III Panamerican Regional Meeting, November 2004, Mexico



The meeting was held in Hotel El Castellano, Mérida, with more than 120 participants registered. All Contracting Parties in the Americas were represented, as well as Netherlands Antilles and the United Kingdom in representation of their Dependent Territories. Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, St Vincent & the Grenadines attended as Non-Contracting Parties.

The organizing team was composed of staff from CONANP (Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas) and the Ramsar Secretariat, with logistical aid from the Government of the State of Yucatán and the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.

The meeting was attended by IUCN (Sur and ORMA), Wetlands International and WWF as Ramsar's International Organization Partners, UNEP-Latin America and the Caribbean Office, Smithsonian Institution, Redmanglar, FUNGAP-Grupo Antigua, Amigos del Manatí A.C., Minera Escondida Ltda., Ducks Unlimited Mexico, Arizona Game & Fish Department, Centro Ecológico Akumal, Consejo Nacional del Agua, were amongst the other organizations present.

The official report of the meeting will come out in January.

Welcome at the airport by local staff from the State of Yucatán

Plenary session

South American working group discussing the priorities of the subregion, chaired by Argentina (María Teresa Kralikas, speaking)

Margarita Astrálaga, Senior Advisor for the Americas, being interviewed by Televisa national TV about Ramsar implementation in Mexico.

Enjoying dinner in a nice patio after a whole day session: Francisco Rilla (Uruguay), Ward Hagemeijer (Wetlands International), Sara Beatriz Sverlij (Argentina), María Teresa Kralikas (Argentina), Daniel Blanco (Wetlands International), Alfredo Altamirano (Uruguay), Alba Villalba (Paraguay), Iván Darío Valencia (Assistant Advisor for the Americas, Ramsar Secretariat).

Paul Sánchez-Navarro (Centro Ecológico Akumal), Eduardo Guerrero (UICN-Sur), Denis Landenbergue (WWF) and Julio Montes de Oca (UICN-ORMA and formerly Ramsar Secretariat)

A well deserved toast of part of the organizing team of the meeting on the last night. Pía Gallina, Arturo Peña (CONANP-Mexico), Iván Darío Valencia (Ramsar) and Carlos Muñoz (CONANP)


On November 11, delegates and participants were taken to the recently designated Ramsar Site "Reserva de la Biosfera Ría Celestún" by the Gulf of Mexico in the State of Yucatán, where they took a boat trip in the lagoon to watch flamingos and tour the mangrove forests. Afterwards, they visited the archeological complex of Uxmal, where they attended a light show which fabulously illuminates the pyramids and courts.

American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) congregating in shallow areas of the lagoon in Ría Celestún, one of their main resting and feeding habitats in the Yucatan Peninsula. Boats approach the flamingos to a certain extent in order not to scare them away. More than 50,000 visitors come to Celestún every year to watch these birds.

Ángela Durán (Colombia), Ana Paula Prates (Brazil), Líder Góngora (Redmanglar-Ecuador), Maria Carolina Hazin (Brazil), Valmir Ortega (Brazil), Iván Darío Valencia (Ramsar Secretariat).

A colony of Magnificent frigatebirds Fregata magnificens on the red mangrove forests (Rhizophora mangle).

Inside the Red Mangrove Forests. The lagoon itself acquires the red colors given by the mangrove tannins.

An island of high rise forests (Peten) amidst the mangrove, due to the presence of a freshwater spring typically called "ojo de agua".

The light show in the ruins of Uxmal, where Mayan legends were narrated praying for rain. Right after the show, it effectively poured from the skies!

Mérida as seen from Hotel El Castellano

-- reported by Iván Darío Valencia; photos, Iván Darío Valencia, Sebastià Semene

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