National Report of The Gambia for COP7

National Report prepared for the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

 Implementation of the Ramsar Convention in general, and of the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002 in particular, during the period since the National Report was prepared in 1995 for Ramsar COP6

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Contracting Party The Gambia
Designated Ramsar Administrative Authority

Department of Parks and Wildlife Management (DPWM),
Department of State for the Presidency, Fisheries and Natural Resources

Full name of the institution .
Name and title of the head of the institution

Dr. Almamy Camara, Director, Department of Parks and Wildlife Management.

Mailing address for the head of the institution

Department of State for the Presidency, Fisheries and Natural Resources, State House, Banjul, The Gambia.

Telephone +220 472888
Fax +220 228998
Name and title (if different) of the designated contact officer for Ramsar Convention matters .
Mailing address (if different) for the designated contact officer .
Telephone .
Fax .
E-mail .

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 1
To progress towards universal membership of the Convention.

1.1 Describe any actions your government has taken (such as hosting regional or subregional meetings/consultations, working cooperatively with neighbouring countries on transfrontier wetland sites) to encourage others to join the Convention.

The Gambia has held discussions with the IUCN West African representative and the Wetlands International sub-regional office on the potential for developing cooperation on cross-border management and development of two transfrontier wetland sites, namely Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve (Ramsar Site) and Niumi National Park (proposed Ramsar site and continuous with the Delta du Saloum National park in Senegal).

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 2
To achieve the wise use of wetlands by implementing and further developing the Ramsar Wise Use Guidelines.

2.1 Has a National Wetland Policy/Strategy/Action Plan been developed, or is one being developed or planned for the near future? If so:

To date a National Wetland Policy has not been developed but this issue is due to be taken up with the inauguration of a National Wetland Committee which is currently being established.

a. What are/will be its main features?

The main features of the policy will focus on the wise use of wetland sites with adequate measures put in place to ensure that the ecological integrity of the wetland is not compromised unnecessarily and the potential impacts of any developments are thoroughly assessed under existing EIA legislation. The policy will also aim to ensure that full appraisal is made of the national wetland resource base with the objective of conserving in an intact state sufficient sites to endure the combined functions of Gambian wetlands are maintained in terms of waterfowl, fisheries, etc.

b. Was it, or is it, intended that the Policy/Strategy/Action Plan be adopted by the whole of Government, the Minister responsible for Ramsar matters or through some other process. Please describe.

c. How does it relate/will it relate to other national environmental/ conservation planning initiatives (e.g., National Environmental Action Plans, National Biodiversity Action Plans, National Conservation Strategies)?

The wetland policy will be incorporated into the National environment action plan, National biodiversity action plan and coastal zone management strategy, as well as being integrated into the national agricultural, fisheries, forestry and wildlife policies.

2.2 If a policy is in place, how much progress has been made in its implementation, and what are the major difficulties being encountered in doing so?


2.3 If a Policy/Strategy/Action Plan is in place, is the responsibility for implementing it with :

a. a single Government Ministry,
b. a committee drawn from several Ministries, or
c. a cross-sectoral committee?


2.4 For countries with Federal systems of Government, are there Wetland Policies/Strategies/Plans in place, being developed or planned for the provincial/state or regional levels of Government? Yes/No   If yes, please give details.


2.5 Has a review of legislation and practices which impact on wetlands been carried out, and if so, has this resulted in any changes which assist with implementation of the Ramsar Convention? Please describe these.

To date no review of legisiation and practices which impact on wetlands has been conducted within The Gambia.

2.6 Describe the efforts made in your country to have wetlands considered in integrated land/water and coastal zone planning and management processes at the following levels:

a. national
b. provincial
c. local

The Gambia has undertaken a Coastal Zone Profile and Strategy Study which has the aims of ensuring the conservation of the coastal strip on the basis of an integrated approach. Within this CZM exercise, sites of high ecological value have been identified which include a number of wetlands, and proposals for management strategies put forward. One of the proposed Ramsar sites within The Gambia (Tanbi Wetland Complex) falls within the CZM study area, and there are an additional two wetlands (Tanji Bird Reserve and Allahein River) which may be considered for designation in the future.

At the provincial level, management plans are due to be drawn up for the Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve (existing Ramsar site), Niumi National Park (Proposed Ramsar Site) and the Tanbi Wetland Complex (Proposed Ramsar Site) with financial support from the Ramsar Bureau under the small grant fund (SGF).

2.7 Have there been any publications produced, or practices documented, which could assist other countries to promote and improve the application of the Ramsar Wise Use of Wetlands Guidelines? Yes/No   If Yes, please provide details and copies.

The Gambia produced an ecological assessment of three wetland sites: Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve (existing Ramsar Site), Niumi National Park (proposed Ramsar site) and the Tanbi Wetland Complex (proposed Ramsar Site), with financial support from the Ramsar Bureau under the small grant fund (SGF) in 1997. The document examines the botanical, zoological (including ornithological), fisheries and socio-economic aspects of the three-wetland sites. It also presents conclusions and recommendations for intermediary management strategies for the sites while awaiting full designation as Ramsar sites and the elaboration of full management plans. This document has already been submitted (in triplicate) to the Ramsar Bureau.

2.8 Noting COP6 Recommendation 6.14 relating to toxic chemicals and pollution, please advise of the actions taken since then "to remedy and to prevent pollution impacts affecting Ramsar sites and other wetlands" (Operative paragraph 9).

Specific measures to prevent or remedy pollution in Ramsar Sites have not been taken in The Gambia to-date, though an integrated pollution control programme has been adopted at the national level which addresses the issue of pollution in a complete context. Facilities to handle pollution loads from urban and industrial sources are currently inadequate but are being monitored and strategies to minimise negative impact are being investigated.

2.9 Describe what steps have been taken to incorporate wetland economic valuation techniques into natural resource planning and assessment actions.

The incorporation of economic valuation techniques into natural resource planning and assessment has not proceeded far within The Gambia, though this approach is being promoted through EIA legislation and also by the DPWM with relation to developments within wetland areas and other sites of high ecological values. There remains considerable hurdles to this approach in terms of quantifying the value of a particular resource.

2.10 Is Environmental Impact Assessment for actions potentially impacting on wetlands required under legislation in your country? Yes/No

EIA is required for certain developments at present within the Gambia, though it is currently limited, as the legislation has only been enacted recently and the process is still under going elaboration and testing.

2.11 Is wetland restoration and rehabilitation considered a priority in your country? Yes/No.  If Yes, describe the actions that have been taken to identify wetlands in need of these actions and to mobilise resources for restoration or rehabilitation.

Wetland restoration and / or rehabilitation is currently not a priority in the Gambia, as there remain many wetlands in a near or total intact state.

2.12 Describe what actions have been taken to "encourage active and informed participation of local communities, including indigenous people, and in particular women, in the conservation and wise use of wetlands." (refer to Actions 2.7.1-4 in the Strategic Plan).

While some efforts have been made in the encouragement of local communities in the conservation and wise use ofwetlands, most of these are focused on the protected areas under DPWM. There is considerable need for promoting this active participation and it is envisaged that the wetland committee will plan a significant role in this regard. The elaboration of management plans for the three Ramsar sites within The Gambia will be conducted with the involvement of all stakeholders, with special emphasis on the active participation of communities.

2.13 Describe what actions have been taken to "encourage involvement of the private sector in the conservation and wise use of wetlands" (refer to Actions 2.8.1-4 in the Strategic Plan). Has this included a review of fiscal measures (taxation arrangements, etc.) to identify and remove disincentives and introduce incentives for wetlands conservation and wise use? Yes/No   If yes, please provide details.

To date no actions have been taken to encourage the involvement of the private sector in the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 3
To raise awareness of wetland values and functions throughout the world and at all levels

3.1 Is there a government-run national programme for Education and Public Awareness in your country which focuses on, or includes, wetlands? Yes/No?   If yes, what are the priority actions under this programme and who are the target groups? (Refer also to question 9.4)

There is currently no government-run programme for education and public awareness focusing on or including wetlands.

3.2 Describe the steps taken to have wetlands issues and Ramsar’s Wise Use principles included as part of the curricula of educational institutions. Has this been at all levels of education (primary, secondary, tertiary and adult)? Please give details.


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 4
To reinforce the capacity of institutions in each Contracting Party to achieve conservation and wise use of wetlands.

4.1 Describe the mechanisms in place, or being introduced, to increase cooperation between the various institutions responsible for actions which can have an impact on the conservation and wise use of wetlands. If one of the mechanisms is a National Ramsar/Wetlands Committee, please describe its composition, functions and modus operandi.

A national wetlands committee is currently being established under the auspices of the Agriculture and National Resource Working Group, which will have as its primary objectives:

  • Increasing cooperation between various institutes impacting on wetland conservation and wise use.
  • Promoting the wise use ofwetlands on a national basis.
  • Addressing issues impacting on Ramsar sites within The Gambia.
  • Including wetland conservation considerations in land use planning.
  • Determining and evaluating the functions ofwetlands in The Gambia.

The committee will be composed of the following members:

  • Department of Parks and Wildlife Management (chair)
  • National Enviromnental Agency
  • Department of Forestry
  • Department of Fisheries
  • Department ofPhysical Planning
  • Geological Unit
  • Department of State for Tourism
  • Gambia Police Force
  • Kanifing Municipal Council
  • Banjul City Council
  • Tango [an umbrella organization for NGOs]

 The modus operandi of the committee has not yet been elaborated.

4.2 Of the following, indicate which have been undertaken:

a. a review to identify the training needs of institutions and individuals concerned with the conservation and wise use of wetlands Yes/No? If yes, please indicate the major findings of the review.

No review has been undertaken to date to identify the training needs of institutions or individuals concemed with the conservation and wise use of wetlands

b. a review to identify training opportunities for these people both within your country and in other countries. Yes/No?


c. the development of training modules or a training programme specifically for wetland managers. If yes, please give details.

d. people from your country have gained wetland-related training either within or outside the country. Yes/No? If yes, please give details.

A member of the DPWM staff is currently attending the international course on wetland management at Lelystad, the Netherlands (14th May to 24th June 1998) with support from Wetlands International. The course will be followed by a wetland management symposium "Dealing With Nature in Deltas" from June 25th to July 5th supported by Wetlands Advisory and Training Centre of the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Holland.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 5
To ensure the conservation of all sites included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar List).

5.1 Of the Ramsar sites in your country, how many have formal management plans:

a. being prepared?
b. fully prepared?
c. being implemented?

Please indicate in the attached table of Ramsar sites which sites these are and what category they fall into.

There is currently only one designated Ramsar site within The Gambia though a further two sites have been assessed for potential designation and are currently being proposed to cabinet for approval. All three sites have been approved for support under the Ramsar Bureau SGF for management plan elaboration which is due to commence before the end of 1998.

5.2 Of the management plans referred to above, which ones have included a monitoring scheme or programme to allow changes in ecological character to be detected? Please indicate this in the attached table of Ramsar sites also.


5.3 Has there been a change in the ecological character (either positive or negative) at any of your Ramsar sites or is this likely to occur in the near future? Yes/No. If Yes, please give details.

All three sites are currently undergoing slight modifications to their ecological character through activities such as rice and horticultural cultivation, and in the case of the Tanbi Wetland Complex, both urban and industrial development. To date these alterations have been slight and it is intended to have management plans elaborated and strategies implemented in the near future to prevent further negative modifications to the ecological character of various sites.

5.4 In the case of Montreux Record Ramsar sites where the Management Guidance Procedure has been applied, what is the status of the implementation of the MGP report recommendations? What is the expected time-frame for removing the site from the Montreux Record?


5.5 For those countries referred to in COP6 Recommendations 6.17.1-4, "Ramsar sites in the Territories of Specific Contracting Parties", please provide advice on the actions that have been taken in response to the issues raised at that time.


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 6
To designate for the Ramsar List those wetlands which meet the Convention’s criteria, especially wetland types still under-represented in the List and transfrontier wetlands.

6.1 Has a national inventory of wetlands been prepared for your country? Yes/No.

No national inventory has been conducted specifically on the wetlands of The Gambia, though data gathering on various sites has been on going under both and inventory of sites of high ecological value, and an assessment of important bird areas (IBAs) with support from BirdLife International. Both these inventories were undertaken by the DPWM and are kept at the DPWM headquarters.

If no, are there plans for this to be done? Yes/No.

It is envisaged that the wetlands committee will undertake the compilation of a comprehensive inventory and establish a priority listing for sites to be protected under the auspices of Ramsar sites and also within the framework of the protected area network under the DPWM.

Where a national inventory exists please provide details of when it was finalised, where it is kept and what information it contains.

6.2 Does there exist a list or directory of "important" wetlands for your country or region? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details of when it was finalised, where it is kept, what criteria for "important" were used, and the types of information it contains.

See 6.1 above.

6.3 If it is known, please provide an estimate of the area of wetlands in your country at present and any information on rates of loss or conversion to other activities. If this information is available, please indicate what definition of "wetland" was used.

A total of 81,276 ha of uncultivated swamps and 33,344 ha of cultivated swamps are estimated to exist within The Gambia (equating to 11% of the total land area) and an additional 66,688 ha of mangrove swamps (6.4%) occur in the lower river. There are no current data on the rate of loss or conversion to other activities, though there is currently a programme being implemented to bring an additional 20,000 ha ofwetland under rice cultivation over the next two decades.

The term wetland has not been concisely defined but includes both seasonal and perennial wetland areas while excluding mangrove (see breakdown above).

6.4 Have any actions been taken in response to the COP6 Resolutions and Recommendations that Contracting Parties should give priority to listing Wetlands of International Importance which:

a. meet the criteria for fish habitat (Resolution VI.2),
b. meet the 1% criterion for waterbird populations using data provided by the International Waterfowl Census (Resolution VI.4),
c. are subterranean karst or cave wetland systems (Resolution VI.5),
d. are peatland ecosystems (Recommendation 6.1)
e. are coral reefs and associated systems (Recommendation 6.7)
f. are under-represented wetland types (which apart from d. and e. above include mangroves and sea grass beds) (Strategic Plan Action 6.2.3)

The Gambia has just undertaken a first major waterfowl census with support from Wetlands International and is currently compiling a report which will identify sites which meet the 1% criterion for waterbird populations.

6.5 If your government indicated at COP6 that it would be proceeding to list further specific sites, please advise of the status of this action.

The Government of The Gambia is currently listing two additional sites for designation (Niumi National Park and Tanbi Wetland complex). The proposal for designating Tanbi as a Ramsar site is currently with the cabinet (see also 2.7).

6.6 Please advise which of the sites included in the Ramsar List from your country are transfrontier wetlands (Refer also to 7.1).

The Bao Bolong wetland reserve is a transfrontier site with the national park du Delta du Saloum in Senegal.

6.7 Describe any plans, or actions being taken for further transfrontier sites to be listed (Refer also to 7.1).

A meeting is due to be held later in June 1998 with the Senegalese National Parks authorities to develop collaboration between the two countries in terms of transfrontier protected areas and associated management. The initial focus will be on Niumi National Park and Delta du Saloum National park where a joint Ramsar site and Biosphere reserve are to be investigated.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 7
To mobilise international cooperation and financial assistance for wetland conservation and wise use in collaboration with other conventions and agencies, both governmental and non-governmental.

7.1 Briefly describe any bilateral or multilateral activities that have been taken, are under way, or are planned for the management of transfrontier wetlands or their watersheds/catchments (Refer also to 6.6 and 6.7).

As elaborated under 6.7 above, a meeting is scheduled for June 1998 to address the issue of transfrontier wetlands and cooperation. There have also been tentative discussions at the Ramsar subregional meeting (Dakar, May 1997) on the issue of approaching The Gambia River Basin management under such a forum. A Gambia River Basin Study (OMVG) project was established in the 1970s to look at this issue and the project still maintains an office in Dakar. Such an approach to management on a catchment basis would require strong guidance and coordination to establish a suitable framework, a role which the Ramsar Bureau will be able to undertake.

7.2 Do you have Ramsar sites that are "twinned" with others, either nationally or internationally? Yes/No. If yes, please give details.


7.3 Where your country is also a signatory of any of the following Conventions, describe what mechanism(s) exist to assist regular dialogue and cooperative actions between the personnel responsible for their implementation and the Ramsar Administrative Authority:

a. Convention on Biological Diversity
b. Framework Convention on Climate Change
c. Convention to Combat Desertification
d. Convention on Migratory Species
e. World Heritage Convention

The DPWM is the focal point within the Gambia for the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Migratory Species, and thus there is close harmony in their implementation. The Conventions on Climate Change and Combating Desertification are under sister natural resource departments and the agricultural and natural resources working groups ensure that there is regular dialogue and cooperation between these respective responsible personnel.

7.4 Is your country cooperating as part of any bilateral or multilateral activities directed at the conservation of migratory wetland species? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

The Gambia has undertaken migratory waterfowl counts over the 1997/1998 winter period as part of a coordinated activity by Wetlands International, which assist in identifying sites of international importance which will be prioritizeD for appropriate management.

7.5 Are there multilateral and/or bilateral donors supporting projects which contribute to implementation of the Ramsar Convention in your country? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

Support for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention has come from the Ramsar Bureau, Wetlands International, BirdLife International and the Wetlands Advisory and Training Center of the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Holland.

7.6 Does your government make an annual budgetary allocation to support the conservation and wise use of wetlands within your country? Yes/No. If yes, is this a specific allocation to a wetlands programme or as part of a larger environment or natural resource management budget?

No budgetary allocation is currently made by the Government of The Gambia to support the conservation and wise use of wetlands in the country.

7.7 If your country has a development assistance programme, does it include funds earmarked for wetland conservation and wise use in other countries? Yes/No. If yes, please give details.


7.8 Is there a formal process in place for consultation between the Ramsar Administrative Authority and the development assistance programme in your country, where one exists? Yes/No. If yes, what is that process.


Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 8
To provide the Convention with the required institutional mechanisms and resources.

8.1 Has your government made voluntary financial contributions, other than the invoiced contributions or to the Small Grants Fund, to further the work of the Convention globally? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.


8.2 If your country is in arrears with the payment of its annual contributions to the Ramsar Convention, please indicate the reasons for this situation and the prospects for paying these arrears in the near future.

The Government of the Gambia will pay its financial contribution to the Ramsar Convention in the last quarter of the current calendar year (1998).

Optional section - Participation of non-government organizations in the implementation of the Convention

These are optional questions relating to cooperation with and involvement of non-government organizations in the implementation of the Convention.

At COP6 some 42 NGOs made the "Brisbane NGO pledge of support for the Ramsar Convention". The Standing Committee agreed that for COP7 there should be an effort made to gauge the level and type of cooperation which is occurring between government Administrative Authorities and the national and international NGOs with an interest in wetlands issues.

In this optional section of the National Report, you are asked to describe the nature of the cooperation and relationship with any other international, regional, national and provincial NGOs operating within your country.

9.1 Approximately how many NGOs have wetlands as part of their regular "business" in your country?

Please break this down between international, regional and national/provincial organizations.

9.2 Is there a regular forum or mechanism through which these NGOs express their views on wetland conservation and Ramsar implementation:

a. to each other? Yes/No
b. to the government? Yes/No

9.3 Does your government include one or more NGO representatives on its official delegation to Ramsar COPs? Yes/No

9.4 Do any of the NGOs run programmes aimed at Education and Public Awareness about wetlands in your country? Yes/No. If yes, please give details (Refer also to question 3.1).

9.5 Where they exist, do Ramsar site management advisory committees include NGO representatives? If yes, please give details

9.6 Describe the themes of the Convention (refer to General Objectives 1-8 of the Strategic Plan) where you perceive the national/provincial NGOs to be most active.

Final comments:

10.1 General comments on implementation of the Ramsar Strategic Plan.

10.2 Observations concerning the functioning of, relations with, and services provided by:

a. The Ramsar Standing Committee
b. The Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel
c. The Ramsar Bureau
d. The Ramsar NGO partners

10.3 Any other general observations and/or recommendations for the future.

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