The Ramsar Convention's Small Grants Fund 2001 Allocations Report
Ramsar Small Grants Fund for Wetland Conservation and Wise Use (SGF)
Allocations Report for the 2001 funding cycle
The Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands 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 put emphasis on the implementation of the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002, and thus the objective(s) of project proposals 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.
In the 2001 cycle of project proposals, a total of 49 completed proposals were evaluated by Ramsar Bureau staff and presented to the Standing Committee, with the Bureau's recommendations, at its 26th meeting, 3-7 December 2001. Within the funds available, a total of nine project proposals were approved for funding in this year's cycle, for a total of 334,890 Swiss francs, subject to the receipt of adequate reporting on previous SGF projects in those countries from which reports were pending. In addition, a further five of the SGF proposals were taken over for funding by Wetlands International, as part of its agreement with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), and by the World Wide Fund for Nature's Living Waters Programme, for an additional total of 193,979 Swiss francs. Thus, thanks to this additional assistance, a total of 14 Small Grants Fund projects have received funding in the 2001 cycle, for a total of SFR 528,869. Voluntary contributions directly to the Small Grants Fund in the 2001 cycle have been made by Austria, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA, and by WWF Living Waters Programme in addition to its two adopted projects.
In addition, since 1999 the Ministry of the Wallonne Region of Belgium has supported a project, entitled "Conservation Action for Black Storks in Africa", which is under the direction of the Wetlands International West Africa Programme in collaboration with a wide range of partners. The aims of the project are to determine the conservation requirements of storks on the ground, to develop a conservation strategy, and to build regional awareness in West Africa. A contribution of SFR 20,000 per annum for this purpose is routed through the Small Grants Fund.
Summary Description of Approved Projects
"Designation of ten additional Ramsar sites". In a national wetland inventory undertaken according to the MedWet model, some 250 wetlands were identified, of which it is estimated that about 60 meet the Ramsar Criteria for Identifying Wetlands of International Importance. An amazing collection of ten diverse and interesting new Ramsar sites were designated on World Wetlands Day 2001, and the present project is intended to lay the scientific and technical background for a further ten sites, with an area of more than 100,000 hectares, to be designated; prepare national legislation for the protection of wetlands; develop a public awareness campaign; and further develop a national wetland database with digital cartographic capabilities. This SGF project has been taken over for direct funding assistance, in the amount of SFR 40,000, by WWF's Living Waters Programme.
"First stage of National Wetland Inventory in the Republic of Belarus". The general objective of the project is to carry out the preparatory work for national wetland inventory, including identification of potential Ramsar sites. This will include 1) developing an organizing scheme of collection, storage, and analysis of information on wetland status; 2) collecting and systematizing materials from different departments and institutions on the status of different wetland types; 3) developing a permanent wetlands database for the country; 4) identifying those wetlands that meet the Ramsar Criteria; and 5) developing a programme and action plan for a National Wetland Inventory. The work for this SGF project will involve the Institute of Zoology of the Belarus Academy of Sciences and Bird Conservation Belarus, and has been taken over for funding of SFr 39,550 by DGIS/Wetlands International, with co-funding from the Belarus Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.
"Inventory of Bulgarian wetlands". The purpose of the project is to develop the first inventory of Bulgarian wetlands, principally by collecting data about biotic and abiotic chracteristics, functions, threats and positive actions related to the use of the wetlands; designing and developing a wetlands database (using a standardised format similar to the Ramsar Information Sheet and MedWet database); publishing the results of the completed inventory; identifying the most problematic wetlands, including the shared catchments of the important rivers of the Balkan Peninsula and Europe; and identifying those wetlands that meet Ramsar criteria and considering adding them to the List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Foundation "Le Balkan-Bulgaria" is responsible for executing the work under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment and Waters. The request for SFr 40,000 from the SGF has been taken over by DGIS/Wetlands International, with assistance in financing the publication of the results from Pensoft Publishers (Sofia and Moscow).
"Restoration of natural habitat of Cerrón Grande Embankment for conservation and wise use in El Salvador". A communal organization, with the support of the Administrative Authority and other organizations, will implement restoration and sustainable use of El Salvador's largest freshwater body, Embalse Cerrón Grande. The main goals of the project are to carry out the reforestation of banks of rivers feeding Cerrón Grande, implement fishing techniques that lead to sustainable use of fish stocks, and heighten public awareness through creation of local conservation and wise use committees. SFR 40,000 has been allocated for these activities.
"Economic valuation of Ramsar site Laguna del Tigre". SFR 36,153 has been allocated for a Ramsar Site economic evaluation that includes determining how much has been the cost of petroleum exploration/extraction in the site. Thus, the valuation will take into account not only the traditional natural resources from which direct benefits can be obtained, but also strategic environmental services including biodiversity, carbon fixation, water production, and scenic beauty. This initiative could serve as an excellent pilot project for other sites where oil-related activities are occurring or will occur.
Lithuania / Belarus / Russian Federation
"Inventory of important transfrontier wetlands in Belarus, Kaliningrad district of Russia, and Lithuania, part II". An allocation of SFR 39,764 is intended to help complete the second phase of an inventory of important transboundary wetlands which was begun by OMPO and other partners in 2001. Outputs foreseen include a detailed inventory according to Ramsar RIS data categories, with detailed mapping and a database of the results; development of joint management measures for the shared wetlands; education and public awareness activities, especially for local populations; and publication of the results.
"Preparation for designation of new Ramsar sites". Mongolia joined the Convention in 1998 and acted energetically in designating six Ramsar sites as soon as possible. Lack of resources remain a problem, however, and an SGF grant of SFR 18,000, plus an additional SFR 7,000 from the WWF Living Waters Programme, is intended to help prepare the designations of an additional six Ramsar sites, conduct an EIA and develop a management plan for the Ogii Lake site, and create a Ramsar Centre Mongolia (to be managed by the NGO Mongolian Wetlands Alliance) to assist the Government in the further implementation of the Convention in that country of some 3,500 freshwater and saline lakes, 3,811 rivers, and 187 glaciers.
"Inventory of Moroccan wetlands that meet the Ramsar Criteria". The purpose of this project is to select and inventory the wetlands of Morocco that meet the Ramsar Criteria, particularly Criteria 5 and 6 concerning waterbirds, by means of both research of existing data and additional site visits. The inventory results will then be validated at a workshop in which members of the Administrative Authority, the Ramsar Bureau, scientific institutions and NGOs, and the National Ramsar Committee, will participate, following which the administrative procedures for designation for the List of Wetlands of International Importance will be got under way. This SGF project has been taken over for direct funding assistance, in the amount of SFR 40,000, by WWF's Living Waters Programme and WWF MedPO.
Papua New Guinea
"Development and maintenance of a PNG wetland database and education and awareness of the importance of wetlands". The amount of SFR 39,050 will assist the Department of Environment and Conservation to identify and document all wetland types in the country through literature review and site visits, whilst at the same time promoting the importance of maintaining the ecological characteristics of the wetlands, including Ramsar sites, through the development of a national wetlands education and public awareness (EPA) programme. The EPA will target a wide range of people, including key decision-makers, communities living in and around wetlands, other wetland users, and the general public. A wetlands database will be a major output of the project and will be used as a basis for developing a conservation and management strategy for the wetlands of the country. The Department will be collaborating with the Wetlands International - Oceania Programme and with the PNG office of WWF South Pacific.
"Wetland awareness and education in the Turiec Wetlands Ramsar site". The Turiec Wetlands Ramsar site is threatened by a number of activities, including illegal waste disposal and improper grazing techniques, many of which indicate a lack of awareness of the wetland's values on the part of the local and regional population. The purposes of this project are to increase the involvement of local and regional communities in the conservation and wise use of the site; increase non-consumptive tourism in local and regional communities and, by doing so, better the economies of local and regional communities; increase the capacity of teachers and local site managers to teach wetland education; and increase cooperation between governmental and non-governmental organizations in the management of the site. An important part of a much larger project on the implementation of the Turiec River Management Plan financed by the DANCEE (Danish Cooperation in Eastern Europe) programme, this SFR 34,429 segment has been taken over from the SGF by the DGIS/Wetlands International initiative.
Syrian Arab Republic
"Strengthening the participation of the local community in the management of Al Jaboul Lake Ramsar site". Jaboul Salt Lake (Sabkhat al-Jabbul Nature Reserve), Syria's only Ramsar site thus far, is threatened in a number of ways, all largely due to the lack of interest and concern in the local communities about its deteriorating ecological character, and due also to the lack of experience of Ministry of Irrigation personnel with implementing effective wetland management plans and with participatory management practices. The first phase of the project involves training staff in wetland management planning and participatory management practices, based upon Ramsar guidelines; the second phase will involve establishing contacts with representatives of five key stakeholder groups in the area, determining their interests and concerns, and developing training workshops and awareness-raising seminars on present negative impacts upon the lake and preventive measures that could be taken by each group. SFR 37,160 has been allocated from the SGF for this project.
"Capacity building in the Tanzanian Ramsar Authority: Wetland Unit, Wildlife Division". Funding for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention, provided by DANIDA and the Government of Tanzania, is being used to develop a national wetland policy, prepare management guidelines, plan a proposal for a national wetland inventory, finalize a wetlands awareness programme, and designate further Ramsar sites. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, however, has identified the lack of qualified staff as perhaps the single most important constraint in Tanzania for the effective implementation of the Convention. The sum of SFR 37,885 from the SGF will permit the temporary employment of two additional staff for thorough on-the-job training both in the head office and on field missions, who could then be permanently employed in the Wetland Unit of the Wildlife Division of the Ministry.
"Communities' participation in the identification and implementation of measures for a sustainable management of the Réserve de Faune de Togodo Ramsar site". The Reserve de Faune de Togodo is watered over a good part of its area by the River Mono and supports a diverse freshwater vegetation and dynamic animal life. A rapidly growing population in the vicinity has, however, brought new exigencies. This project is intended to promote the wise-use management of the area and its natural resources for a sustainable development. The main objectives are to mobilise and reinforce institutional capacities and to sensitize, educate and train neighbouring local communities in sustainable agricultural, forestry, and grazing practices that contribute to their socio-economic development over the long term. SFR 39,927 has been allocated from the SGF for this project.
"Rehabilitation and restoration of wet meadows at Lake Ludaš". The Special Nature Reserve and Ramsar site of Lake Ludaš, a complex of wetlands containing open water, reedbeds, wet meadows, fen meadows, pastures, fragments of relict steppe communities, and alkali vegetation, has been deterioriating for some time as a result of drainage for agriculture and increasing eutrophication. A team of experts from the managing authority and the Institute for Nature Protection of Serbia has prepared a number of measures to strengthen the protection of existing and former wet meadows, in accordance with restoration and rehabilitation activities included in the management plan of the site, and the SGF allocation of SFR 39,928 will permit further progress in that work.