The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 3 August 1999

Penang Statement on Tropical Peatlands. The "International Conference and Workshop on Tropical Peat Swamps" was held in Penang, Malaysia, from 27 to 29 July 1999 and was jointly organized by the School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), and the International Peat Swamp Research Group. It was attended by more than 140 technical experts and representatives from government agencies and international organizations from more than 10 countries mainly in the Southeast Asia region. The meeting urged governments, research institutions, NGOs, private sector and other organizations to achieve the following goal: "To minimize, stop or reverse the loss and degradation of Peat Swamp Forest Resources in Southeast Asia", and recommended ten actions to be undertaken.  Here is the text of the "Penang Statement on Tropical Peatlands". [3/8/99]

Costa Rica launches National Wetlands Programme. At a special ceremony at the Presidential House, the President of Costa Rica and the Minister of Environment and Energy will sign today, 27 July, a Presidential Decree establishing the National Wetlands Programme within that Ministry. The Decree states that Costa Rica, having recently hosted the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention, now has the moral obligation "to provide testimony to the world of the seriousness of our initiatives in favor of the conservation of these important ecosystems [referring to wetlands]". Here are some more details. [27/7/99]

The first of the French-language versions of the Resolutions and Recommendations of COP7. [24/7/99]

UK names five new Ramsar sites. Great Britain has designated five new Wetlands of International Importance, bringing its total number of Ramsar sites to 148, covering 753,844 hectares. All five have also been classified as Special Protection Areas under the EC Wild Birds Directive. They are: Cromarty Firth (4197 hectares), 20km north of Inverness, Scotland; Inner Moray Firth (2339 ha); Muir of Dinnet (158 ha); North Uist Machair and Islands Phase 1 (1560 ha), on the west and north coasts of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, Western Isles of Scotland; Poole Harbour (2439 ha), on the south coast of England between the town of Poole and the Isle of Purbeck.  Read more about them here. [24/7/99]

Two excellent new books available. A superb new book has been published by the MedWet Initiative and the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, with financial support from the Ramsar Bureau and the WWF International Mediterranean Programme: Mediterranean Wetlands at the Dawn of the 21st Century (138 pages), by Thymio Papayannis (presently Ramsar's MedWet Coordinator) and Tobias Salathé (Ramsar's new Regional Coordinator for Europe), covers a wide range of issues and includes contributions by Gordana Beltram, Simone Borelli, Erik Carp, Antonio Fernández de Tejada, Luc Hoffmann, Tim Jones, Mike Moser, Christian Perennou, Jean-Yves Pirot, Jamie Skinner, Mike Smart and many others. With excellent production values and many fine photographs, the book is a must read and a major reference on the MedWet Initiative and much more.   Inquire with Tour du Valat, Inventario de Humedales del Ecuador, 1: Humedales Lénticos de la Provincias de Esmeraldas y Manabí, by Ernesto E. Briones and others, has been published in Quito by EcoCiencia, INEFAN, and the Convención de Ramsar, with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Detailed maps and solid scientific data make the work indispensable for students of Ecuador's natural heritage. [22/7/99]

Ramsar Convention celebrates its 1000th Ramsar site. The Government of Honduras has designated the world’s 1000th Wetland of International Importance, as of 10 July 1999. The new Ramsar site, "Sistema de Humedales de la Zona Sur de Honduras" (Wetlands system of the southern region of Honduras), is a complex of seven coastal areas totaling 69,711 hectares along the Honduran portion of the Golfo de Fonseca: Bahía de Chismuyo, Bahía de San Lorenzo, Los Delgaditos, Las Iguanas y Punta Condega, Jicarito, San Bernardo and La Berbería, along the Corredor Biológico Mesoamericano Pacífico de Honduras. More detail is available here. [12/7/99]

Cambodia becomes the 116th Contracting Party. UNESCO has informed the Ramsar Bureau that on 23 June 1999, Cambodia completed the necessary formalities for its accession to the Convention, as amended by the Paris Protocol of 1982 and the amendments to Articles 6 and 7 (the "Regina Amendments", 1987). Cambodia thus becomes the 116th Party to the Convention, and the treaty will come into force for Cambodia on 23 October 1999. Three Wetlands of International Importance were designated at the time of accession: "Boeng Chhmar and Associated River System and Floodplain" (28,000 hectares), "Koh Kapik and Associated Islets" (12,000 ha), and "Middle Stretches of the Mekong River North of Stoeng Treng" (14,600 ha), which are briefly described in this accompanying article. Cambodia’s new designations, totalling 54,600 ha, are the 997th, 998th, and 999th Wetlands of International Importance in the Ramsar List and bring the worldwide total of designated area to 71,220,794 hectares. [8/7/99]

Japan names the 996th Ramsar site (globally). In a ceremony held during the Ramsar Conference of the Parties in San José, the Government of Japan formally designated its 11th Wetland of International Importance: Manko (58 hectares), near the prefectural capital of Naha City in the southern part of the main island of Okinawa. Manko is a brackish tidal flat, covering an extensive area at low tide, and an important transit point for shorebirds whose migration route brings them along the Nansei Islands. Approximately 1% of the world population of the endangered Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor regularly visit the site; thus Manko qualifies for the Ramsar List under old Criterion 3(c) [new Criterion 6], and is also listed under 1(d) since the tidal flats are located in an urban area.

Japan chose the same occasion to expand the limits of the existing Ramsar site Kushiro-shitsugen, well known to readers who attended Ramsar’s COP5 in Kushiro City in Hokkaido in 1993, from 7726 to 7863 hectares. Japan thus now has 11 Ramsar sites totalling 83,725 hectares.   [8/7/99]

MOC signed with the Society of Wetland Scientists. Dr Janet Keough, President of the 1998-1999 Executive Board of Directors of the Society of Wetland Scientists, and Mr. Delmar Blasco, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation the stated aim of which is the "cooperation for the knowledgeable management, conservation, and wise use of wetlands".  Resolution VII.2 of the San José COP called for the STRP in particular to develop cooperative relationships with the SWS among other bodies, and Article 1.6 of the new MOC identifies the SWS focal point for Ramsar cooperation as the Chair of the SWS International Committee, presently Dr William Streever of the US Army Engineers Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, USA. The text of the MOC is available here. [1/7/99]

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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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