The Ramsar Convention's Small Grants Fund 1993 Allocations Report
The Wetland Conservation Fund (since renamed the Ramsar Small Grants Fund (SGF)) was created in 1990 in order to provide technical assistance for wetland conservation and wise use initiatives in developing countries. Its allocations are not intended to support major projects traditionally covered by larger funding agencies; rather, the Fund's resources, from the Convention's core budget and from contributions by Contracting Parties and other sources, are directed to small-scale projects aimed at defining sites, planning for accession to the Convention, training staff, developing management plans, carrying out public awareness activities, and preparing larger requests for submission to development agencies.
In November 1991, the Standing Committee approved seven proposals for funding, totalling SFr 200,000, and in October 1992 another twelve applications were accepted, for a total allocation of SFr 280,000. The importance that the SGF has assumed in its first two years was recognized at the 5th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, in Kushiro, Japan (June 1993), when the SGF budget was substantially enlarged and a call was made for increased voluntary funding.
In 1993, 33 proposals were received and studied by experts from the Bureau, IUCN, and IWRB, not counting two small emergency grants made earlier in the year. At its meeting of 26-28 October, the Standing Committee chose 13 projects for funding, for a total allocation of SFr 416,000, and made recommendations concerning the suitability and improvement of those it did not approve. The approved proposals for 1993:
Argentina has been allocated SFr 31,500 to assist in evaluating the conservation status of the Pozuelos Lagoon Natural Monument, a Ramsar site since 1992, and to develop management proposals for the Pozuelos Basin and other wetlands in the northwestern border area.
A grant of SFr 40,000 has been given to Brazil to assist in a thorough ecological study of the mangrove wetlands on the western coast of the state of Maranhão. This vital area, proposed by the Government for Ramsar designation and one of the most important tropical coastal ecosystems in the world, is under intense pressure from the local population, who depend upon its resources for subsistence. The planned studies and vegetation surveys will contribute to better knowledge of the biodiversity of these wetlands and lay some of the groundwork for a management plan for the area.
The bird sanctuary of Mare d'Oursi, a Ramsar site since 1990, lies in a very dry region but nonetheless supports a wide range of species, especially migra-tory birds. A SGF grant of SFr 34,000 will be used for scientific studies of these species as well as socio-economic studies of the needs and practices of the local population, and will result in the elaboration of a management plan pursuant to Ramsar guidelines.
Cambodia possesses several large areas of wetland within extensive floodplain systems, over 2 million hectares in the lower Mekong and 1.5 million hectares in the Great Lake and Tonle Sap River area (one of the world's richest fishery resources) in central Cambodia. To help preserve these relatively unspoiled systems, a SGF grant of SFr 25,000 will be used, with technical assistance from the Asian Wetland Bureau, to develop site profiles in anticipation of site listing and accession to the Ramsar Convention in the near future.
The Andean regions in the extreme north of Chile contain numerous high altitude wetlands that are very important as nesting sites for many waterfowl species. Designation to the Ramsar List is seen as a significant step in maintaining their values and functions. A preparatory grant of SFr 25,000 from the SGF will support studies aimed at establishing some of these areas as Ramsar sites.
Since the establishment of waterfowl and wetland reserves is a recent phenomenon in the People's Republic of China, a shortage of trained staff has impeded efforts to manage these sites well and to raise public awareness of their importance. A SFr 40,000 allocation to the Ministry of Forestry will help provide for a training course in waterfowl observation and research and for the preparation of a manual on wetland conservation for the use of management staff.
The National Wildlife Refuge of Tamarindo, newly added to the Ramsar List, is under considerable pressure from developers. A SGF grant of SFr 40,000 will provide technical and training assistance for a land use planning proect for the site, and will help to train wardens in the management of tourism along the turtle beaches.
Honduras, a new member of the Convention, has requested emergency aid to assist in controlling unauthorized access to the Cuero and Salado Ramsar site by hunters, fishermen, and ranchers of the area. SGF funding of SFr 37,500 will help strengthen enforcement and at the same time begin to develop public awareness of the potential benefits of wise use of the site.
Mexico has been allocated SFr 25,000 to enable the National Institute of Ecology to carry out biological and socio-economic surveys of three potential new sites for Ramsar designation.
Merja Zerga, one of the most important wetlands in North Africa and a Ramsar site since 1980, is surrounded by agricultural and grazing land which supports considerable human populations. A grant of SFr 40,000 will go to the development of a plan to reconcile conservation and the different land uses and to the preparation of an integrated management plan for the longer term.
Uncontrolled harvesting has exhausted the fishery resources of the Koshi River area, depriving local fishermen of their only source of subsistence. An allocation of SFr 40,000 will be used to introduce fish stocking, and perhaps cage fishery, in the Koshi Tappu Ramsar site, and to raise local awareness of the necessity for controlled harvesting and wise use of these resources.
The Ramsar site of Lagunas de Mejía was the beneficiary of a SGF grant in 1992 to help implement a new management plan. Though this work has been quite successful, an allocation of SFr 18,000 has been made to maintain current activities at a steady pace until other financial arrangements come into force in 1994.
A very useful study and inventory of Tunisian wetlands was made by University College London a few years ago. A SGF allocation to Tunisia of SFr 20,000 will be devoted to updating that study, translating it into French, and publishing it for the use of wetland management staff and other interested parties in Tunisia.
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. The forms should be filled out in English, French, or Spanish, and should be received by the Ramsar Bureau in advance of the deadline for submissions; emergency assistance, however, may be requested at any time. Please note: The deadline for submission of proposals is 1 June of each year.
[The above information is out of date. Please refer to the current version of the SGF Operational Guidelines.]