Resolution VII.10: Wetland Risk Assessment Framework
"People and Wetlands: The Vital Link"
7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971),
San José, Costa Rica, 10-18 May 1999
1. RECALLING Article 3.2 of the Convention which states that Contracting Parties "shall arrange to be informed at the earliest possible time if the ecological character of any wetland in its territory and included in the List [of Wetlands of International Importance] has changed, is changing, or is likely to change as the result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference";
2. FURTHER RECALLING that in response to Article 3.2 of the Convention, the Cconference of the Contracting Parties has established the Record of sites included in the Ramsar List where change in ecological character had occurred, was occurring, or was likely to occur (the Montreux Record: Recommendation 4.8) and guidelines for its operation (Resolution 5.4);
3. ALSO AWARE that in response to Recommendation 5.2, the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) prepared working definitions of ecological character, change in ecological character, and guidelines for describing and maintaining ecological character that were adopted through Resolution VI.1;
4. NOTING that paragraph 9 of Resolution VI.1 called for assessment in the 1997-99 triennium of the working definitions of ecological character and change in ecological character, as well as the guidelines for describing and maintaining ecological character;
5. ALSO NOTING that paragraph 11 of Resolution VI.1 called for the development of early warning systems for detecting, and initiating action in response to, change in ecological character;
6. FURTHER NOTING that in order to formulate advice on the above two matters, an expert workshop was held in April 1998, which reported its findings to the 7th meeting of the STRP which followed immediately thereafter;
7. CONSCIOUS that in the 1997-99 triennium the STRP, as part of its Work Plan, has undertaken a review of the application of the Guidelines on management planning for Ramsar sites and other wetlands, adopted by Resolution 5.7, and that this has shown little inclusion of monitoring schemes or reliance on early warning indicators for detecting change in ecological character;
8. ACKNOWLEDGING that Technical Session IV of this Conference on "Tools for assessing and recognizing wetland values" had presented to it and considered in detail the annex to this resolution entitled Wetland Risk Assessment Framework; and
9. EXPRESSING ITS APPRECIATION to the authors of the annex to this Resolution for providing their combined advice and guidance, based on their experience, so that Contracting Parties are equipped with specific guidelines to assist them with meeting their obligations under Article 3.2 of the Convention;
THE CONFERENCE OF THE CONTRACTING PARTIES
10. ADOPTS as guidance for the Contracting Parties the annex to this Resolution entitled Wetland Risk Assessment Framework;
11. FURTHER ADOPTS the following definitions for ecological character and change in ecological character as recommended by the STRP following their assessment of the working definitions for the same adopted by Resolution VI.1:
Ecological character is the sum of the biological, physical, and chemical components of the wetland ecosystem, and their interactions, which maintain the wetland and its products, functions, and attributes.
Change in ecological character is the impairment or imbalance in any biological, physical, or chemical components of the wetland ecosystem, or in their interactions, which maintain the wetland and its products, functions and attributes.
12. URGES Contracting Parties to note and apply the attached guidance, which provides a basis for assessing the major causes of change in ecological character – changes to the water regime; water quality; physical modification; exploitation of biological products; and introduction of exotic species;
13. CALLS UPON Contracting Parties to ensure that their preparation of management plans for sites included in the Ramsar List and other wetlands includes, as an integrated element, early warning indicators as part of a monitoring programme based on the framework adopted by Resolution VI.1; and
14. ENCOURAGES the STRP to compile, with information submitted by Contracting Parties and from other relevant sources, a report outlining cases where early warning systems for wetlands are in place or are being established, and of the experience gained in maintaining these systems.