A global network of wetlands for sustaining people and our environment

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What is it about?

A key commitment of Ramsar Contracting Parties is to identify and place suitable wetlands onto the List of Wetlands of International Importance (also called ‘Ramsar Sites’). Parties have made a further commitment to ensure the conservation and wise use of these Ramsar Sites so as to maintain the full range of benefits that the wetland can provide for people (e.g., livelihoods, health, culture) and the environment (e.g., in supporting biodiversity). Presently, there are 1,950 Ramsar Sites covering over 190,000,000 hectares, making it the largest network of protected areas in the world.

What the Convention does

• Provides a ‘Strategic Framework’ for the designation of Ramsar Sites so that a representative range of priority wetlands can be listed by each country, especially those wetland types that are under-represented. The Convention also provides guidance for the conservation, management and wise use of the sites and makes information on the Ramsar Sites available to all.

• The Convention has a mechanism to assist Contracting Parties whose Ramsar Sites are threatened, by sending experts to the site and making recommendations on resolving those threats.

What needs to be done next?

• Gain community support for the designation and management of future Ramsar Sites; experience has shown that sites with such support have a greater chance of being conserved successfully.

• As countries gain experience on how to effectively conserve and manage their Ramsar Sites, improved networking among site managers is crucial for exchanging information on best practices.

Support on the ground: examples of recent Ramsar Advisory Mission (RAM)

Missions are organised by the Ramsar Secretariat to assist Contracting Parties whose Ramsar Sites are threatened, by sending experts to the site and making recommendations on resolving those threats.

  • The latest European RAM was to the renowned bird migratory refuge Doñana National Park, in Spain. The mission team had to assess potential threats and evaluate if the site is protected in accordance with the levels required under its international recognition as a World Heritage, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Ramsar Convention Wetland of International Importance. The Secretariat is expecting the green light for the publication of the report any time now.
  • In May 2010, Ramsar’s Focal Point in Mexico (CONANP) asked the Ramsar Secretariat to organize a Ramsar Advisory Mission to Huisache Caimanero Ramsar Site. The mission had to evaluate the impacts of a tourism project development on the site. Thanks to the recommendations made by the RAM, the tourism project has been readjusted in order to be compatible with the maintenance of the ecological character of the site. The Ramsar Secretariat is currently doing the follow up on the recommendations with the Mexican government. 
Aerial view of Huisache Caimanero Ramsar SiteMeeting of the mission with the different stakeholders

More Ramsar Site designations – A gift to Ramsar and wetlands!

In this birthday year for the Ramsar Convention, we strongly encourage our Contracting Parties to designate more Ramsar Sites! Since the beginning of 2011, we count 38 new Ramsar Sites (also called Wetlands of International Importance). Click here to see which one of the Ramsar regions in the world has the largest number of designations so far (January 2011 – July 2011).

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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
E-Mail: ramsar@ramsar.org
Map: click here

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