Third new US Ramsar site for World Wetlands Day 2005


USA designates site on Hawaiian Islands

The Government of the USA designated three new Wetlands of International Importance in celebration of World Wetlands Day 2005, two of which have been reported earlier, Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR) and Grassland Ecological Area, both in the state of California. A third designation is now ready to be added to the Ramsar List, Kawainui and Hamakua Marsh Complex (414 hectares, 21°24'N 157°45'W).

Sacred to Hawaiians, Kawainui Marsh, the largest remaining emergent wetland in Hawaii and Hawaii's largest ancient freshwater fishpond, is located in what was once the center of a caldera of the Koolau shield volcano. The marsh provides primary habitat for four of Hawaii's endemic and endangered waterbirds, including Laysan Duck and Hawaiian Goose or Nene, and contains archaeological and cultural resources, including ancient walled taro water gardens (lo'i) where fish were also cultivated. Kawainui Marsh stores surface water, providing flood protection for adjacent Kailua town, one of the largest towns on the windward side of O'ahu. Hamakua Marsh is a smaller wetland historically connected to and immediately downstream of Kawainui Marsh, which also provides significant habitat for several of Hawaii's endemic and endangered waterbirds.

The Ramsar Information Sheet documentation was compiled by David Smith, Wildlife Manager with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources; Eric Gilman of the National Audubon Society and Chair of the International Chapter of the Society of Wetland Scientists; and Muriel B. Seto, Culture Chair of "Hawaii's Thousand Friends".

Social and culture values of the site (from the Ramsar Information Sheet)

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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

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