson therefore drew discussion to a close, after appointing a drafting group composed of Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, Spain, United States and Venezuela to prepare a revised version of draft recommendation REC. C.5.5 on 'Establishment of a Scientific and Technical Review Panel'.

It was confirmed that the texts of all of the presentations made in the workshop would be published in the Proceedings of the Conference.



Friday 11 June: 0900 - 1230; 1400 - 1730

Co-Chairpersons: Prof S. Njuguna (Kenya), Mr A. van der Zande (Netherlands)

Secretariat: Mr H. Lethier (Director of Conservation), Mr S. Kobayashi (Technical Officer)

Rapporteurs: Mr H. Lethier, Ms C. Samuel

Opening the workshop with a reference to document DOC. C.5.7 (Rev.1), the Co-Chairperson for the morning session (from the delegation of Kenya) outlined the main topics which participants would be invited to discuss, the expected outputs, and the recommendations therefrom.

The Director of Conservation then gave a summary of the comments in national reports, with particular reference to Section 3.2 of the reports, on the adoption of national wetland policies which only Canada and Uganda had so far implemented.

Mr T. Dahl (USA), who had replaced Mr S. Eldoy as Chairman of the Wise Use Working Group, summarized the main activities carried out by the Working Group since the Montreux Conference. Emphasizing the difficulty of producing a set of guidelines applicable to all countries on the implementation of the wise use concept, he called for the workshop to consider specifically the formulation of additional guidance resulting in a beneficial refinement of the guidelines. Finally thanks were given to Mr S. Eldoy for the excellent contribution he had made to the work of the Working Group since Montreux.

A presentation on the Wise Use Project was then given by the Director of Conservation, summarizing its main conclusions and detailing the 17 case studies applied in different types of wetlands. The review of the project's final report had been completed and would be published after the Conference, incorporating the conclusions of the present workshop. He noted, however, that the project could not offer a miracle formula, but only provide a pointer towards the application of the wise use concept and the conservation of wetlands. In conclusion, the Director of Conservation proposed that the future framework of the project might tackle such areas as demonstration projects specifically directed at some aspects of the conservation of wetlands, activities stimulating cooperation over wetlands and the convening of technical meetings supervised by a Scientific Committee. This was however dependent on securing future funding for the project.

The Co-Chairperson then invited comments on the three overviews.

The delegation of Norway had been pleased that its country had held the Chairmanship of the Wise Use Working Group and hoped that the main principles of the recommendations would be adopted and that the efforts of the Working Group would prove to have been worthwhile.

In response to the delegation of Kenya, the Director of Conservation clarified the methodology for selection of the case studies, which were based on existing wise use case studies carried out by IUCN and WWF, and offered a cross-section of the different wetland types and regions in different socio-economic, ecological and cultural contexts.

The Director General of IUCN questioned why governments had not adopted national wetland policies; he asked how the elements of a national environment policy or a national strategy could be integrated with wetland policy. In clarification the Director of Conservation emphasized that the formulation of a national wetland policy was both a lengthy and complicated process. The Chairman of the Wise Use Working Group commented on the political and national constraints in the formulation of policies. The delegation of Uganda stressed the advantages of national wetland policies in their specific focus on wetlands, as opposed to national environment policies, where they received only restricted attention.

In response to the delegation of Pakistan the Director of Conservation stressed that a national wetland policy could reconcile all the different interests e.g. local people, contractors, hunters, naturalists and scientists.

The delegation of Ireland commented that limitations of financial and human resources had impeded the formulation of a national wetland policy in Ireland, but good management of its sites ruled out the necessity for such a policy. However, the Irish authorities did not rule out the possibility of formulating such a policy in the future.

The delegation of Australia endorsed the comment of the Director General of IUCN and underlined the need for upstream management. The delegation of Sweden further commented upon the important role of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) to determine the threats to the wetland, in terms of pollutants or more physical elements. In response, the Director of Conservation stressed the importance of these EIAs being carried out both up and downstream of the wetland, through the catchment approach. He recommended the realization of EIAs specifically adapted to the special characteristics of wetlands.

The delegation of France noted that a political commitment to improved wetland management required a national approach including: technical activities, (inventory and research), legal and fiscal measures, and sensibilization of all those involved. He emphasized the need to give legal reality to the concept of 'catchment' in the framework of a water policy and of regulations for its implementation; and the need to ensure, at the highest governmental level, that policies on environment, land use planning and agriculture were compatible, and were kept under review. In conclusion the delegation of France referred to the efforts made in this field at European Community level in relation to the new agricultural policy.

Finally, the delegation of Canada concluded that, despite the long consultation process necessary to bring about a wetland policy, the advantages of focusing specifically on wetlands were numerous.

Brief technical presentations on wise use case studies in Germany were then given: Prof E. Rutschke of the University of Potsdam on wise use in some German Ramsar sites and Dr J. Mooij of the Central Institute for Waterfowl Research and Wetland Protection on wise use of water bird populations, with special reference to White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons and Bean Goose A. fabalis in the Western Palearctic.

There then followed technical presentations outlining additional guidance for the implementation of the wise use concept. Firstly, Mr Cyrille de Klemm, the Bureau's Legal Advisor, made a presentation on administrative and legal requirements. Too frequently law was considered only as laying down prohibitions and penalties; it should do much more. A first step was to identify and eliminate legal provisions that encouraged destruction of wetlands. Obstacles to the management of wetlands as ecological units, resulting from splits in territorial or functional jurisdiction, should also be eliminated. The coastal zone was an example where separate agencies had jurisdiction over the land and the sea, making it impossible to establish protected areas extending over both sides of the high water mark. Another important element to be considered was the identification and management of activities potentially damaging to wetlands, a new concept appearing in the new Convention on Biological Diversity. The importance of EIA procedures adapted to specific aspects of wetlands was emphasized. A combination of area protection and process management was essential, as well as the provision of appropriate incentives to landowners or occupiers. There was also a need to provide for mechanisms and procedures to resolve conflicts of use. Legislation should be imaginative. A handbook on the range of legal instruments from all over the world could assist Parties in developing new and better adapted laws. The convening of a small group of legal experts would be useful in the identification of legal instruments which had been effective and could be proposed as examples.

Further discussion then ensued on the overview papers from the morning session. The Co-Chairperson also urged the workshop to consider the draft recommendations, the future terms of reference of the Wise Use Working Group, the implementation of the wise use concept and the requirements for additional guidance on the guidelines.

The delegation of Panama insisted on the need for encouragement of concrete actions in the framework of national wetland policies.

The observer from Tanzania pointed out that a national environmental policy could be as adequate as a national wetland policy.

The delegation of Iceland commented that the lack of information contained in the national reports on national wetland policy did not necessarily imply that countries were not interested in integrating wetland policy within their overall conservation policies. The delegation of France supported this concern.

The delegation of Algeria noted the stimulation which the Montreux Conference had created in the passing of a law on environmental impact assessment in Algeria, and emphasized the shortage of data and the lack of financial resources available to developing countries for wetland conservation.

The delegation of Chile emphasized the need to take into consideration the use and conservation of water resources in national wetland policies, and also the need to establish priorities.

The delegation of South Africa emphasized the need to redefine boundary policies to follow catchment divides rather than river courses in order to guarantee improved conservation of sites.

The observer from WWF noted the lessons that could be learned from the people actually living on the wetlands and the provision of financial incentives to the local people up and downstream of wetlands.

The afternoon session, chaired by the Co-Chairperson from the delegation of the Netherlands, opened with a presentation on inventory, research and monitoring to achieve the wise use of wetlands by Mr T. Dahl of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He pointed out some of the basic principles shared by these topics and how they might contribute to the wise use of wetlands. Inventories, research and monitoring activities should provide information. He concluded with three key points. Firstly, inventory, research and monitoring must be linked to each other and to the other elements included in the Wise Use Guidelines. Secondly, an inter-sectoral approach should be promoted. Finally, staff, funding, technology and politics all played a role in determining the success of the Wise Use concept.

Dr A. Ghosh from the Zoological Survey of India then gave a presentation on a case study relating to the treatment of sewage in Calcutta.

Mr S. Sylla of the Ministry of Environment and the Conservation of Nature, Senegal, made a presentation on training, pointing out the necessity of including the needs of the local people in the implementation of the wise use concept and of devoting attention to four aspects of training: definition of needs, the differing needs, target audience and training itself. Three types of training had to be considered: courses on integrated management, wetland management techniques, and courses for field staff.

Mr G. Castro, from Wetlands for the Americas, made a presentation on site management. The three main conclusions were that management must be adapted to the right scale, have a specific goal and be integrated in national policies.

The delegations of the Slovak Republic, Pakistan and the USA debated on the exact sense of the word 'monitoring'.

The observer from WWF stressed the importance of monitoring at catchment level to prevent loss of money resulting from unwise management of wetlands and of the necessity to consider ecological aspects, in particular in developing countries.

Given the existence of a general environmental action policy in his country, the delegation of Ghana questioned the need for a national wetland policy and further noted the lack of financial resources to formulate and to implement such a policy.

The observer from IUCN underlined the clear divisions between the ecological and economic importance of wetlands.

The delegation of South Africa proposed increased involvement of social scientists in the process of wetland research and policy planning.

Several delegations and an observer made comments on draft recommendation REC. C.5.6 on 'Wise use of wetlands' and on its annex on additional guidance for the implementation of the wise use concept. The delegation of Japan emphasized the need to adapt the contents of wetland policy to the specific characteristics of the country. He asked for the revision of references to EIAs contained in the draft recommendation, which should be more comprehensive.

The delegation of Canada commented that a national wetland policy did not necessarily need to be based on legislative requirements.

There then followed discussion on the revisions to the wording of the draft recommendations.

It was confirmed that full texts of technical presentations would be printed in the Proceedings of the Conference.



Saturday 12 June: 0900 - 1230; 1400 - 1530

Co-Chairmen: Mr A. Karem (Tunisia), Mr J. Méndez Arocha (Venezuela)

Secretariat: Mr M. Smart (Assistant Secretary General), Mr T.A. Jones (IWRB/Ramsar Liaison Officer)

Rapporteurs: Mr R.C. Prentice, Dr M. Herzig Zürcher

(a) Essential Character of Wetlands

Opening the session, and noting that technical presentations to the workshop would be reproduced in the finalized Proceedings of the Conference, the Co-Chairman from Tunisia invited the Assistant Secretary General to present an overview of comments on this subject in the national reports. The Assistant Secretary General referred the workshop to document DOC. C.5.16, paragraphs 429-455, and to some national reports which mentioned the management actions undertaken at both listed and unlisted sites. The main point was that rather few Contracting Parties had identified priority actions as a step towards developing national wetland policies.

Mr J. McNeely of IUCN presented the first overview paper on the conclusions of the IV World Congress on National Parks and Protected Areas held at Caracas in February 1992. Responding to this presentation, the delegation of Bolivia stressed the importance of the direct involvement of local communities in the management of protected areas. The observer from the Brazilian NGO Consorcio Mata Atlantica emphasized that an integrated view of the whole ecosystem was needed for management of protected areas. He also noted that the application of research was crucial to the wise use and conservation of biological diversity. The observer from Honduras indicated that the issue of population pressure on wetlands was important in Central America. The delegation of Switzerland commented that 'monitoring' should be added to the 'study' component of the 'study, use, save' triangular concept for sustainable resource management outlined by Mr McNeely.

The delegation of Kenya presented the second overview paper, on human use of protected areas in Africa, focusing on Amboseli National Park in Kenya. In response to this presentation, the observer from Honduras noted that it was not always possible to achieve a balance between agriculture and sustainable resource management; for instance, livestock ranching in South America could be very destructive. The delegation of Kenya responded by indicating that coexistence was the basis of life for people, livestock and wildlife at Amboseli National Park.

The delegation of Senegal indicated that it had been unable to obtain the support of the Senegalese Ministry of Finance for sharing revenue from protected area management with local communities. It asked the delegation of Kenya to indicate how it had succeeded in this matter, and also at what level of the community this revenue was shared. The delegation of Kenya responded by stating that revenue sharing was carried out in appreciation of the important role of local communities in the management of protected areas, and that they were effectively shareholders receiving a regular dividend. Regarding government channels for resource sharing, it was recognized that administrative structures varied between states; in the case of Kenya, the head of state had approved the project, and the Kenya Wildlife Service was a para-statal organization which had control over its own resources. Revenue was shared with local communities through community-based projects such as water supply and schools, not by cash payments.

The delegation of Niger enquired whether background studies had been carried out for the project in Kenya, and indicated that it had experienced similar problems to the delegation of Senegal in obtaining governmental support for revenue-sharing projects. The delegation of Kenya affirmed that many studies had been conducted over a long period prior to the project at Amboseli. The delegation of Morocco provided an example of revenue sharing in a forest area, where a law required that 20% of revenue gained had to be re-invested in the area.

The delegation of Indonesia then presented a technical overview paper on human use of protected areas, focusing on Danau Sentarum Wildlife Reserve in West Kalimantan.

The delegation of France made a technical presentation on river basins in France, describing the development of a methodology for identifying Ramsar sites in river basins, with special reference to the River Loire. The delegation of Panama congratulated the delegation of France for its excellent presentation and stressed the financial and human resource implications of management planning. The observer from Honduras requested clarification on demarcation of riverine wetland sites. The delegation of France noted that the crux of the problem was whether the whole basin or the immediate floodplain of the river should be included; in the case of the River Loire, the latter option had been selected, although not all habitats included in this zone were wetlands according to the Ramsar definition.

The delegation of Romania made a technical presentation on the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, which had been the subject of a major management project.

The delegation of Guinea-Bissau made a presentation on planning in coastal areas of the country, indicating that an urgent application would be made to the Wetland Conservation Fund in relation to the Lagoa de Cufada Ramsar site.

Mr A. Tsuji of the Japan Wetland Action Network gave a presentation on 'Tidal flat conservation in a crowded country - a historical perspective', describing the loss of tidal flats in Japan and the reasons behind this loss and calling upon the workshop to suggest what the Ramsar Convention might be able to contribute towards the conservation of tidal flats in Hakata Bay, Isahaya Bay, Tokyo Bay and at Fujimae.

The delegation of the Netherlands praised the presentation of the Japanese Wetland Action Network, stating that it was an important contribution towards improving public awareness of the problems facing tidal flats in Japan.

(b) Guidelines for Management Planning

In the afternoon session, the workshop proceeded to review draft Recommendation REC. C.5.7 on 'Essential character of wetlands and the need for zonation related to wetland reserves'. The Co-Chairman from Venezuela opened the floor to discussion.

The delegation of Bolivia proposed that close comparison should be made of the original language version of the recommendation with the Spanish version, to ensure that the true essence of the recommendation was accurately reflected.

The delegations of Denmark, France, Guinea and the Netherlands, and the observer from BirdLife International, proposed various amendments to the preamble of the recommendation. Several modifications were offered, which would be incorporated into the main document for final discussion and approval by the Contracting Parties in Plenary Session.

The presentations by Messrs M. Alexander (UK) and D. Bredin (France) described the process established for drawing up management plans in their respective countries. It was noted that, although developed separately, both processes were very similar.

The Co-Chairman then invited the delegation of Bolivia to make a presentation on the Bolivian Management Seminar. The delegation of Bolivia explained that the participants at the Bolivian Management Seminar had considered that monitoring and intra-regional cooperation were fundamental activities for promoting the wise use of listed wetlands in the Neotropical Region. The lack of management plans and insufficient information for management planning in the region was highlighted. It was stressed that local populations should not only be consulted during the preparation of the management plan, but should be included in all stages of the planning process.

The Co-Chairman thanked the Bolivian delegation for its presentation and invited the delegation of the United States to make a presentation on Management Plan Preparation. The presentation stressed that amongst the factors to be taken into account were the original reasons for designation as a Ramsar site and local users' requirements.

The Co-Chairman then opened discussion of draft Recommendation REC. C.5.8 on 'Management planning for Ramsar sites and other wetlands' and its annex, containing guidelines on a methodology for the preparation of management plans for wetland reserves.

The delegations of Bolivia, Mexico and Venezuela proposed a revision of the Spanish language version to ensure that the Spanish text accurately reflected the original English version. The Co-Chairman agreed to revise the Spanish texts of all recommendations to ensure their accuracy. The delegation of the United States, supported by the delegation of Morocco, proposed that the 'Ideal management objectives' in the draft should be re-named 'Long-term management objectives'. The delegations of France, Guinea-Bissau and the Netherlands recommended that various minor amendments to both the text of the draft Recommendation and the annex be made.

The observer from WWF suggested that, should the draft recommendation be approved by the Contracting Parties, copies of management plans for Ramsar sites should be submitted to the Bureau. This should be reflected in the text of the first operative paragraph of the recommendation.

The delegation of the Slovak Republic expressed its appreciation at the inclusion of paleoenvironmental values in the major features for the evaluation of a site, but considered that they should figure in a separate sub-heading.

The delegation of Spain stated that the text should act as guidance for those Contracting Parties which did not have existing planning processes. The distinction between mandatory planning and the proposed guidance was stressed. This led to a number of amendments to the draft recommendation.

The Co-Chairman instructed the Secretariat to prepare a revised version of the text of the recommendation and its annex for submission to Plenary Session.

(c) Public Awareness

The Co-Chairman invited the observer from the Wetland Link International programme from Pointe-à-Pierre Wildfowl Trust, Trinidad & Tobago, to present a paper on Wetland Reserves and Public Awareness. She presented four key proposals as to how wetland reserves, including Ramsar sites, could act as tools for education and public awareness.

The delegation of Japan made a presentation on Public Awareness at Japanese Reserves. The historic links between Japanese people and wetlands were described with particular reference to Kushiro Marsh. It was stressed that the local residents felt responsible for the recovery and conservation of the Japanese Crane Grus japonensis. This involvement in conservation was reflected at international level, with the accession of Japan to the Ramsar Convention in 1980, the hosting of the Asian Wetland Symposium in 1992 and the Kushiro Conference.

The need to increase public awareness and to promote further implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Japan and elsewhere in Asia was emphasized.

The Co-Chairman noted that, because of the shortage of time, discussion of draft Recommendation REC. C.5.9 on 'Measures to promote public awareness of wetland values in wetland reserves' should be carried out in Plenary Session, and declared the workshop closed.



Saturday 12 June: 0900 - 1300; 1415 - 1800

Co-Chairpersons: Mr Abeed Ullah Jan (Pakistan), Prof J. Untermaier (France)

Secretariat: Mr D. Navid (Secretary General), Mr H. Lethier (Director of Conservation), Mr S. Kobayashi (Technical Officer)

Rapporteurs: Mr H. Lethier, Ms C. Samuel, Ms P. Handley

(a) Wetland Conservation and Development Assistance

Opening the workshop and referring to document DOC. C.5.9 (Rev. 1), the Co-Chairperson for the morning session (from the delegation of Pakistan) outlined the main topics which participants would be invited to discuss, the expected outputs and the draft recommendations to be reviewed. He then called upon the Secretary General to present the first overview paper, summarizing entries on this subject in national reports (Section 4.4 - the role of development agencies in wetland conservation).

Referring to document DOC. C.5.16, the Secretary General noted the variety of information provided on development assistance by the Contracting Parties and encouraged those Contracting Parties which had not submitted national reports to do so as soon as possible, so that they could be included in the final version of this document. Finally, he introduced the draft recommendations before the morning session of the workshop, namely REC. C.5.10 on 'Relationship between the Ramsar Convention and the Global Environment Facility', REC. C.5.11 on 'Inclusion of Conservation and Wise Use in Multilateral and Bilateral Development Assistance Programmes' and REC. C.5.12 on 'Future Funding and Operation of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund'.

Mr B. Lane, of the Asian Wetland Bureau, presented a review of the adequacy of policies, procedures and practices of major aid donors in Asia, concluding that there was considerable variation between agencies in environmental policies and in the quality, contents and user-friendliness of guidelines and manuals for environmental procedures. He believed that most agencies appeared to rely very much on non-specialist staff to apply these procedures. This was likely to result in poor implementation of environmental policies and procedures. Agencies needed a real commitment to environmentally sound practices; in some cases, more resources had to be allocated to implementing generally good policies and procedures.

Dr J-Y. Pirot, Coordinator of IUCN's Wetlands Programme, made a presentation of the role of development assistance in facilitating activities under the Ramsar Convention. He pointed out that development assistance agencies in general devoted a very small amount of their funds to environmental issues and an even smaller proportion to wetland conservation. While development assistance could be used to help conserve wetlands, at the same time it was the single most important source of wetland loss in the developing world. The challenge was not simply to ensure that increased funds were spent on wetland conservation, but even more importantly, to ensure that negative effects were minimized. The Ramsar Convention could play a central role in increasing these funds. Recommending Contracting Parties to adopt explicit policies to support wetland conservation, Dr Pirot believed that greater emphasis should also be given to the development of national wetland policies endorsed by the relevant Ministries of Finance and Development Planning, in order that these ministries might support the inclusion of wetland projects within bilateral country negotiations. He proposed the convening of an international conference on development assistance and the Ramsar Convention, and a review of the US Treasury's voting standards for wetland-related projects for incorporation in the policies of the Contracting Parties.

Dr A. van der Zon, of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made a presentation on the Dutch Development Assistance policy in respect to wetland conservation, emphasizing the important role that the Ramsar Convention could play in promoting wetland conservation through the wise use approach, especially in developing countries, and stressed the commitment of the Dutch Government to the Convention.

In response to the delegation of Senegal, the Secretary General stressed the important role of transboundary cooperation in preventing wetland loss, noting that such an approach could be applied in the case of the River Senegal basin.

In response to the delegation of Trinidad & Tobago, the IUCN Wetlands Programme Coordinator agreed that a large part of development assistance funding was indeed in the form of loans which had to be repaid by the recipient.

Replying to an observer from Japan, the delegation of Japan pointed out that following the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, Japan's development assistance funding included wetlands in its environmental protection activities.

Mr J. Spirodonov, of the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment, made a presentation on cooperation between France and Bulgaria for the development of a national plan for wetland conservation. An additional result of this cooperation had been the establishment of a national Ramsar Committee to oversee implementation of the plan.

Mr I. Muto, of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented an example of cooperation between Japan and Kenya, the Nakuru Sewage Works Expansion Project. The project had set up an inter-ministerial working group to ensure harmonization between development and environmental protection of the Nakuru area. Concern was expressed from the floor by observers at the possibility of negative impacts in the future arising from the implementation of this project, which transferred water from one catchment to another; they called for an impact assessment subsequent to project implementation.

The Secretary General then gave a brief overview of the application of the Wetland Conservation Fund since the last meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties. While underlining the importance of the Fund, he stressed the limitations (arising from a lack of resources) and the need to increase the Fund greatly to achieve the expectations of the Contracting Parties. The deadline for submission of projects needed to be brought forward to allow the Bureau sufficient time to review the projects in consultation with its partner organizations before the autumn Standing Committee Meeting. Finally he urged recipient Contracting Parties to submit reports on their utilization of the Fund in accordance with the operational guidelines.

Dr R. Schlatter of the Universidad Austral de Chile, reported on a project under the Wetland Conservation Fund whose purpose was to redefine the boundaries of the Ramsar site located near Valdivia in Chile and to carry out research and implement management measures at that site.

Discussion then followed with the observer from WWF pledging a contribution of US$ 10,000 to the Wetland Conservation Fund for the forthcoming year and proposing that the level of the Fund be increased to a minimum of US$ 1 million annually.

The Secretary General was delighted to announce that generous donations totalling US$ 15,000 had been received from three Japanese community groups, the Red Cross Volunteer Corps, the Rotor Act Club and INAX Ltd, a prominent local manufacturing firm.

The delegation of Germany reminded participants of its statement which had been circulated to the Conference that Germany was prepared to cooperate with partner countries in the protection and sustainable use of wetlands, and encouraged countries to apply to the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Supported by the delegation of Brazil, the observer from the National Audubon Society (USA) emphasized the need to improve the quality rather than the quantity of projects funded through development assistance and emphasized the need for clearer information on the procedures to be followed.

The delegation of Denmark stressed the need for more Contracting Parties to make major contributions to the Fund.

Supported by the delegation of the Netherlands and others, the delegation of Hungary called for the Fund to be made available to countries whose economies were in transition. The delegation of Trinidad & Tobago did not support this proposal since the Fund was already limited and specifically for use by developing countries. The delegation of the USA supported allowing the Wetland Conservation Fund be used by countries whose economies were in transition, while the delegation of Brazil stated that the Fund should be channelled as a matter of priority to developing countries.

The delegation of Sweden suggested that the Wetland Conservation Fund might be made available to countries fulfilling the criteria of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) for assistance to developing countries and stressed the important role of the Bureau in supporting country-driven projects in this context.

The delegation of the Netherlands commented upon the conference proposed in draft Recommendation REC. C.5.11 and expressed concern that this should not be limited to wetland issues. The observer from the Asian Wetland Bureau also proposed technical modifications to draft Recommendation REC. C.5.11.

Prof. S. Njuguna, (IUCN) presented a training project, funded in part by the Wetland Conservation Fund and initiated by the Kenyan Wetland Working Group, on monitoring of waterfowl at key Kenyan wetlands. This project included training of both volunteers and staff members of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, and provided them with basic equipment. Expected outputs of the project were the creation of a network of competent waterfowl counters, and the development of a model for wetland monitoring applicable to the African continent in general.

(b) International Cooperation on Shared Sites and Species

Opening the afternoon session, the Co-Chairman from France invited the Director of Conservation to introduce the topic. He referred to document DOC. C.5.16, pointed out that information was scarce, and gave some examples of cooperation, such as that between Austria and Hungary over Neusiedlersee\Lake Fertö; between Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands over the Wadden Sea; and, more recently, cooperation between Costa Rica & Nicaragua, Romania & Ukraine and Russia & China.

Mr Cyrille de Klemm, Legal Consultant to the Ramsar Bureau, then presented document INF. C.5.19 on the application of Article 5 of the Convention from a legal and technical point of view. He started by reviewing the principles of law applying to shared water systems and their evolution to the present day. He reminded participants that the doctrine of absolute sovereignty of riparian states over waters flowing through their territory had been gradually replaced by the concept of a community of interests between all states sharing the same water system, which implied the existence of reciprocal rights and obligations. He recalled the evolution of river treaties from navigation, sharing of water and hydropower, and pollution legislation (the Polluter Pays Principle), to three more recent water system treaties concerning the Rhine, the North American Great Lakes and the Elbe.

Three principles of management - unit, rational and ecological - all had to be followed to achieve a fully integrated approach. He gave two recent examples of integrated legislation, the Zambezi Agreement and the Wadden Sea Trilateral Declaration. This integration had to be obtained through the development of cooperation between co-riparian states, as proposed by the Draft Articles prepared by the International Law Commission of the United Nations on the Law of International Water Courses, and by requiring environmental impact assessments for activities which might have a significant impact on the environment of another state, as provided by the Espoo Convention of 1991.

Concerning shared species he encouraged collaboration between the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species and the Ramsar Convention by holding joint meetings of the Parties of the two Conventions and, lastly, he emphasized the necessity of legal agreements to provide migratory species with adequate habitat protection.

The delegation of the USA encouraged the Bureau to include this excellent technical paper in the Proceedings of the Conference.

Mr T. Papayannis, Chairman of the Coordinating Group of the MedWet Programme, presented a paper on this integrated effort for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands, funded by the Commission of the European Communities, and bringing together the five EC member states of the region (France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain), three NGOs (IWRB, WWF and Tour du Valat) and the Ramsar Bureau. This action programme included five major activities: inventories and monitoring of wetlands, management, education and training, public awareness and the application of research.

Mr H. Ngaide, of the Banc d'Arguin National Park in Mauritania, presented a joint project between Mauritania and the Netherlands. This park had been designated both as a Ramsar site and as a World Heritage Site. The project was a successful example of wise and sustainable use of natural resources (e.g. traditional fishing methods) by the local Imraguen people.

The Co-Chairman then gave the floor to the delegation of Austria who talked about cooperation between Austria and Hungary at Neusiedlersee/Lake Fertö. These two Ramsar sites had been designated as national parks and since the fall of the iron curtain it had been possible to carry out joint surveys. A joint National Park Committee had been established to coordinate activities in the two countries. This was expected to lead to substantial improvements in the ecological situation of the area.

Dr M. Moser of IWRB made a presentation on the recently collected data on waterfowl populations. He referred to the application of the three Ramsar criteria related to waterfowl populations, which were used by Contracting Parties to help identify wetlands of international importance. He recommended that the draft IWRB report 'Waterfowl Population Estimates' be examined by the Conference and up-dated every triennium; that the Contracting Parties continue to support and extend survey and monitoring programmes, particularly in the Neotropics; and that the information on conservation status contained in the report be used to define priority actions.

Mr P. Fitzgibbon of the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service presented a paper on 'An International Conservation Plan for the Greenland White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons flavirostris'. Following successful conservation measures at the wintering and breeding grounds, the population was recovering and was now estimated at 30,000. A cooperative system of monitoring had been put into force between Iceland, Greenland, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and a technical workshop had been held at Wexford, a Ramsar site in southeast Ireland, hosted by the Government of the Republic of Ireland. At that workshop an action plan had been prepared listing four main objectives: maintenance and enhancement of the goose population; maintenance and enhancement of viable numbers throughout the geographical range; ensuring sustainable exploitation; and ensuring joint monitoring, research and conservation programme between the relevant states.

Mr M. Giménez, of IUCN's Species Survival Programme, reminded participants that the Ramsar Convention did not deal only with waterfowl but also contained provisions concerning other species of flora and fauna related to wetlands. He asked for broader application of the treaty and gave some examples of species (butterflies, dragonflies, crocodiles, otters) which could be used in criteria for designation of Ramsar sites and other wetlands. He briefly mentioned the work of the Species Survival Programme of IUCN which could assist the Ramsar Contracting Parties in many fields of wetland conservation.

Prof M. Bruton, of the Smith Institute of Ichthyology, South Africa, presented a paper on the fundamental importance of wetlands for fish and fisheries, noting that wetlands were vital for spawning and feeding. He urged the Contracting Parties to use criteria based on fish for the designation of Ramsar sites. Because of their economic values, such wetlands had to be wisely managed, and their designation on the Ramsar List could attract more funding from aid agencies and encourage long-term protection from over-exploitation.

The Chairman urged the participants to consider draft Recommendations REC. C.5.13 on 'Guidelines for the implementation of Article 5 of the Ramsar Convention' and REC. C.5.14 on 'Application of the Ramsar criteria for identifying wetlands of international importance'. After a brief discussion, with interventions from the delegations of Belgium, Brazil, United Kingdom and United States, it was decided to withdraw REC. C.5.13. However, at the request of the Netherlands, it was agreed that, because the ideas behind draft Recommendation REC. C.5.13 were extremely important, the matter should be pursued further by the Bureau.

IWRB and IUCN, supported by the delegation of the Netherlands, requested slight changes in draft Recommendation REC. C.5.14. With this, the Co-Chairman declared the workshop closed.

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