Ramsar Bulletin Board, 10 January 1997

World Wetlands Day proclaimed. By solemn proclamation of the Convention's Standing Committee, at the urging of many Contracting Parties, 2 February 1997 has been declared the first annual World Wetland Day. 2 February, as probably everyone knows, is the anniversary of the signing of the Convention in Iran in 1971. A diplomatic note has been sent from the Ramsar Bureau, notifying the Contracting Parties of this decision and requesting information about the activities they are planning. [24/12/96]

Just published by Wetlands International -- the long-awaitedAtlas of Anatidae Populations in Africa and Western Eurasia, by Derek A. Scott and Paul M. Rose, published by Wetlands International with financial support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries of the Netherlands and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee in the United Kingdom. The 336-page book brings together a wealth of data on swans, geese, and ducks to support the implementation of the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, both on the flyway as a whole and on the states on its route, and includes a superb series of maps which illustrate each of the entries. It's available from the Natural History Book Service Ltd, 2-3 Wills Road, Totnes, Devon TQ9 5XN, UK (tel. +44 1803 865913, fax +44 1803 865280. [12/12/96]

National Ramsar Symposium (Japan). About 400 wetland experts, government officers, and journalists throughout Japan gathered at the recent National Ramsar Symposium in Niigata City and discussed wetland conservation of all Ramsar sites and other important wetland areas in Japan. The Symposium was held from 29 November to 1 December 1996 to celebrate the designation of Sakata, freshwater lagoon in Niigata City, as the latest Ramsar site in Japan. The Symposium was organized by the Environment Agency and the Ramsar Center Japan (a national NGO), which also organized the Asian Wetland Symposium in 1992, in collaboration with the active organizing committee members in Niigata. All participants acclaimed the symposium as successful and stimulating. For more details, contact the Ramsar Center Japan (tel & fax. +813-3758-7926, e-mail NCDO0166@niftyserve.or.jp). -- reported by Satoshi Kobayashi [11/12/96]

Mediterranean Wetlands Network launched. A Mediterranean Wetlands Network for Spain was launched at the 13th Spanish Ornithological Conference; over a hundred participants in a special meeting during the Conference viewed an inaugural issue of the Mediterranean Wetlands Newsletter, in which articles and news in both Spanish and Catalan covered the 5 Mediterranean autonomous regions in Spain and some international issues as well, such as the Venice Declaration and adoption of the MedWet Mediterranean Strategy. The next step is creation of regional networks that will tap into the national network and work toward creation of a web site and newsgroup for the initiative. [11/12/96]

Reassessment of Greek wetlands. The Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Greece, has advised the Bureau that it has completed a reassessment of that nation’s Wetlands of International Importance and has now provided precise areas and clearly delineated boundary maps for the last of its 11 Ramsar sites. The total area has been increased from 107,400 hectares to 163,501, including a very welcome increase of the Messolonghi lagoons site from about 14,000 to almost 34,000 hectares, and another of the Nestos delta from 10,000 hectares to almost 22,000. At the same time, the Lake Vistonis and Lake Mitrikou sites (a combined 13,800 hectares) have been combined into the "Lake Vistonis, Porto Lagos, Lake Ismaris & adjoining lagoons" site, with a surface area of 24,396 hectares, leaving Greece with 10 instead of 11 sites in total. All of Greece's Ramsar sites are on the Montreux Record.

This increases the Convention’s total area covered under the Convention by 56,101 hectares, but reduces the total number of sites from 859 to 858. These changes are reflected in the Ramsar List posted on this site. [7/12/96]

Chile's new sites. Read about Chile's new High Andean sites (4400 meters!). Next door. [10/12/96]

The 96th Contracting Party -- Malawi. UNESCO has informed the Bureau that on 14 November Malawi deposited its papers of accession, and the treaty will enter into force for that country on 14 March 1997. Malawi designated Lake Chilwa as its first Ramsar site; this 224,800-hectare site is partly under government control but mainly under customary ownership, under the control of local chiefs. It is a shallow, enclosed endorheic saline lake, surrounded by an area of dense swamps and marshes, surrounded in turn by a belt of seasonally inundated grassland floodplain. The lake annually supports about 153 and 30 species of resident and palearctic (migratory) waterbirds respectively. About 23 species attain the Ramsar 1% threshold, including the Pinkbacked Pelican, Blackheaded Heron, Greyheaded Gull, African Skimmer, and Marsh Owl. The socio-economically useful land practices include fishing, agriculture (cultivation of rice and dimba), and human settlements. Lake Chilwa annually contributes about 25-30% of Malawi's total fish production. [29/11/96]

Reorganization in Australia.The whole of Australia's federal environment portfolio has undergone a review of its operations. As of 18 November, the Department of Environment, Sport and Territories, as well as several related statutory authorities (including the Australian Nature Conservation Agency, the Environmental Protection Authority, the Australian Heritage Commission, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority), have been reorganized into Environment Australia. The former ANCA is now the Biodiversity Group within Environment Australia, and the Ramsar Administrative Authority in the country is now the Wetlands, Waterways and Waterbirds Unit, Environment Australia Biodiversity Group. The head of that unit is Dr Bill Phillips. [26/11/96]

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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