Ramsar Bulletin Board, 13 November 1996
Support for the Convention from Wetlands International. On 29 October 1996, Dr Michael Moser tabled before the 19th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee a report on Wetlands International's contributions to the implementation of the Ramsar Convention's Strategic Plan 1997-2002 during 1996 and projected for 1997. You can read it by clicking on Wetlands International. [13/11/96]
Impressive support for the Ramsar Small Grants Fund. Fifteen projects for wetland conservation and wise use in the developing countries were approved for funding at the recent Standing Committee, the highest total ever for the SGF (formerly called the Wetland Conservation Fund). This success was due to the generosity of a number of states and organizations, including the Iceland Ministry for the Environment, the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture Nature Management and Fisheries, the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Sweden's Ministry of the Environment, the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment Forests and Countryside, and WWF International.
But the total allocation of over half a million Swiss francs was most beholding to two last-minute donations to the Fund, one gift of 350,000 Swiss francs (about US$ 290,000) from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and another of 300,000 Swiss francs from the Government of Switzerland which was confirmed during the Standing Committee's discussions. All of the projects that were judged by experts from the Bureau, IUCN, and Wetlands International to be worthy of funding support were approved for funding, and a sizable sum of money was left over to help with next year's proposals. [5/11/96]
The 19th Meeting of the Standing Committee. After a tough week of long meetings, 28 October through the 1st of November, the Ramsar Convention's Standing Committee has finished its business and dispersed to the home countries -- most of them, anyway; some, like the Chairperson of the SC and the Convention's Secretary General, flew off straightaway for the Convention of Biological Diversity's two-week COP in Buenos Aires.
Highlights of the Meeting: Once again benefiting from the valuable inputs from partner NGOs and Observer States, the Committee
- approved the Subgroup on Finance's report on the 1996 budget, which forecasts a small surplus;
- approved an excellent slate of 15 project proposals for the Small Grants Fund, totalling SFR 502,150;
- approved 1997 work plans for the Bureau and the Scientific and Technical Review Panel;
- established 2 February as World Wetland Day, beginning in 1997;
- renewed the Secretary General's contract for a further 3-year term and paid tribute to the lifetime contributions of the Senior Policy Advisor, Mike Smart, who announced that he will be leaving the Bureau sometime in 1997 to return to field-based work;
- received the USA's generous offer to assist the beginning of a Ramsar Internship Programme, with the dual purpose of providing Bureau training opportunities for bright students from the regions as well as providing additional office support for the Bureau's Technical Officers;
- established a global suggested standard for signposting Ramsar sites;
- confirmed Ramsar's association with the proposed Mediterranean Wetlands Committee, growing out of the MedWet intiative; and
- progressed the planning for the 1999 7th Conference of the Parties in Costa Rica.
The minutes will be available soon, and further reports of Committee initiatives will be appearing here over the next weeks.[4/11/96]
Ramsar site of the Month -- Pantano de El Hondo, Spain. El Hondo in Alicante, Spain, is a Natural Park and SPA-EU which became a Ramsar site in 1989. The Marmaronetta Ornithological Society has just advised the Bureau that as of 26 October 1996 the regional government has prohibited hunting in the majority of the protected area, in order to avoid the shooting of the Marbled Teal and White-headed Duck. The Society expressed its gratitude to the Bureau and other supporters for the letters that assisted in achieving this result. For further information, try Jose-Damian Navarro Medina of the Society. [4/11/96]
New Canadian Sites. The Canadian Environment Minister has just nominated two new sites for the List of Wetlands of International Importance, which will bring that Party's total of Ramsar sites to 35. The new sites are Minsing Swamp (6,000 hectares) in Ontario, between Lake Huron and Lake Ontario, and Matchedash Bay, part of Lake Huron in Ontario. These won't be offically added to the List until Secretary General Delmar Blasco has returned from the World Conservation Congress in Montreal next week, but Canadian authorities have asked for the designations to be dated as of 31 October. Designation ceremonies won't take place until 19 November and news is embargoed till then, so consider this a sneak preview; we have a nice description of both sites, provided by Clayton Rubec, that we'll put up here at one minute after midnight on 18 November. So warm up your browsers. [14/11/96]
Management Plan for Paracas (Peru). The Ramsar Administrative Authority in Peru, the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (INRENA), has recently published the management plan for the Paracas National Reserve, an important Ramsar site since 1992. The management plan was developed with the involvement of all sectors influencing or influenced by the site, such as local communities, fishermen's associations, conservation groups, and governmental agencies. Funding was generously provided by the Department of State of the USA, through the Ramsar Convention.
Peru has also completed its "National Strategy for the Conservation of Wetlands", a comprehensive document from which 26 priority activities have been identified to implement the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002. [24/10/96]
Ramsar Visit to Bulgaria. In early October, Secretary General Delmar Blasco spent several days at the invitation of Bulgarian authorities, first in Sofia discussing implementation of the National Plan for the Most Important Wetlands in Bulgaria with the Minister for the Environment and other officials, and then visiting key wetlands on the Black Sea coast from the city of Bourgas to the Turkish border. The Government is preparing management plans for seven of those sites (under a Swiss-Bulgarian cooperation programme) and intend to manage the coastal zone wetlands as a system, rather than as a number of isolated sites. Authorities hope to utilize the tourist potential of the region, both to educate people and to generate income, and would value assistance for setting up visitor centers, nature trails, pedestrian tourism systems, and so on.
Bulgaria would also like Ramsar to catalyze conservation and wise use action with Parties and other countries in the Via Pontica and Via Aristotelica range, as well as with the countries in the Danube Basin, and Mr Blasco encouraged the formulation of specific proposals. Deputy Minister Uzunov, Geko Spiridonov (who chaired the Credentials Committee at Ramsar's 6th COP in Brisbane), and Ljubo Profirov made the Secretary General's working holiday both enjoyable and productive. [16/10/96]