Ramsar COP7 DOC. 6

06/04/1999

COP7's logo"People and Wetlands: The Vital Link"
7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971),
San José, Costa Rica, 10-18 May 1999

 Ramsar COP7 DOC. 6

Agenda item X

Regional overview of implementation of the Convention and its Strategic Plan 1997-2002 in the Neotropics

The National Reports upon which this overview is based can be consulted on the Ramsar Web site, http://ramsar.org/cop7_natl_rpt_index.htm

Contracting Parties in the Neotropical region: Argentina, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Contracting Parties yet to submit National Reports: Belize. El Salvador acceded to the Convention in February 1999 and is not required to submit a National Report on this occasion.


§I. Major achievements since COP6 and priorities for the next triennium

The following have been prepared based on the advice provided by the National Reports submitted for COP7 as summarised in Sections II and III.

A. Main achievements since COP6

A1. Efforts have been made to encourage more Caribbean island nations to accede to the Convention.

A2. National wetland policy/strategy/action plans have been completed or are in preparation in eight countries. Six of these countries are developing integrated policies within the context of their biodiversity strategy.

A3. National wetland/Ramsar committees or working groups have been established in thirteen countries.

A4. Twelve Contracting Parties have carried out a review of national legislation. These reviews have led to institutional reform and the updating of environmental legislation. Environmental impact assessments are required by law in most of the countries in this region.

A5. Conservation and rehabilitation of degraded wetland habitats and sites are receiving increasing attention in the region, but there still is no systematic approach. Many of these efforts involve local communities and the private sector.

A6. Action has been taken to enhance education and public awareness about wetlands at all levels, with the active involvement of NGOs.

A7. Management plans have been developed for one-third of the Neotropical Ramsar sites.

A8. There are inventories of wetlands in eight Contracting Parties, four of which have recently been updated.

B. Priorities for the next triennium

B1. Continue to promote accession of the Caribbean island countries.

B2. Increase efforts to complete national wetland policies/strategies/action plans and to assess the feasibility of developing provincial or local plans.

B3. Strengthen efforts to integrate conservation and the wise use of wetlands with land use, groundwater, catchment basin, river basin and coastal planning and management at all levels.

B4. Develop a comprehensive strategy to complete the identification of wetland-related training needs and adopt a coordinated approach to exploring the feasibility of sharing training resources and expertise bilaterally or multilaterally.

B5. Encourage the inclusion of wetland themes in school curricula.

B6. Strengthen the integrated implementation of international conventions.

B7. Update wetland inventories in each Contracting Party, including information on total area and rate of loss or conversion.

B8. Strengthen efforts to develop, implement and monitor management plans for Ramsar sites.

B9. Propose additions to the list of Ramsar sites, paying particular attention to under-represented habitat types (coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and peat bogs) and develop management plans for all sites.

B10. Increase international cooperation for the management of shared wetlands or catchment basins and encourage the designation of twin Ramsar sites.


§II. Description of activities undertaken

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 1
To progress towards universal adhesion to the Convention

1. At COP6, the Parties agreed to promote the accession of new Contracting Parties to the Convention. Several Contracting Parties report an increase in contacts and activities with neighbouring non-Parties. As a result, Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica and Nicaragua have become Contracting Parties. Costa Rica has hosted regional and international meetings and, along with Guatemala, has advocated incorporation of a discussion of the Ramsar Convention on the agenda of the Central-American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD). Nicaragua and Costa Rica report their joint participation in the San Juan River project, while Nicaragua has cooperated with El Salvador and Honduras in the context of the Fonseca Gulf project. Suriname has met with representatives of Guyana to encourage bilateral cooperation on issues related to protected areas, including wetlands, while a draft memorandum of understanding with French Guiana is awaiting final approval.

2. In addition to intensifying diplomatic contacts with a number of non-Parties, especially Cuba and Saint Lucia, the Bureau took advantage of several regional meetings to promote accession in the region; notably, the first Pan-American meeting, held in Costa Rica, in June 1998, to review implementation of the Convention and to prepare for COP7, which was attended by representatives of seven non-Parties.

3. Contracting Parties have carried out other activities, which indirectly contribute to the promotion of the accession of new Parties. For example, Trinidad and Tobago cooperated with BirdLife International to produce material that has been used by the Bureau to encourage the accession of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The Bureau also produced a leaflet on the Convention and its relevance to the SIDS. Despite these efforts, however, participation of the Caribbean island countries remains small.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 2
To achieve the wise use of wetlands by implementing and further developing the Ramsar Wise Use Guidelines

National wetland policies/strategies and their implementation

4. Several Parties have adopted specific national wetland policy/strategy/action plans, specifically for wetlands. Peru adopted its policy in 1996, and implementation is well under way with participation of the private and public sectors. However, lack of an appropriate budget, inter-institutional coordination and gaps in basic information have created difficulties. Costa Rica and Venezuela have already developed the first phase of their national wetlands strategy. Chile and Trinidad and Tobago have begun to draft plans. Brazil has a national environment policy that postulates the sustained use of natural resources, including water as a resource and a national policy for the management of coastal areas, especially pertinent to wetlands. A recent national policy on water resources (the water law of 1997) recognizes water basins as the basic unit for planning and implementation. This policy is considered to be on the forefront in this field. Planning of a national strategy for wetlands is under way, based on several initiatives of the Ministry for the Environment which indirectly deals with questions related to wetlands. The first stage is the setting up of a database based on the geography of wetlands in Brazil, Guatemala and Paraguay are also planning national policies for wetlands. In all of these countries, a policy, strategy or national plan will contribute to the wetlands component of national environmental policies and to national or regional biodiversity strategies.

5. Colombia has adopted a national sectorial policy addressing the integrated management and development of marine and coastal zones, including wetlands and has begun to prepare a freshwater wetlands policy and a national programme for wetlands. Nicaragua describes a similar process. Jamaica has drafted policies and regulations for mangroves, coastal wetlands and the protection of coral reefs. This draft legislation has been submitted to the government for final approval. In all of these countries, these policies will be linked to other environmental policies, including national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

6. Argentina, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras and Panama are planning to closely integrate conservation and the sustainable use of wetlands into their national biodiversity strategies and action plans. Suriname deems that existing legislation and policies pertaining to the environment provide sufficient framework for the protection and sustainable use of wetlands and is, consequently, not planning to develop a special policy. Finally, in Uruguay, a law on protected areas is in the first planning stage and the national congress is discussing the draft.

Institutional arrangements

7. The 1990s have been a decade of constitutional and legislative reform for most countries in the region. The institutional and legal provisions relating to the environment have changed and so have the institutional options available for wetland conservation and management. Argentina is completing preparation of an environmental institutional development, which includes measures for the conservation and sustainable use of renewable aquatic resources and ecosystems. The National Secretariat for Natural Resources and Sustainable Development will be responsible for implementation, and the Federal Environmental Council (COFEMA) will coordinate policy among provinces, regions, provincial governments and the national government. While there are different laws for environmental management at the provincial and municipal levels, meetings are held and committees work to harmonise management criteria and strategies specific to the management of Ramsar sites.

8. In Colombia, Ecuador and Jamaica, the Ministry for the Environment is responsible for policy development, including policy towards wetlands. Nonetheless, implementation is decentralised in Colombia to regional corporations, while the Ministry retains responsibility for institutional coordination. In Ecuador, the Institute for Forestry and Nature Reserves and Wildlife (INEFAN) is responsible for implementation of this policy in protected areas. A similar arrangement is proposed in Jamaica. In Brazil, a national wetland strategy will be established through a resolution of the National Environmental Council (CONAMA). Implementation will be the responsibility of the Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) and environment agencies in the federal states. In Bolivia, there is a Ministry for Sustainable Development responsible for the management of natural resources, including wetlands. Implementation of an action plan will be the responsibility of agencies in the departments.

9. In July 1998, Panama created the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) as the policy body and coordinating mechanism for all activities relating to the environment. ANAM provides for committees at ministerial and provincial levels. A maritime authority has also been established to closely coordinate with ANAM on issues concerning protected coastal areas, including Ramsar sites.

10. In Costa Rica, the Ministry for the Environment and Energy (MINAE) sets policy, but is facing constraints caused by limited resources and an overlapping of institutions that results in a dilution of responsibilities. Nicaragua is restructuring its Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) and an office for the protection and management of wetlands is planned. In Honduras, Panama and Peru, Ramsar sites are managed under laws for protected areas. The officials responsible for the protected areas are closely involved in implementation of the Convention.

11. In Chile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the Ramsar authority. A cross-sectoral wetlands committee has been established to coordinate implementation of a national strategy for the protection of wetlands. This strategy will propose institutional arrangements and is due to be presented to the council of ministers for approval.

12. In Suriname, several sectoral institutions deal with wetlands and a cross-sectoral committee may be organized. Similarly, in Trinidad and Tobago, a cross-sectoral wetlands committee will coordinate policy, but implementation will be carried out by several ministries and NGOs. Guatemala is planning to assign policy implementation to a cross-sectoral committee drawn from several governmental institutions. In Paraguay, the Ministry of Agriculture will likely take the lead for implementation.

Review of legislation and practices

13. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia have substantially updated their environmental laws and institutions since the early 1990s. In Argentina, a review of practices resulted in constitutional reform, clarification of the functions of the Natural Resources Secretariat and modification of provincial laws for protected areas. In Colombia, this process resulted in the creation of the Ministry for the Environment, the National Environmental System (SINA) and the updating of many environmental laws and regulations. Revised practices and new legislation have been developed to protect mangroves. Colombia will develop specific regulations to protect freshwater wetlands. Bolivia has created the Ministry for Sustainable Development and Planning and has passed legislation on water resources and protected areas that include certain types of wetlands. A similar legislative updating process has taken place since 1997 in Peru where legislation has been enacted for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources, for the management of protected areas and for environmental impact assessment. In Brazil, apart from the legislation on water already mentioned, a law regulating the use of nature was passed in 1998. Both of these laws deal with wetlands.

14. Venezuela has a land use management law that is reviewed every five years. This process involves an evaluation of implementation and consultations about reforming the law. In practice, this has facilitated implementation of the Convention. Costa Rica has reviewed legislation covering wetlands, and a draft wetlands bill has been prepared for consideration by the legislative assembly. As a result of the review of practices, management guidelines for wetlands have been established. Nicaragua has focused on a review of legislation covering coastal wetlands. Likewise, Guatemala has created a database of all Central American environmental laws, including wetlands. A review of practices affecting wetlands has focused for the present on threats to mangrove zones. Panama has started to review an institutional framework for the coastal zone, which has led to the creation of a maritime authority. Maritime and environmental authorities have established cooperation.

15. In Honduras, where legislation covering protected areas is applicable to Ramsar sites, studies have been undertaken on the main threats to wetlands. In southern Honduras, the environment is threaten by the shrimp industry and salt and sugar cane production, while in the north the advance of the cultivation of the African palm and coconut production represent the main threat.

16. Since 1997, legislation regulates the excavation and mining of coastal zones in the Bahamas. In addition, the revision of the forestry legislation is likely to affect mangroves. In Jamaica, although a review of legislation and practices has not yet been formerly undertaken, a draft coral reef policy recommends regulatory provisions to address threats to coastal ecosystems. Trinidad and Tobago has identified revision of their legislation and practices as a priority in their action plan.

17. In Chile, a review of legislation and practices will be undertaken within the context of defining a wetlands strategy. In Suriname, while a review of legislation has not yet started, it is envisaged to look at different management categories for protected areas, including wetlands.

Integrated approaches to wetland management

18. In Venezuela, the process of land use planning and management at the national level serves as a basis for providing policy guidance at the provincial and local levels. Similarly, in Colombia, the Ministry for the Environment and the regional corporations have prepared environmental criteria to be applied by municipalities when establishing land use plans. In addition, wetlands are included in the national policy for integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas.

19. In Brazil, the process of integrating the management of wetlands has focused on including this topic at the beginning stages of the process of strategic planning. This is the case of the national programme for the management of coastal areas. Jamaica has created a formal mechanism for integrated management: the Council on Ocean and Coastal Zone Management. Nicaragua has established an integrated coastal zone programme, and specific regulations are planned for coastal municipalities. Chile reports work at the local and provincial levels to include wetlands as protected areas within regional plans.

20. In Costa Rica, steps taken include clarification of sectoral institutional responsibilities, the adoption of a legal framework for the environment, forests, wildlife and biodiversity, and the development of regional biodiversity and education strategies.

21. In Ecuador, a national meeting of wetland experts in 1997 and the development of a coastal and marine environmental education programme have been the cornerstones of promotion of integrated approaches at the national level. At the regional level, promotion of integrated approaches le to distripbution to local authorities of inventories of lentic wetlands in Esmeraldas and Manabí provinces; and at the local level, local communities participate in the planning process. Similarly, Paraguay has communicated the existence of wetlands of international importance to regional and local authorities.

22. Peru and Guatemala are trying to integrate wetlands into their national biodiversity strategy, which is becoming a key planning tool. At the provincial level, special programmes for the integrated management of protected areas are carried out. Suriname is planning to develop integrated management plans for each protected area. In Argentina, measures have been taken in the high Andean wetlands and the Patagonian integrated coastal zone management programmes, as well in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Tierra del Fuego. In Honduras, measures at the national level have included cooperation to promote reforestation and to enhance coastal management. At the municipal level, there has been implementation of the Fonseca Gulf project and the Honduras/Guatemala Gulf project and the inclusion of wetlands in the management plans for specific protected areas. Panama has focused on the implementation of the mangrove project supported by ITTO.

Toxic chemicals and pollution

23. Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela have laws in place governing water quality and pollution control before the adoption of the Ramsar Strategic Plan. In Argentina, while water protection measures are in place at the provincial level, hazardous industrial and domestic waste controls are enforced at the national level. Last year, a national system was created to prevent and combat coastal, fluvial and lacustrine pollution from fossil fuels and other hazardous substances In Ecuador, management plans for protected areas include activities for controlling pollution in wetlands, particularly from activities involving petroleum. Guatemala has a procedure to prevent the negative affects from the extraction of petroleum in El Tigre lake. Joint activities with NGOs are carried out to reduce pollution levels in Lake Amatitlán and to propose waste treatment measures to industries in the surrounding area. Colombia is planning to reduce water pollution by charging a fee for water use and to redistribute these funds regionally to control and reduce pollution. Contingency plans are in place to handle oil spills.

24. Costa Rica and Nicaragua already have an institutional and legal mechanism for controlling toxic substances and pollution. Studies have been conducted on how to diminish pollution in Estero Real and the Pacific water basins in Nicaragua. Costa Rica’s universities have monitoring programmes, although a lack of technical and institutional capacity to fulfil these responsibilities is recognized. In Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Venezuela, environmental impact assessment procedures have been established to prevent pollution of rivers, streams and wetlands. Since 1993, Honduras has had a cross-sectoral national EIA system. More than forty inspections of wetlands have been undertaken to assess impact on water quality. Paraguay also applies EIA legislation for this purpose.

25. Trinidad and Tobago has drastically reduced the use of agro-chemicals in the Nariva swamp by removing illegal rice farmers. In the Bahamas, pesticide legislation is still being drafted, while Suriname reports that such measures have not been necessary.

Techniques for increasing economic value

26. These techniques are still at an early stage in the region. Brazil, Peru and Venezuela are integrating these aspects into activities under the Convention on Biological Diversity. In Brazil, a manual has been prepared for assigning an economic value to environmental resources with a theoretical and methodological framework. In addition, the coastal area management programme has a component for socioeconomic analysis. Venezuela proposes integrating natural resources into the national accounting system. Argentina has started to assess ecological damage at its Ramsar sites and economic appraisal of damage will come at a later stage. In Honduras, NGOs are working on the economic evaluation of natural resources in specific projects. Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago report no policy for evaluating the economic importance of wetlands. However, efforts are under way to include values for water in their national environmental accounts.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA)

27. Since 1981, Brazil has had a basic law for environmental impact assessment applicable to all sectors. Furthermore, in 1986 CONAMA created the obligation to make environmental impact assessments for activities with significant impact on wetlands. In 1994, Chile and Colombia updated their national EIA regulations, which cover wetlands. Honduras has a national EIA system involving all institutions concerned with the environment, while Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela have general EIA laws covering wetland ecosystems. Nicaragua has regulated a broad list of economic activities requiring an EIA and licenses, regardless of the ecosystem where they take place. Peruvian legislation requires the favourable opinion of the National Institute for Natural Resources (INRENA), and if the proposed activity is related to agriculture, an EIA is compulsory. In Argentina, there is no general EIA procedure applicable to projects or developments, with the exception of special sectoral laws for mining, energy, the construction of dams and protected areas and provincial regulations. In the Bahamas and Suriname, requirements for an environmental impact assessment are not yet in force.

Restoration and rehabilitation of wetlands

28. For Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, restoration and rehabilitation of wetlands is not a priority. In contrast, it is a priority for Bolivia, Brazil, Jamaica, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. Peru is working to restore all Ramsar sites. A national wetlands inventory is currently being carried out, which will help prioritise needs for restoration. In Jamaica, developers are asked to undertake wetland restoration activities. Suriname has undertaken major restoration activities in the Bigi Pan multiple-use management area. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Wildlife Service employs members of the local community to monitor wetland sites, so that restoration needs are identified. In Brazil, several programmes are being implemented including the clean-up of Guanabara Bay, the sustainable development of the Pantanal and the socioeconomic use of mangroves. In Venezuela, EIA laws foresee a need to require rehabilitation.

29. In Costa Rica, actions have been taken in the area of Palo Verde, a site included in the Montreux Record, and at Caño Negro. Similarly, Nicaragua is carrying out restoration projects at Estero Real, Padre Ramos, and Juan Venado Island. Guatemala has implemented a monitoring programme of water quality in Lake Amititlán that is complemented by a rehabilitation action plan and a waste treatment programme.

30. Because of the extensive destruction of mangroves caused by the shrimp industry, the rehabilitation and restoration issue is receiving attention in Ecuador. Attention has also been given to the Andean lakes because of their tourist potential. In Colombia, positive pilot experiences have taken place, while in the Bahamas and Panama preliminary restoration studies are under way. Argentina reports that the issue of restoration and rehabilitation of wetlands is included in a draft National Biodiversity Strategy.

Encouraging active and informed participation of local inhabitants

31. Costa Rica has strengthened NGO and community participation in wetland management in the course of a process of decentralisation. For example, community participation has been encouraged within protected areas by giving them access to the park’s services as a concession. Likewise, the new Peruvian law for protected areas establishes the creation of management committees as a mechanism for direct community involvement. In Brazil, local communities and NGOs participate in the decision-making process through management committees, especially with regard to protected areas. One project which has received international attention is the project for sustainable development of the Ramsar site of Mamirauá in the central Amazon. A similar scheme is planned in Suriname, while in Trinidad and Tobago additional training and employment of the communities’ representatives are envisaged. In Chile and Venezuela, the main approach used for involving the local community has been through capacity building and environmental education. The majority of these programmes are implemented in partnership with NGOs.

32. Other countries such as Guatemala and Nicaragua have started with a sectoral approach involving the participation of women in the decision-making processes. In Guatemala, the mangrove programme involves capacity building for community reforestation and consultation on criteria for the preparation of regulations for the use of mangroves. Similarly, in Nicaragua, an integrated coastal zone management programme has strong involvement of the local and indigenous communities.

33. In Argentina, a consultative group on women and sustainable development has been created at the federal level. Cattle ranchers participate in several projects throughout the country, while in Panama, they participate in a project for the integrated management of the Bayano River watershed. In Jamaica, environmental policy encourages participation of local inhabitants in planning and management through meetings, expositions, interviews and the implementation of community projects. Ecuador has focused on participatory planning for the development of policies in several areas of the country. Finally, in Honduras, the committee for the protection and development of the Fonseca Gulf is an NGO, which promotes community participation. Local communities are also involved in the elaboration of the wildlife refuge in Chismuyo Bay.

Private sector involvement

34. The private sector participates to varying degrees in wetland management throughout the region. In Chile, for example, the mining sector is directly involved in conservation projects and the monitoring of environmental impact. In Brazil, Nicaragua and Peru, legislation promotes participation of the private sector, while in Trinidad and Tobago the private sector participates in the work of the national wetlands committee. In Chile, Costa Rica and Guatemala, participation of the private sector is encouraged through incentive programmes, while in Bolivia, Brazil, Jamaica and Suriname, the private sector is involved in the establishment and management of protected areas, many of which are private. Argentina is currently focusing on promoting changes in land use, for economic activities ranging from cattle grazing to tourism.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 3
To raise awareness of wetland values and functions throughout the world and at all levels

National education and public awareness programmes (EPA)

35. The importance of raising awareness of the value and functions of wetlands has been identified as crucial for fulfilling the Convention’s mission. At COP6, Contracting Parties agreed to support and facilitate implementation and development of EPA programmes related to wetlands and targeted to a wide range of people at all levels. After three years of implementation of the Strategic Plan, Contracting Parties are reporting advances. In the Neotropics, nearly half of the Contracting Parties have submitted National Reports indicating that they have EPA programmes covering wetlands. In general, these programmes are implemented at the national or local levels and focus on both formal and informal education about the environment and sustainable development.

36. In Brazil, there is a national programme of environmental education (PRONEA) providing formal and informal education. Costa Rica has a national EPA strategy and points out the need to develop regional strategies. Honduras has trained 35,000 teachers and instructors since 1993. Jamaica has a national action plan covering the environment and sustainable development. Panama makes EPA compulsory. Brazil, Suriname, and Venezuela have broad governmental EPA programmes that also cover wetlands.

37. Trinidad and Tobago is the only country that reports having a specific governmental programme focusing on wetlands. This programme started in 1997 and is implemented under the wetlands management project. It targets primary and secondary schools and other educational institutions.

38. There are countries still without national EPA programmes or strategies. Argentina is currently drafting one, while in some countries the national parks and the natural resources authorities carry out specific environmental education programmes at the sectoral level. This is the case in Ecuador and Guatemala, which focus on coastal and marine zones, including mangroves. Most of these programmes work with local inhabitants.

39. In addition, seven of the nineteen Contracting Parties that have provided National Reports indicate that NGOs are running EPA programmes targeting wetlands in their countries. Many of these programmes operate at the level of the province or site. In Argentina, Wetlands International is producing educational material specifically adapted to each site. In Guatemala, "Defensores de la Naturaleza" and Conservation International implement programmes for rural teachers. In Nicaragua, education and public awareness focus on specific wetlands. In Suriname, the Foundation for Nature Preservation is working at the level of protected areas. Finally, in Venezuela, the Foundation for the Defense of Nature (FUDENA) works in partnership with the national government to implement an education and public awareness programme.

Wise use principles included in the formal education curricula

40. Venezuela is revising its programme of formal education; this is a good example of the progress made to include EPA programmes in the curricula of formal education. Brazil has designed special programmes for education of the population on the importance of protecting water and marine resources. Of special interest is the organization Movimento dos CidadÇes por l’Agua, created by the Ministry for the Environment in 1996. Important work is also being carried out in Honduras, Panama, Peru and Suriname.

Production of publications on wise use

41. Many publications have been produced by the Contracting Parties during the past three years. Costa Rica has published its national wetlands strategy and management guidelines for wetlands. Ecuador has published the proceedings of the national meeting of experts (already referred to) with key recommendations for the sustainable use of wetlands and a video on the process of participatory planning. Honduras has published several documents concerning the Fonseca Gulf project, as well as an environmental education manual. Jamaica has published its draft policies, and Panama, has published several publications on mangroves within the framework of the project supported by the International Timber Trade Organization. Peru has published its national wetlands policies and a guide to the Amazon Pact. Trinidad and Tobago produced a report on the monitoring of the Nariva swamp and a document on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Trinidad and Tobago. Finally, Venezuela has made available several publications on mangroves and coastal zones. Details on those documents are available in the national reports submitted by each country and are accessible on the Ramsar Web site.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 4
To reinforce the capacity of institutions in each Contracting Party to achieve conservation and wise use of wetlands

Institutional coordination and cooperation

42. A majority of the Contracting Parties that submitted National Reports advise that institutional mechanisms are in place or are being introduced to strengthen institutions and to improve cooperation among institutions dealing with wetlands.

43. Argentina and Uruguay are in the process of carrying out institutional reviews. Argentina is completing an institutional development policy prepared by the Environmental Institution Development Programme (PRODIA), with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank.

44. A number of Contracting Parties are also creating inter-institutional mechanisms to reinforce coordination among sectors interested in wetlands and participating in implementation of the Convention. Most of these national Ramsar/Wetlands committees are cross-sectoral in nature, bringing together the public sector and representatives of NGOs, academia and the private sector. This is the case in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

45. Special working relationships are in place in Jamaica and Peru. Jamaica has, in addition to the national committee, an environmental policy mechanism at the national level and municipal environmental commissions at the local level. Peru has prepared a cross-sectoral wetland conservation and sustainable development programme with a coordinating committee. Other Contracting Parties have opted to create working groups for wetlands or national committees. They are mostly cross-sectoral in nature and serve as a forum for consultation, debate, technical advice and policy coordination. Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama are using this approach. Similarly, Suriname has a consultative committee, which is likely to become a Ramsar committee.

46. Finally, Honduras is dealing with wetlands issues under the National Biodiversity Commission (CONABIO), as well as some mechanisms at provincial and site levels. The Bahamas has a commission, the BEST Commission, responsible for inter-institutional coordination. Colombia and Paraguay are planning to create committees in the near future.

Training needs and opportunities

47. In terms of identification of institutional training needs and opportunities to fulfil the Convention’s mission, Jamaica reports that it has completed this assessment at the national level. In Peru, the national wetland strategy has identified training needs, and an action plan up to the year 2002 has been prepared. Venezuela has advanced in the identification of training priorities in the fields of strategic planning, negotiation techniques, conflict resolution, methodologies for community participation, environmental law, fund raising and management.

48. Many countries have focused on identifying training needs at the sectoral level and have produced training modules for protected areas including wetlands. This is the case of Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Brazil already has a training programme specifically for wetlands. Argentina has a subregional training programme funded by the Wetlands for the Future Initiative. Panama has created a training centre, and Jamaica has established a coastal zone training programme.

49. Finally, it is important to point out that participation of regional representatives in international training programmes seems meager. Only three countries reported having sent a representative to the international course on wetlands in the Netherlands. Only four countries mention participation in subregional or international training courses. Guatemala and Honduras have had interns at the Ramsar Bureau in Gland.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 5
To ensure the conservation of all sites included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar List)

Status of management plans for Ramsar sites

50. See the table on page 24 of this report and documents Ramsar COP7 DOCS. 13.3 and 15.2.

Changes in ecology at Ramsar sites

51. These issues are dealt with in the documents Ramsar COP7 DOCS. 13.3 and 15.2.

Sites included in the Montreux Record

52. These issues are considered in the documents Ramsar COP7 DOCS. 13.3 and 15.2.

Sites referred to in COP6 Recommendation 6.17

53. These issues are considered in ocuments Ramsar COP7 DOCS. 13.3 and 15.2. Only Chile replied to this question, indicating six new Ramsar sites in response to this recommendation.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 6
To designate for the Ramsar List those wetlands which meet the Convention's criteria, especially wetland types still under-represented in the List and trans-frontier wetlands

National inventories and directories of major wetlands

54. Eight out of nineteen Contracting Parties that presented National Reports informed that they have national inventories wetlands. The following inventories have been prepared: the Bahamas in 1982, Brazil (1988), Chile in 1996 (as part of the activities of Wetlands for the Americas), Costa Rica in 1996, Guatemala in 1986, Nicaragua in 1983 (updated in 1994 and due for revision) and Venezuela in 1994 (updated in 1997). Trinidad and Tobago is currently preparing its inventory.

55. Three out of the ten Contracting Parties reporting on this question, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador, indicated that they do not have national inventories of wetlands although they report inventories at the provincial level or of species. Most Contracting Parties indicated that they have the directory produced by Scott and Carbonell in 1986. Five Contracting Parties, Chile, Jamaica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela, indicate the existence of similar directories or listings for wetlands in their countries.

Estimates of rates of loss or conversion and areas of wetlands

56. No accurate estimate of wetlands area is available for most of the region, with the exception of Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela. There is also no data on rates of loss and conversion of wetlands.

COP6 priorities for inclusion in the Ramsar Listiand statements of intent

57. During the past three years, there have been a total of thirty-one new sites designated in the region. The number per country is: Argentina (1), The Bahamas (1), Belize (2), Bolivia (1), Chile (6), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (4), Ecuador (1), El Salvador (2), Guatemala (1), Honduras (1), Jamaica (1), Nicaragua (1), Peru (4) and Venezuela (4).

58. As part of their National Reports and based on COP6 recommendations, ten Contracting Parties announced steps taken to list under-represented wetland type in the Ramsar List. Argentina is preparing to list two new sites; one of them with Paraguay. The Bahamas has created a land conservation commission to recommend new sites. In Brazil, as a result of the first Brazilian meeting on Ramsar sites (December 1997), a feasibility study was begun on the listing of new sites in the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Goias, Maranhão, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and Sao Paulo. Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama are preparing technical information for a new joint site. Ecuador has proposed Laguna de Cube. Honduras will propose an area in the Fonseca Gulf. Suriname has proposed two new sites: Bigi Pan multiple-use area and the Wia Wia Nature Reserve. Trinidad and Tobago has taken specific steps at the site level and is preparing a Ramsar Information Sheet for a new site.

Transfrontier sites

59. In terms of transfrontier sites, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Panama, Paraguay and Peru report having transfrontier wetland sites. In addition, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname report on efforts to coordinate the designation of new joint sites.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 7
To mobilise international cooperation and financial assistance for wetland conservation and wise use in collaboration with other conventions and agencies, both governmental and non-governmental

Bilateral or multilateral activities for shared wetlands, watersheds and species

60. Several activities have been taking place in the region for the joint management of wetlands. Argentina has been cooperating with Paraguay for the management of common watersheds and fishery resources. Costa Rica and Nicaragua are participating in phase II of the San Juan River project for bilateral management of protected areas, and Chile has been carrying out population studies of flamencos and the joint monitoring activities in the context of the high Andean wetlands initiative. Brazil has signed several bilateral agreements with Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay that cover some aspects of wetlands. There are other regional agreements such as the Amazon Cooperation Treaty, the River Plate Basin Treaty and Mercosur. Belize, Guatemala and Honduras are focusing on proposals for protected areas in the context of the regional environmental conservation programme (PROARCAS/ COSTAS). El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua are cooperating on conservation of ecosystems in the Fonseca Gulf. Costa Rica and Panama are looking at potential joint sites. Bolivia and Peru hold frequent meetings for the establishment of protected areas, including Lake Titicaca, and carry out other activities related to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (TCA). Finally, Uruguay is cooperating with IBAMA in Brazil on a possible transfrontier Ramsar site.

Twinned sites

61. Several Contracting Parties have twinned sites and are preparing new joint sites. Costa Rica has twinned the Refugio de Caño Negro and the Ticino National Park in Italy and Coto de Doñana in Spain. In addition, Costa Rica and Italy are working on twinning Palo Verde and Foresta Casentinesa. Nicaragua has twinned areas with the Natural Parks of Extremadura in Spain and Lombardia in Italy. In Suriname, the Bigi Pan multiple-use Area has been twinned with the Coppenamemonding Nature Reserve, and the Wia Wia Nature Reserve has been twinned with the Minas Basin (Nova Scotia) and Shepody Bay in Canada. Suriname is preparing the twinning of sites with French Guiana. Finally, Spain and Venezuela have twinned the Parque Rural de Frontera with the Reserva Maritima la Restiga on the Isla del Hierro in the Canary Islands and the Restiga National Park.

Coordinated implementation of international conventions

62. The issue of coordinating implementation of similar environmental conventions has taken on special importance in international fora. However, even the most significant synergies, benefits and results are those that take place at the national level if real implementation is the target. According to the National Reports, only a few countries in the region are Contracting Parties to all environmental conventions: namely Argentina, the Bahamas, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname. Other Contracting Parties are parties to only some of these conventions: namely the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Heritage Convention and the Convention on Migratory Species. These include Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

63. For the majority of the Contracting Parties presenting reports, the main mechanism in place to assist regular dialogue and cooperation among Ramsar authorities and other focal points is that these functions are usually the responsibility of one institution or national authority. However, the majority of the reports do not indicate the existence of a defined mechanism for internal coordination.

Bilateral or multilateral cooperation conducive to the conservation of migratory wetland species

64. Ten Contracting Parties report undertaking conservation activities for migratory wetland species with bilateral or multilateral support and cooperation. These activities range from setting joint priorities, establishing joint management criteria for shared areas, monitoring species, capacity building and project formulation.

65. Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru are working together in the context of the high Andean wetlands. Argentina is also cooperating with Paraguay to manage joint fish resources and watersheds. Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay are cooperating in the preparation of joint project on migratory species as managment indicators for wetlands in the context of the Southern Cone. Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama have joint programmes for sea turtles, sea birds and manatees. Venezuela has joint activities with Bonaire. Honduras is participating in projects under the regional environmental conservation programme PROARCA/COSTAS.

66. The Ramsar Small Grants Fund, Wetlands for the Future and Wetlands International (Americas) support other activities of cooperation in the region. The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is supporting activities in Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. Partners in Flight supports activities in the Bahamas. Suriname is workincooperating with Canada, and, finally, Peru reports activities in the context of CITES, the Amazon Cooperation Treaty and the action plan for protection of the Southern Pacific marine environment and coastal areas.

Bilateral and multilateral donors supporting projects contributing to implementation of the Convention

67. In addition to the international cooperation mentioned above, projects on other priority matters (national strategies, policy framework, site conservation activities and EPA) are taking place. Throughout the region, projects are supported by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Global Environmental Facility, the European Union, GTZ, USAID, DANIDA, Wetlands for the Future, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Convention on Migratory Species, the Canadian Wildlife Service, Friends of the Earth (Spain), the Canadian, Finnish and German Debt for Nature Swap and the Ramsar Small Grants Fund.

Annual national budget allocations for the conservation and wise use of wetlands

68. Fifteen of the Contracting Parties that have presented reports inform that their governments make annual budget allocations for wetlands. These are part of a general budget line for protected areas, conservation of ecosystems, including wetlands. In the cases of Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago, these allocations are made specifically for wetlands. On the other hand, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua and Uruguay report that they do not allocate resources for wetlands in their countries.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 8
To provide the Convention with the required institutional mechanisms and resources

Annual and voluntary contributions

69. The majority of countries in the region do not report about voluntary contributions. However, a contribution in kind and cash has been made by Costa Rica, as host to the first Pan-American meeting and COP7.

70. The majority of Contracting Parties also report that they are up to date with payment of their annual contributions, while Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay advise that actions have been taken to pay their outstanding contributions.

Optional section - Participation of non-government organizations in the implementation of the Convention

In this optional section of the National Report, Contracting Parties were invited to describe their cooperation with any international, regional, national or provincial NGOs operating within their country. Fourteen Contracting Parties that submitted National Reports responded to these questions.

NGOs active in wetlands

71. Parties report the following number of international NGOs operating in their countries: Argentina (4), Ecuador (3), Guatemala (2), Nicaragua (12), Panama (4), Peru (3) and Suriname (4).

72. In relation to the presence of national, regional or provincial NGOs, Contracting Parties reported the following: Argentina (1), The Bahamas (1), Chile (2), Ecuador (6), Guatemala (6), Honduras (7), Nicaragua (10), Panama (13), Peru (5), Suriname (1), Trinidad and Tobago (1) and Venezuela (6). Only Colombia and Paraguay indicated that they have no NGOs with activities in wetlands.

Mechanisms for consulting with NGOs about wetland conservation and implementation of Ramsar

73. With regard to mechanisms for consulting with NGOs, Contracting Parties have indicated that NGOs are in some cases organized into national federations or associations with their own mechanisms for debate and consultation. In some countries, NGOs have their own working groups; while in Trinidad and Tobago, NGOs consult at the level of the national committee.

74. Consultation between NGOs and governments takes place in national working groups, Ramsar committees or national environmental councils. This type of consultation takes place in Argentina, the Bahamas, Guatemala, Panama and Venezuela. Nicaragua and Paraguay indicated that the agencies dealing with protected areas in their countries provide means for consultation.

NGO representation in official delegations to Ramsar Conferences of the Parties

75. Trinidad and Tobago included an NGO in its national delegation to COP6. Ecuador, Panama and Suriname have informed that NGOs can take part in their delegations, but at their own expense. Finally, Venezuela expresses its support for this idea.

NGOs participating in site management committees

76. The participation of NGOs in site management committees is supported in principle by the Bahamas, Chile and Peru. Guatemala and Nicaragua announce that this will take place in the near future.

Areas of Ramsar activities in which NGOs are most active

77. NGOs in the region are active in implementation of Objectives 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

Other comments and suggestions

The following general comments were provided

78. The Bahamas advises that, as a relatively recent signatory, it needs to update information in order to identify new Ramsar sites. Chile states a need to strengthen community participation, relations between the public and private sectorsa and the planning process and to increase the number of EPA programmes. Guatemala reports that the Strategic Plan was adopted only recently and has not been fully implemented. Guatemala sees cooperation between governments and NGOs as aiding this process.

79. Honduras reports that the Strategic Plan has not yet been integrated into national planning. Nicaragua stresses the urgent need to increase international support and cooperation for implementation of the Convention. Paraguay considers the Strategic Plan a key tool for implementation. Peru considers the Strategic Plan to be a medium and long-term exercise, conditioned by social and economic conditions and by the status of environmental education. Trinidad and Tobago reports that, although the Strategic Plan is not implemented as a separate action plan, several aspects of the plan are already in operation. Finally, Venezuela stresses that implementation of certain parts of the Strategic Plan require considerable financial resources. Venezuela proposes that mobilisation of international support and cooperation become a high priority.

80. In relation to specific comments on the functioning of and services provided by Ramsar, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela appreciated the very professional work of the Standing Committee and STRP. Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago also stated that in general the services provided by the Bureau were very constant, coherent and efficient. Several Contracting Parties alos acknowledged support received from partner organizations such as BirdLife International, IUCN, WWF and Wetlands International.

Final observations

81. Several Contracting Parties included final comments and recommendations in their National Reports. Guatemala would like to include evaluation of National Reports as part of a regional meeting, in order that improvements can be made in the future. Paraguay announces a need to focus at the national level on creating a national Ramsar committee and updating its wetlands inventory. Peru highlights a need to strengthen EPA programmes and projects. Trinidad and Tobago suggests holding a workshop with representatives of the Caribbean Islands to encourage them to accede to the Convention. Uruguay states the need to count on more presence and time of the Bureau’s regional coordinator where this is requested. Finally, Venezuela recommends the allocation of funds from the U.S. State Department to the Neotropical Region and the enhancement of synergies with other international conventions.


§III. Summary statistics

This section of summary statistics has been prepared on the basis of responses to questions asked in the National Report submitted by each Contracting Party in the region. In section 1, more detailed information is provided, and the corresponding paragraphs of this regional overview are indicated in the first column. In section 2, the number of countries to which a question asked in the National Report format does not apply are shown in the NA (Not Applicable) column. The number of Contracting Parties not replying to a question or that gave an unclear response is indicated in the NR (No Reply) column.

This approach to preparing the regional overview is designed to give a clearer view at both the regional and global levels of those areas of the Convention’s Strategic Plan 1997-2002 that have been addressed since the 6th Conference of the Contracting Parties.

Nos.

Strategic Plan General Objectives and (Actions)

Yes

No

  General Objective 1 - Universal membership    

1-3

Actions taken to encourage accession by non-Contracting Parties (Actions 1.1.1- 2)

5

11

  General Objective 2 - Promoting the wise use of wetlands    

13-17

Review of legislation and practices which impact on wetlands has been carried out (Action 2.1.1)

9

8

13-17

Legislative or similar amendments have been made (Action 2.1.1)

9

10

4-12

National Wetland Policy/Strategy/Action Plan in place (Action 2.1.2)

1

18

4-12

National Wetland Policy/Strategy/Action Plan is being developed (Action 2.1.2)

10

9

4-12

Conservation and wise use of wetlands forms part (or will) of other national environmental / conservation planning initiatives (Action 2.1.2)

15

0

4-12

For countries with a federal system of government, there are Wetland Policies/Strategies/Plans in place, being developed or planned for the provincial/state levels of government (Action 2.1.2)

1

1

18-22

Efforts are being made to have wetlands managed as integrated components of land/water and coastal zone resources and environments (Action 2.2.2).

15

3

26

Actions taken to incorporate wetland economic valuation techniques into natural resource planning and assessment actions (Actions 2.4.1, 2.4.3)

5

12

27

Environmental Impact Assessment is required for actions potentially impacting on wetlands (Actions 2.5.2, 2.5.3)

15

4

28-30

Wetland restoration and rehabilitation is being undertaken to some extent (Actions 2.6.1-3)

15

3

31-33

The participation of local stakeholders in the conservation and wise use of wetlands is being encouraged (Actions 2.7.1- 4)

14

4

34

Private sector involvement in the conservation and wise use of wetlands is being encouraged (Actions 2.8.1-4)

12

6

  General Objective 3 - Raising awareness of wetland values and functions    

35-39

There exist government-run programmes for Education and Public Awareness in this country which include wetlands (Actions 3.2.1-2)

9

9

35-39

There exist non-government-run programmes for Education and Public Awareness in this country which include wetlands (Actions 3.2.1-2, 8.3.1)

12

3

40

Wetlands issues and Ramsar’s Wise Use principles are included as part of the curricula of educational institutions. (Action 3.2.5)

7

10

  General Objective 4 - Reinforcing the capacity of institutions    

42-46

Mechanisms are in place, or being introduced, to increase cooperation between the institutions responsible for wetlands management (Actions 4.1.1-2, 8.1.9-10)

17

1

4-12

A National Ramsar/Wetland Committee exists - government only (Actions 4.1.1-2, 8.1.9-10)

0

13

4-12

A National Ramsar/Wetland Committee exists - it includes non-government representatives (it is cross-sectoral) (Actions 4.1.1-2, 8.1.9-10

7

7

47-49

A training needs analysis has been done or is under way (Action 4.2.1)

7

10

47-49

A review of training opportunities has been completed (Action 4.2.2)

5

11

47-49

Training modules or training programmes specifically for wetland managers have been completed, or are being developed (Action 4.2.3).

9

8

47-49

Nationals of the country have gained wetland-related training either within or outside the country (Action 4.2.4).

10

6

  General Objective 5 - Management of Listed sites    
50-53 See the table below and Ramsar COP7 DOCS. 13.3 and 15.2    

Status of management plans for Ramsar sites (Actions 5.1.2, 5.2.3)

Contracting Party Number of Ramsar sites Plans being prepared (or updated) Plans fully prepared Plans being implemented Plans include monitoring
Argentina

6

4

.

2

6

Bahamas

1

. .

NA

Belize*

2

-

-

-

-

Bolivia

2

-

-

-

-

Brazil

5

-

-

-

-

Chile

7

4

3

3

2

Colombia

1

1

. .

NR

Costa Rica

7

.

7

7

7

Ecuador

3

.

3

3

0

El Salvador*

1

. . . .
Guatemala

3

3

. .

0

Honduras

3

1

2

2

1

Jamaica

1

1

. .

NA

Nicaragua

1

.

1

NR

0

Panama

3

1

2

1

1

Paraguay

4

4

. .

0

Peru

7

3

4

4

7

Suriname

1

1

. .

NA

Trinidad y Tobago

1

1

. .

NR

Uruguay

1

1

. .

NR

Venezuela

5

.

5

4

5

TOTALS

65 (62)

25 (45%)

28 (45%)

28 (45%)

32 (52%)

* National reports from these Contracting Parties have not been received and therefore their sites have not been included in calculating the percentage figures.

Nos.

General Objective 6 - Designation of Ramsar sites

Yes

No

54-55

A national inventory of wetlands has been completed (Action 6.1.2)

8

11

54-55

A national inventory of wetlands is planned for the near future (Action 6.1.2)

6

10

57-58

Actions been taken to list under-represented wetland types on the List or in response to the various related decisions from COP6 (Actions 6.2.1, 6.2.3)

8

8

59

The country has sites included in the Ramsar List which are transfrontier sites (Actions 6.2.5, 7.1.1)

6

8

  General Objective 7 - Mobilising international cooperation and financial assistance    

60

Bilateral or multilateral activities have been taken, are underway, or are planned for the management of transfrontier wetlands or their watersheds/catchments (Actions 6.2.5, 7.1.1)

11

3

61

Countries which have Ramsar sites that are “twinned” with others (Action 7.1.2).

5

12

62-63

Mechanisms in place to promote cooperative actions between the Ramsar Administrative Authority and the focal points for other international environment Conventions to which the country is a signatory (Actions 7.2.3-5, 7.2.7-8)

10

3

64-66

The country is cooperating as part of bilateral or multilateral activities directed at the conservation of migratory wetland species (Action 7.2.5).

12

6

67

Multilateral and/or bilateral donors are supporting projects which contribute to implementation of the Ramsar Convention in this country (Actions 7.33, 7.4.2, 7.4.4)

14

4

68

The government makes an annual budgetary allocation to support the conservation and wise use of wetlands within the country (Action 7.4.1).

14

5

-

The country has a development assistance programme which includes funds earmarked for wetland conservation and wise use in other countries (Action 7.4.2)

0

0

-

There is a formal process in place for consultation between the Ramsar Administrative Authority and the development assistance programme in the country, where one exists (Action 7.4.2)

0

0

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