World Wetlands Day 1999 in the United Kingdom


Activities reported for World Wetlands Day 1999

united kingdom

2 February 1999



Dragonflies and a rare breed of mollusc will be given extra protection as Pevensey Levels in Sussex is designated as a Wetland of International Importance, Environment Minister Alan Meale said today.

The site, which covers 3,577.71 hectares, is one of the largest and least fragmented lowland wet grassland systems in southeast England. The lowlying grazing meadows are intersected by a complex system of ditches which support a variety of important wetland communities, including nationally rare and scarce aquatic plants and invertebrates. The site is probably the best in Great Britain for freshwater molluscs, one of the five best for aquatic Coleoptera, and supports an outstanding assemblage of dragonflies.

Mr Meale said:

"I am delighted to announce this latest designation. The listing of this site - which coincides with World Wetlands Day - demonstrates the Government’s commitment to recognising the international importance of these wetland features. I am pleased that the Minister for Fisheries and Countryside, Elliot Morley, has visited Pevensey Levels today where he will also be announcing the designation of this site."

Pevensey Levels is one of four sites designated today as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, two of which are in Scotland - Caithness & Sutherland Peatlands, and Loch of Inch and Torrs Warren - and one in Northern Ireland, Lough Foyle.

Mr Meale also announced the extension of the UK’s ratification to the Ramsar Convention to the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the British Indian Ocean Territory on 8 January 1999. It is hoped that both will be shortly be in a position to list sites.

The Minister went on to announce the UK’s ratification of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). He said:

"I am pleased to announce that the UK has ratified the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement. This Agreement is the largest of its kind so far concluded under the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species, encompassing about 120 Range States and 170 species. It aims to secure a long-term future for migratory waterbird species by creating a framework for a concerted conservation and management policy by Range States."


1 The UK is a signatory to and an active participant in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (the Ramsar Convention - named after the town 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.

2 No site is designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention unless it has first been notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Such notification protects the site by law from activities likely to damage the nature conservation interest. The Ramsar listing gives public recognition to the international importance of the site and is a factor taken into account in land use planning and other matters.

3 135 UK Ramsar sites have now been listed covering over 690,453 hectares.

4 World Wetland Day is being celebrated internationally by those countries which have signed up to the Ramsar Convention. The date chosen, 2 February, is the 28th Anniversary of the day the Ramsar Convention was signed in 1971.

5 The UK is a signatory to the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species which aims to establish a framework to protect migratory species at an international level. The African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) was concluded under this Convention and aims to by create a framework for a concerted conservation and management policy by Range States in order to secure a long-term future for migratory waterbird species. The UK took a leading role in negotiations, attending the negotiating meeting for the Agreement in June 1995. The UK signed the Agreement and its associated Action Plan for implementation on September 1996 and ratified the Agreement (for the UK and all its dependent territories in the Agreement area) on 2 February 1999.

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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