Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 May 1997
Testimony on Ramsar to the U.S. Congress.Yesterday the U.S. National Ramsar Committee presented testimony before the United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, explaining eloquently the importance of the Convention's work in terms carefully crafted to be understood by the nation's lawmakers and budget-balancers. Communicated to us by Constance Hunt, WWF-US and chair of the U.S. NRC, the text of the testimony is available right here. [2/5/97]
Costa Rica background info. The Ramsar Convention's 7th Conference of the Parties will be held near San José in May 1999, and over the next 24 months Costa Rica will be the focus of a good deal of Ramsar attention. To make a good beginning, we're offering a brief description of a promising new organizational structure for Costa Rica's environmental conservation efforts, which ends with the question of whether the "Costa Rican model" would be suitable for export to other nations. It's a reprint of an article by Christopher Vaughan (Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica) and Carlos Manuel Rodriguez (SINAC, Costa Rica) entitled "Managing Beyond the Borders". (1/5/97)
COP7 dates and theme. The dates have been fixed for the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties -- 10 to 18 May 1999, in San José, Costa Rica. The overall theme of the meeting will be People and Wetlands: The Vital Link. [19/4/97]
Visit from World Heritage. The Bureau had a long visit today from Dr Natarajan Ishwaran, Programme Specialist in Natural Heritage for the World Heritage Center at UNESCO. Agreement was reached on several points: 1) that a meeting will be set up involving GEF, World Heritage, CITES, CMS, and Desertification in order to establish synergies; 2) a project will be established to address problems at sites that are both Montreux Record and World Heritage endangered sites; 3) to determine whether there are other Ramsar sites which might qualify for World Heritage status. [23/4/97]
STRP completes its 6th Meeting. The Ramsar Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel has completed its 6th meeting this week, 15-17 April, in Gland, Switzerland. The seven members, chosen from the seven Ramsar regions, plus invited experts and representatives from the Partner Organizations and Bureau staff, heard reports on Convention issues from focal-point members and external experts, and reached some 20 decisions on future actions. The Chair, Dr Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu of Ghana, was able to steer some 30 participants through 20 agenda items, the order of which she had to juggle constantly to account for the travel exigencies of invited speakers, and finished all the planned business within a minute and a half of the scheduled closing time on the third day. The minutes are posted here for you to download and enjoy at your leisure with your favorite soft drink in hand; so is the summary of decisions if you're pressed for time. (23/4/97)
Special Assistance for Czech Site. Novozámecký rybník is one of the most important nature reserves in the Czech Republic. The area is very rich in water and marsh plants and provides an excellent habitat for waterfowl. The pond dates from the 14th century when it was excavated from former marshland, and the nature reserve was established in 1933. The site was designated for the Ramsar List in 1990 and included in the Montreux Record in 1994 because of the high degree of eutrophication and sedimentation, as a result of which the water area is rapidly being occupied by reeds. In line with advice offered by Mike Smart, the Bureau's Senior Policy Advisor, during his site visit in December 1996, Czech authorities are anxious to restore water control structures at the outlet of the pond in order to prevent the pond's drying out altogether, a project for which few funds are available and which is all the more complicated because the existing, inoperational structures are protected as historical monuments.
In order to get the required work underway as quickly as possible, the Bureau has allocated 43,000 Swiss francs which remained of 1994-1995 project funding from the State Department of the United States for wise use activities in countries with economies in transition, which will be matched by the Czech Ministry of the Environment and by the private fishery company (Rybárství s.r.o.), which manages the site on condition that it continues to make wise use of the area. It is hoped that renovation will begin in July 1997 and be completed by the end of the year. [10/4/97]
Management Guidance Procedure for Iran. Mike Smart and Rebecca D'Cruz will conduct an MGP mission to the Miankaleh Peninsula Ramsar Site in the Islamic Republic of Iran from the 22nd to the 30th of April 1997, accompanied by experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries of the Netherlands. The mission is being undertaken in conjunction with staff from the Department of the Environment, Iran.
The site is an outstanding example of a natural sand spit/coastal lagoon system characteristic of the south Caspian and is extremely important for breeding, passage and wintering waterfowl. The purpose of the mission is to provide advice to the authorities on implementation of the Convention, particularly with regards the possible impacts of a proposed agricultural project on the officially designated Ramsar site, and on the wise use of wetlands in the general area of Miankaleh. [7/4/97]
Hungary supports the MGP. Hungary has notified the Bureau that it is making an additional voluntary contribution of 10,000 Swiss francs intended to assist with application of the Management Guidance Procedure in Eastern and Central Europe, and with the Pan-European Regional Meeting slated for Latvia at the end of April. A replica of the letter from the Ministry for Environment and Regional Policy is reproduced on this site. [7/4/97]
South Korea becomes the 101st Contracting Party. UNESCO has today confirmed that the Republic of Korea deposited its instrument of accession on 28 March and designated "The High Moor, Yongneup of Mt. Daeam" as its first Ramsar site. This 106-hectare site consists of two peat bogs at about 1200 meters above sea level, with 150cm peat layers over 4,000 years old. The moor and its surroundings are under the control of the Ministry of National Defense since the area is adjacent to the Demilitarized Zone; access requires permission from the Defense Ministry and thus the use of the moor is prohibited strictly by law for any purpose. Though some parts of the moor have been affected by military traffic, the area enjoys several forms of legal conservation protection and studies of the feasibility of ecotourism are in progress. Information on the site is available from the Ecosystem Conservation Division, National Conservation Bureau, Ministry of Environment, Government Complex II, Kwacheon 427-760, Republic of Korea (fax +822 504 9207). [2/4/97]
Wetlands International signs Memo of Agreement.On 1 April 1997, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the Ramsar Bureau and Wetlands International, also representing its three regional licensees (Africa, Europe, Middle East; Asia Pacific; and the Americas). Though one of Wetlands International's founding partners, IWRB, played an instrumental role in the creation of the Convention, and though IWRB and the Asian Wetlands Bureau have long worked in very close cooperation with the Convention in a vast array of joint ventures and mutually supportive programmes, this agreement lays out a clear framework for synergistic activity that both codifies present practice and renews the joint commitment between the two entitites. Here's the text of the Memo of Agreement. [2/4/97]