World Wetlands Day 1998 in the United Kingdom


WWD posterWhat is World Wetlands Day? At the 19th meeting of the Standing Committee, in late October 1996, World Wetlands Day was officially designated for 2 February of every year, the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, as an opportunity for governments, organizations, and citizens to undertake big and small actions intended to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

This page is part of a series of reports on activities held on and about WWD '98 in various countries of the world, as reported to the Bureau.  If you should know of any other activities not mentioned on these pages, send us a note ( and we'll add it to this list.

See also our earlier list of activities reported as planned for WWD '98, a repository of inspiring ideas in itself.

United Kingdom

A number of reports to reproduce here . . .

From Heather Slade, Assistant Dyfi Officer, Countryside Council for Wales, Plas Gogerddan Aberystwyth Ceredigion UK

World Wetland's Day celebratory event on the Dyfi National Nature Reserve

Organise a wetlands' celebration on a Monday in February in West Wales? Perhaps the emphasis on "wet" might become a little exaggerated in our visitors’ minds for the wrong reasons -- west Wales normally has a high winter rainfall!

West Wales also has the Dyfi National Nature Reserve (NNR), which is a coastal reserve comprising Ynyslas sand dunes, the Dyfi estuary and a peat bog, Cors Fochno. The estuary has been a Ramsar site since 1976 and it is managed by the Countryside Council for Wales.

The Dyfi staff set about organising this out-of-season celebration in the visitor centre on Ynyslas dunes, which is normally closed during the winter. We created an exhibition illustrating the importance of Welsh wetlands for biological diversity. Local artists generously lent watercolours, oil paintings, and photographs to accompany the ecological information. The artists' interpretations would enable our visitors to appreciate the beauty of a wetland site as well as its plants and animals.

We invited the public to visit the exhibition on the Sunday before World Wetlands Day. When the centre opened its doors to our visitors on that day, the flood of winter sunshine and clear blue skies pleasantly surprised us. The emphasis was certainly not going to be on the wrong sort of "wet". A head count revealed that 130 visitors had seen the displays that day. Each visitor has also received a free poster that CCW and the Environment Agency has jointly produced for World Wetlands Day.

The exhibition was then available for the rest of the week for pre-booked educational groups only. The guide gave the groups an illustrated talk about wtlands, the Ramsar Convention and biodiversity. We supplemented the talk with free information sheets about peat bogs and a local wetland restoration project. We are pleased to report that over 170 students visited us during that week and enjoyed experiencing wetlands without actually getting wet!

A few full and half size posters are still available; if any organisation would like to receive one, please e-mail me at or write to Heather Slade, Assistant Dyfi Officer, Countryside Council for Wales, Plas Gogerddan ABerystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales, UK.

From The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust . . . .

Hope you had a wonderful World Wetlands Day -- we certainly did at WWT!

I thought I should update you on how things went for us. As you know, the Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, visited our Centre (under construction) at Barnes in London. The Centre will be called The Wetland Centre and is due to open in 2000 - I'm sure Doug Hulyer & Jane Claricoates have told you all about it, but if not, and you want to know more, please get in contact.

The Minister was really enthusiastic about The Wetland Centre and seemed pleasantly surprised to learn the scale of the project. The purpose of his visit was not only to launch World Wetlands Day, but to launch the UK Ramsar Strategy. We managed to get some good media coverage - I'm expecting clippings, etc., over the next few days.


Alison Byard, Public Relations Officer, The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, GL2 7BT (Tel: +44 (0>1453 890333 extension 279, Fax: +44 (0)1453 890827, E-mail:

For more on WWT activities for WWD '98, here . . .

From the Scottish Office . . . .



Caithness Lochs have been designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, Lord Sewel, Scottish Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Minister, announced today.

This coincides with World Wetlands Day and the launch of the UK’s Ramsar Strategy for Wetlands which outlines the UK’s objectives to provide for sustainable and wise use of our wetlands.

Lord Sewel said:

"The listing of this site on World Wetland Day demonstrates the Government’s commitment to the international importance of its wetland features."

The Caithness Lochs site has also been given the international classification of Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EC Wild Birds Directive, bring the number of SPA classifications in Scotland to 81.

Lord Sewel continued:

"Greenland white-fronted geese roost in the swamp and open water of the Caithness Lochs site. The winter range of this population falls entirely within Britain and Ireland, with the majority of the British population wintering in Scotland.

"The Scottish Office is considering the classification of further Ramsar sites and Special Protection Areas in Scotland based on the advice of Scottish Natural Heritage and in consultation with local interests."

The Caithness Lochs site is also important for wintering waterfowl, including whooper swans, golden plover, grey lag goose and pink-footed goose, wigeon, teal mallard, tufted duck and goldeneye.

In addition, it is also of interest for its collection of breeding waterfowl, including mute swan, shielduck, shoveler, oystercatcher, snipe, lapwing, curlew and redshank.

Note to News Editors

1. The UK is a signatory to and an active participant in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, known as the Ramsar Convention after the city in Iran where the first conference was held in 1971. The broad objectives of the Convention are to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands and to promote their wise use. There are now over 100 countries working together as Parties to the Convention which plays an important role in safeguarding the world’s biodiversity.

2. World Wetlands Day is being celebrated internationally by those countries which have signed up to the Ramsar Convention. The date chosen (February 2) is the anniversary of the signing.

3. The UK was a signatory to the Ramsar Convention’s Strategic Plan covering the period 1997-2002, which was adopted at the 6th Meeting of the Conference of Contracting Parties in Brisbane, Australia, in March 1996.

Contact: John Booth, +44 (0)131 244 3070.

 from English Nature . . . .


Embargo. Not for use before 00.01 Monday 2 February 1998.


30 January 1998

Avon Valley Designated International Wetland Site

English Nature welcomes the designation expected today, World Wetlands Day, of the Avon Valley as a Wetland of International Importance, by Michael Meacher MP, Minister for the Environment. Avon Valley is the 67th site in England to be so designated under the Ramsar Convention and brings to 328,968 hectares the total area of international important wetlands in England.

The Avon Valley in Hampshire and Dorset contains a greater range of habitats, plants and animals than any other chalk river valley in Britain. There are internationally and nationally important numbers of overwintering wildfowl including gadwall, pochard, coot and Bewick swan as well as at least a dozen species of breeding birds, 66 aquatic plant species, and 27 different kinds of coarse fish. The area has an extraordinarily large variety of grassland plants and their associated invertebrates, such as dragonflies, grasshoppers and snails, together with significant numbers of salmon and brown trout. There is also a small population of otters which depend on high water quality and a diversity of river features for their survival.

"I am delighted that the Government is signing up to the Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan," said Dr Derek Langslow, Chief Executive of English Nature. "The Convention emphasises wise use of wetlands as its guiding principle. The use and management of water in England does not yet meet this principle. We continue to urge action to protect wetlands from over-abstraction and sewage pollution and to make their use sustainable."

Notes for Editors

1. The UK Government signed the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (the Ramsar Convention) in 1973. The Ramsar Convention requires the conservation of wetlands, especially sites designated under the Convention. All designated sites are also Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

2. There is a considerable range of wetland sites designated under the Ramsar Convention. These include the Wash, the principal waterfowl site in the United Kingdom, supporting some 300,000 birds including Bewick swans, brent geese and oystercatchers; the Norfolk Broads comprising the largest calcium-rich fen floodplain system in Britain; and the Midland Meres and Mosses, a series of open water and peatland areas with rare animals and plants including the six stemmed waterwort, cowbane and the march fern.

3. For further information please contact Wyn Jones, Manager of English Nature’s Conservation Services Team, on (0)1733 455 148 or 0966 529220 (mobile).

Issued by English Nature Press Office.

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