The Ramsar Convention's Small Grants Fund 1999 Allocations Report
Ramsar Small Grants Fund for Wetland Conservation and Wise Use (SGF)
Allocations Report for 1999
The Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands established the Ramsar Small Grants Fund (SGF) with a view to providing assistance for wetland conservation and wise use in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The wise use concept has been defined as "the sustainable utilisation of wetlands for the benefit of humankind and compatible with the maintenance of the natural properties of the ecosystem". The SGF Operational Guidelines for the Triennium put emphasis on the implementation of the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002, and thus the objective(s) of projects should relate to the general and operational objectives of the Strategic Plan. Under the Fund, emergency assistance can be provided to Ramsar sites which have suffered damage or are in imminent danger of damage. Countries which have signaled their intention to join the Convention may apply for preparatory assistance to support activities necessary for the designation of the first site to be included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
In the 1999 cycle of project proposals, a total of 81 completed proposals were evaluated by Ramsar Bureau staff and presented to the Standing Committee, with the Bureau’s recommendations, at its 24th meeting, 29 November – 2 December 1999. Within the funds available, a total of 14 project proposals were approved for funding in this year’s cycle, subject to the receipt of adequate reporting on previous SGF projects in those countries from which reports were pending. A further list of proposals was approved for funding if additional resources should become available. Thanks to generous voluntary contributions from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Japan, Monaco, the UK, the USA, and WWF International, in addition to 100,000 Swiss francs from the Convention’s core budget, a total of 600,208 Swiss francs has been allocated to support 16 projects in the 1999 cycle.
Summary Description of Approved Projects
"Ecological and economical valuation of Armenian wetlands as a step towards the elaboration of a National Wetlands Policy". A grant of 40,000 Swiss francs was approved for a project which uses the results of the 1997 OMPO Migratory Birds of the Western Palearctic project which established an inventory of Armenian Ramsar sites and other wetlands that need restoration or rehabilitation. The project follows an integrated ecologo-economic approach. A complete list of nationally important wetlands will be produced and ecological and economic aspects of six typical wetlands, situated in different environments, will be analysed. This will enable the Ministry of the Environment and Underground Resources (the national Ramsar authority) to define the management priorities for these wetlands and help to develop a National Wetland Policy.
"Development of a Georeferenced Database on Brazilian Wetlands". The Brazilian Government is developing a wetland inventory through the establishment of a Geographic Information System (GIS), which is quite a popular tool in the decision-making process for the conservation and management of wetlands. Brazil was granted 40,000 SF to undertake this project. As a result of the project, for which 40,000 Swiss francs is being made available, the government of Brazil will designate at least one site as a Wetland of International Importance.
"Protecting Chad’s wetlands through the development of national wetland legislation for wetlands". The sum of 38,992 Swiss francs has been allocated to Chad for strengthening the synergies among national institutions through the review of legislative frameworks and the preparation of a law to be submitted to the parliament. This initiative is a first step toward the formulation of a National Wetland Policy. Education and information dissemination activities will be carried out along with the review of existing legislation and regulations, using the Guidelines for reviewing laws and institutions adopted by the 7th Conference of the Contracting Parties. Field visits will be undertaken to assess the major threats to wetland conservation and wise use in order to take appropriate steps in the process of legislative review.
"Training Needs Assessment for Wetland Conservation and Wise Use in China". Forty thousand Swiss francs has been allocated to China to support part of the activities for development of the "National Wetland Conservation and Wise Use Training Action Plan (2001–2010)." In order to provide reliable and sound assessment data and information for this ten-year plan, several activities will be carried out under the SGF project: identification of the training needs at different levels, from decision-makers to personnel responsible for site management, and identification of training priorities for wise use of wetlands in China. The project is a significant step towards capacity building for management of wetlands in China.
"Development of a Management Plan for the Ramsar site ‘Sistema Delta Estuarino del Río Magdalena, Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta’". The wetland of the Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta constitutes one of the most important wetlands in Colombia. In 1998 it was designated as the first Ramsar site in the country. In this context it is necessary to prepare a management plan to promote its wise use and to guarantee the maintenance of the ecological character. Colombia received an allocation of 40,000 Swiss francs in order to fulfil this objective.
Democratic Republic of Congo
"Integrated management of fishery resources in the lower Congo River". The sum of 40,000 has been allocated for a wetland inventory which will include the assessment of fishery resources and identification of existing fishing techniques. The impact of the various techniques will be assessed in order to identify appropriate measures for the conservation and wise use of the fishery resources. Steps will be taken with the user groups in order to set up suitable regulations for the conservation and wise use of fish stock. The following activities are planned with the stakeholders: consultative meeting to discuss the major issues and threats in order to reach consensus on possible solutions. The roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholders will be discussed.
Iran, Islamic Republic of
"Integrated Management Plan for the Hara Biosphere Reserve (Khouran Straits Ramsar Site)". Forty thousand Swiss francs has been awarded for the development of a management plan for Hara Protected Area, located within the Khouran Straits. This site, the largest mangrove / mudflat ecosystem in the Middle East, is facing the threat of industrial development, and is in need of an integrated management plan to ensure the sustainable use of its resources. Under the project, several activities are expected to be carried out: a study of the ecological and socio-economic importance of the site, identification of threats, development of guidelines for ecotourism and mangrove harvesting, and enhancement of public awareness regarding the values of the wetland and its biodiversity.
"The biodiversity and dynamics of the Vermetid Reef of Shiqmona (Haifa)". The Vermetid Reef of Shiqmona (Haifa) is probably the most diverse littoral ecosystem on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, but the site is under threat of destruction from construction works. SFR 40,000 were allocated to elaborate the scientific arguments needed to declare the Shiqmona area as a Marine Nature Reserve, a Ramsar Site, and a Special Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance (under the Barcelona Convention). It is also planned to develop the first management programme for this area and to promote public awareness regarding the values of the site, especially in the coastal city of Haifa. The project aims to raise public support for the compaign of the unique Vermetid Reef and for declaration of a Shiqmona Nature Reserve. This project was funded with earmarked resources provided by the USA for work on coral reefs.
"Measures to improve the management of the Teici State Nature Reserve Ramsar Site and the surrounding wetlands". The Teici State Nature Reserve protects the largest raised bog that has remained intact in Latvia. It was designated as a Ramsar Site in 1995, and is included in BirdLife International’s List of Important Bird Areas in Europe. The project aims to: 1) Increase the territory of the Teici Ramsar Site by including areas beyond the existing border of the reserve that are ecologically connected with Teici bog and wet forest. This will help to maintain the ecological integrity of Teici Reserve Ramsar Site; 2) Establish the "Teici Wetland Foundation" to provide a body to purchase additional land and pay compensation to landowners for restrictions imposed on their intensive land use. The project, for which 33,000 Swiss francs were granted, will be a model for the elaboration of sustainable land-use practices for Ramsar sites and other wetlands in Latvia.
"Implementation of GIS technology in Lithuanian Ramsar sites". An information system necessary for the proper management of the Lithuanian Ramsar Sites has not yet been developed, but a great deal of useful information is available at different institutions within the country. To support the establishment of a Geographical Information System for Ramsar sites in Lithuania, funding of SFR 35,900 has been awarded. The main objectives of the project are the identification of technical needs for the management of Ramsar sites, the procurement of computers and GIS software, and the training of the relevant staff in the Ramsar site management institutions.
"Koshi Tappu Wetland Conservation Project". Koshi Tappu has experienced adverse environmental impacts caused by drought and over-exploitation of resources, partly because of the lack of a strategic plan. The SFR 40,000 grant will be used to ensure the ecological integrity of the Koshi Tappu wetland through the development of a community-centered comprehensive management plan. The project will result in immediate benefits to stakeholders: NGOs, schools, and the scientific community. After the completion of the project a network of stakeholders will sustain for mobilization of funds and human resources.
Papua New Guinea
"Development of a strategy and capacity for management and nomination of Ramsar sites in Papua New Guinea". The project, which has been allocated 39,888 Swiss francs, arises from the need to establish full-time, in-country technical support to the National Government in regard to implementation of the Convention. The project also aims to develop mechanisms for effective management of PNG’s Ramsar sites and a strategic approach to nomination of new sites. This will be achieved through a working partnership of the Department of Environment and Conservation, Wetlands International, and a locally-based NGO. A "wetlands support officer" will be hosted by the NGO and directed by Wetlands International and will provide substantial input to Ramsar activities of the Department. Through on-site consultation with landowners, the officer will provide updated site information to the Govemment and will develop a mechanism for effective management of PNG’s Ramsar sites by local communities. A database of important PNG wetlands will be created and used in developing a framework for new Ramsar Site nominations.
"Rehabilitation and maintenance of the catchment including water input and distribution, in the Protected Area Pantanos de Villa". The Protected Area Pantanos de Villa was established as a Ramsar site in January 1997. Since it is located within the perimeter of Lima City, this wetland has for many years been exposed to a process of alteration and reduction of its area due to human pressure. Processes like the establishment of human settlements and the construction of service infrastructure and drainage systems, and cultivated areas with irrigation channels, have seriously affected the ecological character of the wetland. An allocation of 19,582 Swiss francs was made to Peru to recover and rehabilitate the existing system of canals and extend the area of the wetland ecosystem into areas where a desiccation process is taking place.
"Rehabilitation of the hydrological system of the Gueumbeul Reserve Ramsar site". A sum of 37,021 Swiss francs has been allocated to Senegal to contribute to the rehabilitation of the hydrological system of the Gueumbeul Reserve Ramsar site. The rehabilitation scheme is intended to improve and maintain the ecological functions of the wetland, including the conservation of the habitats of several bird species. To that end, the waterworks will be rebuilt so as to restore the natural functioning of the hydrological system which supports the major bird habitats. Over the next five years, a monitoring system will be used to check the outcomes of the work.
"Understanding the ecological character of the lagoon system in the Bundala National Park". The allocated SFR 39,860 will be used as a part of a larger project, "Irrigation Water Management and Bundala National Park," which intends to devise a water quality and quantity monitoring system and to assess the economic values of the resources on-site. The Park is the only Ramsar site in the country and is home to a wide range of species from elephants to turtles. Due to the flow of irrigation water from upstream, desalinization and euthrophication have become serious problems in the lagoons within the Park. The grant will be used for investigation of the ecological characteristics of Bundala National Park, establishment of a database to aid in site management (including mapping of information about the Park and surrounding area by using GIS), and quantifying the identified ecological characters.
"Wetland inventory and identification of measures for the rehabilitation of Togo’s South East Lagoon". The allocation of 36,813 Swiss francs for the implementation of this project will be used to carry out a site inventory in order to assess the loss of the values of the wetland and to identify appropriate actions to be taken through the formulation of a management plan. The inventory will be carried out with the involvement of local communities, taking into account the local knowledge and the needs of the various users of the wetland. In the light of the investigations, a management plan will be drawn up in consultation with stakeholders, including relevant institutions and user groups from Benin.