The Ramsar Convention – 40 years of caring for wetlands

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What is it about?

Ramsar is the oldest global environmental treaty and it is specifically focused on one ecosystem – wetlands. Under our definition these are very diverse in structure, function and location, occurring from the mountains to the sea on all continents and covering marshes, rivers, lakes, mangroves, coral reefs and even human-made wetlands such as rice fields and saltpans.

What the Convention does

Managing wetlands is a global challenge and the Convention presently counts 160 countries as member countries, recognising the value of having one treaty dedicated to a single ecosystem.

The advantages of such specificity? The opportunity to provide focused tools and support for on-the-ground action.

What needs to be done next?

Wetlands are vital for human survival. The problem remains that, with the impact of a growing human population, intense demands for economic growth, imperatives for poverty eradication and improving people’s livelihoods, these pressures continue to take precedence over maintaining our wetlands and a healthy wetland biodiversity. So our present and future challenge remains the same as it was over 40 years ago in the development of the Ramsar Convention.

Useful links:

40th anniversary booklet

40th anniversary video contest: watch the results

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The Convention today

Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

Ramsar Secretariat

Rue Mauverney 28
CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 22 999 0170
Fax: +41 22 999 0169
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