Decisions of the 6th Meeting of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel


The 6th Meeting of the STRP was held in Gland, Switzerland, 15-17 April 1997. This is a list of the decisions excerpted from the Minutes of the meeting.


Africa: Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu, Ghana (Chair) Max Finlayson, Australia
Asia: Makoto Komoda, Japan Peter Hurst, WWF International
Eastern Europe: Mihály Végh, Hungary Barbara Rutherford, WWF International
Neotropics: Roberto Schlatter, Chile Frank Vorhies, IUCN
North America: Allan Smith, Canada
Oceania: Keith Thompson, New Zealand SECRETARIAT
Western Europe: François Letourneux, France Delmar Blasco, Secretary General
Michael Smart, Senior Policy Advisor
PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS Montserrat Carbonell, R.C. for Neotropics
BirdLife International: John O'Sullivan Rebecca D'Cruz, Reginal Coordinator for Asia
BirdLife International: David Pritchard Tim Jones, Regional Coordinator for Europe
IUCN: Jean-Yves Pirot Tom Kabii, Regional Coordinator for Africa
Wetlands International - A, E, ME: Scott Frazier Julia Tucker, Administrator
Wetland International - A, P: Taej Mundkur Mireille Katz, Executive Assistant
WWF International: Chris Tydeman Renée Ferster Levy, Assistant to Mr. Smart
Photo of most of them Dwight Peck, rapporteur

AGENDA ITEM #7: Criteria for identifying Wetlands of International Importance

    Decision STRP 6.1: The Criteria have been reviewed and are basically sound, but should be organized into two main "general" categories: 1) Representativeness and Uniqueness, and 2) Biodiversity, the latter of which will give adequate weight to plants and animals, with special sections on waterfowl and fish. Wherever adequate data exists on other species, these factors should be built into the Guidelines. The Guidelines for the Criteria should be made more "user-friendly" and should add emphases on hydrological and socio-economic/cultural benefits of wetlands, as well as on flora and with the possibility of numerical criteria for other taxa. The Senior Policy Advisor agreed to form a team to develop the Guidelines further, and will provide a draft of new Guidelines to the STRP by correspondence by 31 July; absent significant dissent, a finalized draft will be presented to SC20 in September. Some "peer review" will also be sought for the present Guidelines on the fish Criteria.

AGENDA ITEM #8: Ecological character of wetlands

    Decision STRP 6.2: 1) The Ramsar Database will be used to provide information to form the basis for testing the Guidelines for Describing and Maintaining Ecological Character (Resolution VI.1 annex pt. 2), with data for one site from each region and a few more to make ten. 2) Dr Finlayson will be encouraged to arrange to have data on these sites tested for adequacy of existing guidelines.

    Decision STRP 6.3: The STRP members agreed also to undertake a test of the Guidelines for sites in their regions. The end of August was specified as the deadline for completion, earlier if possible:

      A site in Australia (Dr Finlayson), in Canada (Mr Smith), in Ghana (Dr Ntiamoa-Baidu), in Hungary (Mr Végh), and in New Zealand (Dr Thompson). In addition, Dr Letourneux will seek a possible site to test, perhaps Doñana in Spain; Mr Trisal (India) has been asked to contribute, and Dr Peter Bacon has agreed to carry out a test for a site in the Caribbean.

    Decision STRP 6.4: The STRP requested Dr Finlayson to continue development of guidelines on an Early Warning System and threshold of acceptable change. These guidelines could then be discussed at the planned regional meetings and possibly at a meeting one day prior to COP7. Further, in order to provide time for producing a considered document, Dr Finlayson will approach Australian authorities on supporting, and will take the lead in organizing, a workshop to finalize draft guidelines on EWS and determination of threshold of acceptable change before COP7.

AGENDA ITEM #9: Montreux Record and Management Guidance Procedure

    Decision STRP 6.5: The STRP approved the following timetable for applications of the Management Guidance Procedure in 1997 and early 1998:

    • Costa Rica: staff will visit in June to set it up for November; likely.
    • Czech Republic: possible.
    • Egypt: staff are trying to arrange for December; likely.
    • Greece: possible.
    • Guatemala: staff will visit in April to set it up for June-July; certain.
    • India: likely.
    • Iran: staff will go in April 1997; certain.
    • Italy: discussions are continuing concerning Italy's 5 Montreux Record sites and perhaps others, for late 1997.
    • Jordan: formal request has been received, hopeful of collaboration with UNDP; fairly definite.
    • Spain: request has been received; very likely.
    • Uganda: staff are awaiting official request; possible for August.

AGENDA ITEM #10: Restoration and Rehabilitation of Wetlands

    Decision STRP 6.6: The STRP determined that hydrological questions should receive prominent attention in the proposed Technical Session at the Ramsar COP7 on restoration and rehabilitation of wetlands, that there be a careful balance between restoration and rehabilitation issues, and that additional inputs on case studies and technical literature for Mr Végh would be very welcome.

AGENDA ITEM #11: Management Planning

    Decision STRP 6.7: The STRP requested Drs Komoda and Schlatter to draft a structure of questions for the case studies and send it to the other STRP members within two weeks. The Regional Coordinators will suggest likely case studies, and Mr Kabii and Dr Ntiamoa-Baidu will seek more during the Ramsar subregional meeting in Dakar (May 1997). By the end of June, there ought to be a structure of questions for the Senior Policy Advisor to send to the potential authors with a letter seeking cooperation. No Technical Session at Ramsar COP7 will be developed for this issue.

    Decision STRP 6.8: It was also decided that Drs Komoda and Schlatter's review of the guidelines, based on the questionnaire survey when completed, will be reported to the next STRP, where it will be decided whether changes should be proposed to the COP.

AGENDA ITEM #12: Economic valuation of wetlands

    Decision STRP 6.9: The STRP gratefully accepted Dr Vorhies' offer to identify a group which might be able to assist in putting together a Technical Session for Ramsar COP7 and to act as focal point in getting that started.

AGENDA ITEM #13: Global review of wetland resources

    Decision STRP 6.10: The proposed terms of reference for the global review of wetland resources were adopted by consensus, subject to harmonization with other work on global review. The Bureau welcomes STRP members' advice on the person or institution to contract for this work.

AGENDA ITEM #14: Strengthening links with other Conventions and agencies

    Decision STRP 6.11: The STRP determined that, though the Convention will begin development of its own inputs to the Convention on Biological Diversity on biodiversity of inland water ecosystems without delay, Ramsar will also cooperate with the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management on its project and should seek ways of bringing together the various groups working on wetland biodiversity in order to help coordinate their efforts.

    Decision STRP 6.12: The STRP instructed the Bureau to seek a consultant to develop the Convention's input to CBD on biodiversity of inland water ecosystems guided by the following terms of reference:


      i) provide a description of the biodiversity issues in these habitats/ecosystems
      ii) identify priorities and actions for conserving the biodiversity in these habitats/ecosystems
      iii) identify and describe lead role for Ramsar in coordinating and undertaking such actions/tasks

      1. Define/describe habitats being considered (by Ramsar) (e.g., wetland types, Inland and Human-made)
      2. Describe/establish status and trends of biodiversity (at habitat, species, and gene levels)
      3. Describe and assess human uses of biodiversity (considering values and benefits, conservation, sustainable development)
      4. Describe and assess extent of threats and management issues
      5. Identify measures and actions needed to maintain and/or restore the biodiversity
      6. Identify and describe role of Ramsar in undertaking and coordinating actions to maintain and/or restore . . . . (linkage to other initiatives, Conventions)
      7. Set priorities and recommendations to . . . . . .

    Ramsar will keep the CBD up to date and make use of any advice the secretariat wishes to provide as the work progresses, but will not delay the work by awaiting CBD input.

AGENDA ITEM #15: Review of the Ramsar Database

    Decision STRP 6.13: The revised "Information Sheet for Ramsar Sites" and Explanatory Notes and Guidelines were approved by the STRP by consensus, subject to the introduction of a sentence related to toxic chemicals to the Guidelines.

    Decision STRP 6.14: The STRP decided that the updating of Ramsar Information Sheets mandated by Resolution VI.13, article 7, should be applied to all Ramsar sites designated before 31 December 1990, in order to stay in synchronization with the 3-year rhythm of the COPs. For all sites listed before that date, new RISs should be completed, as well as for any sites which still have inadequate RISs.

    Decision STRP 6.15: The STRP requested Dr Thompson to review the suitability of the Ramsar list of wetland types and determine for the next STRP meeting whether there really is a problem caused by the present classification, and if so, how much change would be required to correct that problem if the STRP were to decide to propose amendments to the list. He should also address the question of what is actually wanted from the Ramsar classification, as the administrative component of its purpose may always preclude it from being the best science. Mr Frazier and Dr Finlayson can be drawn upon as resource persons in that task.

AGENDA ITEM #16: Toxic Chemicals

    Decision STRP 6.16: The STRP welcomed WWF's offer to draft one sentence on the issue of toxic substances which will be incorporated into the RIS Explanatory Notes and Guidelines (section 22) just before the sentence beginning "Natural events". The STRP also gratefully accepted WWF's offer to take the lead role in developing a first draft of guidance for the CPs on toxic substance issues, in discussion with the Bureau, and together to explore a joint workshop.

    Decision STRP 6.17: The STRP also invited WWF to draft the STRP's report to the Ramsar COP7 in Costa Rica, for STRP's consideration and approval, on "the status of toxic chemicals as they relate to wetlands," with advice on what CPs can do and guidelines to assist them. Ms Rutherford and Mr Hurst expressed their willingness to undertake this assignment. If a Technical Session at Ramsar COP7 should grow out of this, so much the better.

    Decision STRP 6.18: The STRP determined that the Bureau will notify the Administrative Authorities soon that a response to Recommendation 6.14 might be incorporated into the National Reporting exercise and suggesting specific ways (making use of WWF's points) in which this question might be addressed beginning now.

AGENDA ITEM #18: Ramsar Small Grants Fund

    Decision STRP 6.19: The STRP approved the revision of the SGF assessment form (DOC 6.13a rev.), which incorporated the comments made during the discussion.

    Decision STRP 6.20: The STRP accepted with gratitude Dr Schlatter's offer to draft for the next STRP meeting a similar sort of form for evaluation of completed SGF projects.

AGENDA ITEM #19: Environmental Impact Assessment

    Decision STRP 6.21: The STRP welcomed John O'Sullivan's expression of willingness for BirdLife International to continue helping on the issue of guidelines for Environment Impact Assessment and accepted his offer to find out the extent to which his colleagues could continue to take the lead. It was noted that draft documentation would be needed in June and July in order for the SC to decide in September whether the agenda of COP7 should include a proposed resolution or Technical Session. The Senior Policy Advisor will be the Bureau's focal point.

AGENDA ITEM #21: Future Meetings of the STRP

    Decision STRP 6.22: The STRP fixed its next meeting, STRP7, for 24-26 February 1998 in Gland, Switzerland.

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