Notes of the 9th Meeting of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP)


The 9th Meeting of the STRP  was held in Gland, Switzerland, 27-30 June and 1 July 2000.  The primary purpose of the STRP's ninth meeting was to assess progress over the past year in accomplishing the tasks of the STRP Work Plan for the triennium, which was approved by the 24th meeting of the Standing Committee in late November 1999.   A revised version of the Work Plan  will be posted here soon.  -- Web Editor.

List of Participants

Report of the Meeting

9th Meeting of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel

Annexes to the Meeting Report

Annexes / Short title

I. Impact assessment

II. Incentive measures

III. Allocation and management of water for maintaining ecological functions

IV. Principles for integrating wetlands in ICZM

V. Global Review of Wetland Resources, part II; draft terms of reference

VI. Wetland restoration

VII. Wetland management

VIII. Structure and content of additional guidelines for identifying and designating under-represented wetland types

IX. Guidelines for the identification and designation of peatlands

X. Guidelines for the identification and designation of wet grasslands

XI. Ecological character

XII. Wetland inventory

XIII. Proposals for the operation of a "San José Record"

The Annexes include draft revised terms of reference for the Working Groups that were arrived at during the course of the STRP9 meeting and associated group discussions. Formally revised terms of reference and revised work plans for the Working Groups will be presented subsequently as a separate document.

Annex I

Working Group 3: Impact assessment

Decision STRP 9.1: The STRP agreed to endorse the proposed work plans of both the Impact Assessment and Incentive Measures Working Groups as attached in Annexes I and II, noting the desirability of guidelines, if resources can be found, especially in light of the Joint Work Plan and other CBD COP5 decisions, and subject to the overall priorities to be determined under Agenda Item 26.

CBD COP 5 identified Ramsar STRP as a key player in the global partnerships needed to ensure integration of biodiversity concerns with impact assessment and to develop impact assessment as a tool. Ramsar STRP has therefore undertaken to develop partnerships with other key groups and to use these partnerships to plan coordinated action.

The Group considered the extent to which existing work programmes on biodiversity and impact assessment might address Ramsar-concerns. The Group concluded that:

a) global initiatives to promote biodiversity issues through impact assessment will not necessarily address all Ramsar concerns, for example physiographical and limnological aspects will not be considered as ‘biodiversity criteria’. It is therefore necessary to review CBD outputs concerning impact assessment from a Ramsar perspective.

b) Ramsar STRP has played a lead role in promoting innovative approaches to ecosystem management and impact assessment which have much to offer in other biodiversity and impact assessment contexts through the CBD. In particular, Ramsar STRP is in a position to elaborate requirements for impact assessment tools in the context of an ‘ecosystem approach’ and to develop new techniques for mitigation and compensation.


Global and national networks can assist in developing guidance on impact assessment.

The possibility already exists for the STRP Chair to attend SBSTTA and vice versa. The Working Group on Impact Assessment can provide briefing for STRP’s input to SBSTTA concerning coordinated action on Impact Assessment.

CBD COP 5 refers to the need to work in collaboration with ‘the scientific community, the private sector, indigenous and local communities, NGOs and other relevant organisations, including IAIA’. Through its specialist Sections or focus groups, IAIA can provide direct access to representatives in all these sectors. These representatives can at least act as focal points for collaboration.

The Group recommends formalisation of cooperative links with IAIA, for example through a joint memorandum of understanding (MOU) to ensure that Ramsar STRP can capitalise on existing knowledge, networks and experience of IA-applications. (See Task 1 below.)

The Group further recommends issuing a request to IAIA to identify country representatives who could participate in a joint work programme on impact assessment. This network of representatives could provide individuals and expertise to assist with collation and review of guidelines and other material. (See Task 2 below.)

The Working Group recommends that Ramsar STRP should invite National Focal Points (NFPs) to liaise with IAIA’s country representatives (once identified) to further pursue investigation of guidelines and case study materials as identified in COP 6 and to review the needs of key user groups. (See Task 3 below.)


Internet resources: The working group confirms a need for continued development of IUCN’s internet resource kit, but recommends clarification of user needs and categories in developing the kit further. Review of existing resource kits and linkages would help to clarify the need for further development of the resource kit and for development and to identify opportunities for links with other web-based resources. (See Task 4 below.)

The group recommends the establishment of direct links between the Clearing House Mechanism and Ramsar. Ramsar Bureau should contact CHM to seek advice concerning potential input from Ramsar, for example links between CHM and the IUCN site. (See Task 5 below.)

Review of existing guidance and material: Ramsar COP 6 requested STRP to examine existing EIA guidelines relevant to wetlands and, if necessary or appropriate, to arrange for drafting of Ramsar guidelines. COP 7 made the same request and suggested reporting of the results through an internet-based resource kit.

While CBD/SBSTTA has also been charged with review of EIA guidance, this review process will not address wetland issues per se. While close working links between the two review-processes are required to avoid duplication of effort, review of existing EIA guidelines is required from the perspective of the Ramsar Convention and wetland ecosystems to identify any important gaps or needs.

To facilitate the establishment of effective working partnerships, the working group recommends that the Ramsar STRP impact assessment working group should convene a steering group to manage a programme of review. This steering group would consist of members from IAIA, IUCN and Ramsar Bureau.

The Working Group suggests that the Steering Group should manage a review process to include review of existing EIA Guidelines and of needs for assistance in developing impact assessment tools in support of the Ramsar Convention. Preliminary review would be undertaken be selected IAIA representatives and STRP NFPs, with final review and reporting being undertaken by the steering group at a meeting convened for this purpose. (See Task 6 below.)


The Working Group recommends establishment of an ongoing system for audit of Ramsar material, especially new draft guidance, to ensure consistent demands and advice for impact assessment and to identify missed opportunities for promotion or use of impact assessment as a tool. In the shorter term this could be applied to outputs from other working groups. In the longer term, a protocol for systematic integration of impact assessment into any topic addressed by Ramsar STRP is required. This process of internal audit could play an important part in identifying the added value which Ramsar STRP can provide. For example, ‘ICZM’ might generate a particular demand for impact assessment methodologies which address multiple threats and cumulative impacts; wetland restoration provides the scientific basis for evaluating the likely effectiveness of wetland mitigation and compensation; Incentive Measures provides opportunities to explore the role of impact assessment in compensation and benefit sharing, etc.


Ramsar STRP has played a key role in promoting innovative work, particularly in relation to SEA and its potential application in support of the Convention. The particular challenges of wetland ecosystem management and wise use have also resulted in development of innovative IA tools, notably wetland mitigation banking, regional approaches to wetland compensation and systems for wetland valuation which might have applications to other ecosystem types. The concept of ‘wise use’ itself, and the methods developed by Ramsar STRP to implement this concept have potential applications for a range of other ecosystems and provide potential evaluation ‘endpoints’ for impact assessment.

The Working Group therefore recommends that Ramsar STRP should initiate a review of SEA as applied in case studies affecting wetland ecosystems and Ramsar sites. (See Task 7 below.)


Tasks Completion date Focal point
1. Establish joint MoU between Ramsar STRP and IAIA November 2000 Ramsar Bureau
2. Identify and contact IAIA representatives December 2000 IAIA
3. Invite STRP National Focal Points (NFPs) to liaise with IAIA representatives to pursue investigation of guidelines and case study materials. Jan 2001 Ramsar Bureau
4. Continued development of IUCN internet Resource kit, to include review of other relevant resource kits and opportunities for linkages Ongoing (Progress Report at Cop 8) IUCN
5. Letter from Ramsar Bureau to CHM requesting advice on potential Ramsar/ STRP input (eg links with internet resource kit) Summer 2000 Ramsar Bureau
6. EIA Guidelines Review from Ramsar and wetland ecosystem perspective.   Ramsar Bureau, IAIA, IUCN

6a. Establish Steering Group (Ramsar Bureau, IAIA, IUCN)

Jan 2001 STRP IA working group

6b. Develop Terms of Reference for preliminary review of guidelines

Feb 2001 Steering Group

6b.Invite selected STRP NFPs and IAIA country representatives to participate in review

March 2001 Steering Group

6c. Prelimiinary review

Sept 2001 NFPs and IAIA reps

6d. Panel Review meeting and production of draft review findings

Feb 2002 Steering Group

6e. Presentation of review findings at COP 8

? 2002 STRP IA Working Group
7. Initiate review of SEA application. Presentation of progress report to COP 8 and recommendations for further action ? 2002 STRP IA Working


Indicative budget

Task Requirement for resources to proceed Resource requirements (CHF)
1 No 0
2 Yes 5,000
3 No 0
4 Yes 5,000
5 No 0
6 Yes 150,000
7 Yes 15,000
TOTAL   175,000

Annex II

Working Group 4: Incentive measures

Decision STRP 9.1: The STRP agreed to endorse the proposed work plans of both the Impact Assessment and Incentive Measures Working Groups as attached in Annexes I and II, noting the desirability of guidelines, if resources can be found, especially in light of the Joint Work Plan and other CBD COP5 decisions, and subject to the overall priorities to be determined under Agenda Item 26.

The Working Group on incentive measures discussed two key issues: 1) the development and coordination of existing work being done to compile and disseminate information over the internet; and 2) a strategy for fulfilling the request for guidelines on incentive measures for COP8.

1. Building the Knowledge Base

The working group has made significant progress on the first proposed activity of developing internet-based information on incentive measures for the Ramsar Parties. In fact, a number of internet-based resource kits have sprouted up over the course of the last 6 months including a data deposit created by CIESIN and an annotated bibliography on incentive measures produced for IUCN and the Ramsar Bureau. Meanwhile, the planned update of the IUCN-housed resource kit has been delayed owing to a restructuring of the IUCN site.

The group agreed that the annotated bibliography will be integrated into the IUCN economics of biodiversity Web site ( by September 2000. The data deposit produced by CIESIN and Tex Hawkins will continue to serve to capture new information on incentive measures related to wetland management. This information will then be used to populate and update the IUCN resource kit. This process of gathering additional resource materials will thus fulfil activity 2 of the Terms of Reference.

2. Producing Guidelines for the Parties

COP7 has directed STRP to "prepare a report for COP8 on progress in the design, implementation, monitoring and assessment of incentive measures and the identification and removal of perverse incentives, containing recommendations for specific actions to be taken by the Contracting Parties, governments, and other relevant organizations".

IUCN is revising Jeff McNeely’s book Economics of Biological Diversity: developing and using incentives. The first component of this book is guidelines for using incentives to conserve biodiversity. This will be updated in the revision process by October 2000. Thus, foundation work on guidelines for incentive measures will be done through this revision. These guidelines could be reviewed from a wetlands perspective to determine if and how wetlands demonstrate a special case for incentive measures design and implementation. From such a review, specific guidance could be provided to COP8. This, however would require significant additional work and thus resources, both financial and human.

3. Additional Item: A Wetlands Incentives Programme

The Working Group also proposed that Ramsar is well positioned to move the global biodiversity incentives agenda forward by taking a lead on a single ecosystem (wetlands). Thus Ramsar could lead CBD and Rio+10 on the topic of incentives. To do this, the group recommends that Ramsar develop a full project proposal for a wetland-focused programme of work on incentive measures which includes developing networks, establishing a knowledge base, advising on appropriate policy development, and empowering key stakeholders.

Revised Work Plan

Indicative Tasks Completion date Focal point
1. Knowledge    
Bring in annotated bibliography Sep 00 IUCN
Revise-Maintain data deposit
-mechanism for data transfer
-update the look and links
Ongoing CIESIN
Solicit information from data deposit
-Ramsar Forum
-National focal points
Establish an editorial team
-use focal points and skills register
-initial meeting to set up criteria, discuss purpose
Nov 00 IUCN
Review information, select key entries, follow-up for further electronic documentation   Editorial team
Populate IUCN site with new information Ongoing IUCN
Prepare demonstration for STRP and then COP8 on the Internet kit Jun 01,
2. Guidelines    
Complete revision of the guidelines under update of the Economics of Biodiversity book Dec 00 IUCN
Review guidelines from a wetlands perspective and identify wetland-specific issues relating to incentives Mar 01 Editorial team
Make wetland specific guidance Jun 01 IUCN-STRP
3. Wetlands Incentives Programme    
Develop a project proposal for the programme of work and fundraise Dec 00 IUCN-Bureau

Indicative budget

1) Knowledge 150,000 CHF

2) Guidelines 50,000 CHF

3) Wetlands Incentives Programme 50,000 CHF

Total: 250,000 CHF

Annex III

Working Group 10: Allocation and management of water for maintaining ecological functions

Decision STRP 9.2: The STRP endorsed the proposed outputs and timetable of the Working Group on Water Allocation and Management, including guidelines, draft resolution, and short case studies, as attached in Annex III.

Terms of Reference:

Review international agreements
Review knowledge on water demand management; existing tools for allocation of water; decision-making for allocation
Present case studies
Develop a resolution for COP8

Focus of work

Management of water within the catchment draining to a wetland
Surface and groundwater
Trade-offs with alternative water uses
NOT internal wetlands water management
NOT management of driving forces (e.g., population, climate change)

Principles to guide allocation and management of water

Review selected existing documents, e.g., Dublin Principles, World Water Forum (The Hague), River Basin Commissions (Murray-Darling, Senegal), World Commission on Dams
Distil principles

Best practice approach to principles

Water demand management
Tools for determining water allocations
Decision-making for water allocation

Water demand management

Catchment management (e.g., land use, drainage)
Technology (e.g., drip irrigation, artificial recharge)
Socio-economics (e.g., education, pricing, incentives, virtual water)

Tools for determining water allocation

Five step process (based on South Africa’s experience)
Delineate wetland boundary, eco-region type, and reference status
Determine current status
Determine desired status
Quantify wetland water allocation
Define operational procedure

Decision-making process for water allocation

Legal framework (e.g., South African water law)
Valuation framework (e.g., UK economic valuation)

Case studies

Inadequate allocation, wetland degradation

Restoration, reduced abstraction, managed flood releases from dams

Conservation of natural system, development plans halted

Examples of inadequate allocation

Indus Delta, Pakistan

Las Tablas de Daimiel, Spain

Examples of wetland restoration

Floodplain restoration, Waza-Logone, Cameroon

Community participation, Phongolo, South Africa

Groundwater support, Azraq Oasis, Jordan, Birma/Millewa forest, Australia

Dam decommissioning, Columbia River, USA

Conservation of natural system

Okavango Delta, Botswana; Dam project in Norway

Restoration not feasible

Mahaweli, Sri Lanka

Resolution for COP8

Maintaining wetland ecosystem functions
Through appropriate water allocation and management
By applying sound principles
And implementing best practice


Resolution for COP8
Guidelines for COP8
Publication of Ramsar handbook

Time lines

Case studies written (1/2 page) end September 2000
First draft of report end November
Comments on first draft end January 2001
Second draft of report end February
Comments on second draft end March
Guidelines to Bureau end April
Draft resolution to Bureau end April

Guidelines table of contents

1. Introduction
1.1 Mandate (Resolution VII.18)
1.2 Definition of ecosystem functions
1.3 Focus on catchment scale, NOT driving forces
2. Principles
3. Management systems to operationalize the principles
3.1 Water demand management (land use, technology, socio-economics)
3.2 Tools to determine allocation
3.3 Decision-making processes (laws, economics)

Annex IV

Working Group 1: Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM)

Decision STRP 9.3: The STRP supported the outputs and timetable proposed by the Working Group on ICZM, as attached in Annex IV, including the structure of the proposed guidelines and the analysis of existing ICZM guidelines, and solicited additional case studies and Web links for inclusion in this work.

Proposed outline for Principles for integrating wetlands into Integrated Coastal Zone Management


  • Existing guidelines on ICZM produced elsewhere: positive experience to be utilised
  • Ramsar principles: wise use of coastal wetlands
  • Environmental assessment: the basic principle
  • Local values: crucial input in environmental management
  • Sustainable management of resources: prevailing principle
  • Participation of local communities
  • Ramsar resolutions


  • Implementors
  • Major users
  • Major actors
  • Local coastal and wetland managers


  • What are coastal wetlands?
  • Why coastal wetlands are important ?
  • How coastal wetlands can increase the value of coastal zone?
  • Mutual benefits between coastal wetlands and coastal zone
  • Definition of wetlands (Ramsar)
  • Major characteristics of coastal wetlands: uniqueness, major habitats, types, boundaries, etc.
  • Value categories of the coastal wetlands


  • Status and trends: major issues related to the position of coastal wetlands in coastal areas (pressures on coastal areas, size of the coastal area, loss of wetland areas, pollution, conflict situations in coastal wetlands) briefly described with relevant figures; an approximation of the future trends
  • Lack of understanding of the problem: why coastal wetlands are not always considered as an integral part of the coastal zone? By whom?
  • Lack of integration: coastal wetlands are not always adequately treated in an ICZM process; different stakeholders involved; resulting conflicts
  • Jurisdiction overlap: many institutions involved with overlapping jurisdictions; lack of horizontal and vertical integration
  • Source of threats (land-based and sea-based): pollution, waste dumping, destruction due to other activities, eradication of wetlands
  • Sectorial management: why it is not efficient enough?


  • Reasons for integrated management
  • When to apply the ecosystem approach?
  • When to apply the management approach?
  • Precautionary principle
  • Adaptive management
  • Stakeholder participation
  • Equity
  • Need for environmental and socio-economic assessment of management actions
  • Definitions of ICZM: relevance and adaptation for wetlands integration


  • Major steps in the process: how coastal wetlands are to be adequately treated
  • Outputs in the process
  • Benefits of ICZM: major attraction for local stakeholders
  • Who participate in the process, and how?
  • What are the prerequisites to be met if the process is going to be attractive for major stakeholders
  • Coordination among stakeholders: identification of players and mechanisms to get them together
  • Decisions-making
  • Spatial level of the interventions
  • Institutional issues: how to make coastal wetland management as effective as other types of resource management
  • Case studies to accompany steps in the process: regional/threats/habitat specific


  • Information management: GIS, remote sensing, web-sites
  • Policy management
  • Legislative instruments
  • Participatory and conflict resolution techniques
  • Education and awareness raising
  • Capacity building
  • Resource valuation
  • Economic instruments
  • EIA and SEA
  • Risk assessment
  • Public private partnership
  • Financing
  • Benefit/cost analysis
  • Carrying capacity assessment studies, etc.



1. First draft (WG) 15.12.2000
2. Pre-review (WG) 15.01.2001
3. Second draft (wider audience) 01.02.2001
4. Group review (WG) 15.03.2001
5. First final draft (editing committee) 15.04.2001
6. Distribution (STRP members)
7. STRP 10 Meeting June 2001

Annex V

Global Review of Wetland Resources, part II

Decision STRP 9.4: The STRP endorsed the proposed terms of reference of the Global Review of Wetland Inventory, part 2 (attached as Annex V).

Draft terms of reference

Following submission of the report from the project on Global Review of Wetland Resources and Priorities for Wetland Inventory (GRoWI) and acceptance at COP7 of Resolution VII.20 Priorities for wetland inventory, the Scientific and Technical Review Panel has been asked to consider terms of reference to update the review of global wetland resources and to develop a global meta-data standard for wetland inventory.

This task fits within the remit for the STRP subgroup on wetland inventory as agreed at STRP8. The STRP adopted the following:

Terms of reference:

In support of Resolution VII.20, paragraph 15, the following further wetland inventory tasks are required:

  1. Where necessary, review each of the regional chapters in GRoWI and update the information on wetland inventories and the current estimates of wetland area, sub-divided, where possible, into wetland habitats as considered by the Ramsar Convention.
  2. Confirm core data fields for wetland inventory meta-database taking into account international standards for meta-data recording.
  3. Construct a framework for a meta-database for wetland inventory and make this available on the World Wide Web through agreement with the Ramsar Bureau and appropriate other partners.
  4. Provide a written report to the Ramsar Bureau by June 2001 to enable the Standing Committee of the Convention to consider any draft resolutions that could be submitted to COP8 in 2002. With agreement of the Ramsar Bureau the report or part of the report may be published in the scientific literature or by a further party.
  5. Participate in the drafting of any resolutions to COP8 and provide advice on the possible future incorporation of the meta-database as a component of the Ramsar site database tools as presently covered by the MOU between the Bureau, Wetlands International and CIESIN.

Annex VI

Working Group 8: Wetland Restoration

Decision STRP 9.6: The STRP accepted the Working Group on Restoration’s plan and timetable for producing a draft resolution on wetland restoration, with annexes reviewing existing guidelines and suggesting basic principles on restoration and identifying sites with potential for restoration, and for completing an Internet Resource Kit on wetland restoration as part of the Ramsar Web site. It further accepted the Group’s suggestion that the SC Subgroup on COP8 be urged to add restoration as a subtheme to Technical Session I. (See Annex VI.)

Outputs expected: Draft resolution with review of existing guidelines and statement of basic principles; Internet Resource Kit (

Working group leads:

Web site improvements: Streever
Registry of experts: Streever (and Wannebo)
Bibliography merger: Streever
Critical Review and Guiding Principles: Chabwela, Pokorny, Zalidis, Streever
Paper on incentives: Roy Gardner
Paper on identifying potential projects: Zalidis
Paper on small dams: Streever and Finlayson (probably to be omitted in light of the World Commission on Dams’ focus)
Paper on socio-economic aspects of restoration: Zalidis


Revised/draft resolution: September 2000
All case studies, Web sites, submitted: September 2000
Web site updates completed: October 2000
White paper drafts completed: December 2000

Proposal for a Wetland Restoration Presentation as part of the COP8 Technical Session I

STRP Wetland Restoration Working Group (Streever and Zalidis)

The STRP Restoration Working Group proposes the inclusion of a presentation in Technical Session I, "Wetlands: Major Challenges and Emerging Opportunities in the New Century". The proposed title of the presentation is "Restoration Challenges and Opportunities: Strength through Diversity". This presentation would complement (and therefore should be scheduled to follow) the planned presentation entitled "Wetlands and Management of Surface and Ground Water: Ramsar and the Water Management Agencies".

The presentation would cover the following topics:

1) examples of diverse restoration techniques
2) incentives for wetland restoration
3) socioeconomic issues and community involvement in restoration
4) identification of potential restoration projects, and
5) guiding principles in restoration that recognize the wide range of approaches needed in different circumstances.

For all topics, emphasis would be on the evolution of improved approaches to restoration. This presentation should result in discussions that will contribute to improved wetland restoration guidelines for use by Contracting Parties. It would describe implementation of Resolution VII.17 and propose a new resolution on wetland restoration.

Annex VII

Working Group 9: Wetland Management

Decision STRP 9.7: The STRP endorsed the revised work plan of the Working Group on Management, with the addition of the revised flowchart and the reordered bullet points (attached as Annex VII).

The working group intends to enhance the existing management planning guidelines so as better to meet Ramsar site planning requirements. This will include drafting guidelines on the themes listed in Resolution VII.12 (COP7). These themes must be integrated within the management planning processes as currently outlined in the Ramsar Handbook for the Wise Use of Wetlands, Volume 8. The group has reviewed the existing management guidelines and will draft supplementary guidelines addressing each theme within the context of the Handbook. It is not the intention of the group to rewrite the existing management planning guidelines but rather to supplement them with additional essential guidance. The supplemental guidance will relate to less than 25% of the existing guidelines.

The draft guidelines will be broken down into the following section headings

i) integrating precautionary principle into the planning process
ii) incorporating guidance on zonation and buffer zones
iii) linking EIA with the planning process
iv) ensuring the planning process is able to provide effective cost benefit analysis
v) emphasizing that we are concerned with a planning process and not the creation of a plan
vi) involving stakeholders to ensure the planning process is fully interactive
vii) incorporating good management planning practices, such as adaptive management, focus on outcomes, quantified objectives and integrated monitoring

Originally it was the intention of the Working Group to collect bibliographic references in order to draft the guidelines. To this end CIESIN created a basic Web-based tool for users to input this type of information. Once collected this bibliographic reference was intended to be included in the Ramsar Wetland Data Gateway. This Working Group requested input from the STRP to populate this database. Only one entry was received. Consequently, progress in drafting the guidelines was not made.

A new approach is now recommended which no longer relies on a comprehensive bibliography. The group is of the opinion, however, that the development of a thematically organized selective bibliography would be a useful contribution to the Ramsar community and support the work of the Parties. The bulk of the bibliography will be amassed by Frank Alberts (RIZA, The Netherlands). This contribution will be integrated with the input via the CIESIN web based tool.

Task Person Responsible Deadline
Draft guidelines for distribution to working group Mike Alexander September 2000
Comment from working group to Mike Alexander Working Group October 2000
Draft guidelines sent to STRP Tex Hawkins December 31, 2000
Create bibliography Frank Alberts March 2001
Modify existing web based tool Antoinette Wannebo September 2000
Encourage STRP to populate database Antoinette Wannebo On going

Proposed modifications to management planning processes as currently outlined in the Ramsar Handbook for the Wise Use of Wetlands, Volume 8.

Annex VIII

Structure and content of Additional Guidelines for identifying and designating under-represented wetland types for the List of Wetlands of International Importance

Decision STRP 9:13: The STRP agreed that all guidelines for identifying and designating under-represented wetland types should be structured in accordance with the Bureau’s outline in the paper "Structure and Content of Additional Guidelines" (see Annex VIII).


1. This note has been prepared by the Ramsar Bureau to provide some general suggestions to assist the Scientific and Technical Review Panel and its Working Groups on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and on Peatlands in their drafting of identification and designation guidelines for marine and coastal wetland types (mangroves, salt marshes, intertidal zones, coral reefs, seagrass beds and soft-bottom community wetland types), peatlands, and wet grasslands.

General points

2. The guidelines for specific wetland types should provide an amplification for these types of wetland of the existing guidelines in the Strategic Framework and guidelines for the future development of the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Handbook 7), both the general guidelines (section IV) and the guidelines for the application of each Criterion (Section V).

3. Wetland type guidelines should not duplicate and repeat this overall existing guidance, although they may need to amplify the guidance on specific matters, for example on the delineation of site boundaries where this is a particular issue. In drafting the additional guidelines the Panel is therefore urged to refer closely to the relevant sections of the "Strategic Framework" during their work.

4. During their drafting of the additional wetland type guidelines, the Panel should keep in mind that a COP8 decision on their adoption may instruct also their integration as appropriate into the existing Strategic Framework and guidelines (Ramsar Handbook 7) so as to provide consolidated guidance to Contracting Parties in their application of the Framework.

5. So as to provide the clearest possible guidance to Contracting Parties, the additional wetland type guidelines should be as succinct as practicable, clearly written in short paragraphs, and as far as possible follow a consistent structure and content. Guidelines should be easy for Contracting Parties to follow, and practical for them to apply consistently, whether they are a developed country, a country with economy in transition, or a developing country.

6. Attention is drawn to the existing guidance on another specific wetland type, karst and other subterranean hydrological systems, adopted by Resolution VII.13 and subsequently incorporated into the Strategic Framework (Ramsar Handbook 7: Section VI.I). This provides an example of the overall length, content and detail of a wetland type guideline.

Structure and content of additional guidelines

7. The Panel and the Working Group on ICZM may wish to consider whether a consolidated guideline covering all under-represented marine and coastal wetland types should be prepared (as in the draft prepared for their consideration), or whether there should be a separate guideline for each of these types. The Panel may consider that such a consolidated guideline is appropriate for those wetland types which will often be designated as a complex at a larger geographical scale, for example an estuary comprising mangrove or salt marsh, intertidal flats, seagrass beds and soft-bottom subtidal areas. If this approach is taken then the Working Group and Panel may wish to consider how also to provide clear guidance on the important features of each wetland type individually and within such a complex.

8. A structure and content of a guideline might be as follows:

a) Definition of the wetland type

9. Including the range of sub-types included in the guideline e.g., different major types of peatland such as raised bogs and valley mires. Note that for some wetland types, for example wet grassland, there are several distinct types in different geographical regions. Also describe the broad geographical occurrence and distribution of the wetland type. A Glossary of specialized terminology may be considered for inclusion as an Annex.

b) Link with the Ramsar Wetland Classification

10. Under which wetland type or types in the Ramsar classification does this wetland type fall? Note that this will differ between the various marine and coastal wetland types under consideration. This is important as guidance to Contracting Parties in correctly completing the Ramsar Information Sheet when designating such sites.

c) Values and functions

11. A short summary of the main values and functions, in relation to Article 2.2 of the Convention. This might for example include an explanation of the particular significance in relation to the hydrological cycle, high biodiversity value for particular taxa and/or endangered species, their key role in life cycle stages (e.g. as nursery areas for fish), etc.

d) Threats

12. A short summary of the major threats, both direct and indirect.

e) Application of the Criteria

13. Identify which features of the wetland type should be given particular consideration in identifying sites of international importance, e.g. size and range of habitats/communities, intactness of hydrological function, etc., and in relation to the different different Ramsar Criteria.

f) Particular issues to take into account

14. This could include sections, amongst other things, on boundary delimitation where this is a difficult issue, e.g., for coral reefs; and on approaches to be used where comprehensive inventory is lacking.

15. The Panel may also wish to seek to ensure that the guidelines they propose do not conflict with other existing approaches to the selection and designation of wetland habitat types being applied in some regions, notably the process of selection of Special Areas of Conservation for different habitat types in the European Union under the EC Habitats Directive.

Additional paragraph from BirdLife International: "In addition to an evaluation of the significance of an area in its own right (e.g., mangrove), attention should be given to its interrelationships with adjacent or functionally related areas of other wetland type(s), since the existence of a diverse mosaic of habitats or intact ecosystem complex may in itself be an indication of international significance."

Annex IX

Working Group 7: Peatlands

Decision STRP 9.15: The STRP endorsed the approach to drafting guidelines being taken by the Working Group on Peatlands, and looked forward to viewing the draft document by the 31 December drafting deadline (see timetable in Annex IX).

Development of Guidelines for the Identification and Designation of Peatlands for the Ramsar List

Wetlands International as Focal Point within Peatland Working Group


1. Email draft Guidelines to Working Group beginning July 2000

2. Feedback from Working Group by end July 2000 to Wetlands International

3. Revised Guidelines to Working Group by end September 2000

4. Working Group discussion at Wetlands International Specialist Group meeting, 4-5 November 2000 to place in global context

5. Working Group, through Focal Point to produce Guidelines [by 31 December 2000]

6. Pass to Ramsar Convention Bureau for STRP 10 (April 2001)

7. Submit to Standing Committee 26 for transmittal to COP8

Annex X

Development of Guidelines for the Identification and Designation of Wet Grasslands for the Ramsar List

Decision STRP 9:16: The STRP endorsed the approach being taken and approved of Wetlands International’s taking the lead on drafting the guidance on wet grasslands according to the timetable provided, with assistance from BirdLife International and the Administrative Authority in Belgium (see Annex X).

Wetlands International as Focal Point


Wet grassland - identified in Ramsar classification as:

floodplain component (e.g. Ts, U )
human-made (e.g. 3, 4)

Current application of Criteria

Criterion Does wet grass qualify?
1 Yes, if rare example
2 Yes, for rare/ diverse sward, birds, inverts
3 Yes, if significant for biodiversity resource
4 Yes, if e.g. supports breeding waterbirds
5 Yes, if >20,000 waterbirds
6 Yes, if >1% of waterbird population
7 Yes, if inundated seasonal feeding area
8 Yes, if seasonal spawning area

Some questions

With reference to DSG’s note to STRP9:

  • Possible 3 categories of Guideline? If so, need to examine Ramsar typology and Criteria
  • Issue identified through concern only in Europe? i.e., need for only 1 category
  • Is hydrology + cutting / grazing regime definition required for one Guideline category? If so, will imply fairly detailed management requirement, for water regime and sward; sward/animal/bird biodiversity may depend on this requirement

Workplan for Wet Grassland Guidelines

Wetlands International to be the focal point
Accept offer from Belgium to contribute input
Ramsar Bureau/Birdlife/Wetlands International to assist by responding to drafts
Develop Guidelines through wider consultation [by 31 December 2000]
Final draft Guidelines for STRP 10 (by April 2001)
Pass to Ramsar Convention Bureau for entry to COP8 process, via SC26

 Annex XI

Working Group 11: Ecological Character

Decision STRP 9.20: The Panel endorsed the creation of an STRP Working Group on Ecological Character, to be composed of Finlayson (lead), Cowan, Frazier, and Zalidis, and recommended that the Standing Committee approve the Group’s proposed work plan (see Annex XI).

This group was asked to consider a process to address issues of ecological character and change in ecological character and propose to the STRP and/or Standing Committee any items that could potentially be addressed at COP8.

The group was comprised Max Finlayson, George Zalidis, Geoff Cowan and Scott Frazier.

The group recommended that the STRP and invited observers critically appraise the existing tools and mechanisms associated with ecological character (as summarized in volumes 7 and 8 of the Ramsar toolkit), taking note of processes and recommendations developed by other bodies (e.g., CBD, World Heritage, Natura 2000), and identify any gaps and /or inconsistencies and how these could be addressed.

A report will be submitted to STRP 10. Given the fundamental importance of the issues to the Convention, it is anticipated that a report and proposed further workplan will be submitted to the Standing Committee.

The Standing Committee will be asked to approve this specific variation to the STRP Work Plan.

Work plan: Working Group on Ecological Character

Task – Review existing guidance for addressing ecological character and change in ecological character, and report to COP8.

See also Decision STRP 9.11(c), which invited "the Working Group on Ecological Character to provide a report on the use of risk assessment in ecological character in relation to climate change for inclusion in the COP8 guidance on climage change".


COP8 would be the start of a comprehensive discussion based on an initial report from STRP;

submssion of draft report to STRP chair by 31 December 2000.

Output – Draft Report

Draft Contents:

Rationale and background for understanding this task.
Summary of the generic toolbox (as per page 7 in vol. 8 of toolkit): intent and purpose.
Implication of tools for implementation of the Convention.
Outline of key elements of the toolkit, noting any limits and need for further development.
Identification of any further tools.

 Annex XII

Working Group 6: Wetland Inventory

Decision STRP 9.21: The STRP endorsed the Working Group on Wetland Inventory’s proposed outline for its draft guidance, with its timetable, and authorized the Chair to accept any changes to the outline resulting from the 1 July Workshop on Inventory so that this report can have the latest version (see Annex XII).

Draft Contents of the report on Wetland Inventory guidelines for COP8

Note: These notes outline the draft contents of the proposed guidance report, and may be subject to change as the text is developed and edited by the STRP working group on wetlands inventory. In this respect the contents list could be considered as interim.


i) The Ramsar Context ( Summary of background)

  • role of inventory in wetland planning and management
  • recommendation from global review of wetland inventory
  • specific resolution (Re.VII.20) on inventory

ii) Critical review of inventory

  • extent of inventory and inventory effort
  • types of inventory and inventory approaches

iii) Principles to consider when undertaking wetland inventory

  • purpose of inventory
  • extent of existing data and data sources
  • compatibility with existing/planned data resources
  • scale and resolution
  • time period for implementation and updating
  • data management (including metadata and accessibility)
  • core and minimum data sets
  • habitat classification
  • available tools and methods
  • training requirements
  • personal and tecbnical resources
  • procedures for reporting information to users
  • long-term depository and archiving of sources and derived data

iv) Available methods (key features, purpose, information sources)

  • Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet)
  • USA (National Wetland Inventory)
  • Uganda approach
  • Asian Wetland Inventory

v) Global standardization and depository

  • Ramsar approaches to wetland inventory
  • recommended approaches to data management, archiving, and accessibility

Schedule: Draft report due 31 December 2000

Lead: Max Finlayson

Annex XIII

Proposals for the Operation of a "San José Record"

STRP9 Working Document for Agenda item 16

Decision STRP 9.8: The STRP approved of the direction in which the San José Record proposal was being developed and encouraged the Bureau to refine it further for consideration by STRP 10. Mike Alexander will serve as the STRP’s expert focal point to assist the Bureau in that work. (The STRP9 working document on the San José Record is attached as Annex XIII.)

1. Resolution VII.12 directed "the Ramsar Bureau, with assistance from the STRP, to investigate and report to COP8 on the feasibility of the Convention establishing a record (the "San José Record") of sites where management plans are being implemented which are models for demonstrating application of the Ramsar Guidelines for the implementation of the wise use concept".

2. STRP8 considered this matter and took the following decision:

Items 21.2: Management planning case studies, and 21.3: San José Record. It was noted that previous STRP meetings deferred the case studies issue, given other priorities, in favor of case studies being collected for other purposes; these and the Handbook series now being produced by the Bureau will partially meet this need. The Bureau and STRP have been asked to outline the feasibility of establishing a record of well-managed "demonstration" Ramsar sites, which could be combined with lessons-learnt case studies. It was suggested that a concept could be presented to COP8 along with about 10 potential nominees for the SJR, with their management plans. There was discussion about whether the SJR should be limited to Ramsar sites, since the Management Planning Guidelines are for "Ramsar sites and other wetlands", but since Resolution VII.12 mentioned the Wise Use Guidelines instead, it would be more appropriate to confine the SJR to model Ramsar sites.

Decision STRP 8.20: The Panel asked the Bureau to take the lead on the issues of management planning case studies and establishment of the San José Record and report to the next STRP meeting.

3. It would be extremely desirable for the Bureau to be able to offer materials to assist Ramsar and other wetland site managers who wish to develop or improve management plans of their own. The Bureau receives frequent requests for such assistance, but so far the only non-anecdotal help we can give are the Guidelines on management planning for Ramsar sites and other wetlands, which draw attention to the principles of good management but do not provide very much practical guidance.

4. Thus, it appears that the purpose of the San José Record (SJR) should be to:

a) focus attention upon those Ramsar sites which have good management plans which are being well implemented (including the process used to develop each plan and information about its cost, if available), and

b) make those plans, practices, and personal contacts available as examples and resources to other practitioners. The Record would both honor well-managed sites and create an educational resource for others.

The SJR would not provide recognition for good sites, but rather for well-managed sites ("well-managed" meaning possessed of a good management plan that is being well-implemented). An excellent wetland without exemplary management would not qualify, but a mediocre wetland with good management might be eligible.

5. The focus of the Record should be upon "good practice", not necessarily "best practice" but not minimally adequate practice either – basically good practice, with the bar set rather high, an "honor roll" as it were, but with the educational and exemplary values in the foreground.

6. Sites nominated for the SJR would be considered by an Evaluation Team. This team would review the submitted management plans against a predetermined checklist of good attributes distilled from the Guidelines on management planning for Ramsar sites and other wetlands and make light inquiries to verify that implementation of the management plan(s) is being well done. The Evaluation Team would then recommend to Standing Committee the inclusion or not of these nominations in the SJR. A condition of nomination would be that the management plans and related materials could be published on the Ramsar Web site or made publicly available in some other easily-accessible manner.

Here are some suggestions as to how the parts of this process could be set up.

7. Nominations. Nominations could be brought forward by Administrative Authorities, STRP focal points, NGOs, Ramsar site managers, or other individuals or organizations. There should be a pre-nomination phase in which the nominator could discuss the suitability of the nomination with a member of the Evaluation Team, so as to confirm that the criteria for consideration for inclusion in the Record are met, and/or to suggest any additional clarification of the criteria.

8. Nomination materials. Materials to be submitted would include

  • a checklist confirming that the management plan and its implementation meet the criteria for consideration;
  • a copy of the site management plan in both hard and electronic formats (with permission to reproduce it or some other arrangement concerning its accessibility);
  • a summary of the site, its characteristics, and the main management objectives (which should cover the relevant site-designation criteria);
  • a summary of the process used to develop the plan;
  • information, if available, on the financial and other costs of the process;
  • a brief analysis of the implementation of the plan on the ground and its results and prospects; and
  • a contact person at or associated with the site.

All nominated sites should have both a management plan and a person(s) at or associated with the site capable of, and willing to, respond to requests for information and advice.

9. Criteria for inclusion in the SJR. A Working Group should be established to develop permanent criteria for acceptance, presumably based on the Guidelines on management planning for Ramsar sites and other wetlands and the additional guidance currently under development by STRP. The Working Group could be the same as the Evaluation Team.

10. SJR Evaluation Team. A permanent Evaluation Team should be constituted which would review nominations and consult with one another, either by e-mail or in coordination with other meetings, arrive at a common recommendation, and make its recommendation to Standing Committee.

This Team should be composed of two or three members of STRP who are most knowledgeable about management planning, a member of the Bureau, and one or two permanent invited experts who are very well versed in both management planning and Ramsar issues.

The Evaluation Team would be encouraged to draw upon the knowledge of STRP Members and National Focal Points and their other personal contacts in order to verify in general whether the implementation of the plan on the ground is as described in the analysis that accompanied the nomination. These contacts would also be asked to advise the Bureau or the Team of any changes in that implementation over time.

11. Availability of exemplary materials. Following Standing Committee’s decision to place a nominated site on the Record, the site’s management plan itself would be published on the Ramsar Web site with any valuable associated materials, or prearranged steps would be carried out to guarantee the easy accessibility of these materials (e.g., publication on the site’s or the Party’s own Web site with a link from Ramsar). These materials would be reached both through the published San José Record itself and through the index of available management plans in the Wise Use Resource Centre. Plans available in the Centre would have the SJR "seal of approval" if the sites are also on the Record.

12. Updating procedure. Since good management planning and its implementation require updating and modifying the plan and implementation in response to monitoring, it will be important to establish an updating procedure for sites accepted into the Record.

13. Removal from the Record. If the Bureau’s or the Team’s attention should be drawn to negative changes in the exemplary character of the site’s management, the Team would have to consult and review the presence of the site on the Record. In some cases, it might have to recommend that Standing Committee remove a site from the Record.

14. Profiling available management plans. The Evaluation Team, whilst recommending a new site for the Record, should complete a brief checklist of the attributes of the wetland and its situation and of the plan. These attributes could be used to choose the most suitable exemplary materials for practitioners seeking models for their own plan development.

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