The Ramsar Convention's Small Grants Fund 1992 Allocations Report
At their Fourth Meeting in Montreux, in July 1990, the Contracting Parties created the Wetland Conservation Fund (since renamed the Ramsar Small Grants Fund (SGF)) with a view to providing technical assistance for wetland conservation and wise use in developing countries. Although not intended to support major projects traditionally covered by larger funding agencies, the Fund's relatively modest resources, from voluntary contributions by Contracting Parties and other sources, are directed toward rapidly providing funds for emergency assistance and toward enabling small-scale projects aimed at defining sites, planning for accession to the Convention, training, technical assistance, and assistance for promotional activities, and preparing larger requests for submission to other development agencies.
At the 10th Meeting of the Standing Committee, St. Petersburg, Florida, in November 1991, of 17 submissions, five imaginative proposals were awarded full funding, and several others were granted partial funding or recommended for further study. The five fully funded projects, from Chile, Congo, Viet Nam, Mauritania, and Kenya, hold great promise and seem to be proceeding on schedule, and the Republic of Congo's endeavor to prepare for participation in the Ramsar Convention and develop a national action plan for wetland conservation has reached the first of its goals: a scientific report related to the designation of a site for the List of Wetlands of International Importance has been submitted to the Ramsar Bureau.
Prior to the 11th Meeting of the Standing Committee in Kushiro, Japan, in October 1992, the Bureau had received, studied, and prepared for consideration 29 proposals from 23 countries, an increase not far off from 100% over the first year of the SGF’s activities. In sum, the Standing Committee approved funding for twelve projects to be undertaken in various parts of Africa, Asia, and the Neotropics. Three of these concern regional workshops to be held in 1993 in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Senegal. Furthermore, the Asian regional Ramsar follow-up meeting held in Islamabad in May 1992, aided in good part by a previous SGF grant of SFR 10,000, was awarded a further SFR 12,000 to cover the outstanding expenses occasioned by an encouraging growth of interest and awareness in the meeting.
The proposal from Niger was awarded funding of SFR 20,000. Its general purpose is to improve management of the wetlands within the W National Park (Ramsar Site, designated in 1987), first by helping to train local technicians in wetlands management methods, then by conducting an inventory of wetland zones within the park and by initiating technical studies of those areas, and finally by producing an overall management plan for the years ahead. A seemingly small project, perhaps, but with the larger goals of supplying an example of enlightened conservation of some of the most diverse and most beautiful flora and fauna in all of Africa, and, more immediately, of helping local populations learn to benefit from their local ecosystems by training them in the possibilities of sustainable development.
The National Environment Management Council of Tanzania was awarded its request for SFR 13,000 to assist in contracting a number of consultants to help identify suitable wetland areas for possible designation as Ramsar Sites, as part of that nation’s progress toward accession to the Convention. Tanzania, with its wealth of wetland zones, will be a very welcome addition to the list of Contracting Parties.
The Lake George wetland (Ramsar Site, 1988), partially within the Queen Elizabeth National Park, has never been studied to best effect. The present proposal, awarded a subvention of SFR 6,250, will study bird behavior in the wetland areas in order to determine where best to locate the Ramsar Site’s boundaries, given the birds' spatial requirements, and to ensure sustained conservation and management of the site. This one-year project to be undertaken by an ornithologist and a trained assistant will also eventuate in a handbook or series of information sheets, suitable as a bird guide for visitors to the National Park, in order to open the area to informed and supportable tourism.
The Zhalong National and Dongdongtinghu Nature Reserves, two of six Ramsar Sites in China, are both very large marsh and pond complexes that are ecologically extremely important, particularly as wintering areas for migratory birds. Prerequisite studies having almost been completed at the time of application, the Chinese Ministry of Forestry was awarded SFR 28,000 for a two-year project aimed at supplying technical assistance for developing management plans for these two reserves. The project calls for the publication of plans that will identify problems and potential threats to the well-being of the sites and outline conservation and wise use strategies for implementation over the next five years. It is hoped that these plans will then serve as models for similar advances throughout China.
The former Berbak Wildlife Reserve in Sumatra (Indonesia's only Ramsar Site, 1992), newly elevated to the status of Berbak National Park, will benefit by an award of SFR 25,000 in aid of an improvement project that will include staff training in habitat monitoring, maintenance of facilities and patrol boats, and construction of a field office, a staff mess, and a guesthouse near one of the watch posts, all especially urgent goals with the increase of tourism that its national park designation implies. As mentioned above, a separate award of SFR 20,000 will help Indonesia host an East Asian regional workshop in the near future in preparation for the Kushiro Conference.
Argentina has three important sites on the Ramsar List: Laguna de Pozuelos, Laguna Blanca, and Río Pilcomayo. The SGF has approved funding of SFR 24,000 to assist in the production of signs and literature for use at these sites, hoping to achieve significant educational gains in these areas and to highlight the value of Ramsar listing for other sites of similar interest.
The Laguna El Tigre is an important Ramsar site, but is suffering encroachment and misuse in large part because of the absence of clear boundaries and trained, well-equipped reserve wardens. A SGF award of SFR 34,500 will aid Guatemalan government agencies to establish and mark the limits of the reserve and care for its resources.
Similarly, the Mejía Lagoons Ramsar site has suffered drainage attempts and other encroachments, and a SGF grant of SFR 25,000 will help to implement the existing management plan, providing for the making of boundaries, improvement of wardening, education of the local population, and other means of ensuring the preservation of the site.
Applying to the Fund
Applications for funding may be made by the competent national authority of any developing country that is a Contracting Party to the Ramsar Convention or that is seeking to accede to the Convention. Please refer to the current version of the SGF Operational Guidelines.