Slovak Republic names five new Ramsar sites
The Bureau has received completed Ramsar Information Sheets, maps and other supporting documentation for 5 new Ramsar sites in the Slovak Republic, namely: Orava River and its Tributaries (865 ha), Poiplie (410.8 ha), Rudava River Valley (560 ha), Turiec Wetlands (466.8 ha), Wetlands of the Orava Basin (9,264 ha). This brings the total number of Slovak Ramsar sites to 12.
The following brief descriptions are drawn from the Information Sheets on Ramsar Sites (RISs) that accompanied the designations, and the listed Criteria are keyed to the Criteria for Identifying Wetlands of International Importance.
Orava River and its Tributaries (865 ha) represents the major part of the system of submontane streams within the catchment of the Orava River, one of the best preserved and most important river ecosystems not only in Slovakia, but also in Europe. The river ecosystem offers habitats for 50 species of vulnerable, rare or endangered vertebrates and several invertebrate species (e.g. mayflies and stoneflies). Due to its great self-purification ability, the stream system plays an important role in municipal waste water treatment. Human uses of the area are primarily for outdoor recreation, regulated fishing, research and environmental education, and most of the site is included within the meaning of the Nature and Landscape Conservation Act of 1994. The site is listed under Criteria 1a, 2a, 2b, and 4a and 4b.
Poiplie (411 ha) comprises the last large wetland ecosystem in the Ipel river basin, an important tributary of the Danube River which drains the southern and southwestern part of central Slovakia. It is a unique complex of well-preserved wetland habitats with high ecological diversity, which provide breeding sites for rare bird species. The Ipel River and its floodplain are important for groundwater accumulation; owing chiefly to meanders and the width of the floodplain, water retention capacity is high enough to minimize the risk of flooding in the downstream area. It is the last large remnant of near-natural wetland ecosystems that ensure the survival of many native species plants and wildlife in the area. Criteria 1c, 1d, 2b, and 2c have been listed in the RIS.
Rudava River Valley (560 ha). The Rudava River is a relatively small tributary of the Morava River in western Slovakia, part of the Danube River Basin. The site represents the most valuable part of the Rudava River floodplain and surrounding sand dunes with a well-developed complex of various wetlands such as the river itself and its side arms, oxbow lakes, sand banks, peat bogs, fens, reed beds, swamps, periodic pools, wet meadows, and pastures. The proposed Studienka Dam Project is noted as a potential cause of substantial changes in land use, and unsustainable logging practices and overexploitation of other natural resources constitute a serious threat. Criteria 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, and 2c have been listed as warranting Ramsar designation.
Turiec Wetlands (467 ha) is part of the central-Slovakian Turiec River ecosystem, which is internationally important for benthic organisms, fish, wetland biotic communities, biodiversity and biodisparity, and biogeographic and scenic values. The area plays a highly positive role in maintaining the regions hydrological balance, particularly groundwater recharge and nutrient cycling by sediment trapping and nutrient retention. Large-scale land drainage and reclamation in the surrounding catchment over the past 40 years and extensive use of agricultural chemicals are listed as persistent threats. Criteria 1a, 2a, 2b, 2d, and 4a are noted on the RIS.
The Wetlands of Orava Basin Ramsar site (9,264 ha), in northern Slovakia near the Polish border, includes fragments of the near-natural peatlands and swamps of Orava Basin and forms a diverse mosaic of representative, well-preserved, hydrologically and biologically very important wetlands of types ranging from forested peatlands to non-forested shrub and open bogs interconnected by a transfrontier submontane stream. The site is characterized by rich biodiversity and the occurrence of rare and endangered species of plans and animals of Slovakia and Europe; chief uses are mainly scientific research, environmental education, recreation, fishing and hunting, and to a lesser extent tourism. Criteria 1a, 1c, 1d, 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 4a, and 4b have all been cited on the RIS.