Recommendation 4.2

Annex II: Designation of wetlands for the List and subsequent action

4th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
Montreux, Switzerland
27 June-4 July 1990

It is important to emphasize that, when a wetland fulfils the "Criteria for Identifying Wetlands of International Importance", it remains the prerogative of the Contracting Party (or Parties), in whose territory (or territories) it is situated, to decide upon its designation for the List. The following considerations may help the Contracting Parties in deciding on designation and action to be taken following designation:

    1. The Convention leaves each Contracting Party free to decide on the legal status or protection measures which are appropriate at the time of designation. Contracting Parties have adopted a wide variety of approaches to this matter. Among these the following may be mentioned:

      (a) the wetland may already enjoy legal protection at national level (or at state or provincial level in a Contracting Party with a federal system);

      (b) the wetland, when legally protected, may include one or more core areas with stricter regulations, and a surrounding buffer zone where regulations are less strict;

      (c) the wetland need not have specific protection (e.g. as a national park or nature reserve) at national level (or at state or provincial level in a Contracting Party with a federal system); the Convention's aims can, however, be achieved by applying existing general legislation (e.g. by limiting the discretionary powers of the authorities concerned); and

      (d) the wetland may be in public or private ownership.

    2. The Convention text provides guidance on measures to be taken at a wetland once it has been listed. Article 3.1 states that Contracting Parties "shall formulate and implement their planning so as to promote the conservation of the wetlands included in the List", while Article 3.2 stipulates that information shall be passed without delay to the Bureau "if the ecological character of any wetland in its territory and included in the List has been changed, is changing or is likely to change as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference". The principal undertaking of Contracting Parties with respect to listed wetlands is to promote their conservation with the aim of preventing changes to their ecological character.

    3. Article 4.1 of the Convention states that "Each Contracting Party shall promote the conservation of wetlands and waterfowl by establishing nature reserves on wetlands, whether they are included in the List or not". Establishment of nature reserves (whether strict or less strict) is one way of maintaining the ecological character of listed wetlands. Provided its ecological character is maintained, wise use of the wetland is possible, and indeed maintenance of traditional land use practices and values may be the best way to guarantee ecological character. At each listed wetland, consideration should be given to the need for management; if management measures are deemed appropriate, a management plan should be developed and put into action.

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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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