The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 4 January 2000

Inaugurating the Annotated Ramsar List. A long time ago, the Secretary General expressed his distinguished dissatisfaction at the fact that, on trips, he had either to carry with him the bare Ramsar List (22 pages printout, updated daily, available here), comprising only the basic information on Ramsar sites round the world, or the entire 4-volume Directory of Wetlands of International Importance, and its 1996 update, and the CD-ROM version produced by Wetlands International in 1999. Mr Delmar Blasco insisted upon having, soon, a version of the Ramsar List that would include one fruitful paragaph of interesting information about every Ramsar site in the world, but no more than that. Well, a few years later, the Annotated Ramsar List is almost ready for publication, and its Web-based cousin is poised to begin the New Millennium in an astonishing fashion. [04/01/00]

United Kingdom names its 149th Ramsar site. The UK now has 149 Ramsar sites, 14.7% of the world's total -- the 34 Contracting Parties that can boast only of their one obligatory Ramsar site may look to the UK as an example to be emulated. The Arun Valley site (529 ha) consists of 3 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in an area of wet meadows on the floodplain of the River Arun between Pulborough and Amberley, subject to occasional flooding, dissected by a network of ditches, several of which support rich aquatic flora and invertebrate fauna. The site is of outstanding ornithological importance for wintering waterfowl and breeding waders. It supports 7 wetland invertebrate species that are listed as threatened in Britain, one of which is endangered, and there are 4 nationally rare and 4 nationally scarce plant species. Much of the site is currently under appropriate management through organizations such as the Sussex Wildlife Trust and the RSPB, but influencing private landowners on management issues will continue to be important. Recreational activities include birdwatching and walking, and a visitor’s center, bird hides, and a tea shop are present. This is the UK’s 149th Ramsar site and the 1011th Ramsar site globally. (19/12/99)

Dr Luc Hoffmann, one of Ramsar's 'Founding Fathers', earns another honor. On Tuesday, 7 December 1999, at the Greek Embassy in Paris, Dr. Luc Hoffmann was given the insignia of Commander of the Order of Merit, a title awarded to him by the President of the Republic of Greece. The Ambassador stressed in his presentation the catalytic contribution of Luc Hoffmann in such international organisations as WWF, IUCN, IWRB [now Wetlands International AEME], the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Tour du Valat research station, and the International Foundation for the Banc d'Arguin (Mauritania). Here's some more info. (11/12/99)

The Philippines designates superb coral reef site. The Government of the Philippines has designated its fourth Ramsar site (the Convention's 1010th), the Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park (33,200 hectares), located in the middle of the Central Sulu Sea about 150 kilometres southeast of Puerto Princesa City. The Tubbataha reefs are well-known amongst fishermen in the southern Philippines and scuba divers around the world. ‘Tubbataha’ means a long reef exposed at low tide, and this is considered the largest coral reef atoll in the Philippines, harboring a diversity of marine life equal to or greater than any such area in the world. Some 46 coral genera and more than 300 coral species have been recorded, as well as at least 40 families and 379 species of fish. Sea turtles, sharks, tuna, dolphins, and jackfish are also found in the reefs. No permanent residents are found within the Park, but indigenous inhabitants of Cagayancillo periodically visit the reefs to collect the eggs of nesting birds such as boobies, and scuba diving, snorkeling, and sport fishing are popular activities despite the relative inaccessibility of the area. There has been considerable damage in recent years because of rampant use of destructive fishing using dynamite and cyanide. The Park was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1993. (9/12/99)

Four wetlands-related meetings held in Nanchang, China. Mr. Li Lukang of Wetlands International-China Programme reports that in late November a series of meeting related to wetlands were held in Nanchang City, China. They were the Third Meeting of the Shorebird Working Group, the Strategy Implementation Workshop to Promote Migratory Waterbird Conservation, the Fourth Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Committee, and the Annual Meeting of Cooperation on Migratory Waterbird among China-Japan-Australia. The participants who took part in one or more meetings were from China, Japan, Australia, India, Indonesia, Russia, Korea, as well as from the Ramsar Convention Bureau and Wetlands International. A field trip was organized to Poyang Lake, one of the 7 Ramsar Sites in China (photo). (7/12/99)

The Republic of the Philippines has designated the 1008th and 1009th Wetlands of International Importance to the Ramsar List, effective 12 November 1999: Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro (14,568 ha) and The Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (14,836 ha) in Mindanao. A third site has been put forward as well and is only pending submission of adequates maps before being appended to the Ramsar List. Here are the details. [6/12/99]

The 24th meeting of the Standing Committee to the Ramsar Convention is over. The 60-odd delegates from the SC Member and Permanent Observer States, partner NGOs, and Observer States, left behind something like 30 SC24 decisions, many of which are significant and some of which are extremely important, and the Convention on Wetlands can now proceed in an orderly fashion. The Report will be ready soon -- in the meantime, here are some quick results: the Secretary General's tenure was renewed for another 3 years, various budgets and work plans were approved with suitable amendments, the National Reporting mechanism for 2002 was approved, lots of Small Grants Fund allocations were authorized, the creation of a Development Assistance Officer position in the Bureau was approved, two Subgroups were formed to study a couple of issues further, and a number of special projects from AEWA, Wetlands International, and the Global Action Plan on Peatlands were formally endorsed.  [4/12/99]

Belarus becomes the Convention’s 117th Contracting Party. UNESCO has informed the Bureau that it has received from the Government of Belarus a declaration of succession to the former Soviet Union and the Ramsar Information Sheet accompanying its designation of "Sporovsky Biological Reserve (‘zakaznik’)" as its first Ramsar site. The 19,384-hectare site is situated in the floodplain of the middle course of the Yaselda River, 2km south of the town of Beryoza in the Brest region. It includes one of the largest lowland mesotrophic sedge fen mires in Europe. On much of the mire the hydrological regime has been disrupted by drainage canal systems, but much of the site "appears to be in a condition very close to the natural one". It represents one of the largest European habitats of the Aquatic Warbler, a globally threatened species. The land belongs to the state and is rented by about 20 collective farms and forestry enterprises; in 1999 it was declared a biological reserve of national importance, with all drainage and land reclamation prohibited and economic uses of the land officially regulated. A UK Darwin Initiative-funded project, carried out by the UK’s RSPB and the Belarus Society for the Protection of Birds, is making a number of scientific studies of the site and will develop a management plan. [30/11/99]

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

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