The Ramsar Convention's Small Grants Fund 1998 Allocations Report


Ramsar Small Grants Fund for Wetland Conservation and Wise Use (SGF)

Allocations Report for 1998 


The Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has established the Ramsar Small Grants Fund (SGF) with a view to providing assistance for wetland conservation and wise use in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The wise use concept has been defined as "the sustainable utilisation of wetlands for the benefit of humankind and compatible with the maintenance of the natural properties of the ecosystem". The SGF Operational Guidelines for the Triennium 1997-1999 put emphasis on the implementation of the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002, and thus the objective(s) of projects should relate to the general and operational objectives of the Strategic Plan. Under the Fund, emergency assistance can be provided to Ramsar sites which have suffered damage or are in imminent danger of damage. Countries which have signaled their intention to join the Convention may apply for preparatory assistance to support activities necessary for the designation of the first site to be included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance.

1998 Allocations

As was suggested at the 1997 Standing Committee meeting, the invitation to submit projects for the SGF in 1998 clearly specified that countries would be unlikely to gain support for more than one project because of the lack of sufficient funds. In response, fewer projects were submitted in 1998 than in 1997. A total of 64 acceptable project proposals underwent a review by the Bureau technical staff, in several cases with input from external experts from partner organizations and/or members or alternates of the Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP). Forty-seven projects were considered suitable for funding and submitted for approval to the Standing Committee at its 21st meeting, 19 to 24 October 1998. The Standing Committee approved the recommendations of the Bureau to divide these 47 project proposals into three categories: (A1) 17 projects were recommended for immediate funding using the available resources amounting to SFR 664,070; (A2) 14 projects were considered "reserve" projects and were recommended for funding support from the SGF should more support become available in 1998; (B) 16 projects should be funded after funding the A1 and A2 projects. One proposal from Trinidad and Tobago was approved and funded as an emergency project in April 1998. Funding of these 18 projects was possible thanks to voluntary contributions from Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, and WWF International, and in particular thanks to a very generous contribution from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Summary Description of Approved Projects


Lake Poopó is the second largest lake of Bolivia, after Lake Titicaca, but effective measures for its protection are lacking. SFR 35,600 were approved to evaluate the current status of the lake for its designation as a Ramsar site and the establishment of a Wise Use and Integrated Management Area, to be administered by the indigenous communities. The main objectives are to identify the threats due to mining and industrial pollution, urban waste, indiscriminate hunting, and modification of the course of its effluents; to monitor the use of its wildlife; to propose management and wise use strategies with the participation of local communities; and to make a socio-cultural diagnostic of the native population (Uros Matos, one of the most ancient ethnic groups of Bolivia).


In order to strengthen the institutional capacities for the management of the country’s wetlands, Chad has been allocated SFR 40,000 in a project related to Operational Objective 4 of the Ramsar Strategic Plan. The main objective is to review existing national institutions responsible for the conservation and wise use of wetlands. On the basis of this review, the project is intended to achieve Action 4.12 by identifying and implementing measures that help:

  • increase cooperation and synergy between institutions
  • promote the coordinating role of the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Chad
  • identify training needs
  • identify target groups for training and environmental education.

The project is intended to help the country to begin organizing the process for implementation of the Convention.


The Fund will provide SFR 18,500 to study the impact of mining activities on the conservation status of high altitude (Andean) wetlands in the centre-north of Chile. The high biodiversity value of these wetlands, their value for the local communities, their intensive use by the mining industry, and the serious deterioration this has produced in a short time require increasing efforts for their conservation. The study of the impact of mining activities is necessary in order to be able to outline protection and restoration plans for these wetlands.


SFR 30,000 were granted for the conservation and management of wetlands in Qinhuangdao City of Hebei Province. The main objective of the project is the development and implementation of an integrated conservation and management plan for wetlands in this popular, historical coastal city in northeastern China. Activities include specific legislative and management actions for selected wetland sites and species, through active community participation and education and public awareness programmes, as well as the enactment and enforcement of relevant regulations for site and species protection. It is hoped that this project will serve as a model for other cities in the country and region.


The proposal from Georgia was awarded funding of SFR 40,000 for the conservation of the Javakheti Plateau wetlands in southern Georgia. The goal of the project is to designate the Javakheti Plateau wetlands as a Ramsar site and begin the development of a management plan for the site. The necessary data for inclusion in the Ramsar List will be collected, an environmental impact assessment will be carried out, and workshops and meetings with stakeholders will be organized as the basis for developing a management plan for the area. The project will be implemented by an NGO involved in nature conservation and recovery of endangered species, with the support and input of seven consultants specialised in areas such as economics, hydrology, ornithology, botany.


This proposal was presented by the Green Earth Organization (GEO) on behalf of eight communities in the Lower Volta Delta area. Due to human intervention such as commercial exploitation of mangrove resources, industries, and dams, the communities have initiated efforts to enhance the growth and survival of the trees in the western segment of the Lower Delta. The allocated SFR 40,000 will support the rehabilitation and community management of mangroves and coastal wetlands in the Lower Volta Delta (Ramsar site). Degraded coastal wetlands will be restored and managed by planting mangroves, fruit trees and woodlots, and the local communities will be involved in the protection and wise use of these resources for the conservation of biodiversity and provision of alternative sources of income.


This proposal aims at a comprehensive economic valuation of Harike Lake (Punjab), one of six Ramsar sites in India and one of the largest man-made wetlands in Northern India. The allocation of SFR 40,000 will help to assess the contributions of the lake to the national and state economies. The site provides a habitat for over 210 species of waterfowl and other rare and threatened species. Local communities depend on the wetland for water, fuel, fodder, fisheries and wetland plant products. Functions provided by the wetland include recharge of aquifers, surface water storage, and flood mitigation. The results will be used to assist the state government to develop a Resource Management Policy for the Harike Wetland Ramsar site.


A grant of SFR 40,000 was approved towards the management of the Black River Morass (Ramsar site) by gathering biological, social and economic data. This extensive ecosystem includes the largest herbaceous wetland system in Jamaica, including upwelling ponds, springs, flooded areas, brackish coastal lagoons, and salt ponds. It also functions as a habitat for rare plants, animals, and migrant waterfowl. The need for protection of this area has become critical as threats have increased drastically (pollution from agriculture, aquaculture, industrial activities, and tourism). The objective of the project is to collect, analyze, and map biological, social, and economic data, followed by the development of a management plan, including legal aspects and continuous monitoring.


The Burqu Reserve is located in an arid area in the northeast of Jordan, covering about 950 It lies on a depression in which rainfall accumulates, forming seasonal marshes and a permanent pond. The ecosystem of the site is subject to many uncontrolled activities, and comprehensive studies of the area are needed in order to formulate a management plan leading to the rehabilitation of the area. The main objectives of the project are to carry out a preliminary survey of the terrestrial life and aquatic life (fauna and flora) and to prepare a study aimed at investigating measures that will control the human misuse of the existing natural resources such as harvesting wood, hunting, drainage, overgrazing and random cultivation. The Burqu Reserve will play a role in sustaining the development of the local communities living within and around the reserve. SFR 40,000 were authorised to help to designate Burqu Reserve as a new Ramsar site, pending a revised proposal to be submitted by Jordan.


The Walvis Bay coastal wetland (Ramsar site) is considered to be amongst the top three wetlands of Africa in terms of the total number of birds it supports. This wetland suffers from serious sedimentation and deterioration, with tidal flow diminishing over a 30-year period from 3.46 meters per second to the present 0.32 meters per second (1989). The Walvis Bay Wetland Conservation project, for which SFR 40,000 were approved, is intended to prevent further siltation of the Walvis Bay Lagoon and Wetland areas, to foster education and public awareness, and to implement an active management plan related to some operational objectives of the Strategic Plan. The project is a good example of support for local planning and decision-making.


A sum of SFR 25,000 was allocated to delimitate the Nature Reserve "Laguna de Tisma" (Tisma Lagoon) and surrounding marshy areas. The lagoon and its surrounding marshy areas constitute a water system which connects the two big lakes of Nicaragua, the Cocibolca and the Xolotlán. As the habitat and refuge of numerous species, particularly fish and waterbirds, it is one of the most important wetlands of the Pacific region from an economic and environmental point of view. However, the reserve is threatened by human activities, and its delimitation is essential to guarantee the management, conservation and legal protection of the area. "Laguna de Tisma" is a potential Ramsar site, and the project will contribute to its designation to the List of Wetlands of International Importance.


Fully 13.7% of the country’s mangroves are found in the "Golfo de Montijo". The disorderly development of certain economic activities is seriously affecting the sustainable use of this ecosystem, its ecological functions, and the basic needs of around 10,000 mostly poor people who depend on its resources for their survival. SFR 38,600 will be used for gathering basic information for the development of a global management plan for the "Golfo de Montijo" Ramsar site. Besides the establishment of such a global management plan, the basic information assembled will permit the sustainable development of the whole area. Moreover, thanks to the economic resources of the area, the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Panama will be able to finance the management of this site.


SFR 30,000 were granted for a comprehensive management planning and institutionalization of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Naujan Lake National Park. The main objective of the project is not only to develop an integrated management plan for the Park, based on the findings of a UNDP-funded project for Lake Naujan, but also to ensure the active participation of all major stakeholders in its implementation. This will contribute towards the implementation of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) of 1992. The project also aims to strengthen the capacity of the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB), the multi-sectoral body responsible for the overall management of the park, through a series of workshops on topics such as the interpretation of the NIPAS Act and implementation of the management plan.


The goal of this project, for which SFR 36,000 were approved, is the selection and characterisation of potential Ramsar sites in southern Romania and assistance with the designation of new Ramsar sites. Data will be gathered on four wetland areas in southern Romania (Cazanele Dunarii, Lake Carcaliu, Lake Plopu-Beibugeac, Lake Techirghiol) in order to complete Ramsar Information Sheets and produce maps. A report will also be produced on the ecological value of the sites and on management measures that are implemented or needed for these sites.

Russian Federation

In order to develop a monitoring programme and draft management plans for the Ramsar sites located on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Russian Federation has been allocated SFR 40,000. Information will be gathered on three Ramsar sites, namely Parapolsky Dol, Moroshechnaya River and Utkholok Cape, and draft management plans will be established. Data will be obtained from available literature and through field surveys following guidelines developed by the 1993-95 IWRB Project on Wetland Inventory in the Russian Federation. The drafting of management plans will be made in consultation with local authorities, and it is expected that local awareness of wetland conservation issues will be raised.

Slovak Republic

This project aims at gathering detailed information on 600 wetland sites that have been included in an inventory of 2100 sites but on which limited data have been obtained. The data collected will be compiled in a standardised format very similar to the Ramsar Information Sheets. Maps will also be produced. Recommendations on the management and restoration of the sites will be prepared for the local authorities, and materials (e.g., videos) will be produced for public education. SFR 30,000 were granted to support the Slovak Republic in its efforts towards a National wetlands inventory and conservation of wetlands.

South Africa

The Berg River estuary is one of only four perennial estuaries on the arid southwestern coast of Africa between the Cape of Good Hope and Angola (2000 km), and it is the most important estuary for waterbirds in this region. The wetlands satisfy several criteria for Ramsar designation, but the area has no official conservation status and lacks a management plan. SFR 40,000 will be used for conservation management of these Lower Berg River Wetlands. The project’s objective is to identify the spatial and seasonal distributions of key feeding/breeding/roosting sites for waterbirds, and to prepare an effective management plan. All local landowners are keen that the area receive official protection; they have not only signed a Ramsar designation proposal but are also in the process of forming a conservation body, one of the aims of which is to develop a management plan. This will maximize the effectiveness of community-based conservation and strengthen the case for the area’s designation as a Wetland of International Importance.

EMERGENCY PROJECT (approved and funded in April 1998)

Trinidad & Tobago

Nariva Swamp was designated as a Ramsar site in 1992 and listed on the Montreux Record in 1993. Illegal squatting by rice farmers and ad hoc rice farming methods within Block B of the swamp resulted in the construction of 15 irrigation channels. This has affected the hydrology of the swamp and there has been a rapid draining of the marshes at the onset of the dry season. Extreme dryness made the area conducive to fires and more than 3,000 acres of marshlands were destroyed by bush fires. SFR 14,000 were approved as emergency assistance for filling in the 15 irrigation channels in order to assist in the rehabilitation of Block B of Nariva Swamp.

 -- reported by Annette Keller Pavlic, Project Officer
for the Ramsar Small Grants Fund

1998 SGF Allocations (preliminary report)

The preliminary report includes the project titles of all of the A1, A2, and B proposals.

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