Wise use of wetlands here and now


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What is it about?

The Ramsar “wise use concept” applies to all wetlands and water resources in a Contracting Party’s territory - not only to Ramsar Sites. Wise use, or sustainable use, is crucial to ensuring that wetlands can continue fully to deliver their vital role in supporting biological diversity and human well-being.

What the Convention does

The Ramsar Secretariat assists Contracting Parties in delivering wise use by:

• providing expertise through Ramsar’s technical experts and their networks and through external consultants;
• making available guidelines adopted by the Convention on many aspects of wetland conservation and wise use;
• funding projects through the Ramsar Small Grants Fund, Wetlands for the Future, and Swiss Grant for Africa and seeking third-party funding for wise use projects as well.  

What needs to be done next?

• adopt national wetland policies, with a review of existing legislation and institutional arrangements to deal with wetland matters (either as separate policy instruments or as part of national environmental action plans, national biodiversity strategies, or other national strategic planning); 
• develop programmes of wetland inventory, monitoring, research, training, education and awareness; and 
• take action at wetland sites, developing integrated management plans covering all aspects of the wetlands and their relationships with their catchments.


Success stories on wise use of wetlands in the world

Don Hoi Lot Ramsar Site - Thailand

This coastal wetland is characterized by muddy beaches that contain high densities of economically valuable shellfish, especially the razor clam Solen regularis called ‘Hoi Lot’ in Thai, and from which the site gets its name. The clams are of economic importance for the many seafood restaurants around the site. Due to a number of factors, such as improper clam harvesting and changes in the environmental condition around the wetland, a local biodiversity conservation committee was formed and worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the local community to develop a plan to restore the clam population. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment organised activities to promote conservation of Don Hoi Lot on World Wetlands Day 2010 (see pictures) and since these initiatives and activities, the clam population has recovered and a sustainable way of harvesting the clams has been adopted.

Read more here

Mamiraua Ramsar Site - Brazil

In 1998 the Mamiraua Institute for Sustainable Development started a participatory management to restore fisheries of Pirarucus (Arapaima gigas) in Mamiraua Ramsar Site, Brazil. Within the Reserve, fisheries of are among the most important economic activities for its traditional population. However, the lack of appropriate management, implementation of norms and catch regulation lead to the closing of the activity in 1996 due to the threat upon the species. Management actions have been developed and lead to a significant increase of the Pirarucus’ population as well as an economic increase for fishermen. The wise use principle applied in Mamiraua Ramsar Site has had an important impact on the maintenance of the site’s ecological character while providing economic and social benefits to its population.

The Ramsar Secretariat congratulated the Mamiraua project that won Ramsar’s 40th Anniversary competition for wetland management in the Americas and encouraged the great efforts made on the ground in increasing the awareness about wetland benefits and wise use especially of the general public and the young generation. See full article here.

Sarstun River Multiple Use Reserve Ramsar Site - Guatemala

The Foundation for the eco-development and Conservation (FUNDAECO), through the implementation of the project "Partnerships for the Wise Use of Multiple Use Area River Sarstun in Guatemala" funded in 2009 by the Wetlands for the Future training programme, promoted partnership between fishermen, indigenous farmers and NGOs for the wise use of the Ramsar Site. The Sarstun River Multiple Use Reserve in Guatemala, designated as Ramsar Site in 2005, has binational importance since it is part of the buffer zone of National Park Sarstoon-Temash in Belize. Collective agreements were signed to implement a multi-agency strategy to reduce the threat on coastal resources within the site. Information was also provided in the Maya K’eqchi language to enhance participation of local communities. 

The Wetlands for the Future training programme is an initiative created in 1996 by the State Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service together with the Ramsar Secretariat to promote the concept of wise use of wetlands in the Americas.

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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

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