The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 1 February 2000

Ramsar Centre set for Austria. Michaela Bodner, WWF Austria, reports that on World Wetland Day, Feb. 2nd, plans will be announced for a Ramsar Centre in the Waldviertel (Lower Austria) as a further step of the implementation of the Ramsar Convention. Only recently, Austria has designated its 10th Ramsar site, the "Waldviertel ponds, peat bogs and floodplains" which forms an ecological unit with the Czech Ramsar sites "Trebon fishponds" and "Trebon peatlands". Considering that the whole region of the Northern Waldviertel (northernmost part of Lower Austria, bordering the Czech Republic) holds a network of important wetlands of varying sizes, WWF Austria has worked out a concept for a Ramsar Centre in the Waldviertel; the plan is backed by the Austrian Ministry of Environment, Youth and Family and the Government of Lower Austria, and co-financed by the European Union. The idea behind this centre is to create a body responsible for local wetland agendas and to implement the values of wetlands into regional development. The work of the centre will focus on the monitoring of wetlands, on environmental education and on public relations work. A strong cooperation with the Czech Biosphere Reserve Administration in Trebon is planned and will be an important key to the success of the centre. The building of the centre should start in 2000 to be finished in 2001 for the 30th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention. For further information contact: Michaela Bodner, WWF Waldviertel, Kirchberg am Walde (" [1/2/00]

Ramsar at the CBD's SBSTTA5. Dr Bill Phillips, our departing Deputy Secretary General, and Dr Nick Davidson, our DSG-designate, are in Montreal for the fifth meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), where they are joined by the Chair of Ramsar's Scientific and Technical Review Panel, Dr Jorge Jiménez of Costa Rica. Dr Jiménez is slated to introduce the draft CBD/Ramsar Joint Work Plan for 2000-2001. Ramsar is also sponsoring a side event on the River Basin Initiative, a joint venture between Ramsar and the CBD which is being implemented by the Global Environment Network. (29/1/00)

Wetlands International publishes action plan for Russia. Simon Nash writes: "Wetlands International's Moscow office has just published the Strategy and Action Plan for Wetland Conservation in the Russian Federation (in Russian). An English version will be published soon. The publication is a result of the National Wetland Conference that was held in February 1999 in Moscow by the State Committee of Environment Protection and Wetands International, which was the first intersectoral and national conference of its kind, with about 400 participants. Several working groups of Russian scientists and policy makers have since been working on various sections of it. The publication represents a major milestone for our Russian Programme, as it will form the basis of Wetlands International’s programme development in Russia for the coming years. For more information contact: Olga Anisimova:" [27/1/00] 

Iranian officials visit the Ramsar Bureau. From 20 to 24 January 2000, the Ramsar Convention Bureau played host to the first meeting of the Steering Committee for the project on the ‘Conservation of Iranian Wetlands’. The six-member team from the Islamic Republic of Iran was led by Mr Anoushirvan Najafi, Deputy Head of the Department of Environment and National Coordinator for the wetland project. This is a Block B Project Development Facility (PDF-B) to establish a mechanism for the development of a full project aimed at conserving globally significant components of wetland biodiversity in a limited number of sites that are facing mounting pressures. More detail right here.   [26/1/00]

Spain introduces Strategic Plan for Wetlands. The Ministerio de Medio Ambiente of Spain has announced that, following approval in October 1999 by the Comisión Nacional de Protección de la Naturaleza, a new Strategic Plan is being put into implementation. Entitled the "Plan Estratégico Español para la Conservación y el Uso Racional de los Humedales, en el marco de los ecosistemas acuáticos de que dependen" (‘Spanish Strategic Plan for the conservation and wise use of wetlands, in the framework of the aquatic ecosystems upon which they depend’), the 94-page document includes thorough introductory material with history and objectives and a valuable analysis of existing laws in Spain’s Autonomous Regions (or provinces), followed by a detailed plan cross-referenced to the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002, the Ramsar Convention itself, and the relevant Resolutions and Recommendations of the Conference of the Contracting Parties. Copies are available from the Secretaría General de Medio Ambiente, Gran Via de San Francisco 4, 28005 Madrid (fax +34 91 597 5564) and the text of the Plan is reprinted on this Web site (Spanish only). [18/1/00]

Sierra Leone welcomed as the Convention's 118th Contracting Party! The Bureau is very pleased to announce that on 13 December 1999, the Hon. Dr Sama Siama Banya, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the government of Sierra Leone, deposited with UNESCO that nation’s instrument of accession to the Convention, as amended by the Paris Protocol (1982) and accepting the amendments to Articles 6 and 7 (Regina Amendments, 1987). The Convention will enter into force for Sierra Leone on 13 April 2000, as Ramsar's 118th Contracting Party. The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Marine Resources, the Hon. Okere A. Adams, has informed the Bureau that the Chief Conservator of Forests, within his ministry, will serve as Administrative Authority, and that a National Ramsar (Wetlands) Committee has already been established, to consist of 4 Ministry personnel, 2 representatives of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, 3 from the Division of Marine Resources, and 2 from the Ministry of International Affairs and Rural Development (Council of Paramount Chiefs). Sierra Leone has designated as its first Wetland of International Importance (the Convention's 1014th)  the "Sierra Leone River Estuary", a 295,000-hectare piece of coastline stretching from Cape Point on the Freetown Peninsula across to the Bunce Creek. Please consult a brief description of the site right here. [15/1/00]

Danone-Evian / FFEM / Ramsar / MedWet 4/ Eurosite meeting: Network of Mediterranean, Caspian and Black Sea Deltas, 28 Sept - 1st Oct 2000, Odessa, Ukraine. Following the first workshop under this project held in the Po delta in January 1999, the final gathering of the 10 participating deltas will take place by the Black Sea in the autumn of 2000. The technical theme is currently being discussed between participants, in a bottom-up fashion. This meeting will also review the achievements of the bilateral exchange programme currently under way, and propose future directions to keep this network alive. Participation is under invitation only. This meeting will be twinned to another one organised between 25-27 September in Odessa, too, where the problems and threats for wetland and waterbird conservation for the region will be discussed. Together, these two meetings could potentially provide the forum to launch an initiative for the conservation of wetlands in the Black Sea region, as MedWet has been doing since 1993 in the Mediterranean. [15/1/00]

Society of Wetland Scientists awards two grants in the Ramsar Support Framework. The SWS has announced details of the US$ 5,000 awards granted under its Ramsar Support Framework. First, to Wetlands International Cambodia - Mekong Programme and the Cambodia Ministry of Environment to survey potential Ramsar sites in Cambodia, and second, in a matching award provided by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, to Dr. Eduardo M. da Silva, Institute of Biology da UFBA, Campus de Ondina, Brazil, for surveys of potential Ramsar sites in that Party.  The project profiles and basic info on the SWS programme are available right here. [13/1/00]

Austria designates its 10th Ramsar site. Austria has designated its 10th Ramsar site as of 22 December 1999, the Convention’s 1013th globally, called "Waldviertel ponds, peat bogs and floodplains" (13,000 ha) in NiederÖsterreich (Lower Austria), bringing that Party’s total Ramsar surface area to 115,772 hectares. Much of it has already been designated as Natura 2000 sites under the EC Birds and Habitats and Species Directives. The site is situated in the southeasternmost part of the central European mountain region, and contains a number of small and large riverine, peat bog, and pond wetlands. Crucial to the area’s water regime, the Lainsitz River is a common river connecting to the Czech Republic’s Ramsar sites Trebon fishponds and Trebon peatlands (the ‘Lusnice’ river in Czech) with high commercial value since the 13th century. Peat was extracted for fuel for the glass industry until the end of the 19th century, but no longer. Hunting is common in all parts of the site. The site enjoys high species diversity, especially in plants, dragonflies, amphibians, and birds, with rare species like the mammals Lutra lutra and Micromys minutus, mussels Margaritifera margaritifera and Unio crassus, and the crustacean Astacus astacus. The rivers and ponds perform valuable functions in flood control and water retention and serve as a hydrological buffer zone. Ownership is very mixed, partly publicly-owned by local and national entities and partly owned by small, large, and very large private landowners. Many parts of the Ramsar site have management plans implemented under an EU LIFE project by WWF-Austria, and ongoing research is carried out by WWF-Austria and BirdLife Austria. See some excellent photos here. [12/1/00]

Argentina names 7th Ramsar site, tops 1 million hectares. The Lagunas de Guanacache (approx. 580,000 hectares), the 1012th Ramsar site, is a 200km-long system of linked lagoons and marshes fed by the Mendoza and San Juan Rivers in the provinces of those names. The system drains into the Desaguadero River and covers an area of some 10,000 square km. The dominant wetland type is "seasonal/intermittent freshwater lakes", but the site also includes "seasonal/intermittent/irregular rivers/streams/creeks", "seasonal/intermittent/ freshwater marshes/pools", "shrub-dominated wetlands", and some other less frequent wetland types. There is a rich biodiversity associated with the system, with more than 50 species of waterbirds. The system has suffered a number of natural and anthropogenic alterations which have considerably reduced the area covered by the lagoons and marshes. A rehabilitation program is being implemented. The local communities include some 2000 people, known as the "laguneros", whose customs and traditions are based in the lagoons and their resources. The provincial governments of Mendoza and San Juan are cooperating closely in the site designation and management. In 1999, the Ramsar/US Government Wetlands for the Future Initiative financed a First Training Workshop for the Local Community and Intermediate Institutions for the Rehabilitation and Management of the Lagunas de Guanacache. The designation of the Lagunas as a Ramsar site is a further step in the efforts to rehabilitate and conserve the system.  Argentina now has 7 sites, totaling 1,000,039 ha, under the Ramsar "umbrella". [10/1/00]

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