COP5 DOC. C.5.16, Review of implementation of the Convention


5th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
Kushiro, Japan
9-16 June 1993

DOC. C.5.16





Compiled by M. Smart
Assistant Secretary General, Ramsar Bureau

Background to national reports1 - 4
National reports to the present meeting5 - 9
Current Contracting Parties to the Convention10 - 39
Acceptance of the Paris Protocol40 - 42
Acceptance of the Regina Amendments43 - 51
Administrative Authorities responsible for implementing the Convention52 - 59
Wetlands designated for the "List of Wetlands of International Importance"60 - 90
Contributions to the Ramsar budget91 - 100
General introduction101
Deletions from the List and boundary restrictions at listed sites102 - 118
Changes in legal status, degree of protection or ownership119 - 150
Change in ecological character of listed wetlands, including the "Montreux Record" and the "Monitoring Procedure"151 - 264
Action, notably management, at listed wetlands265 - 283
General statements on the current national wetland situation284 - 326
Progress towards establishment of national wetland policies327 - 387
Progress towards establishment of national scientific inventories of potential Ramsar sites388 - 428
Progress towards priority actions at particular wetlands, especially establishment and wardening of nature reserves in non-listed wetlands429 - 455
General comments on the implementation of the Convention and difficulties experienced456 - 485
Instances where the Convention has facilitated conservation of particular sites or species486 - 511
Consultations about implementing Article 5, especially on wetlands extending over the territory of more than one party512 - 544
Role of Development Agencies, both bilateral and international, in wetland conservation545 - 572
Action taken on Montreux recommendations573 - 577


Background to the national reports

1. Article 6.2 of the Ramsar Convention states that the Conference of the Contracting Parties shall be competent:

  • to discuss the implementation of this Convention;
  • to discuss additions to and changes in the List;
  • to consider information regarding changes in the ecological character of wetlands included in the List provided in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 3;
  • to make general or specific recommendations to the Contracting Parties regarding the conservation, management and wise use of wetlands and their flora and fauna.

2. The purpose of the present document is to provide basic information enabling participants in the Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to carry out these requirements. It follows the lines of papers presented to the previous four meetings:

  • Summary of national reports and Review (Cagliari Proceedings, pages 163-224 and 311-342);
  • Overview and Review (Groningen Proceedings, pages 143-180);
  • Review (Regina Proceedings, pages 185-250); and
  • Review (Montreux Proceedings, Vol. III, pages 289-367).

3. In order to reflect the views of the Contracting Parties in the present document, and to promote discussion and exchange of views, each Contracting Party is requested to submit a written report to the Ramsar Bureau before an ordinary meeting of the Conference. This practice has now become well established, and indeed is included among the commitments of Contracting Parties in the "Framework for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention" adopted at Montreux (Proceedings, Vol. I, pages 255-262: "Commitments by Contracting Parties: VIII To produce national reports for Conferences of the Parties").

4. National reports are published in full in the Proceedings of each meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, in the Conference working language in which they were submitted. They provide by far the most detailed and authoritative body of information on the Convention and its operation within individual Contracting Parties, as well as providing a framework for discussion at the meeting. This was recognised in the first Recommendation adopted at the 1984 Groningen meeting (Recommendation 2.1) which noted that "submission of timely and detailed national reports is of vital importance for the purpose of monitoring implementation of the Convention and for the purpose of sharing information on wetland conservation", and recommended that "all parties should submit detailed national reports to the Bureau at least six months prior to each ordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties".

National reports to the present meeting

5. The same Groningen Recommendation called on the Bureau to draft a questionnaire for national reports, so as to simplify and standardize reporting procedures. A questionnaire of this kind was drawn up in consultation with the Standing Committee and, with minor modifications to reflect the particular preoccupations of each meeting of the Conference, has been used since then. The questionnaire produced for the present meeting lays special stress on the four principal obligations recognised in the Montreux Framework document (Listed Sites; Wise Use; Establishment of Wetland Nature Reserves; and International Cooperation), all of which are to be addressed at workshops at Kushiro. Since there will not be time to present and discuss each national report at Kushiro, it is intended that the present document C. 5.16 should be used to summarize information for discussion in plenary session under Agenda Item X "Review of Implementation of the Convention" and at the workshops.

6. The questionnaire was sent (under the title "Outline for national reports") to all Contracting Parties, under cover of Bureau Notification 1992/10 dated 28 April 1992, and is appended as Annex I to the present document. Contracting Parties were requested to submit their national reports to the Bureau six months before the opening of the meeting, i.e. by 9 December 1992. By that date, seven Contracting Parties had submitted a national report to the Bureau; at the time of compilation of this review (April 1993), 38 national reports had been received from the following Contracting Parties: Algeria; Austria; Belgium; Bolivia; Bulgaria; Canada; Chad; Chile; Costa Rica; Czech Republic; Denmark; France; Gabon; Germany; Guatemala; Hungary; Iceland; Italy; Japan; Jordan (partial); Morocco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Pakistan; Peru; Poland; Romania (provisional); Russian Federation; Slovak Republic; South Africa; Suriname; Sweden; Switzerland (provisional); Tunisia; United Kingdom; United States and Venezuela. In addition a report had been received from Ukraine which was not a Contracting Party at the time of submission. The Bureau has compiled the present document on the basis of these national reports, and has used other information previously submitted by the other Contracting Parties as appropriate.

7. As far as possible, the Bureau will incorporate data from any additional reports received between April and June into a revised version of this document and into the version to be published in the Kushiro Proceedings. However, the Bureau takes this opportunity of reminding Contracting Parties of the need to comply with submission dates for national reports, so that reviews like the present document may give a full and authoritative picture of the implementation of the Convention.

8. In general, the reports submitted follow the format of the Outline very closely, though some Contracting Parties (e.g. Canada, Italy) have presented their information in more narrative fashion. The degree of detail provided, as in previous years, varies considerably from one report to another. Some Contracting Parties (e.g. Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom) have provided very detailed reports, sometimes based on wide consultations carried out through national Ramsar Committees; the Danish report indeed has been produced in the form of a coloured booklet, including detailed maps and tables, which acts as an attractive vehicle for promotion of the Convention; a special edition of the Netherlands report is to be prepared for Kushiro. Other Contracting Parties (e.g. Algeria, Canada, New Zealand) have provided briefer documents which highlight the main features of their implementation of the Convention in the last three years.

9. The format of the present Review follows the headings of the "Outline for national reports".


Current Contracting Parties to the Convention

10. INTRODUCTION: Section 1.1 of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to indicate the "Date when the country concerned became a Contracting Party to the Convention". The present section draws on information in the national reports and on other documents submitted to the Bureau, in particular by the Depositary, UNESCO.

11. As of April 1993, 76 States have deposited with UNESCO instruments of signature without reservation as to ratification, of ratification, of accession or of acceptance. These are presented in Kushiro document INF. C.5.2. This figure compares with 60 on 4 July 1990 (at the end of the Montreux meeting), for 54 of which the Convention, taking account of the four-month waiting period stipulated in Article 10.2, was actually in force. Since Montreux the Convention has come into force for the following 25 States: Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Chad, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guinea, Indonesia, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Niger, Panama, Peru, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, and Zambia. It will come into force for Papua New Guinea when the four-month waiting period is completed. Three former States which were Contracting Parties at the time of Montreux - the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic (CSFR), the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the former Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR) -are no longer Parties. Thus, to the 54 parties at the time of Montreux, 25 have to be added and three subtracted, giving the present figure of 76.

12. Document INF. C.5.2 also gives the date when the Convention came into force for each Contracting Party. Some States (e.g. Panama and Peru) have deposited with UNESCO an instrument of ratification of, or accession to, the Convention and Paris Protocol, rather than an instrument of accession to the Convention as amended by the Paris Protocol. UNESCO has advised the Bureau that this procedure enables States to become Contracting Parties with immediate effect, without the waiting period of four months.

13. A number of Contracting Parties indicate in their national reports the date on which their national legislative body approved accession to the Convention. Thus the Algerian report points out that Algeria approved accession to the Convention on 11 December 1982, but that it came into force for Algeria, after deposit of an instrument with UNESCO, on 4 March 1984. Similarly, Decree No. 448 was signed by the President of the Republic of Italy on 13 March 1976 and published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale on 3 July 1976, but Italy became a Contracting Party on 14 April 1977, after deposit of an instrument with UNESCO. These examples illustrate the importance of depositing an instrument with UNESCO as soon as possible, and the delay which occurs if the instrument is not formally deposited.

14. The constitutional changes affecting the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, Germany, the former USSR and Yugoslavia since Montreux have of course affected their status under Ramsar. Details of the situation of these States and former States vis-a-vis the Convention are given in paragraphs 15-18 below.

15. FORMER CSFR: The former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic became a Contracting Party to Ramsar on 2 July 1990, by deposit with UNESCO of an instrument of acceptance of the Convention and Paris Protocol. On 1 January 1993, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic became separate States. UNESCO has informed the Ramsar Bureau that each has submitted a declaration of succession to the CSFR, so that each State is now a Contracting Party. The territories and wetlands over which the jurisdiction of the CSFR formerly extended are thus still covered by the Convention.

16. GERMANY: As noted in the German national report, both the former German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany were Contracting Parties at the time of Montreux; with the unification of Germany under the name of the Federal Republic of Germany since Montreux, the number of Contracting Parties decreased by one. The territories and wetlands over which the jurisdiction of the GDR formerly extended are of course still covered by the Convention.

17. FORMER USSR: At the time of the Montreux meeting, the former USSR was a Contracting Party to Ramsar. Since then, the Russian Federation has formally indicated to UNESCO that it continues to exercise the rights and obligations of the former USSR under the Ramsar Convention. Indeed, the report of the Russian Federation specifically states that the "Russian Federation continues to exercise the rights and carry out the obligations resulting from the Ramsar Convention signed by the USSR in 1974 and ratified by the decree of the Supreme Soviet on 26 December 1975". That part of the territory of the former USSR which is included in the territory of the Russian Federation therefore continues to be covered by the Ramsar Convention. Some other constituent republics of the former USSR (e.g. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine) have informed the Bureau that they intend to become Contracting Parties to the Convention. Those republics of the former USSR which are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan - approved the Alma-Ata Declaration of 21 December 1991 by which they undertook to uphold obligations contracted by the former USSR through enumerated international agreements. Among these members of the CIS, the Russian Federation has already confirmed it continues to exercise the rights and obligations of the former USSR; Tajikistan has deposited a declaration of succession with UNESCO, but has not yet designated a wetland for the List, so is not yet a Contracting Party. While it is therefore likely that the constituent republics of the former USSR will become Contracting Parties to Ramsar, the position as of April 1993 is that only the Russian Federation continues to exercise the rights and obligations of the former USSR.

18. YUGOSLAVIA: Yugoslavia became a Contracting Party to the Convention in 1977 and designated two wetlands in Vojvodina, in the present territory of Yugoslavia, for the List. Both Croatia and Slovenia, formerly constituent republics of Yugoslavia, have deposited an instrument of succession to Yugoslavia, and have designated wetlands for the List. They are therefore Contracting Parties to the Convention. UNESCO has advised that the date when their declarations of succession came into force is the date of independence.

19. REVIEW BY REGIONS: The increase in the number of Contracting Parties since Montreux, from 53 to 75 (i.e. an increase of over 40%), is an indication of the sharply increasing interest in the Convention. This increase has occurred in the following regions: six new parties in Africa, six in Eastern Europe (where the accession of "new" Contracting Parties is often due to changes in constitutional status), four in Asia (plus Papua New Guinea which will formally become a party in July 1993), eight in the Neotropics and one in Western Europe. It should be added that, according to information provided to the Bureau, it is likely that several more States will become Contracting Parties in the period before the Kushiro Conference. In particular it should be mentioned that Brazil has deposited an instrument of accession with UNESCO, and needs only to name a wetland for the List in order to become a Contracting Party. Paraguay has signed the Convention and named a site for the List, and now only needs to deposit an instrument of ratification. Furthermore, Tajikistan has deposited a declaration of succession to the former USSR with UNESCO, and needs only to name a site in order to become a Contracting Party. In paragraphs 20 to 39 an overview of the coverage of the Convention by Ramsar regions is presented. (It is perhaps worth recalling that the Regina meeting approved three recommendations welcoming the participation of delegates and observers from Asia (Recommendation 3.10), Africa (Recommendation 3.6) and the Neotropics (Recommendation 3.7). These three recommendations may have contributed to the increase in Contracting Parties from these regions, and the Kushiro meeting may wish to adopt similar recommendations, perhaps even with references to specific States).

20. AFRICA: In Africa there are currently 18 Contracting Parties: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. (The Convention has come into force since the Montreux meeting for: Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Kenya, Niger and Zambia). The African Regional Representative on the Standing Committee since 1987 has been Tunisia, with Kenya as Alternate Representative since 1990.

21. The Bureau understands that several other African countries are likely to become Contracting Parties in the near future, in particular Congo and Tanzania (which have received grants from the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund in order to assist them in completing the formalities of accession), and Côte d’Ivoire and Namibia, where the two Ministerial Councils have approved the principle of accession.

22. In the period since the Montreux meeting the Bureau has participated in a number of regional meetings in Africa in order to consult with Contracting Parties and to promote the Convention; among these, the following should be mentioned:

  • Francophone Environment Ministers’ Conference in Tunis, April 1991;
  • Meetings to prepare for African participation in the World Parks Congress (Venezuela, 1992) held in Kenya in July 1991 and Côte d’Ivoire in October 1991;
  • First IUCN Membership Conference for Southern Africa, Zimbabwe, August 1992;
  • African Biodiversity Conference, Kenya, September 1992.

A sub-regional meeting for North and West Africa (the sub-region with most Contracting Parties) was organized in Senegal in late March 1993, with financial support provided from the Wetland Conservation Fund at the request of Tunisia. This meeting was attended by representatives of Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Tunisia, and apologies were received from Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Morocco, Niger and Zaire. The participation of Mediterranean African parties (Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia) in the Mediterranean wetland meeting organized jointly by the Ramsar and Berne Conventions and the Government of Portugal at Ria Formosa in November 1992 should also be mentioned. It is also intended that the MedWet initiative (see paragraph 39) should pay great attention to the African states of the Mediterranean. Promotion of the Convention has been greatly helped by these regional meetings and by support from IUCN’s Regional Offices in Africa, notably those in Dakar (Senegal), Nairobi (Kenya) and Harare (Zimbabwe).

23. ASIA: There are currently 11 Contracting Parties in Asia: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Jordan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam, while Papua New Guinea will become a party as soon as the four-month waiting period is completed. In addition, much of the territory of the Russian Federation is in Asia, and Hong Kong is covered by United Kingdom’s membership. (Of Asian States, Bangladesh, China and Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka have completed the formalities for accession since Montreux). The Asian Regional Representative on the Standing Committee since 1987 has been Pakistan (Chairman of the Committee from 1987 to 1990), with Iran as Alternate Representative since 1990; in addition, Japan, as host of the Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, has been a member of the committee since 1990.

24. It is understood that several more Asian States are poised to join, given the emphasis placed on Asian matters by the holding, for the first time, of a meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Asia, and the support for promotion of the Convention provided by the Japanese authorities. Among States which have indicated that they are likely to join soon are Malaysia, Philippines, Tajikistan and Turkey. The former USSR designated wetlands in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan for the List of Wetlands of International Importance in 1976, so the accession of these four states would be of particular importance.

25. Much attention has also been devoted to regional meetings in Asia in the period since Montreux. With the support of Pakistan’s federal and provincial authorities, a first Ramsar Asian regional meeting was held in December 1991 in Karachi, in conjunction with the regional wetland meeting for southwest Asia organized by Pakistan’s National Council for Conservation of Wildlife, the Asian Wetland Bureau (AWB) and the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB); a second regional meeting was held in Islamabad, Pakistan, in May 1992 (with financial support from the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund), and a third in Otsu, Japan, in October 1992, in conjunction with the eleventh meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee, held in Kushiro. Among those taking part in these regional meetings were participants from: Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam and Yemen. Participation in these regional meetings and the secondment of a Technical Officer from the City of Kushiro in Japan to Bureau Headquarters to deal with Ramsar matters in Asia are undoubtedly among the reasons for this increase in the number of Contracting Parties in the region. Other major contributory factors are the support received from the AWB and the IUCN Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand.

26. The Standing Committee in October 1992 approved a grant from the Wetland Conservation Fund towards a regional meeting for southeast Asia, organized along the lines of the December 1991 Karachi meeting, to be held in Indonesia after the Kushiro meeting. The Standing Committee also approved a contribution towards a training course in Papua New Guinea.

27. EASTERN EUROPE: The Standing Committee includes regional representatives of both Eastern and Western Europe. The Montreux Conference suggested that Contracting Parties and the Standing Committee should investigate whether two separate regions should be maintained. A joint meeting of the Eastern and Western European Regions, convened by the Netherlands and Poland and held in Lelystad, Netherlands, in September-October 1992 (see paragraph 39) recommended that for the moment the two regions should be maintained.

28. The following ten States of Eastern Europe are at present Contracting Parties to the Convention: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Yugoslavia. Of these, the Convention has come into force since the Montreux meeting for: Croatia, Czech Republic, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic and Slovenia. The Regional Representative since 1987 has been Poland, with Hungary as Alternate Representative since 1990.

29. The Bureau understands that Albania has decided in principle to join the Convention and that several republics of the former USSR are likely to join the Convention in the near future, notably Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine. Ukraine, although not formally a Contracting Party, has indeed forwarded a national report to the Ramsar Bureau; this "confirms the Government of the Ukraine’s response to Ramsar" and states that an instrument of confirmation will soon be deposited with UNESCO. The former USSR designated wetlands in Estonia and Ukraine for the List of Wetlands of International Importance in 1976, so the accession of these States would be of particular importance. Furthermore, Turkey, whose territory covers parts of Asia and Europe, has also indicated that it is likely to become a Contracting Party in the near future.

30. The Bureau is to be represented at the "Environment for Europe" conference in Luzern, Switzerland from 28-30 April 1993, to which environment ministers from all European states are invited. This conference will investigate possibilities of cooperation between Eastern and Western Europe, and will pay special attention to the application of existing conventions, in particular Ramsar. The Bureau has already investigated ways of promoting such cooperation, notably through encouraging bilateral initiatives between parties in Eastern and Western Europe. The French authorities have given particular support to these initiatives, and the cooperation developed between Bulgaria and France (to be reviewed in a presentation to Workshop D on 12 June) is an excellent example of this type of activity; the Bureau is already involved in promoting this type of approach with Poland and Romania, and hopes to promote it in other states too.

31. NEOTROPICAL REGION: The Ramsar Neotropical region covers the Caribbean, Central America and South America. There are currently twelve Contracting Parties: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. In addition, territories under the jurisdiction of France, Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States are located in the region; both Netherlands and United Kingdom have designated wetlands in the Caribbean for the Ramsar List. The Convention has come into force for eight of these twelve Contracting Parties since the Montreux meeting: Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Peru and Trinidad & Tobago - the latter being the first Caribbean Contracting Party. The Regional Representative is Venezuela and the Alternate Representative is Uruguay, both since 1990.

32. Several other States of the region have indicated their intention of becoming Contracting Parties in the near future, in particular Brazil (which has already deposited an instrument of accession with UNESCO and only needs to name a wetland for the Ramsar List) and Paraguay (which has signed the Convention subject to ratification and deposited details of its designated wetland with UNESCO, and now only needs to deposit an instrument of ratification). The greatest potential for other new Contracting Parties clearly lies in the Caribbean where the regional Ramsar meeting, to be held at Cayenne in French Guyana in early May 1993 with financial support from France, Netherlands and United Kingdom, and in collaboration with a UNEP regional meeting, should prove a powerful stimulus. Delegates from Honduras and Jamaica at the Cayenne meeting indicated that the procedure for accession was well advanced in both countries.

33. As in other regions, regional Ramsar meetings have been a feature of the last triennium in the Neotropics. A meeting of Ramsar Administrative Authorities was held in Venezuela in August 1992, with participants from: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela; apologies were received from Brazil. In January 1993 a technical meeting for managers of Ramsar sites in the Neotropics was held in Bolivia, with the participation of experts from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela; apologies were received from Panama. In addition to these Ramsar meetings, Bureau staff have taken part in a regional IUCN meeting held in Santa Marta, Colombia in September 1991 and in the World Parks Congress in Venezuela in February 1992. The sharp increase in Ramsar membership in the Neotropical region may be attributed to a number of factors: the organization of regional meetings; the recruitment of a Technical Officer at Bureau Headquarters with special responsibility for the Neotropics; the greatly increased use of Spanish in the Bureau; and the support provided by the regional offices of partner organizations, in particular the IUCN Regional Office for Central America in Costa Rica, and the "Wetlands for the Americas" office in Argentina.

34. NORTH AMERICA: All three states of the North American Ramsar region (Canada, Mexico and United States) had already become Contracting Parties to the Convention before the Montreux meeting. USA has been the North American representative and the Chairman of the Standing Committee since 1990, with Canada (Vice Chairman from 1987-1990) as Alternate Representative.

35. OCEANIA: There are at present two Contracting Parties in the Ramsar region of Oceania, Australia and New Zealand, both of which were already parties at the time of the Montreux meeting. Australia has been Regional Representative on the Standing Committee since 1990, with New Zealand as Alternate Representative.

36. Although there have been no new Contracting Parties in this region in the last triennium, Papua New Guinea (included in the Asian region) will become a Contracting Party when the four-month waiting period is complete, and work has progressed on the Directory of Ocean Wetlands, to be published in 1993. In the course of this work, the opportunity has been taken to promote the Convention, and it is likely that there will be a number of new Contracting Parties in the region as a result. Another factor which should contribute to the accession of other States of the region is the plan to hold a training workshop in the second half of 1993 for wetland managers of southeast Asia and the Pacific in Papua New Guinea, with a financial contribution from the Wetland Conservation Fund approved by the Ramsar Standing Committee at its meeting in Kushiro in October 1992.

37. WESTERN EUROPE: As noted in paragraph 27, there are two Ramsar regions in Europe, and for the moment it is proposed by the European Contracting Parties to maintain them. The Western European region currently includes the following 19 Contracting Parties: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. The only one to have become a Contracting Party since Montreux is Liechtenstein. The Netherlands has been Regional Representative since 1987, and Spain has been Alternate Representative since 1990. In addition, Switzerland, as host of the Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, has been a member of the committee since 1987.

38. Most countries of Western Europe are already Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention. Of the few that are not, Luxembourg has indicated its intention of joining and indeed already makes a regular financial contribution to the Convention’s budget.

39. In order to improve coordination within the region, a number of regional meetings have been held in the last triennium. Among these, special mention should be made of the joint meeting of the Ramsar regions of Eastern and Western Europe, held in Lelystad (Netherlands) in September-October 1992, at the invitation of the two regional representatives on the Standing Committee, Poland and the Netherlands, and with generous financial support from the Netherlands. Participants came from: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and United Kingdom. Reference should also be made to the Mediterranean wetland meeting, held in Ria Formosa (Portugal) in November 1992 in cooperation with the Portuguese Government and the Berne Convention. In addition to the African participants mentioned in paragraph 22, participants from the following European States took part: Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Turkey. The MedWet initiative (to be presented in Workshop D on 12 June) was established in 1992 with the support of the Bureau and financial input from the Commission of the European Communities, and aims to promote conservation of Mediterranean wetlands.

Acceptance of the Paris Protocol

40. Section 1.2 (a) of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to indicate the date when the State concerned accepted the Paris Protocol. The present section draws on information in the national reports and on other documents submitted to the Bureau, in particular by the Depositary, UNESCO. Details of the dates on which the Paris Protocol entered into force for each Contracting Party are included in Annex II.

41. The Paris Protocol was approved at an Extraordinary Conference of the Contracting Parties, held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in December 1982. The Protocol confirms that all language versions of the Convention are of equal value, and establishes a process for amending the Convention, previously lacking. The Protocol stipulates that the amendments shall come into force when accepted by two-thirds of the Contracting Parties. At the time of the approval of the Paris Protocol there were 31 Contracting Parties to the Convention. The Protocol therefore came into force four months after its acceptance by the 21st of these 31 Contracting Parties, on 1 October 1986. Its entry into force allowed the holding of a second Extraordinary Conference in Regina, Canada in 1987, which adopted the Regina amendments.

42. Since 1 October 1986, new Contracting Parties automatically accept the Paris Protocol (either by acceding to the Convention as amended by the Paris Protocol, or by acceding to the Convention and Paris Protocol under the process mentioned in paragraph 12) unless they specifically state that they do not wish to do so. None have made such a statement, and it is difficult to see why they should wish to do so. In addition to Panama and Peru (which have become Contracting Parties to the Convention by depositing an instrument of accession to the Convention and Paris Protocol), Austria and the Russian Federation have, since the Montreux meeting, deposited an instrument of acceptance of the Paris Protocol. The Paris Protocol is therefore in force for nearly all of the 75 Contracting Parties, the exceptions being Algeria, Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Suriname, Uruguay and Yugoslavia. Since Croatia and Slovenia have each become Contracting Parties by making a declaration of succession to Yugoslavia, and since Yugoslavia has not accepted the Paris Protocol, Croatia and Slovenia are not covered by the Paris Protocol. The Belgian national report notes that the draft bill for approving the Paris Protocol was approved by the Council of Ministers on 20 November 1992, and has been forwarded to parliament; it adds that Belgium in any case already applies the amendments. The Suriname national report indicates that the process for acceptance of the Paris Protocol has already begun, and that formalization must follow.

Acceptance of the Regina amendments

43. INTRODUCTION: Section 1.2 (b) of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to indicate the date when the country concerned accepted the Regina amendments. The present section draws on information in the national reports and on other documents submitted to the Bureau, in particular by the Depositary, UNESCO. Details of the date of acceptance of the Regina amendments by individual Contracting Parties are included in document INF. C.5.2.

44. The Regina amendments are not yet in force. They will come into force when accepted by two-thirds (i.e. 21) of the 31 Contracting Parties which had accepted the Paris Protocol at the time of the Regina Conference. At present 16 of the required 21 have done so. In addition, another 8 Contracting Parties which had not accepted the Paris Protocol at the time of the Regina Conference have accepted the Regina Amendments, although this does not help to bring them into force.

45. PROVISIONS OF THE REGINA AMENDMENTS: Following the entry into force of the Paris Protocol in 1986, the way was open for the adoption of amendments to the machinery of the Convention, as suggested at the first meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in Cagliari in 1980 (Recommendation 1.8). The Extraordinary Conference held in Regina in 1987, in parallel with the fourth Ordinary Meeting of the Contracting Parties, adopted amendments to Articles 6 and 7; these amendments deal essentially with the powers of the Conference, the establishment of a financial mechanism, and with voting arrangements. Neither the Paris Protocol nor the Regina amendments affect the basic wetland provisions of the Convention. The drafters of the Regina amendments worked with the conviction that the Regina amendments would suffice to ensure efficient functioning of the Convention in future; necessary decisions could henceforth be taken by the Conference of the Contracting Parties (or by the Standing Committee between meetings of the Conference) and further amendments to the text would be unnecessary, unless major changes were to be made to the mechanisms or to the substantive provisions of the Convention.

46. PROGRESS TOWARDS ENTRY INTO FORCE: By coincidence, 31 Contracting Parties had also accepted the Paris Protocol at the time of the adoption of the Regina amendments. They were: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom and United States. The Regina amendments therefore come into force when adopted by two-thirds (i.e. 21) of those 31 Contracting Parties. (Acceptance is effected, like acceptance of the Paris Protocol or accession to the Convention, by deposit with UNESCO of a formal instrument). The Regina Conference approved a "Resolution on Provisional Implementation of the Amendments to the Convention" (Proceedings, page 113) which "urged Contracting Parties to implement on a provisional basis the measures and procedures adopted by the Extraordinary Conference......until such time as they come into force", and in fact the Contracting Parties have done so.

47. By the time of the Montreux meeting in 1990, the Regina amendments had been accepted by 9 of the 31 Contracting Parties named in paragraph 46: Bulgaria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Norway, Pakistan, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Japan had also accepted the Regina amendments, but had not accepted the Paris Protocol at the time of the Regina meeting. The Regina amendments were not therefore in force at the time of the Montreux meeting and the "Resolution on financial and budgetary matters" (Proceedings, Vol. I, page 276) "urged Contracting Parties to deposit as soon as possible an instrument of acceptance of the amendment of 28 May 1987".

48. Since Montreux, another seven Contracting Parties of those mentioned in paragraph 46 have formally accepted the Regina amendments: Australia, Hungary, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa and Tunisia. In all therefore, 16 of the required 21 Contracting Parties have accepted the Regina amendments. Unless five more of the 31 mentioned in paragraph 46 deposit an instrument of acceptance with UNESCO before the Kushiro meeting, it will be necessary to adopt another resolution on this subject at Kushiro. The entry into force of the Regina amendments is of the greatest importance to the operation of the Convention, since it will mean that the Convention’s situation is confirmed and formalized. Furthermore, the sooner the Regina amendments enter into force, the easier the situation will be for new Contracting Parties, who will be able to join the "Convention as amended by the Paris Protocol and the Regina Amendments" and will not need to accede to the Convention and Regina amendments separately.

49. Eight further Contracting Parties which had not accepted the Paris Protocol at the time of the Regina meeting have also accepted the Regina amendments. They are: Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Greece, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Russian Federation and Trinidad & Tobago. In all therefore, 24 Contracting Parties have formally accepted the Regina Amendments (see document INF. C.5.2 for details).

50. The national reports give further details of progress in acceptance of the Regina amendments. Of the 15 Parties which could help bring the Regina amendments into force, Chile notes that the authorities "are trying to make their acceptance effective". France notes that they are "being ratified". Morocco notes that the procedure for acceptance is "under way". New Zealand notes that they have "not yet" been accepted. The Polish report states that the Regina amendments were accepted by Poland on 27 November 1992; UNESCO has not as yet received a Polish instrument of acceptance.

51. Of the Parties which had not accepted the Paris Protocol at the time of the Regina meeting, Belgium notes that the Regina amendments, like the Paris Protocol, have been approved by the Council of Ministers and are now under consideration by Parliament; the report adds that Belgium is applying these amendments even though they are not in force. The Czech report says that acceptance is being prepared for Kushiro. The report from Guatemala notes that they are currently being processed by the Foreign Ministry. The Suriname report notes that the process for acceptance has been started.

Administrative Authorities responsible for implementing the Convention in each Contracting Party

52. INTRODUCTION: Section 1.3 of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to indicate the "name and address of Administrative Authorities responsible for implementing the Convention in each Contracting Party". The present section draws on information in the national reports and on other documents submitted to the Bureau. Details of the Administrative Authorities in each Contracting Party are given in document INF. C.5.4.

53. It would be difficult to over-emphasize the importance of the accuracy of document INF. C.5.4 for promoting contacts between Contracting Parties and between Parties and the Bureau. Contracting Parties are therefore asked to scrutinize the entry for their own state with particular care and to inform the Bureau of any errors or omissions. Up-to-date details of telephone and fax numbers are particularly valuable.

54. It should be noted that accession to the Convention is normally effected through a country’s Foreign Ministry. Formal contacts between the Ramsar Bureau and Contracting Parties are maintained through diplomatic channels; copies of diplomatic notes are sent to the formally designated administrative authority, with whom the Ramsar Bureau maintains close contact on the day-to-day running of the Convention’s business. It is vital for the Bureau to be notified formally (preferably through diplomatic channels, to avoid any uncertainty) of any changes in the administrative authority. In countries where implementation of the Convention may be carried out by several ministries or agencies, it is again important - in order to avoid delays or loss of contact - for the Bureau to have clear instructions.

55. Federal States often devolve the administration of the Convention to provincial administrations. The reports of Austria, Belgium and Germany all give details of the provincial bodies responsible. The Italian national report notes that between 1977 and 1984 a massive decentralization of the administrative management and structures to the regional authorities took place; this reorganization, of great political and historical importance, has changed the institutional character of Italy and decentralized the organization of land management, implementation of nature protection and planning of new protected areas.

56. Some national reports not only indicate the central administrative body responsible for implementation of the Convention, but comment on the body responsible for management of listed sites. Thus the South African report notes that the management of a wetland may be undertaken by any of a number of departments or one of the four provincial governments of the National Parks Board. The Romanian report states that the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority is the Administrative Authority for implementation of the Convention. The Suriname report distinguishes between the management and scientific authorities.

57. NATIONAL RAMSAR COMMITTEES: While there is a clear need to appoint a government authority with central responsibility for implementing the Convention in each party, there is also a need for coordination of Ramsar activities with other government departments and non-governmental bodies. This is particularly the case for implementation of the Ramsar concept of wise use and the consequent establishment of national wetland policies. The Bureau has been informed of the establishment of national Ramsar Committees, with varying structures and responsibilities, in a number of Contracting parties, notably: Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Netherlands, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA and Venezuela. As part of the cooperative effort with Bulgaria mentioned in paragraph 30, a Bulgarian national committee is to be established. The Bureau would welcome information from any other Contracting Parties which may have established national Ramsar committees.

58. The Italian report notes that a National Ramsar Secretariat, made up of a Technical Secretariat and a Technical-Scientific Committee, has been established by Ministerial Decree.

59. With a view to promoting exchanges between different national committees and to providing guidance on the best practice for such committees, the UK delegation proposes to call an informal meeting on the subject of national Ramsar committees during the Kushiro meeting on the evening of Friday 11 June and to propose a draft recommendation for consideration in plenary session.

Wetlands designated for the "List of Wetlands of International Importance"

60. INTRODUCTION: Section 1.4 of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to indicate the "Name, size (in hectares) and geographical coordinates of the centre of wetlands designated for the List of Wetlands of International Importance". Contracting Parties were requested to correct any inaccuracies in the List, the latest version of which is presented as document INF. C.5.3.

61. As of April 1993, the 75 Contracting Parties plus Papua New Guinea have designated 594 wetlands for the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, with a total area of over 37.5 million hectares or 375,000 square kilometres (roughly equivalent to the total surface area of Japan, Germany or Zimbabwe).

62. DATABASE AND INFORMATION SHEETS: The Bureau maintains the List through its database, located since the Montreux meeting with IWRB in Slimbridge, UK, for which special funding is provided in the Convention budget. The Ramsar database has close links with the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), based in Cambridge, UK. The List and the present section draw on the national reports and on other documents submitted by the Contracting Parties to the Bureau and database, notably the "Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands" completed by Parties for inclusion in the database. These information sheets on Ramsar sites have also been the basis for the Directory of Wetlands of International Importance, a new and authoritative version of which has been prepared for the present meeting of the Conference. The use of these information sheets and of the related "classification system for wetland type" (both formally approved by Montreux Recommendation 4.7) has been a major feature of the work of Contracting Parties and the Ramsar database in the last triennium. Revision by the Contracting Parties of earlier data sheets for designated sites, so that they conform to a new format, is time-consuming and a major task; however, it should be a once-and-for-all operation which will allow the database to be more widely used in analysis of situations and measures taken at Ramsar sites. Contracting Parties which have not already done so are particularly requested to submit details of existing Ramsar sites in the revised format. Information on any new sites, whether designated by states that are already Contracting Parties or by new parties, should be provided in the selfsame format, which is likely to be more and more widely used in wetland inventory work, whether at national, regional or local level. (The request for geographical coordinates of the "centre" of Ramsar sites is simply to facilitate recording in very large sites).

63. MAPS OF DESIGNATED SITES: As noted in the Montreux Review (Proceedings, Vol. III, page 306), most Contracting Parties have been scrupulous in submitting maps showing the boundaries of designated wetlands. Such maps are clearly essential for identification of sites and for monitoring of change in ecological character. Since Montreux, the Moroccan authorities have submitted detailed maps of their four listed sites. The Greek authorities have not yet established definitive boundaries for their eleven declared sites, as recommended in Montreux Recommendation 4.9.5, and have not therefore submitted definitive maps; however, the Bureau understands that the Greek Supreme Court has recognised the validity of the provisional maps already submitted. The Bureau has not yet received detailed maps of the six sites in the Netherlands Antilles.

64. In order to simplify the procedure of accession, the Montreux meeting adopted a "Resolution on Accession Requirements" (Proceedings, Vol. I, page 145). This states that new Contracting Parties must name at least one wetland for the List at the time of accession, and can provide documentation (description and map) later. On accession, the Chinese authorities named six sites; the Bureau looks forward to receiving maps showing their exact boundaries. Similarly, the Bureau awaits detailed maps of the five new Ghanaian sites.

65. NEW RAMSAR SITES SINCE MONTREUX: At the end of the Montreux meeting on 4 July 1990, the number of sites designated for the Ramsar List by States for whom the Convention was already in force was 497; statements of intention made at the meeting by existing and prospective Contracting Parties brought the number of sites past the 500 mark. As of April 1993 the number of sites in 75 parties plus Papua New Guinea is 603. The milestone of 600 Ramsar sites has therefore been passed before Kushiro, and a number of parties (among them Australia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Japan, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation and United Kingdom) have already indicated their intention (either in their national reports or in communications to the Bureau) of listing additional sites, before or on the occasion of the Kushiro meeting.

66. There have therefore been some 106 new designations covering over 6 million hectares so far in the present triennium. This figure of 106 includes:

  • sites designated by new Contracting Parties, including states which had deposited their instrument of accession with UNESCO at the time of the Montreux meeting, but for which the Convention came into force after the statutory four-month waiting period (Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Chad, Guatemala, Kenya, Sri Lanka), or which have deposited their instrument of accession since Montreux; or
  • sites designated by existing Contracting Parties, either after statements of intention at Montreux (e.g. by France and Switzerland) or since Montreux.

Of these 106 new Ramsar sites, 44 (covering 5,905,725 hectares) were designated by new Contracting Parties and 62 (covering 970,074 hectares) were designated by existing Contracting Parties.

67. The 44 Ramsar sites designated by new Contracting Parties are as follows (the designated wetlands in the Czech Republic, the Russian Federation, and the Slovak Republic had already been designated by the former Czech and Slovak Federal Republic and the ex-USSR, so are not included):

Argentina:3 wetlands covering82,474 ha
Bangladesh:1 wetland covering59,600 ha
Bolivia:1 wetland covering5,240 ha
Burkina Faso:3 wetlands covering299,200 ha
Chad:1 wetland covering195,000 ha
China:6 wetlands covering* 529,457 ha
Costa Rica:2 wetlands covering29,769 ha
Croatia:4 wetlands covering80,455 ha
Ecuador:2 wetlands covering90,000 ha
Guatemala:1 wetland covering48,372 ha
Guinea5 wetlands covering225,001 ha
Indonesia:1 wetland covering162,700 ha
Kenya:1 wetland covering18,800 ha
Liechtenstein:1 wetland covering101 ha
Panama:1 wetland covering80,765 ha
Papua New Guinea:1 wetland covering590,000 ha
Peru:3 wetlands covering2,415,691 ha
Romania:1 wetland covering647,000 ha
Slovenia:1 wetland covering650 ha
Sri Lanka:1 wetland covering6,216 ha
Trinidad & Tobago:1 wetland covering* 6,234 ha
Zambia:2 wetlands covering333,000 ha
Total:5,905,725 ha

* = provisional figure

68. The 62 new sites designated by existing Contracting Parties are as follows:

Australia (Christmas Island):1 wetland covering 1 ha
Austria:2 wetlands covering162 ha
France:7 wetlands covering338,585 ha
Germany:3 wetlands covering311,375 ha
Ghana:5 wetlands covering171,150 ha
Italy:1 wetland covering2,500 ha
Japan:1 wetland covering510 ha
Netherlands:4 wetlands covering6,570 ha
Spain:9 wetlands covering20,293 ha
South Africa:5 wetlands covering20,300 ha
Switzerland:6 wetlands covering5,233 ha
United Kingdom:15 wetlands covering15,174 ha
USA:4 wetlands covering78,221 ha
Total:970,074 ha

In addition to the above 970,074 hectares, the following parties extended existing Ramsar sites as follows:

Czech Republic:extension of 2 sites2,853 ha
UK:extension of 4 sites28,989 ha
Total:31,842 ha

The French national report indicates that it is intended to extend the existing Morbihan and Lac Léman sites.

69. A comparison between the designation of new sites in the periods 1987-1990 and 1991-1993 reveals some interesting tendencies. Between Regina and Montreux, the great majority of the 134 new sites (with a total area of over six million hectares) designated by 25 parties were listed by existing parties (some 117 sites covering over six million hectares listed by 16 parties). Of the 97 new sites listed by 34 parties since Montreux (total area again over six million hectares), 53 covering just under a million hectares were designated by 12 existing parties, while 44 sites covering over six million sites were designated by the 22 new parties and Papua New Guinea. In the last triennium therefore, the increase in the List has come to a much greater extent from new parties than from additions by existing parties.

70. At both the Regina and Montreux meetings the tendency for existing parties to add sites to the List at an increasing pace was remarked upon. The Kushiro meeting may wish to reflect on the reasons for this apparent slowing down. Is this a real slowing down, or - as comments in national reports seem to suggest - just an accident of statistics? If it is real, have existing parties listed all their potential sites? Is it becoming more difficult to list new sites? Are the difficulties in maintaining ecological character of existing sites discouraging parties from listing new sites? Do parties prefer to carry out management measures at existing sites rather than to list new ones? Are parties concentrating on other aspects of the Convention (wise use, international cooperation) rather than listing sites?

71. The following 25 parties have now designated additional sites for the List after the sites originally designated at the time of accession:

  • Australia: on eleven occasions, once since Montreux, on Christmas Island; wetlands in all Australian states except Queensland have now been designated for the List and the Bureau understands that designation of two sites in Queensland is imminent.
  • Austria: on two occasions, both since Montreux; with the designation since Montreux of Ramsar sites in the Länder of Kärnten and Steiermark, there are now Ramsar sites in all nine Austrian provinces except Salzburg and Tirol.
  • Bulgaria: on one occasion, before Montreux.
  • Canada: on five occasions, all before Montreux; the Canadian report notes that wetlands in all Canadian provinces and territories have been designated for the List.
  • Denmark: on two occasions, both before Montreux, including 11 sites in Greenland.
  • France: on one occasion, since Montreux; the Bureau understands that additional designations, some in France’s overseas departments, are imminent.
  • Germany: on four occasions, three since Montreux; the listing since Montreux of the Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein sections of the Wadden Sea means that the whole of the Wadden Sea in Denmark, Germany and Netherlands now figures on the List; and also that wetlands in all German Länder except Berlin, Bremen, Saarland, Sachsen and Sachsen-Anhalt have now been designated for the Ramsar List.
  • Ghana: once, since Montreux.
  • Hungary: once, before Montreux; further additions are planned (see paragraph 81).
  • Iceland: once, before Montreux.
  • India: once, before Montreux.
  • Ireland: on seven occasions, all before Montreux.
  • Italy: on thirteen occasions, once since Montreux; the national report points out that most Italian Ramsar sites were designated between 1977 and 1984, before the institutional changes mentioned in paragraph 55.
  • Japan: on three occasions, once since Montreux.
  • Netherlands: on five occasions, once since Montreux.
  • New Zealand: twice, both before Montreux.
  • Norway: once, before Montreux.
  • Poland: once, before Montreux.
  • Senegal: twice, both before Montreux.
  • South Africa: three times, once since Montreux.
  • Spain: three times, once since Montreux; the nine new Spanish wetlands include sites in the autonomous communities of Cataluña, Extremadura and Pais Vasco, hitherto unrepresented in the Ramsar List.
  • Sweden: once, before Montreux.
  • Switzerland: on two occasions, once since Montreux.
  • United Kingdom: on nineteen occasions, nine since Montreux.
  • USA: on seven occasions, four since Montreux.

72. Rather few of the sites mentioned in Montreux Recommendation 4.9 (which welcomed statements made at Montreux by a number of delegations, and urged several Contracting Parties to designate additional sites) have as yet been listed; the recommendation called for: year-round listing for Lake Balaton and Lake Tata (Hungary); the listing of the middle reaches of the River Vistula (Poland); of 16 new sites in the former USSR; of the Melaleuca forests of U Minh district (Viet Nam); and of two coastal and eight inland sites in former Yugoslavia. Of these, the four sites listed by Croatia and the coastal site listed by Slovenia may be included in the sites mentioned for former Yugoslavia. The authorities of the Russian Federation have indicated to the Bureau that they hope to designate over 20 new Ramsar sites.

73. ALGERIA: The national report does not mention listing of Garaet Mekhada and the Macta Marshes, both of which were noted as intended sites in the Algerian reports to the Groningen and Regina meetings. The Ramsar Monitoring Procedure mission in November 1990 recommended that measures, including designation, were urgently needed at Garaet Mekhada.

74. CANADA: The national report to the Montreux meeting indicated that discussions were under way to designate four additional sites in Canada. No new sites have been listed since Montreux, but the national report states that nomination is being considered for Tabusintac Lagoon and River Estuary in New Brunswick, and Creston Valley in British Columbia in 1993.

75. CHAD: The national report indicates that, while Chad has for the moment designated only one site for the List, other possible sites exist and will be added when the time is right.

76. COSTA RICA: The national report indicates that there are plans to enlarge the existing Caño Negro site, with a view to linking it with the neighbouring wetlands of Los Guatusos in Nicaragua. Studies are also under way for the inclusion in the Ramsar List of Gandoca y Manzanillo, Tortuguero and Térraba-Sierpe.

77. CZECH REPUBLIC: The national report notes that, following consultations with the Ramsar Bureau, the Czech Ramsar Committee proposed enlargement of two previously listed sites; the Czech authorities have subsequently announced extensions to the existing Sumava peatlands and Lednice fishponds Ramsar sites. Appended to the report are details of five proposed additional Ramsar sites in the Czech Republic.

78. FINLAND: The national report to the Regina meeting indicated that Finland was considering addition of 30 new areas to the Ramsar List, but these sites have not yet been listed.

79. GERMANY: The national report comments that the proposal to designate Lampertheimer Altrhein, included in the report of the Federal Republic to the Montreux meeting, has been withdrawn as the site did not meet the Ramsar criteria. The national report does not refer to Kühkopf-Knoblauchsaue (Hessen), mentioned in the report to the Groningen meeting as being under consideration for listing.

80. GHANA: The Ghanaian representative at the subregional meeting for North and West Africa in March 1993 indicated that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) had agreed to provide financial support for the five new Ghanaian sites, on condition that they were included in the Ramsar List. At the same meeting the representative of Congo (not yet a Contracting Party) explained that GEF had also requested assurances from the Government of Congo about the inclusion of Lake Télé on the Ramsar List.

81. HUNGARY: The national report indicates that the process of revising the data sheet for Hortobágy (see paragraph 62) showed the area had previously been under-estimated by 5,000 hectares.

The report also gives details of proposals to designate another 27 sites covering over 70,000 hectares for the Ramsar List, once questions of ownership rights (see paragraph 197) are settled. As the report comments, this will be a significant step in wetland conservation in Hungary.

82. IRAN: Iranian reports to previous meetings of the Conference have referred to the Government’s intention to designate Gandoman and Chogakhor Marshes (Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province) for the Ramsar List. So far, the Bureau has not received formal notification of this addition.

83. MAURITANIA: The Mauritanian report to the Montreux meeting noted that other potential Ramsar sites in Mauritania included Diawling (where a national park has been established since Montreux), Lake Aleg, Lake of Mâl, the dam on the Gorgol Noir, Tamourt-en-Naj and the Aftout-es-Sahel. That report cautioned however that socio-economic difficulties related to their exploitation would have to be overcome. At the sub-regional meeting for North and West Africa in Senegal in March 1993, the representative of Mauritania expressed the hope that Diawling could be listed under Ramsar and could benefit from a grant made by the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund.

84. NETHERLANDS: The national report does not refer specifically to the Verdroenkene Land van Saeftinghe, on the border with Belgium, which was mentioned as a possible Ramsar site in a 1988 Monitoring Procedure report and in a communication to the Bureau by the Netherlands authorities (see Montreux Proceedings, Vol. III, page 304). The report does however refer to the ecological interdependence between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and to a project aiming at the realization of trans-boundary nature areas.

85. PAKISTAN: The national report notes that the Monitoring Procedure mission to Pakistan in May 1990 recommended the immediate listing of 15 named wetlands, and that formalities are being completed for the notification of these sites.

86. POLAND: The national report indicates that plans are in hand for extension of the Siedem Wysp Ramsar site (where the Monitoring Procedure was applied in 1989) and for designation of additional Ramsar sites, including the Biebrza River National Park. The "International Conference on the protection and management of wetlands and waterfowl", held in Gdansk in September 1989 and mentioned in the Polish report to Montreux, recommended the listing of Biebrza, the Slowinski National Park and Milicz ponds.

87. PORTUGAL: At the Mediterranean wetland meeting held in Portugal in November 1992 (see paragraphs 22 and 39), the Portuguese hosts announced their intention of listing nine new Ramsar sites.

88. SURINAME: The national report notes that Coppename River Mouth, Suriname’s first Ramsar site, is also listed as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve and as a "twinsister reserve" with Mary’s Point and Shepody Bay in New Brunswick, Canada (both Ramsar sites).

89. UKRAINE: The report recalls that at the time of designation for the Ramsar List by the former USSR in 1977, the Danube Delta and Yagorlits & Tendrov Bays were considered to be a single site. They have now been separated into two sites, the Dounaiski Plavni (the Danube Delta) and Chernomorsk (the Black Sea) Reserves, as suggested by the Ramsar Monitoring mission in 1990. (Confirmation of Ukraine’s status as a Contracting Party, and of the designation of these sites is awaited - see paragraphs 17 and 29).

90. UNITED KINGDOM: National reports to previous meetings have indicated that the UK has actively pursued a policy of identifying potential Ramsar sites and of subsequent designation. The report to the present meeting notes that this programme is being continued and that further designations may be expected in the near future, including further sites in dependent territories, following the designation at Montreux of the North, Middle and East Caicos Islands. The report specifically mentions that extension of the existing Ramsar sites of Derwent Ings and Upper Severn Estuary (the latter to cover a much larger site, the Severn Estuary) are under consideration.

Contributions to the Ramsar budget

91. INTRODUCTION: Section 1.5 of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to indicate "Contributions made to the Ramsar budget (core budget, support in kind, project support, or support for the Wetland Conservation Fund)". Since this financial information is presented in other Kushiro meeting papers, in particular DOC. C.5.13, it is not covered in detail here. Simply the main comments in the national reports are summarized in the following paragraphs.

92. CORE BUDGET: It should be emphasized that the Contracting Parties have applied the Regina and Montreux resolutions, calling on them to make financial contributions to the core budget as though the Regina amendments were already in force, in a very thoroughgoing manner. In 1991, 98% of the core budget was received. At the time of writing in April 1993, with more 1992 contributions still expected, 72% of the core budget has been received. Most national reports give details of their contributions to the core budget. The US report notes that funds were made available both by the Fish and Wildlife Service and by the State Department. The Belgian report notes that an extra contribution was made by the Walloon regional authorities.

93. WETLAND CONSERVATION FUND: Most national reports give details of any additional voluntary contributions made to the Wetland Conservation Fund.

94. PROJECT SUPPORT: In addition to comments on their contributions to the core budget and the Wetland Conservation Fund, national reports refer to special contributions made for particular projects, and these are summarized in the following paragraphs.

95. The Convention budget does not provide for funding of the triennial meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties. The Swiss report recalls that the Swiss authorities covered practically all the costs of the 1990 Montreux meeting. The Japanese report points out that a grant was made in 1992 for preparatory work for the 1993 Kushiro meeting, and modestly omits to mention the major support to be provided in 1993 for the meeting itself. Several Contracting Parties make grants for the participation of delegates from developing countries at the Conference, and these are mentioned by Norway and UK.

96. The US report points out that the 1991 meeting of the Standing Commitee in St. Petersburg, Florida, was hosted by the US authorities, and the Japanese report mentions the grant made for the holding of the 1992 Standing Committee meeting in Kushiro. The US also hosted an ad hoc meeting on wise use in Washington in February 1993. The Pakistan report notes its financial support for the second regional meeting for Asia in Islamabad.

97. Both the French and US reports give details of major grants made to the Bureau in response to portfolios of project concepts presented to them. The French report gives details of the payments to the core budget of FF. 287,000 per annum, plus supplementary grants of FF. 480,000 (= SFr. 120,000) in 1991 and FF. 1,275,000 (= SFr. 340,000) in 1992. Some of these French grants have been used to promote a programmatic approach to certain countries such as Bulgaria. The US report notes total voluntary contributions of US$ 350,000 (= SFr. 525,000) in 1991, US$ 531,500 (= nearly SFr. 800,000) in 1992 and US$ 917,500 (= Sfr. 1,375,000) in 1993. The Netherlands additional grant of one million guilders (= about SFr. 825,000) for the three-year wise use project should also be mentioned in this context. As a result of this project, an "Action Plan" including a series of wise use projects for funding is being presented to the Netherlands Government.

98. The Austrian and German reports record their contribution for production of German language information material. Norway made a special grant to allow production of an extended Asian version of the Ramsar Newsletter in 1993.

99. The Swiss report mentions its annual grant to the Bureau for work in countries, especially Africa, on bird migration routes passing through Switzerland. The UK also makes an annual grant covering developing country delegates to the Conference, the Fund and the Monitoring Procedure.

100. The Czech report notes a grant made to the Bureau for scientific expertise, while the Polish report, noting the financial difficulties recently experienced, gives details of projects funded at the Siedem Wysp Ramsar site following application of the Monitoring Procedure. The US report also refers to monetary support for a number of Ramsar related bilateral activities.


General introduction

101. Section 2 of the "Outline for national reports" requests "Further information on wetlands designated for the List of wetlands of international importance", under the following headings:

  • Deletions or boundary restrictions
  • Changes in legal status, degree of protection or ownership
  • Change in ecological character (including references to the Ramsar "Monitoring Procedure" and "Montreux Record")
  • Action, notably management, at listed sites

Listed sites will be discussed in detail in Conference Workshop A ("Conservation of listed sites") on Friday 11 June. A background paper for this workshop (DOC. C.5.6) has already been distributed. The following paragraphs of the present document will provide further background for discussion, both in Workshop A and in Item XI of the agenda in plenary session.

Deletions from the List and boundary restrictions at listed sites

102. Section 2.1 of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to indicate the "name of any wetland which, because of urgent national interest, has been deleted from the List or had its boundaries reduced". The Convention text provides that "Any Contracting Party shall have the right ..... because of its urgent national interests, to delete or restrict the boundaries of wetlands already included by it in the List"; if it does so, it shall "at the earliest possible time, inform the organization or government responsible for the continuing bureau duties ..... of any such changes" (Article 2.5). Furthermore, "Where a Contracting Party in its urgent national interest, deletes or restricts the boundaries of a wetland included in the List, it should as far as possible compensate for any loss of wetland resources, and in particular it should create additional nature reserves for waterfowl and for the protection, either in the same area or elsewhere, of an adequate portion of the original habitat" (Article 4.2). Workshop B of the Montreux meeting discussed the definition of "compensation", and requested the Standing Committee to prepare a Resolution on interpretation of Article 4.2 for discussion at Kushiro (Montreux Proceedings, Vol. I, pages 113-114).

103. DELETIONS: As at all previous meetings of the Conference, it can once again be stated that no wetlands have been deleted from the Ramsar List. The Bureau has received no notification of deletions and all national reports state that no deletions have taken place. Some reports indeed react in a lively fashion to this entry in the questionnaire: thus the Costa Rican report notes that "there is no interest in the country in suppressing or reducing the boundaries of wetlands on the List; on the contrary, extensions are under consideration", while the Polish report comments that "there is no intention to delete any of the five Polish Ramsar sites from the List, neither to reduce their areas".

104. The Standing Committee has given considerable attention to the question, raised at Regina (Proceedings, page 199) and Montreux (Proceedings, Vol. III, page 309), of action to be taken if it appears that a site did not, at the time of designation, meet the Ramsar "Criteria for identifying wetlands of international importance". This matter will be discussed in Workshop A at Kushiro, and the Standing Committee has proposed a "Review Procedure" for listed sites (draft Recommendation 5.2 and Annex, attached to document DOC.C.5.6). The essence of this procedure is that the Bureau, through use of the Ramsar database and in close cooperation with the party concerned, should review the List (and in particular those sites designated before criteria were first approved in 1980) and identify any sites which may not have met the criteria. An important element of the Standing Committee’s proposal is that Contracting Parties "enter into informal consultations with the Convention Bureau and its technical advisors prior to listing new sites". Without establishing a vetting procedure like that operated by the World Heritage Committee, such a procedure would ensure that wetlands designated for the List in future do meet the criteria approved by the Conference of the Contracting Parties through Montreux Recommendation 4.2.

105. PAKISTAN: Four listed wetlands in Pakistan, already mentioned at Regina and Montreux, illustrate the above point. The Pakistan report to the present meeting notes that the Monitoring Procedure carried out in May 1990 recommended the deletion of four listed sites (Malugal Dhand, Kandar Dam, Tanda Dam and Kheshki Reservoir), all designated in 1976. The Pakistan report notes that the provincial authorities feel the status of Tanda Dam has significantly changed in the positive direction, and that it should therefore not be denotified. It adds that formalities for notification of 15 other sites, recommended for designation by the Monitoring Procedure mission, are being completed. (A grant for this purpose was made from Monitoring Procedure funds in early 1992).

106. BOUNDARY RESTRICTIONS: The vast majority of national reports indicate that there have been no restrictions to the boundaries of designated sites. Details of the few sites where possible restrictions are mentioned are given in paragraphs 107-109, while paragraphs 110-118 give updated information on possible restrictions mentioned in the Montreux Review (Proceedings, Vol. III, page 310-312). In general, the few boundary restrictions proposed, with the exception of Bañados del Este in Uruguay, appear to be of minor importance; some of the restrictions previously proposed have been cancelled.

107. AUSTRALIA: The Australian authorities informed the Bureau in 1992 that the state of Victoria was considering a proposal which might involve deletion of a part of a Ramsar site, and requested information from the Bureau on the implications of any such deletion.

108. DENMARK: As in its report at Montreux, the report from Denmark remarks that there has been no reduction of the List of 27 wetlands designated. However, the boundaries of some areas will have to be adjusted in order to make a more appropriate demarcation in the field, and to make Ramsar sites conform in area with sites designated under the European Community’s "Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds". As a consequence there will be a number of minor changes in Ramsar sites, which will be notified in the next national report.

109. SOUTH AFRICA: The national report refers to the proposal to revise the boundary between South Africa and Namibia at the Orange River mouth. When this occurs, the boundaries of the Orange River Mouth Ramsar site will be restricted. However, South Africa hopes that Namibia will become a Contracting Party in the near future and that this entire wetland will be jointly designated for the Ramsar List.

110. BOUNDARY RESTRICTIONS NOTED AT MONTREUX: The Montreux Review (Proceedings, Vol. III, page 310-312), gave details of all boundary restrictions - in almost all cases with larger areas designated in compensation - that have been notified in the past. These were as follows:

  • Belgium (restrictions at Galgenschoor with compensation at the "Ijzerbroeken te Diksmuide en Lo-Reninge" Ramsar site);
  • Germany (minor restricions at seven sites with compensatory extensions);
  • Iran (considerable restrictions proposed at Miankaleh and Shadegan Marshes; those at Minkaleh not put into effect);
  • Italy (restriction and compensation at Stagno di Cagliari);
  • Netherlands (restriction of two hectares in the 250,000 ha Wadden Sea);
  • Norway (restriction and compensation at Akersvika and the Grudevatnet sector of the Jaeren Ramsar site);
  • United Kingdom (restriction of the boundaries of Abberton Reservoir and North Norfolk Coast Ramsar sites, with compensation in the latter case).

111. The Montreux Review also referred to possible restrictions in:

  • Denmark (Nakskov and Inner Fiords);
  • Greece (in relation to the delineation of definitive boundaries for all Greek Ramsar sites);
  • Iran (Kamjan Marshes and Yadegarlu);
  • United Kingdom (Lough Neagh and Bridgwater Bay);
  • Uruguay (Bañados del Este).

Paragraphs 112-118 update information on the sites mentioned in the previous two paragraphs.

112. DENMARK: The detailed submission about Nakskov and Inner Fiords in the national report mentions a number of improved conservation measures, but makes no reference to possible restriction of boundaries.

113. GREECE: As mentioned in paragraph 63, the Government of Greece has submitted documents showing provisional boundaries for its eleven Ramsar sites to the Ramsar Bureau, but has not established definitive boundaries. The question of possible restrictions is therefore still in suspense.

114. IRAN: The Iranian report to the Groningen meeting indicated that it was proposed to reduce the area of the Miankaleh Ramsar site from 100,000 ha to 40,000 ha The Ramsar Monitoring Procedure mission which visited Miankaleh in January 1992 was delighted to find that the original limits of the site have in fact been maintained and that there is no need to speak of any restriction of boundaries for this site.

115. Similarly, at the Neiriz Lakes and Kamjan Marshes Ramsar site, the Monitoring Procedure mission, while recognising that some ecological change had occurred as a result of attempted drainage for agriculture, concluded "that Kamjan Marshes retain sufficient wetland values to justify their continued status as part of the Ramsar site and therefore recommends that they be maintained on the List". The mission suggested that restoration work be carried out.

116. The mission was unable to visit Yadegarlu and Shadegan Marshes but suggested that the Bureau, together with Iranian experts, visit these areas (and also the two Ramsar sites of Alagol, Ulmigol & Ajigol Lakes; and of Khuran Straits) with a view to investigating whether problems exist and, if so, what measures might be taken to restore the wetlands to their former condition.

117. UNITED KINGDOM: The UK report notes that consent has been given for the construction of a nuclear reactor at Hinckley Point, in the Bridgwater Bay Ramsar site. Conditions were included in the consent to protect the Ramsar site. A final decision on whether to proceed with construction has not yet been taken. The UK report does not refer to possible restrictions of boundaries at Lough Neagh, but indicates additional statutory conservation measures at the site and the possibility of its declaration as a National Nature Reserve.

118. URUGUAY: The Ramsar Bureau has been in close contact with the authorities of Uruguay in connection with proposed realignments of the boundaries of the Bañados del Este Ramsar site (also included in UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve network). An international team is to visit Uruguay in the framework of the Monitoring Procedure in early May 1993 and its findings will be available, at least in a preliminary version, at the time of the Kushiro meeting.

Changes in legal status, degree of protection or ownership

119. The Convention text states that "each Contracting Party shall designate suitable wetlands within its territory for inclusion in a List of wetlands of international importance" (Article 2.1) and "shall formulate and implement its planning so as to promote the conservation of wetlands included in the List" (Article 3.1). The Convention does not stipulate that listed wetlands should have any particular legal status or degree of protection; it is up to each Contracting Party to use its own legislative tools to achieve the general goals stated in the Convention. Thus some Contracting Parties have designated areas, often of considerable size, which have no other protected status and may be privately owned, with the intention of achieving stronger control over land use in the future. This approach is likely to promote conservation of hitherto unsecured sites and, if successful, will in the long term produce improvements in legal status and degree of protection. Regina Recommendation 3.9 "applauded Contracting Parties which have employed Ramsar listing as a means of securing protection of previously unprotected sites".

120. On the other hand, some Contracting Parties consider it inappropriate to list any site which does not already enjoy some statutory protection at national level, and at which they can therefore control land use. In such cases designation of a wetland for the Ramsar List means that its importance is recognised not only at national but also at international level.

121. Section 2.2 of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to indicate "any change in legal status, degree of protection, or ownership of listed wetlands since the Montreux Conference". Such changes are naturally more likely to occur in parties adopting the approach to listing described in paragraph 119, since sites in parties adopting the approach of paragraph 120 by definition already have some statutory recognition.

122. Reports from the following Contracting Parties indicate that there has been no change in the legal status, degree of protection or ownership of listed sites: Algeria, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, France, Gabon, Guatemala, Iceland, Morocco, Pakistan, Romania, South Africa, Suriname, Tunisia and USA. Changes, nearly always favourable, are indicated in reports summarized in paragraphs 123-150.

123. ALGERIA: The national report indicates that, while no change in the status of listed sites has occurred, a proposal to examine the present wetland legislation is being studied.

124. AUSTRIA: The national report indicates that the Regelsbrunner Au section of the Donau-March-Auen has been acquired by WWF. A national park was established in November 1992 at Neusiedler-See, which is contiguous with the Hungarian Ramsar site of Fertö, where a national park has also been created in the last triennium (see paragraph 139).

125. BELGIUM: The national report indicates that the level of protection at the "Ijzerbroeken te Diksmuide en Lo-Reninge" Ramsar site (also designated by Belgium as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under EC Directive 79/409 on conservation of wild birds) has been queried by the European Commission. Consultation between Belgium and the Commission on this matter is under way.

126. The Belgian report also refers to several specific measures, affecting all Ramsar sites and SPAs, taken in the Flemish region: prohibition of hunting after nightfall; prohibition of shooting of two duck species Anas penelope and A. crecca; requirement of a permit before any change to semi-natural vegetation (particularly conversion to arable land). Further protection measures are planned.

127. Management of part of the Marais d’Harchies Ramsar site has been transferred from the national authorities to the Walloon regional authorities.

128. BULGARIA: Management of the Srebarna reserve, formerly the responsibility of the regional council of the city of Silistra, is now in the hands of the Ministry of the Environment.

129. CANADA: The only significant change in tenure of Canadian Ramsar sites is that Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan (visited by participants to the Regina Meeting in 1987) is now fully under federal ownership.

130. CHILE: Strengthening of conservation measures at the country’s single Ramsar site, the Carlos Anwandter sanctuary on the Rio Cruces (already indicated in the report to the Montreux meeting), is to be developed. The sanctuary is to become part of the national system of protected areas, administered by CONAF, the National Forestry Corporation.

131. CZECH REPUBLIC: Legal protection of the Sumava peatlands was greatly improved after the establishment of the Sumava national park in 1991; all peat bogs in the Ramsar site are situated in the core area of the park.

132. The Trebon and Lednice fishponds (both Ramsar sites), formerly in State ownership, have both been privatized.

133. DENMARK: The national report presents an overview of general policies affecting the status of Ramsar sites, as well as an update of the situation at each individual site. It notes that the State has purchased a number of meadows and freshwater habitats in the 27 Ramsar sites in mainland Denmark, which has made a relatively small change in the ratio of State to privately owned property. No changes in status of any of the 11 Greenland sites are mentioned.

134. By a Ministerial Order which came into force in 1987, hunting from motor boats was prohibited in certain inner marine waters in Denmark (many of them Ramsar sites), to reduce disturbance and hunting pressure on waterfowl. In 1990 the order was prolonged until a revised Game and Wildlife Management Act is adopted, probably in 1994. In August 1986 use of lead pellets for hunting was forbidden in Danish Ramsar sites, and in 1990 the Danish Wadden Sea was included in these provisos by a renewed Ministerial Order. Consideration is being given to a countrywide ban on the use of lead pellets, with the exception of forestry areas. As noted in the Danish report to Montreux, experimental wildlife reserves were established from 1989-1992 at Ulvedybet (Nibe Bredning) and Ulvshale Ramsar sites, with areas of no hunting and no access varying from season to season. These experiments will now be used as a basis for permanent reserves.

135. The establishment of wind turbines and windmill-parks will not be allowed in most Ramsar areas, in accordance with county regional plans. As a follow-up to the European Community’s "set-aside" policy and in accordance with the Physical Planning Act, some areas have been selected for receipt of financial support to encourage agricultural uses better adapted to ecological considerations. In both cases, Ramsar sites have been used for the selection of areas. Afforestation will not be allowed in Ramsar sites.

136. The existing Ministerial Order for nature conservation of Ringkøbing Fjord is to be renewed in 1993, with further restrictions on hunting and public access. There are proposals for a wildlife reserve, partly to protect Light-bellied Brent Geese Branta bernicla hrota at Mariager Fjord. The proposal to establish a seal reserve at Totten and adjacent waters in the Anholt Ramsar site, mentioned in the Montreux report, was carried out in 1990. In the Danish Wadden Sea, the existing Wildlife Reserve provisions have been integrated into the Wadden Sea Nature and Wildlife Reserve Scheme since 1992.

137. GERMANY: The national report indicates that the following Ramsar sites are now incorporated into national parks: Rügen- Hiddensee-Zingst; Müritz See; Odertal, Schwedt (provisional); Hamburg Wadden Sea; Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea. Legal protection through the establishment of additional nature reserves covering 9,415 hectares has been strengthened at the following Ramsar sites since 1990: Elbaue, Schnackenburg-Lauenburg; Dümmersee; Diepholzer Moorniederung; Steinhuder Meer; Donauauen & Donaumoos; Unterer Inn; Untere Havel; Peitzer Teichgebiet; Unterer Niederrhein.

138. Federal funds have been used under the "Programme for establishing and safeguarding of natural and landscape areas of representative importance" to purchase several hundred hectares of land in the following Ramsar sites: Elbaue; Dümmersee; Diepholzer Moorniederung; Steinhuder Meer; Odertal; Untere Havel; Unterer Niederrhein.

139. HUNGARY: The status of Lake Fertö has been improved from Landscape Protection Area to National Park (as noted in paragraph 124; one was also set up at the cross-border Austrian site of Neusiedler-See). Further changes are likely as several listed sites are to be owned and managed by the State nature conservation authorities.

140. JAPAN: Lake Utonai, designated in 1991, is a Special Protection Zone under the Wildlife Protection and Hunting Law. At Izu-numa and Uchi-numa, the local prefecture has purchased 52 hectares since 1991.

141. NETHERLANDS: Groote Peel and large parts of the Oosterschelde were designated as Nature Monuments under the Nature Conservation Act in 1990, as foreshadowed in the Montreux report. A further 35% of the Netherlands Wadden Sea is short-listed for inclusion under this act. The Montreux report recorded the decision to establish national parks involving three Ramsar sites; Weerribben received the status of national park in 1992, and it is expected that Biesbosch and Groote Peel will be designated as national parks in 1993.

142. NEW ZEALAND: The national report notes that there have been no detrimental changes, and that measures are in hand for improving the protected status of Whangamarino, Kopuatai Peat Dome and Firth of Thames.

143. NORWAY: All Ramsar sites are legally protected, and no changes in legal status have occurred. The Government has purchased some islands, previously in private ownership, at Øra.

144. PERU: All protected sites in the country, including wetlands of international importance, are affected by changes to the Environment Code introduced in 1991. These simplify the procedures for exploitation of resources in protected areas.

145. RUSSIAN FEDERATION: The Kandalaksha Bay reserve was transferred to the authority of the Russian Federation Ministry, which will provide financial resources, in 1992. A reserve has been established at Lake Khanka. A new federal law on nature protection was adopted in 1991 and two new federal laws, on specially protected areas and ecological safety, will be submitted to parliament in 1993.

146. SLOVAK REPUBLIC: The legal status and degree of protection of the four listed sites have not changed since Montreux. Currently, within the framework of reprivatization of land, parts of the wetlands are being returned to their original owners.

147. SWEDEN: The Environmental Protection Agency contiues to acquire land in several Ramsar sites, notably Hornborga where it now holds about 60% of the total area (compared with 25% reported at Montreux). A marine nature reserve covering about 10,000 hectares, has been established at Falsterbo, and reserves have also been set up at Helgeån and Hovran. Plans for new or additional reserves exist at five other Ramsar sites, while Tavvavuoma is likely to become a national park.

148. SWITZERLAND: The new Order on Reserves of International Importance for Waterfowl and Migrants (OROEM) came into force in 1991, and applies to six of the Ramsar sites designated in 1990 at the time of Montreux.

149. UNITED KINGDOM: The national report presents a detailed account of changes in status, protection or ownership - in all cases positive - at 19 of UK’s 60 Ramsar sites. Several sites or parts of sites have been included in National Nature Reserves, National Parks or Environmentally Sensitive Areas. In a number of cases, land has been acquired by statutory bodies through purchase or lease. The Wash and North Norfolk Coast have been twinned with the Wadden Sea, in 1991.

150. VENEZUELA: Following approval of a general decree on expropriation, a decree specifically referring to the Ramsar site of Cuare is to be published in the Official Newspaper. This will concern expropriation of 75 hectares for a model town planning project to the west of the Ramsar site, to which people currently living inside the designated area in the villages of El Taparito, El Bagre and Flamenco will be relocated. Other decrees deal with extension of the reserve. In this way the legal and physical problems will, it is hoped, be overcome.

Change in ecological character of listed wetlands, including the "Montreux Record" and the "Monitoring Procedure"

151. INTRODUCTION: Section 2.3 of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to provide information as to whether, since the Montreux meeting, the ecological character of any listed wetland "has changed, is changing or is likely to change as a result of technological developments, pollution, or other human interference" (Article 3.2); it asks for details of information sent to the Ramsar Bureau on any such changes, and any comments on the application of the Ramsar Monitoring Procedure or on the present status of the 44 sites included in the "Montreux Record" (see paragraph 161).

152. The Convention stipulates that, once a wetland has been designated for the Ramsar List, "Contracting Parties shall formulate and implement their planning so as to promote the conservation of the wetlands included in the List" (Article 3.1). It also sets out, in Article 3.2, a mechanism for reporting on this matter: "Each Contracting Party shall arrange to be informed at the earliest possible time if the ecological character of any wetland in the List has changed, is changing or is likely to change as the result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. Information on such changes shall be passed without delay to the organization or government responsible for the continuing bureau duties."

153. CHANGE IN ECOLOGICAL CHARACTER: The concept of "preventing change in ecological character" is fundamental to the Ramsar Convention. It is sufficiently flexible to allow considerable latitude to Contracting Parties. A listed site does not need to be a strict nature reserve; many Ramsar sites are important not only for their biodiversity, but also for the functions they provide for human populations. Thus human activities or exploitation may be acceptable, or in some cases even essential, for the maintenance of ecological character. Fundamental changes, however, which would affect the basic value and the functioning (i.e. the "ecological character") of a Ramsar site require careful investigation and assessment, and are to be prevented.

154. The Convention has not hitherto deemed it necessary to develop a precise definition of "ecological character" or of "change in ecological character". Given the increasing number and complexity of Ramsar sites, however, it was thought useful to review these subjects, with a view to providing guidance to Contracting Parties and perhaps to producing definitions at the present meeting. Workshop A on Friday 11 June will therefore include a session on this subject, and will attempt to propose a recommendation on guidelines for consideration by the plenary session.

155. Strict observance of Article 3.2 would require parties to inform the Ramsar Bureau "without delay" of even "likely" changes at Ramsar sites. In fact the reporting mechanism mentioned in paragraph 152 has been rather little used; the examples of its use up to the Montreux meeting are recorded in the Montreux Proceedings (Vol. III, page 320) and almost the only example of its use since Montreux, is by the Government of Bulgaria in reference to Srebarna (see paragraph 172). On the other hand the national reports submitted to the Conference generally contain extremely detailed and frank accounts of the situation at listed sites and on any change in ecological character. Furthermore, the Bureau frequently receives informal reports from the authorities of Contracting Parties, from its international partner organizations, and from national non-governmental organizations on the status of Ramsar sites, particularly since the establishment of the Ramsar Monitoring Procedure.

156. "MONTREUX RECORD" - ORIGINS: The Regina meeting already identified 29 listed sites "where the likelihood of major ecological change seems greatest" (Proceedings, page 217); through Recommendation 3.9, it urged parties in general to take swift and effective action to prevent further degradation of sites, and in particular to report to the Bureau on measures taken in relation to the 29 sites. The Montreux meeting took this process a step further: taking note of the identification, in the Review of national reports (Proceedings, Vol. III, page 344), of 46 sites in 23 Contracting Parties which appeared likely to have undergone, to be undergoing or to undergo a change in ecological character, the meeting instructed the Bureau, through Recommendation 4.7, to maintain a record of Ramsar sites where such changes had occurred. This record was to be maintained in close consultation with the Contracting Parties concerned.

157. In the period since Montreux, the Bureau and the Standing Committee have devoted much time and thought to the Montreux Record. They have been anxious to emphasize that the Record is neither a Red List nor a Black List; its colouration is neutral and its only purpose is to identify Ramsar sites where major difficulties have arisen, and to assist Contracting Parties in resolving them - by providing technical advice, precedents from other wetlands or, where possible, financial support perhaps from the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund or through bilateral or multilateral assistance. Nevertheless, the procedure for decisions on whether or not a site should be included on the Record, and on when it may be removed, is delicate: the role of the Contracting Party concerned is clearly of the first importance, yet at the same time there is a need for international scientific assurance that the difficulty has been definitively resolved. The Standing Committee has therefore deliberated on the subject and prepared a draft recommendation (draft Recommendation REC. C.5.3 in conference document C. 5.6) on the Record and on a procedure for inclusion or removal of sites. This will be discussed in Workshop A on Friday 11 June and later in plenary session.

158. "MONITORING PROCEDURE" - ORIGINS: In order to allow the Bureau to assist Contracting Parties in maintaining the ecological character of their listed sites, the Standing Committee had already established, at its first meeting after Regina, the Ramsar "Monitoring Procedure". The purpose of this procedure was to allow the Bureau to contact the Contracting Party concerned on receipt of reports - from whatever source - about major difficulties in maintaining the ecological character of Ramsar sites, and to offer assistance by providing information, by organizing expert missions or by other appropriate means. The Monitoring Procedure was endorsed by the Conference at Montreux through Recommendation 4.7, while recommendation 4.8 calls for priority in application of the Monitoring Procedure to be given to Ramsar sites included in the Montreux Record.

159. In the period since the Monitoring Procedure was instituted in early 1988 it has been formally applied on some 30 occasions. It has come to be seen as one of the Convention’s most useful tools. In the last triennium it has undoubtedly grown in stature, and governments have given its missions wide publicity and serious consideration. Financial support for its operation has been provided from the core budget, as well as through additional grants from Contracting Parties and interested non-governmental bodies. The need for better follow up of recommendations by Monitoring missions is reviewed in paragraphs 261-263.

160. The Monitoring Procedure has been applied as follows:

Algeria:Oubeira & Tonga (Nov 1990)
Austria:Donau-March-Auen (Apr 1991)
Belgium:Schorren van de Beneden-Schelde (Feb 1988)
Bulgaria:Srebarna (Apr 1992)
Germany:Ostfriesisches Wattenmeer (Sep 1990)
Germany:Unterer Niederrhein (planned for May 1993)
Greece:All Ramsar sites (Nov 1988 & May 1989)
India:Keoladeo (Nov 1988 & Feb 1990)
Iran:Hamoun-e-Puzak & Hamoun-e-Saberi (Jan 1992)
Iran:Caspian wetlands (Jan 1992)
Iran:Kamjan marshes & Fars wetlands (Jan 1992)
Jordan:Azraq (Mar 1990)
Kazakhstan:Lower Turgay & Irgiz Lakes (Aug 1991)
Mexico:Ria Lagartos (Jun 1989)
Norway:Åkersvika (Aug 1989)
Pakistan:All wetlands (May 1990)
Poland:Siedem Wysp (Jul 1989)
Senegal:Djoudj (Dec 1988)
Senegal:N’diaël (Dec 1988)
South Africa:St. Lucia System (Apr 1992)
Spain:Tablas de Daimiel (Mar 1988)
Sweden:Hornborga (Aug 1988)
Tunisia:Ichkeul (Apr 1988 & Dec 1989)
Ukraine:Yagorlits & Tendrov Bays (Nov 1990)
UK:Lough Neagh/Lough Beg (Jan 1989)
UK:Dee Estuary (preparatory visit Feb 1993)
Uruguay:Bañados del Este (Oct 1988 & planned May 1993)
Venezuela:Cuare (Oct 1991)

In addition, preliminary visits were made to Lakes Bardawil and Burullus in Egypt in October 1991, and to Myvatn in Iceland in June 1992; a follow-up visit was made to Ria Lagartos in Mexico in September 1991.

161. MONTREUX RECORD - STATUS AT MONTREUX: The Review of national reports submitted to the Montreux meeting suggested in its paragraph 224 (Proceedings, Vol. III, page 344) that the following 46 Ramsar sites in 23 Contracting Parties were likely to have undergone, to be undergoing or to undergo a change in ecological character. (The site names below are those given in document INF. C.5.3, the latest, most authoritative version of the List).

1. Algeria:Oubeira
2. Austria:Donau-March-Auen
3. Belgium:Schorren van de Beneden-Schelde
4. Belgium:De IJzerbroeken te Diksmuide en Lo-Reninge
5. Denmark:Ringkøbing Fjord
6. Egypt:Lake Bardawil
7. Egypt:Lake Burullus
8. Germany:Ostfriesisches Wattenmeer & Dollart
9. Greece:Evros Delta
10. Greece:Lake Vistonis & Porto Lago Lagoons
11. Greece:Lake Mitrikou & adjoining lagoons
12. Greece:Nestos Delta & Gumburnou Lagoon
13. Greece:Lakes Volvi & Langada
14. Greece:Kerkini Reservoir
15. Greece:Axios, Loudias & Aliakmon Delta
16. Greece:Lake Mikri Prespa
17. Greece:Amvrakikos Gulf
18. Greece:Messolonghi Lagoons
19. Greece:Kotychi Lagoon
20. Iceland:Myvatn
21. Iceland:Thjorsarver
22. India:Keoladeo National Park
23. India:Loktak Lake
24. Iran:Hamoun-e-Saberi & Hamoun-e-Helmand
25. Iran:Hamoun-e-Puzak
26. Iran:Shurgol, Yadegarlu & Dorgeh Sangi Lakes
27. Iran:Neiriz Lakes and Kamjan Marshes
28. Italy:Stagno di Santa Gilla
29. Italy:Stagno di Molentargius
30. Jordan:Azraq
31. Mexico:Ria Lagartos
32. Netherlands:De Groote Peel
33. Poland:Siedem Wysp
34. Senegal:N’diaël
35. South Africa:St. Lucia System
36. South Africa:Tongaland Beaches and Coastal Reefs
37. Spain:Daimiel
38. Spain:Doñana
39. Tunisia:Ichkeul
40. Uganda:Lake George
41. ex-USSR:Kerkinitski Bay (now Ukraine)
42. ex-USSR:Kirov Bays (now Azerbaijan)
43. ex-USSR:Issyk-Kul (now Kyrgyzstan)
44. UK:Dee Estuary
45. UK:Islay-Bridgend Flats
46. Uruguay:Bañados del Este

At the Montreux meeting the delegation of India noted that Loktak Lake had only recently been designated and that there had not therefore been time for remedial measures, while the delegation of South Africa explained that Tongaland, though adjacent to St. Lucia, would not be affected by possible dune mining. These two sites were not therefore included in the Montreux Record, which thus numbered 44 Ramsar wetlands.

162. CHANGE IN ECOLOGICAL CHARACTER AT INDIVIDUAL RAMSAR SITES: In the following paragraphs, a review is presented of actual or possible change in ecological character at Ramsar sites, as presented in national reports, with additional information from other documents available to the Bureau, particularly in relation to sites included on the Montreux Record, or where the Monitoring Procedure has been operated. It is perhaps worthy of note that, while national reports often present considerable detail about the ecological character of listed sites, references to the Montreux Record and Monitoring Procedure are scarce. The Bureau has complemented their information as appropriate.

163: ALGERIA: Lake Oubeira was included in the Montreux Record because of the possible effect of the Mexenna Dam, being built in the nearby catchment. A mission to Oubeira and nearby Lake Tonga was arranged under the Monitoring Procedure in November 1990. The mission report noted difficulties of water supply, caused in part by overuse of water for agriculture, in the surrounding area. It suggested development of a Regional Plan for wise use and conservation of land and water resources, and made its report available to the World Bank mission which was to investigate the possibilities of a major conservation and wise use project in the area. The Algerian report to the present meeting indicates that an agreement on exploitation of the lakes has been reached with the Fishery Agency and measures taken to prevent any change in the habitat. It is suggested that Oubeira be retained on the Montreux Record until more information is received on a possible regional plan, and that Lake Tonga be added to the Montreux Record.

164. AUSTRALIA: No Australian sites were included on the Montreux Record and an Australian report has not been received at the time of writing. However, the Bureau has received information from both official and non-governmental sources in Australia about possible changes in ecological character at three Ramsar sites, the Peel-Yagorup system in Western Australia, and two Victorian sites, Lake Corangamite (part of the Western District Lakes Ramsar site) and Port Phillip Bay and Bellarine Peninsula. In response to enquiries from the Bureau, the Australian authorities indicated that at the Port Phillip site an Environmental Impact Assessment was under way and that it would be premature to include the site for the moment on the Montreux Record.

165. AUSTRIA: The Donau-March-Auen Ramsar site, covering 38,500 ha in the valley of the River Danube downstream of Vienna and in the valley of the Rivers March and Thaya along the border with the Czech and Slovak Republics, was originally included in the Montreux Record because of the possibility of a dam being built on the Danube at Hainburg. Work on the dam was suspended but never cancelled; however, the immediate reason for application of the Ramsar Monitoring Procedure in April 1991 was rather the change in ecological character of the floodplain and alluvial forests along the March, caused by ever more intensive agriculture and forestry. On the March-Thaya, the mission recommended the development of a broad management plan (covering both the Austrian and the Czech and Slovak banks) in the spirit of the Ramsar wise use concept; the mission advised precaution as regards development of the Donau-Oder canal. As for the Danube, the mission recommended pursual of the proposal to establish a national park and the use of new methods (rather than the Hainburg dam) to overcome the problems of river-bed erosion. The Austrian national report to the present meeting notes that a task force has been set up to develop a management plan for the March area and that a national park concept for the Danube is due to be ready by the end of 1993. A report on this application of the Monitoring Procedure is to be presented in Workshop A on June 11 by the Austrian delegation. It would appear appropriate to retain this site on the Montreux Record until the March management plan and the Danube National Park are in operation.

166. The Austrian national report refers to possible change in ecological character at the country’s other Ramsar sites. Recreational pressure is a problem at Untere Lobau and Rheindelta-Bodensee, as is drainage of wet meadows. The site with most problems however is the very large Neusiedler-See, which adjoins Hungary’s Lake Fertö. The problems are complex: eutrophication due to agricultural runoff, lowering of groundwater, loss of pasture land. The possibility of adding Neusiedler See to the Montreux Record should be considered.

167. AZERBAIJAN: The Kirov Bays Ramsar site was originally included in the Montreux Record because of information in the report of the USSR about restrictions in water supplies caused by a dam on the River Vilyazhchai. The Azerbaijan authorities have not yet confirmed that Kirov Bays are still to be included in the Ramsar List (see paragraphs 17 and 24); however, for the purposes of the Montreux Record, they are treated like all other designated sites. While the rise in water level on the Caspian Sea, noted in the Monitoring mission report to Iran (see paragraph 206) may have had some effect on water levels in Kirov Bays, it would appear wise to maintain the site on the Montreux Record until further information is available.

168. BELGIUM: The Schorren van de Beneden-Schelde Ramsar site, on the tidal section of the River Schelde below Antwerp, was included on the Montreux Record because of the plan to build a container port on part of the site, Galgenschoor. A Monitoring Procedure mission in 1988 recommended that studies of the decrease in invertebrates in the mudflats be carried out and that other areas in both Belgium and the Netherlands be designated. The decision was taken to build the container port and as noted in paragraph 110, 30 hectares of the Galgenschoor were deleted, with some 2,000 ha being added to the Ijzerbroeken Ramsar site in compensation. The Belgian report to the present meeting notes that there is now a proposal to build a second container terminal near another part of the Schelde Ramsar site, Groot Buitenschoor. If constructed, the terminal would have a considerable effect on currents and sedimentation in the river. The report indicates that the pollution situation on the mudflats, while still negative, has improved, and that a nearby private reserve of 50 ha is to be proposed for inclusion. In view of the likely effect of a second terminal, it would seem appropriate to maintain the site on the Montreux Record.

169. The second Belgian site on the Montreux Record is the Ijzerbroeken te Diksmuide en Lo-Reninge. This site, formerly including only the Blankaart Lake, was extended by inclusion of extensive wet meadows to compensate for deletion of the Galgenschoor. It was included on the Montreux Record because of the need to prevent a drop in groundwater levels in the meadows. The national report notes that a major excavation operation has been initiated in order to combat siltation in the Blankaart, but that water level and quality remain a problem. In the meadows, pumping is still excessive and the local authorities have ignored agreements reached between the Agriculture and Water Departments. A proposal for a new pumping station and for drainage have been cancelled because of the zone’s Ramsar and EC Special Protection Area status, but there are still plans to redistribute land in the area which is most interesting from the ecological point of view (see paragraph 125). The national report considers that this issue will be a test of the efficacity of Ramsar listing. It therefore appears clear that the site should be maintained on the Montreux Record.

170. The Belgian report also provides information on the ecological character of Belgium’s other Ramsar sites. The coastal Ramsar site of Vlaamse Banken does not include the Ijzer estuary, where a proposed marina could have negative effects on the reserve. Extra measures are being taken to improve entry of water at Zwin, thus preventing siltation. There are also problems of pumping of groundwater at Kalmthoutse Heide, where restoration of oligotrophic marshes was carried out in 1991.

171. BOLIVIA: The national report refers to a geothermal project at Laguna Colorada, for which an Environmental Impact Assessment has been made. It is hoped that the measures proposed will be sufficient to mitigate the impact when the turbines begin operation. In view of the possible effects of this project, the possibility of adding Laguna Colorada to the Montreux Record should be considered.

172. BULGARIA: The Bulgarian report to Montreux referred to eutrophication at Srebarna (also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and on the World Heritage List), and in a letter of 1 July 1991 the Bulgarian Minister of the Environment, referring to Article 3.2 of the Convention, informed the Bureau of a number of negative factors influencing the ecological character of the lake: erosion of the Danube bed and siltation of Srebarna reserve; disruption of the reserve’s natural water balance by construction of a dike between the lake and the Danube; extraction of groundwater for drinking and for a pig-farm; meteorological changes. The letter invited the Bureau to operate the Monitoring Procedure there. The mission was carried out by the Bureau in connection with the bilateral Bulgaria-French project (see paragraphs 30 & 96), and its report suggested that priority be given to: a hydrological and geomorphological study to decide how water circulation can be restored between the Danube and the reserve without provoking problems of water quality in the reserve; a study of the whole Srebarna catchment, to determine the real sources of water for the reserve; measures to associate local people with conservation of the reserve. The Bulgarian national report confirms the situation described above. Given these developments, and noting that the World Heritage Committee has suggested the Bulgarian authorities should include Srebarna on the list of World Heritage sites in danger, it appears appropriate to add Srebarna to the Montreux Record.

173. The Bulgarian report also indicates that the Durankulak Ramsar site is in an advanced stage of eutrophication, caused by agricultural run-off from the surrounding land, aquaculture, poultry farms and excessive water extraction. It would therefore appear appropriate to add this site to the Montreux Record.

174. CANADA: The national report indicates that no significant change to the ecological character of any Canadian Ramsar site has occurred since 1990. It should be added that the Bureau has received repeated representations from non-governmental organizations in Canada about constructions, including an environmental education centre, in the area of the Oak Hammock Ramsar site. The NGOs maintain that the buildings affect the character of the site. The Canadian authorities do not accept this view and consider that the educational centre enhances the site.

175. CHAD: The national report does not indicate any changes in ecological character at Lake Fitri, but points out that, like all developing countries, it faces material and technical difficulties, in particular the lack of trained specialists.

176. CHILE: The Chilean report states that the only change in ecological character noted at the Carlos Anwandter Sanctuary on the Rio Cruces is natural succession, and that the main need is for development of a management plan.

177. COSTA RICA: The national report indicates that, given Costa Rica’s very recent accession, no major changes have occurred. However, the report refers to a major forest fire at Palo Verde in 1992, while the development of new rice-fields on the eastern edge of the protected area, with settlement of a thousand families, may affect the site. A strategy to evaluate the impacts of these settlements and to propose corrective measures is being prepared. After submission of the national report, the Bureau received an emergency request to the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund for funding of measures to control spread of vegetation at Palo Verde. Given these actual and potential problems, it may be appropriate to add this site to the Montreux Record.

178. CZECH REPUBLIC: The national report indicates that no changes have been observed.

179. DENMARK: Ringkøbing Fjord was included in the Montreux Record because of problems of pollution from agricultural chemicals, which have caused a severe reduction in macrophytic plants and in the waterfowl that feed on them. The Danish report notes that natural meadows and reedbeds in the estuary of the River Skjern, which flows into the fjord, were transformed into intensively cultivated arable land in the 1960s and the river course was canalized over 23 km. In order to prevent further deterioration of the formerly rich habitats and to minimize discharge of ochre and nutrients into the fjord, the Danish parliament decided in May 1987 that the river estuary should be reconverted to its original state, and several hundred hectares of arable land should be re-established as wetlands. The Danish authorities are just about to implement a rehabilitation project, the main objective of which is to re-establish the natural filtering processes, by recreating the original meanders in the river. Periodical flooding of about 1,500 hectares of low-lying riparian areas, now bought by the Danish Government, is also part of the scheme. Surplus nutrients will thus be retained in the system and will promote greater biological diversity in the estuary and Ringkøbing Fjord. It is suggested that the site be maintained on the Montreux Record until the results of these actions, which will be of great interest to other Ramsar Parties, have been demonstrated.

180. At Nissum Bredning, there is a potential threat of chemical pollution from the chemical factory Cheminova. The report gives details of measures taken in recent years to control toxic air pollution and discharge of chemicals to the fjord, and there does not appear to be an immediate threat.

181. At Horsens Fjord, a number of potential threats which had been in existence for a number of years have now been removed: construction of a nuclear power station, building of dams and bridges through the area to link Jutland and Zealand, and plans for a new shortwave radio station just outside the Ramsar site at Gyllingnæs.

182. The Danish Wadden Sea Ramsar site is included in the formal trilateral agreement between Denmark, Germany and Netherlands, which seeks to achieve integration between environmental interests and multiple, sustainable utilization in the Wadden Sea. The national report nevertheless quotes a number of potential threats in the Danish Wadden Sea, in addition to the more widespread problems noted at other Danish sites and quoted in paragraph 183. These are: deposit of harbour sludge containing heavy metals from Esbjerg; drainage and cultivation of grassland behind the sea-walls; over-exploitation of natural resources such as mussels; deepening of the shipping lane to Esbjerg; and potential oil-spills.

183. The Danish report gives details of the ecological situation at other Danish Ramsar sites. In many cases the same problems arise at different Ramsar sites with similar ecological characteristics, and these are summarized below:

  • Eutrophication and loss of vegetation in fjords and shallow coastal waters. This problem, often caused by agricultural run-off, as at Ringkøbing Fjord (see paragraph 179) occurs at: Fiil-Sø, Stadil & Veststadil Fjords, Nissum Fjord, Vejlerne, Ulvedybet, Randers & Mariager Fjords, Lillebælt, South Funen Archipelago, Waters south of Zealand, Waters south of Fejø, Præstø, Inner Fjord and Maribo Lakes.
  • Development of scrub vegetation in saltmarshes because of decrease in grazing by cattle. This problem occurs in fjords and shallow coastal waters, notably Nissum Fjord, Nissum Bredning, Vejlerne, Karrebæk Fjord and Præstø; at Maribo Lakes; and on islands such as Læso, South Funen Archipelago and the islands between Lolland and Falster.
  • Disturbance by hunters: at Fiil-Sø, Nissum Bredning, Lillebælt, Waters south of Fejø, and in the Danish Wadden Sea (at high tide waterfowl roosts).
  • Disturbance from tourists: at fjord sites like Nissum Bredning, Karrebæk, Waters south of Fejø; at Maribo Lakes; in the Wadden Sea especially on beaches; and on island sites, notably Hirsholmene, Nordre Rønner and South Funen Archipelago.
  • Collection of raw materials, particularly submerged limestone, at island sites notably Hirsholmene, Waters north of Anholt, Sejerø Bugt. The report notes that the Raw Material Act which came into force in 1990 implies a total ban on exploitation of submerged rocks for construction in Ramsar sites, and an Action Plan is in preparation.

184. It is difficult to judge the seriousness of such general problems at different sites, and in many case the Danish authorities are taking generalized measures to combat the problems. Thus the execution of the measures at Ringkøbing Fjord will no doubt provide guidance on the best methods of action to prevent eutrophication and to reconstitute vegetation at other sites. The Danish authorities are best placed to indicate whether it might be useful to add other Danish sites to the Montreux Record.

185. DENMARK - GREENLAND: The section of the Danish report devoted to Greenland indicates that there are no imminent dangers threatening the welfare of the Greenland Ramsar sites. However, as most are situated in coastal and tidal areas, any marine oil-spills or other sea-borne hydrocarbon pollution in adjacent waters are potential hazards to the fragile integrity and balance of the wetlands. Thus in December 1989, the Quter Kitsissut Ramsar site barely escaped a fuel spill from a wrecked trawler. Marine oil-spills cannot be adequately controlled by local environmental protection agencies.

186. EGYPT: The Montreux Review (Proceedings, Vol. III, page 334) noted that only a small part of the two Egyptian Ramsar sites of Lake Bardawil and Burullus were under conservation management, and that wetlands were under pressure from human and industrial activities. Both sites were therefore included in the Montreux Record, and a preliminary operation of the Monitoring Procedure was carried out in October 1991. The report highlighted a number of major changes in ecological character, actual and potential, at both sites: at Bardawil, insufficent definition of the protected status; siltation through closing of outlets to the sea; and effects of the North Sinai Agricultural Development Project (which plans to divert Nile water for agriculture through a channel under the Suez Canal, and whose environmental effects are being investigated by the Dutch company Euroconsult); at Burullus, siltation through lack of links to the open sea, and lack of on overall management concept and authority. Although an Egyptian national report has not yet been received, it appears that both sites should be retained on the Montreux Record, and that a full application of the Monitoring Procedure should be planned as soon as possible.

187. FRANCE: The French national report recalls that a document by A. Tamisier, annexed to the French report at Montreux, had spoken of a loss of 40,000 hectares of natural habitats in the Camargue as a whole between 1942 and 1984. In response to these alarming observations, a further study (annexed to the present French report) has been carried out; it shows that between 1970 and 1991 the loss of natural habitats appears to have been halted. It does not however measure change in qualitative terms, though it does record a growing uniformity of ecological character linked to exploitation of wetlands for hunting. It is intended to reformulate the charter of the Natural Regional Park (the area of 85,000 hectares designated under Ramsar) in the spirit of wise use, and to take account of hunting activities. The French authorities are requested to indicate whether it would be helpful to add the Camargue to the Montreux Record.

188. The Ramsar Bureau notified the French authorities of information it had received on the effect of clam fisheries on the ecological character of the Golfe du Morbihan Ramsar site. The French report indicates that the problem arose because of a conflict of interests between fishermen operating on foot and those using dredges; the result was disturbance of the marine vegetation. A detailed study is now being carried out, and it is intended to establish a better defined and signposted protection zone with proper legal measures.

189. GABON: The national report indicates that no changes in ecological character have been recorded at the three listed sites.

190. GERMANY: The Ostfriesisches Wattenmeer & Dollart Ramsar site was included in the Montreux Record because of the effect of new dike-building on coastal saltmarsh at Leybucht, and Montreux Recommendation 4.9.4 called on the German authorities to maintain the character of the Ramsar site by imaginative management or restoration measures, and to make compensatory measures if the boundaries of the site are restricted. A visit to the area under the Monitoring Procedure was arranged in conjunction with the trilateral Wadden Sea secretariat in September 1990; at the same time, as noted in the German national report, the European Court of Justice deliberated on the Leybucht issue. The Court decided that the Leybucht construction measures in the Wadden Sea mudflats were in conformity with the European Communities’ Wild Birds Directive. The report notes that dike building is now nearly complete, but that the planned compensatory measures have not yet all been carried out. It notes that the effect of unauthorized dumping of dredged material cannot yet be calculated. In addition, it records a series of elements other than the Leybucht dike-building likely to affect the ecological character of the East Frisian Wadden Sea Ramsar site; these include boring for gas, the planned Statoil pipeline, the planned extension of the harbour at Emden, and overflights by military planes at low altitude. Until the compensatory measures for the dike-building at Leybucht have been carried out, and the effect of these other factors is assessed, it would appear necessary to maintain the East Frisian sector of the Wadden Sea on the Montreux Record.

191. The Ramsar Bureau has been requested by the federal authorities to undertake an application of the Monitoring Procedure at the Unterer Niederrhein Ramsar site, and a visit is planned in close cooperation with the authorities of the Land of Nordrhein-Westfalen in May 1993. The problems in this extensive site along the Rhine near the border with the Netherlands, as explained in the national report, are manifold: transformation of meadows into arable land, construction of river dikes; road-building. In these circumstances it would appear advisable to add this site to the Montreux Record.

192. The German national report briefly lists actual or possible changes in ecological character at 17 more of its 31 Ramsar sites. These may be summarized as follows:

  • Dike-building or river regulation: Niederelbe Barnkrug; Untere Havel; Weserstaustufe Schlüsselburg.
  • Eutrophication and nutrient input (often from agricultural inflow) and poor water quality: Dümmer; Bodensee; Ismaninger Speichersee (almost annual outbreaks of botulism); Starnberger See; Ostseeboddengewässer; Krakower Obersee; Galenbecker See.
  • Peat extraction: Steinhuder Meer.
  • Extraction of water for drinking: Krakower Obersee; Müritz.
  • Subsidence because of mining: Peitzer Teichgebiet.
  • Low altitude military or civil flights: Niederelbe Barnkrug; Dümmer; Ostseeboddengewässer; Weserstaustufe Schlüsselburg.
  • Building of nuclear waste treatment plant nearby: Elbaue Schnackenburg.
  • Building in the surrounding area: Bodensee; Ammersee.
  • Oil exploration: Hamburgisches Wattenmeer; Wattenmeer Schleswig-Holstein.
  • Conservation status inadequate: Ostseeboddengewässer; Staustufe Schlüsselburg.
  • Water sport: Dümmer.

The report does not indicate the seriousness of these factors and so it is difficult to know whether or not the sites should be added to the Montreux Record. It may be noted that a good number of these problems were already mentioned in the report of the Federal Republic at the Montreux meeting. The report to Kushiro notes that the Ramsar Convention is still insufficiently known by the general public and in the various administrations (i.e. at provincial as well as federal level), even those responsible for nature conservation. It would appear that more active use of the Ramsar publicity materials (many now available in German) and of Convention mechanisms like the Montreux Record and Monitoring Procedure is required in Germany.

193. GREECE: As noted in paragraph 63, there are still no definitive maps for the eleven Greek Ramsar sites, though the provisional maps submitted to the Bureau have been accepted by Greek courts. The Bureau receives reports from a variety of sources about potential problems at Greek Ramsar sites and, without definite boundaries or defined conservation measures, it is difficult for the Bureau to judge the seriousness of the alleged problems. In particular the Bureau has received reports about the effect of the planned diversion of the Rivers Acheloos and Evinos on the Messolonghi Lagoons Ramsar site. The diversions, to be carried out with financial support from the European Community, would take water which originally reached the lagoons in western Greece to agricultural areas in Thessaly and to Athens for drinking water. The Bureau has taken part with Greek and European Commission experts in an on-the-spot mission. No announcement has yet been made on whether the diversion is to go ahead.

194. The Greek authorities have informed the Ramsar Bureau that definitive maps are in preparation. At the time of writing a national report has not been received, and it therefore seems appropriate to maintain all eleven sites on the Montreux Record for the time being.

195. GUATEMALA: The national report recalls that the isolation of the Laguna del Tigre Ramsar site near the Mexican border means it is difficult to guard. Its major problem comes from people who cross the frontier en route to Mexico or the USA and who hunt, extract wood and use the area for grazing their horses. In addition, the people of the nearest village, El Naranjo, also hunt, fish and grow crops. These problems could be overcome if the boundaries were marked on the ground and if there was better wardening. A request for finance for these two purposes was presented to the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund. In addition, an oil company has one well near the site and is currently drilling a second inside the Ramsar area. It would appear that addition of this site to the Montreux Record would attract interest and perhaps funding.

196. HUNGARY: The national report notes that, in comparison with the situation at the time of Montreux, there are few problems to report, other than a generalized problem of drought which has caused the authorities responsible for management to use their budget for water supply measures.

197. Since the Montreux meeting, the Ramsar Bureau has received reports from a variety of sources about possible change in ecological character of Hungarian Ramsar sites as a result of privatization of their ownership. The national report notes that the structural changes in the economy, including ownership conditions, brought certain threats; protection of wetland habitats had to be ensured through a number of laws. The report confirms that now these laws have been approved, wetlands in national parks, strictly protected areas or classified under international conventions cannot be privatized, are excluded from compensation measures and cannot be the property of non-Hungarian citizens. Under these circumstances it does not seem necessary to include any of the Hungarian Ramsar sites on the Montreux Record, but the advice of the Hungarian delegation is sought on this point.

198. ICELAND: Both Icelandic Ramsar sites were included in the Montreux Record. In its Recommendation 4.9, the Montreux meeting called on the Government of Iceland to "take full note of the results of ecological research into the impact on the Myvatn-Laxa Ramsar site of sediment dredging before deciding to continue this activity". The Icelandic national report notes that the results of a five-year expert study have been published since the Montreux meeting; following publication, Iceland’s Nature Conservation Council advised the Government to discontinue sediment dredging. As the results were inconclusive about the effect of dredging on the lake’s biota, a further three-year research programme was launched in 1992, after which a decision on the continuation of dredging will be taken; meanwhile sediment dredging will continue with caution and with annual permits. The national report notes that the Ramsar Bureau arranged a preliminary mission under the Monitoring Procedure in June 1992. That mission reaffirmed the undoubted international importance of Myvatn and was impressed by the wise use made of the lake, its breeding waterfowl, fisheries and agriculture by local people; it referred to the "Precautionary Principle" (adopted in both the Wadden Sea Declaration and the Biodiversity Convention) which states that "where there is a threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat".

199. Iceland’s second Ramsar site, Thjorsarver, was included in the Montreux Record because of plans, documented in the national report to Montreux, to create a reservoir by damming the River Thjorsa, thereby submerging 16 square kilometres of vegetated land. The national report to the Kushiro meeting confirms that these plans still exist and that operations to divert about 40% of the discharge of the upper Thjorsa River, currently under way, might cause draining of some areas of eastern Thjorsarver. Studies on the effects of a dam are currently in progress and the Nature Conservation Council will take a stand when they are complete. (The Bureau mission to Iceland in June 1992 was unable to visit Thjorsarver because of weather conditions). Given that studies are going on in both Icelandic sites and that decisions on their future are pending, it appears essential to maintain both sites on the Montreux Record.

200. INDIA: Keoladeo National Park was the subject of visits under the Monitoring Procedure in November 1988 and February 1990, and was included on the Montreux Record because of problems of water supply and an unbalanced grazing regime. At Montreux the national report indicated that a management plan was being taken to address these issues. No further information has been submitted to the Ramsar Bureau and it would appear appropriate to maintain the site on the Montreux Record until the situation is clarified.

201. The Indian report to Montreux noted severe difficulties at Lake Chilka - shrinkage, siltation and sedimentation; choking of the mouth, decrease in bird migration and fishery potential, weed infestation and pollution. Since Montreux, the Ramsar Bureau has received indications from a variety of sources that, despite the efforts of the authorities, these problems have not yet been overcome. Furthermore, one of the Ramsar Asian Regional meetings adopted a recommendation calling for action to maintain and restore the ecological character of the Lake Chilka Ramsar site. It would therefore seem appropriate to add the site to the Montreux Record.

202. As mentioned in paragraph 161, it was decided at Montreux not to include India’s Loktak Lake on the Montreux Record. Although the national report spoke of problems there, caused by deforestation in the catchment area, infestation with Water Hyacinth and pollution, the site had only recently been designated and there had not been time to resolve these difficulties. Unless the difficulties have been overcome, it may now be appropriate to add the site to the Montreux Record.

203. IRAN, ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF: Four Iranian Ramsar sites were included on the Montreux Record in 1990. Two sites in the Seistan basin of eastern Iran, Hamoun-e-Saberi & Hamoun-e-Helmand and Hamoun-e-Puzak (which in fact are close together and directly connected in wet years), were included because of the possibility of water supplies being affected by dams on the River Helmand in Afghanistan. The Neiriz Lakes & Kamjan Marshes Ramsar site in Fars was included because of the effects of drainage on Kamjan Marshes. Shurgol, Yadegarlu & Dorgeh Sangi Lakes in East Azarbaijan Province were included because of information about drought and contamination by military action at Yadegarlu.

204. In January 1992, a Ramsar Monitoring mission visited the Seistan sites, Kamjan and several other Ramsar sites in the southern Caspian and Fars Province. The mission was unable to visit Yadegarlu because of adverse weather conditions. At the Seistan sites, the mission noted that excellent rainfall in recent years had restored water levels and that for the moment there was little risk of sites being affected by dams. The mission did however pinpoint several other problems: the need to take measures at national level to secure protection of listed Ramsar sites, and to demarcate boundaries on the ground; even more important, the need to develop an integrated management plan for all wetland and water resources of the Seistan basin, covering both Iran and Afghanistan.

205. At Neiriz Lakes and Kamjan, the mission recommended that the proposal to establish a national park incorporating Lakes Bakhtegan and Tashk be pursued, and that the routing of a road through the area be critically reviewed; the mission recommended that, despite former efforts to drain Kamjan Marshes, the area retained sufficient wetland values to be retained as a Ramsar site, and that a restoration programme be instituted. The Iranian authorities presented a request for funding for this purpose to the Wetland Conservation Fund in autumn 1992, but insufficient funds were available.

206. In its visit to the Caspian Sea, where Iran has four existing Ramsar sites and at least one proposed site, the mission was greatly impressed by the effect of the recent sea level rise there (coming after several decades of falling levels). Given that Caspian wetlands in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan are also affected by this change in levels, and futhermore that the reasons for the rise are not well documented at international level, the mission suggested that an international technical meeting be held to review the effects of the rising Caspian level on coastal wetlands, especially Ramsar sites.

207. The multi-purpose Seistan study, the restoration of Kamjan marshes and the holding of a technical meeting on sea level rise in the Caspian are three of the projects proposed for the Action Plan to be presented to the Netherlands Government and others as a result of the Ramsar Wise Use project (see paragraph 97).

208. Finally, on the basis of discussions with Iranian specialists and reports of possible change in ecological character at other Iranian Ramsar sites, the mission recommended that a further mission or missions under the Ramsar Monitoring Procedure be arranged to review the situation not only at Yadegarlu, but also at the following Ramsar sites: Alagol, Ulmagol & Ajigol Lakes; Shadegan Marshes; and Khuran Straits.

209. At the time of writing, an Iranian report for the Kushiro meeting has not yet been received. In the light of the recommendations of the Monitoring mission it is therefore suggested that the two Seistan sites and Kamjan Marshes be maintained on the Montreux Record until the measures recommended have been carried out; that Yadegarlu be maintained until another Monitoring mission has been arranged; and that the Alagol Lakes, Shadegan and Khuran Straits be added to the Montreux Record.

210. ITALY: The Italian report notes that "threats are always plentiful in wetlands". As an illustration it cites a series of threats affecting the Grado Lagoon (where the 1991 symposium "Managing Mediterranean wetlands and their birds" was held): sea level rise; sand excavation to maintain tourist beaches; river-borne waste; industrial pollution; polluted sludge; disturbance by tourists; illegal hunting; aquaculture installations without environmental impact assessment. The Italian report does not give details of any changes in the ecological character of the Italian sites on the Ramsar List; however, in regular contacts with the Italian authorities in the framework of the MedWet project (see paragraph 39), the Ramsar Bureau has been informed of the implementation of the major restoration projects affecting the Stagno di Molentargius and Stagno di Cagliari Ramsar sites, both in Sardinia. As noted in the Montreux Review (Proceedings, Vol. III, page 338) large sums were set aside under the Italian budget law to overcome problems of eutrophication and pollution at these sites and both were included in the Montreux Record in 1990. It would appear appropriate to maintain them in the Record until the restoration projects have been completed.

211. JAPAN: The Japanese national report gives details of measures being taken at the Ramsar site of Izu-numa and Uchi-numa to combat the problem of eutrophication. Discharge of phosphorous and nitrogen is being regulated, and wild rice planted to help improve water quality. During preparatory meetings for the Kushiro Meeting held in Japan, Japanese specialists presented documents about issues affecting other Japanese Ramsar sites: thus it is reported that Utonai-ko may be affected by the building of a channel to divert excess water, and that Kushiro Marshes may be affected by run-off of chemicals from agricultural land and golf courses. No Japanese Ramsar sites have as yet been included on the Montreux Record; it would be valuable to have advice from the Japanese authorities on whether inclusion of any of the three sites mentioned above might help draw attention to the problems and thus help to find solutions.

212. JORDAN: The Regina meeting, informed of pumping of water from Azraq for drinking water for Amman, approved Recommendation 3.8 which called for a proper assessment of the environmental impact of the pumping, a reduction of pumping by 50% and the establishment of a long-term water resources plan. An application of the Ramsar Monitoring Procedure was carried out in March 1990, and Montreux Recommendation 4.9.2, based on its findings, made specific proposals about further research and action. In view of the concern expressed about this site at successive meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, its inclusion on the Montreux Record was logical. The Jordanian report to the present meeting deals exclusively with the situation at Azraq. It notes that the reserve is still threatened by shortage of water, because of overpumping for agricultural and urban purposes, and that the Department of the Environment is making intensive efforts to rationalize pumping.

The report also states that a GEF project of US$ 3.3 million, administered according to UNDP modalities of execution, has been approved. The project involves restoration and management of the Azraq reserve and establishment of an Environmental Impact Assessment unit and Ramsar implementation in Jordan. It would appear appropriate to maintain Azraq on the Montreux Record until this important project has been carried through.

213. KAZAKHSTAN: The authorities of Kazakhstan have not yet confirmed that the Lower Turgay and Irgiz Lakes are still to be included in the Ramsar List (see paragraphs 17 and 24); however, for the purposes of the Montreux Record, they are treated like all other designated sites. The Monitoring Procedure was applied at this site, in the steppe area north of the Aral Sea, in August 1991. The mission noted that the lakes were suffering from a reduction of water supplies, caused by dams on inflow rivers, and affecting local populations as well as the fauna and flora of the region. The mission called for coordination of water provision between neighbouring administrative districts. It also noted that the welcome proposal to establish a strict nature reserve would require sensitive handling, to take account of the interests of local inhabitants. It would appear wise to add the site to the Montreux Record until its status and the conservation measures adopted are clarified.

214. KENYA: The Ramsar Bureau has been in close touch with both the Japanese and the Kenyan Governments about a project, funded by the Japanese Government, to improve water supplies and water purification at the Kenyan city of Nakuru.

215. KYRGYZSTAN: The authorities of Kyrgyzstan have not yet confirmed that Issyk-Kul is still to be included in the Ramsar List (see paragraphs 17 and 24); however, for the purposes of the Montreux Record, it is treated like all other designated sites. This wetland was included in the Montreux Record in 1990 on the basis of information in the report of the USSR to Montreux. That report indicated that Issyk-Kul was officially classified as being "on the brink of an ecological crisis" and added that the fall in water level was likely to be exacerbated by the building of a huge health resort. It would seem appropriate to maintain Issyk-Kul on the Montreux Record until its status has been clarified.

216. MAURITANIA: No report has been received, but the Bureau has been active in FIBA, the international foundation for the Banc d’Arguin, which supports the Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania’s single Ramsar site. A grant for investigation of ecotourism possibilities was made from the Wetland Conservation Fund in 1991. An extensive programme of research has been carried, with the support of European scientists, notably from France and the Netherlands, who have been trying to elucidate the reasons for the high productivity and biodiversity of this coastal site near a major Atlantic upwelling. A presentation on cooperation between Mauritania and the Netherlands will be made in Workshop D on international cooperation on June 12. One of the themes of the research is the role of the Banc d’Arguin as a nursery for fish. Hitherto the Mauritanian authorities have succeeded in controlling fisheries and allowing only the local Imraguen to fish in their traditional manner. There appear to be no major changes in ecological character at the Banc d’Arguin.

217. MEXICO: The Mexican Ramsar site of Ria Lagartos was included on the Montreux Record because of reports of damage caused by Hurricane Gilberto in October 1988 and because of possible change in ecological character caused by extension of commercial salt extraction. An application of the Monitoring Procedure was made in June 1989; a follow-up mission was carried out in September 1991 and discussions are continuing between the Bureau and the Mexican authorities. No Mexican national report for Kushiro has been received at the time of writing, but the Bureau understands that the Mexican authorities have developed a plan for coordination of the activities of the salt-works, local fishermen and cattle ranchers. It is proposed that Ria Lagartos should be retained on the Montreux Record until this plan has been put into operation.

218. MOROCCO: The motorway being built between Rabat and Larache will pass close to the Merja Zerga Ramsar site. In response to an enquiry from the Ramsar Bureau about this matter, the Moroccan authorities provided detailed information in September 1992. The national report adds that environmental considerations have been incorporated into the project and compensatory measures have been included to avoid or attenuate any negative effects. The report states that there will in general be no major problems that affect Merja Zerga.

219. NETHERLANDS: The Netherlands report points out that many nature reserves in the Netherlands, including wetlands, are affected by air and water pollution and drainage of surrounding agricultural land. A series of general policy plans have been launched to counter this tendency.

220. Because of drainage activites in surrounding agricultural land, the peat-bog Ramsar site of De Groote Peel was included in the Montreux Record in 1990. The national report notes that the protection status of the site has been improved and will be further ameliorated (see paragraph 141); it also refers to eco-hydrological studies which have led to the establishment of a buffer zone of two kilometres; any activity which may affect groundwater in this zone requires a licence, and until now all drainage requests have been refused. A water management plan is to be developed for the wetland and surrounding area. Given these developments it may now be appropriate to remove this site from the Montreux Record.

221. At the Biesbosch Ramsar site, where previous reports have indicated investigations are being made into high levels of PCB pollution, the Netherlands report notes that sanitation of river sediment is proposed as a remedy; in addition the former tidal system will be partly restored by changing the operating regime of the tidal barrier. In the Wadden Sea, seal populations are recovering after the virus infection of 1988; measures being taken there to remedy shortages of mussels and cockles, caused by intensive fishing and poor recruitment, include temporary prohibition of fisheries and establishment of permanent closed areas. At Weerribben and Alde Feanen, measures are being sought to improve water quality.

222. NEW ZEALAND: The national report indicates that there have been no detrimental changes to the ecological character of the five listed sites since Montreux. Positive changes are expected at Whangamarino as a result of restoration of water levels, and at Kopuatai Peat Dome after control of Brush-tailed Possum which grazed the vegetation heavily.

223. NORWAY: No Norwegian sites were included in the Montreux Record in 1990, although the Monitoring Procedure was operated at Åkersvika in August 1989 because of reports to the Bureau that building of a skating hall for the 1994 Olympic winter games would affect the Ramsar site. The national report notes that there have been no dramatic changes in ecological character in any of the listed wetlands. However, a gradual change has happened or may happen in some sites, mainly because of developments which occurred before Ramsar listing. Activities outside the sites themselves (e.g. eutrophication from agricultural pollution) may affect sites, and, especially in southern Norway, acidification may be a problem.

224. Substantial discussions have continued about the management of Åkersvika. NGOs have claimed that the building of the Olympic skating hall (designed to look like an upside down Viking ship) would change the character of the site and thus violate the Convention. However the part of the area to be filled in was not part of the Ramsar site and as a result of pressure from NGOs a smaller area is to be filled in. A buffer zone has been created, and a decision taken to enlarge the nature reserve; it is intended to extend the Ramsar site later. It is the general view of the conservation authorities that there has been no significant change in the ecological character of the Ramsar site. Developments within the site will not be allowed if they would cause change. The County Governor is fully aware of the Ramsar status of the area and will as far as possible avoid negative impacts outside the area.

225. Decrease in freshwater inflow is a problem at Øra. At Nordre Øyeren, a 10 million kroner study is to be carried out to investigate the effects of river regulation upstream and downstream of the reserve, and to suggest management techniques; also at this site there is concern over pollution from a nearby brick factory, which has just been fined 200,000 kroner. As already mentioned at Montreux, the road to the island of Tautra has allowed mammalian predators to enter the reserve and cause damage to breeding birds; an acoustic fence seems to have improved matters, but the road has also affected sea currents.

226. PAKISTAN: No Pakistan sites were included in the Montreux Record though, as mentioned in paragraph 105, the Monitoring Procedure, implemented in 1990, recommended that four sites designated in 1976 did not meet the criteria and should be replaced by others in compensation. The national report suggests that one of these, Tanda Dam, has undergone considerable improvements recently and should be retained on the List. As previously reported at Montreux, carp have been introduced at Khabbaki and it now seems certain that they are affecting the ecology and competing with the rare White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala.

227. The Bureau has previously been informed about problems at Lake Haleji Ramsar site, where the Governor of Sindh province auctioned fishing rights to private contractors. Following interventions from the Federal Government and campaigns by NGOs the rights were rescinded. Any damage by fisheries has still to be assessed.

228. PERU: The national report states that there are no cases of change in the ecological character of sites included in the List. It emphasizes that this is also true of the Laguna de Mejia where there are special problems because the surrounding agricultural fields affect the levels and extent of water in the reserve. (In October 1992, the Standing Committee approved a grant of SFr. 25,000 from the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund to improve infrastructure and management in these lagoons).

229. POLAND: The Monitoring Procedure was applied at the Siedem Wysp ("Seven Islands") Ramsar site in 1989, because drainage work downstream (across the border with the former USSR) was affecting water levels. Among the recommendations made were: construction of a water control device and extension of the reserve. Siedem Wysp was included in the Montreux Record while awaiting the execution of the proposed measures. The national report notes that, despite the current financial difficulties of the Polish economy, funds have been approved for a water control structure equipped with a filtering system to remove agricultural chemicals, and a rationale is being prepared for extension of the reserve. It is suggested that Siedem Wysp be maintained on the Montreux Record until these operations have been successfully completed.

230. Data sheets submitted to the Ramsar database by the Polish authorities indicate that, while there are no major problems within the Slonsk Ramsar site, the area could be affected by regulation of the River Warta, including construction of a dam upstream. Given this situation, it might be appropriate to add Slonsk to the Montreux Record.

231. ROMANIA: The national report does not indicate any change in ecological character at Romania’s single Ramsar site, the Danube Delta. (The Danube Delta is, with the Volga Delta in Russia, Europe’s largest Ramsar site). The Bureau has been closely involved with a project for twinning of the Danube Delta and the Camargue in France. A presentation on the delta, as an example of a reserve in a large wetland, is to be made in Workshop C on 12 March by the head of the reserve.

232. RUSSIAN FEDERATION: The Russian national report refers to the continuing rise in water level in the Caspian (see also under Iran, paragraph 206) which is affecting the Volga Delta. This is reported to have caused a decrease in the role of the area as a stop-over point for migratory waterfowl. The economic crisis has led to a decrease in industrial and agricultural pollution, but an increase in pollution from domestic sewage. The economic situation also means that many qualified personnel from the conservation and environmental sciences have been obliged to seek employment elsewhere, often in the private sector.

233. SENEGAL: The Senegalese Ramsar site of N’diaël was designated in 1977, but has since then remained largely dry because its inflow system was affected by the major hydro-agricultural works carried out in the River Senegal Valley over the last twenty years. A Monitoring Procedure mission was carried out there in 1988. In its recommendations it pointed out that the situation of N’diaël was not in accordance with the status of a wetland of international importance and recommended that restoration of water – feasible with the completion of the Diama dam - be promoted. Given this situation, N’diaël was included in the Montreux Record in 1990. At the time of writing, a national report has not been received. However, the subject of N’diaël was discussed at the Ramsar regional meeting held in Senegal in March 1993 (see paragraph 22). Several hydrological studies have been carried out in recent years with restoration in mind and there is at present renewed interest in restoration, among local people and in funding agencies. The report of the meeting called on funding agencies to speed up the process for making funds for restoration available. It is clear that N’diaël should remain on the Montreux Record and that restoration action is a matter of great urgency.

234. Previous meetings of the conference have expressed concern about another Senegalese Ramsar site - perhaps the best known and also listed under the World Heritage Convention - Djoudj. In the past, the concern has been that Djoudj might, like N’diaël, receive reduced water supplies as a consequence of the hydrological works in the River Senegal valley. Now that the Diama dam is in place there appears to be enough water, which enters through sluice gates that need regular maintenance. (A Monitoring Procedure report in December 1988 noted the need for repairs to the sluice and for a detailed management plan; it also emphasized that Djoudj was part of a network of wetlands in the Senegal valley. After the regional meeting in Senegal in March 1993, the Wetland Conservation Fund approved a modest request for upkeep of Djoudj’s sluices under the emergency procedure). At present, the problem, as exposed at the recent meeting, is quality rather than quantity of water. The Diama dam also prevents intrusion of salt water, so that weed infestation by water lettuce Pistia is developing. Measures urgently need to be taken to resolve this problem, which affects the ecological character of the site and restricts movement of boats, and hence the numbers of visitors, in the reserve. It therefore seems appropriate to add Djoudj to the Montreux Record.

235. SLOVAK REPUBLIC: The national report indicates that a worsening of ecological conditions is not to be expected in any of the four listed sites. At Súr, a project (originally submitted to the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund) was initiated in 1992 to restore the original water regime.

236. SOUTH AFRICA: Following the South African report to the Montreux meeting about the situation at St. Lucia, Montreux Recommendation 4.9.1 expressed "grave concern at the impact on the South African Ramsar site of St. Lucia of mining for titanium and other heavy metals" and called on the South African Government "to prohibit any mining activity which will damage the ecological character of the site and to ensure the St. Lucia system is retained as a protected site because of its national and international conservation importance". Saint Lucia was included on the Montreux Record, and the Monitoring Procedure was operated there in April 1992. The mission was conceived as an international input to the Environmental Impact Assessment being carried out in South Africa. It recommended that the South African authorities should consider refusing the mining application on principle, but pointed out a number of issues which the South African authorities should consider carefully if the application was not refused on principle. Among these were the need for an environmental cost/benefit analysis; critical impacts on the St. Lucia system; difficulties of restoration; effects on tourism; and possible changes in land use in South Africa. It also suggested a broad application of the wise use principle in the coastal plain of Maputaland between South Africa and Mozambique. The South African Environmental Impact Assessment and the Ramsar Monitoring Procedure were released together in March 1993. A decision on the mining issue at St. Lucia is not expected until after broad public debate in South Africa.

237. The South African national report regrets the delay in submission of the Ramsar report and emphasizes the need to streamline this aspect of the Monitoring Procedure. It adds that, other than St. Lucia, no significant change has occurred in the ecological character of any listed wetland. It seems clear that St. Lucia System should be maintained on the Montreux Record until the decision on its future has been taken.

238. SPAIN: Two Spanish Ramsar sites, Daimiel and Doñana, were included in the Montreux Record in 1990. At Daimiel, where an application of the Monitoring Procedure was carried out in 1988, the principal problem was the continued heavy exploitation for agriculture of the aquifer around the national park. Since then, some mitigation of the problem has been achieved by artificial transfer of water from another catchment. In the long run however, control of the exploitation of water extraction will be required. Although no national report has as yet been received, the Bureau understands that changes to the European Community’s Agricultural Policy (and in particular the opportunities offered by Council Regulation 2078/92 of 30 June 1992 on "agricultural production methods compatible with the requirements of the protection of the environment and the maintenance of the countryside") offer a possible long-term solution, with the necessary compensation measures for farmers. It appears necessary to retain Daimiel on the Montreux Record, and indeed it will undoubtedly be a long time before the aquifer is restored.

239. The Montreux meeting approved Recommendation 4.9.1 on Doñana. This recommendation notes the problem of water extraction for agriculture and tourist development and calls on the Spanish Government and regional authorities to meet the national park’s water requirements, to ensure the participation of the scientific community and NGOs in discussions, to control water extraction and to increase conservation measures in the region around Doñana. It was logical for Doñana to figure on the Montreux Record as a result of this recommendation. Since Montreux, the Bureau has not operated the Monitoring Procedure at Doñana, but has been intimately involved in an initiative taken by the Government of the autonomous community of Andalucia in collaboration with the European Community. The President of the Junta de Andalucia appointed a commission to advise him on "Strategies for the sustainable socio-economic development of the area around Doñana", and the Bureau was invited to take part as an international wetland expert in the work of this commission. The Doñana Commission was not charged with providing solutions to the problems of the national park, but of the socio-economic problems of the whole region around Doñana. It was thus working in the spirit of the Ramsar wise use concept. Its report, presented in April 1992 and well received at all levels, emphasized that water and other resources were finite, and that it was unrealistic to expect the region to support massive expansion in tourist and agricultural exploitation. Instead, the commission called for better commercialization of Doñana’s traditional products, development of a spirit of enterprise and expansion of eco-tourism. It emphasized the need for a considerable programme of investment from Brussels, for integration of the various conservation management structures and creation of a consortium of local, regional and national bodies to oversee the operation of socio-economic development in the region. Discussions are at present going on about the provision of the necessary funding from Brussels. In the interim there has been some unrest from local people who expected concrete results more rapidly. Nevertheless, the work of the Doñana Commission represents an example of wise practice and broad consultation in the face of seemingly intractible environmental problems, and the approach adopted at Doñana can be regarded as exemplary. It is clear that Doñana must remain on the Montreux Record until concrete results of the measures proposed can be demonstrated.

240. The Bureau has received reports in the last triennium of potential problems at a number of other Spanish Ramsar sites, and has contacted the national authorities about them. Difficulties over the construction of an intensive aquaculture installation at the S’Albufera de Mallorca Ramsar site appear to have been successfully resolved. Construction of a motorway in the autonomous community of Valencia appeared to have a possible effect on three Ramsar sites there.

241. SURINAME: The national report indicates that there are at present only non-consumptive uses of the single Ramsar site of Coppename Monding, together with some construction of huts by subsistence fishermen who fish offshore. However, there is a possibility that economic activities (oil-drilling and agriculture) five kilometres south of the reserve may affect it unless suitable measures are taken. It is not clear whether the problems are serious enough to warrant inclusion in the Montreux Record.

242. SWEDEN: No Swedish Ramsar sites were included in the Montreux Record, though the Monitoring Procedure was operated at Hornborga in 1988 in connection with the adjustment of water levels there. The Swedish national report presents information on possible changes in ecological character affecting five of Sweden’s 30 listed sites. At Falsterbo-Foteviken, a new road affecting less than 0.1% of the site has been built, though the zone of influence is much wider (it will lead to the filling-in of the shoreline and perhaps to increased human pressure). The granting of the permit to build the road (opposed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency) gave rise to intensive public debate on the strength of the Convention. However, the final effect is not likely to lead to change in ecological character of the site.

243. At Krankesjön-Klingavälsån, building of a road and bridge will have only a small impact on wetland values. Lake Östen is affected by human intervention in the water regime and lack of grazing; studies are under way to counteract the current revegetation process. At Persöfjärden the Environment Protection Agency is not willing to fund major restoration schemes, but has advocated intensified management and abandoning of all drainage activities. At Gammelstadsviken the conservation community has criticized plans to turn forest areas into residential areas.

244. SWITZERLAND: The national report indicates that no major changes in ecological character have taken place at Swiss Ramsar sites. The Ramsar Bureau, in its strategic position for study of Swiss Ramsar sites, has been informed of several minor incidents, such as a fire at Les Grangettes, and also of longer-term possibilities for major restoration of this site, the Rhone Delta into Lac Léman.

245. TUNISIA: Tunisia’s single Ramsar site, Ichkeul, was included on the Montreux Record in view of plans to build dams on the inflow rivers, outside the designated national park. Two applications of the Monitoring Procedure have been made, in 1988 and 1989. The national report presents a review of the latest developments. Two of the dams have now been completed and a third was to be completed in 1992; three more were planned but a decision on construction has not yet been taken. Because of unclarity about the environmental impact of the dams, an international seminar on Ichkeul was held in Tunis in February 1990, with participation, among others, of the Ramsar Bureau. The seminar agreed on a series of measures which needed to be carried out and a call for tenders was made in October 1991. The tenders were opened in May 1992. Until the additional studies have been completed and the necessary implementation carried out, it is clear that Ichkeul must remain on the Montreux Record.

246. UGANDA: Lake George, Uganda’s single Ramsar site, was included on the Montreux Record because of statements in the national report to Montreux of heavy metal pollution through the nearby Kilembe Copper Mines. No national report has as yet been received, but a grant was made from the Wetland Conservation Fund in 1992 to allow an improved survey of the area. Until further information is available the site should be maintained on the Montreux Record.

247. UKRAINE: The Ukrainian authorities have not yet confirmed that the sites in Ukraine designated by the former USSR in 1977 are still to be included in the Ramsar List (see paragraphs 17 and 24); however, they are listed in the report received from Ukraine and for the purposes of the Montreux Record, they are treated like all other designated sites. Kerkinitski Bay on the north coast of Crimea was included in the Montreux Record in 1990 because of reports of major pollution problems there. The national report from Ukraine does not present further details on the pollution question, but notes that the level of protection has increased with establishment of a new nature reserve. It would appear appropriate to maintain this site on the Montreux record until more information is available.

248. The Monitoring Procedure was applied at another Ukrainian site, Yagorlits & Tendrov Bays (the Black Sea Reserve) in November 1990. The mission remarked on the poor quality of water inflow and disturbance by military aircraft. The report from Ukraine states that the Black Sea Reserve is still under the impact of irrigation and drainage schemes in Kherson District, but that to diminish its effects, rice growing was stopped in some areas and a special project to diminish discharge of water gradually was begun in 1992. The report notes that this result and the decreasing impact of military disturbance is due to the Convention. It would appear wise to add the site to the Montreux Record until its status and the conservation measures adopted are clarified.

249. UNITED KINGDOM: At Montreux it was decided to include two UK Ramsar sites on the Montreux Record: Bridgend Flats on the Scottish island of Islay, and the Dee Estuary. Bridgend Flats were included because a proposed road would have meant the loss of 25% of marshland. The UK delegation at the 1991 Standing Committee reported that the plans to build the road had been avoided, and requested that the site be removed from the record. This was agreed by the Standing Committee. The UK report to the present meeting confirms that the threat posed by the road has been avoided and notes that the site’s international status had an important bearing on the outcome.

250. The Dee Estuary on the English-Welsh border was included because of a variety of problems which en masse could have a major impact. The national report to the present meeting points out that the estuary is in a heavily industrialized and populated area. The problems include tipping of colliery waste, discharge from paper mills, recreational disturbance and construction of power stations. In an area of this sort, notes the report, there will always be threats form development proposals, but the safeguards in the planning system take full account of the international importance of the area; thus planning for a road bypassing the city of Flint was refused after a public enquiry. After discussion between the UK authorities and the Ramsar Bureau, it has been agreed to adopt a new approach to application of the Monitoring Procedure at the Dee Estuary. A series of visits over a longer period is planned, and it is hoped that guidance on planning for estuaries, which would be of general interest to several Ramsar parties, might be developed. A preliminary visit under this new approach was made in February 1993. For the moment, until the Monitoring Procedure has been carried out fully, the Dee Estuary should clearly remain on the Montreux Record.

251. The UK report provides detailed information on the ecological character of 23 other UK Ramsar sites. The report notes that the Threat/Damage Sub-Group of the Joint Working Party on Ramsar and EC Bird Directive sites (the UK "National Ramsar Committee") serves a valuable purpose, both in monitoring the status of listed and candidate sites and in addressing problems.

At several of the sites reviewed, development proposals which would have affected the site have been refused: a motorway affecting the Ouse Washes, a package of development proposals at the Swale, a holiday development at Glac-na-Criche; the international recognition of the site was an important factor in these decisions.

252. Problems at the sites include:

  • Eutrophication from agricultural run-off and/or sewage effluent: Lindisfarne; Loch Leven; Minsmere-Walberswick; Loch of Skene; the Wash; Rutland Water; Esthwaite Water.
  • Major development proposals: tidal barrage on the Severn, if approved would affect Bridgwater Bay and Upper Severn; large-scale recreational development at Loch Lomond; motorway road link at Rostherne Mere; land subsidence caused by deep mining under Derwent Ings; new entrance lock at Chichester & Langstone Harbours.
  • Decrease in goose numbers, probably caused by disturbance, at Gladhouse Reservoir and Hoselaw Loch.
  • Groundwater abstraction at Redgrave & South Lopham Fens.
  • Uncontrolled heather burning at Holborn Lake and Moss.

It does not appear that any of the issues summarized above would lead to change in ecological character of the Ramsar site, though some of the threats could rapidly become acute. Advice form the UK delegation on whether any of the sites should be included in the Montreux Record would be appreciated.

253. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No US Ramsar sites were included on the Montreux Record in 1990, though it would appear to have been logical to include the Everglades, since this was the subject of a specific recommendation. Recommendation 4.9.2 applauded "the current and unprecedented legal action" to prevent further degradation of the Everglades, and urged the US Government and the State of Florida to restore natural waterflows, eliminate nutrient enrichment and ensure enforcement of available legislation. The US national report to the present meeting notes that federal and state negotiators have agreed on a plan to clean up the Everglades. The plan seeks to reduce phosphorus in runoff waters by filtering them through four diked marshes. Details of the plan are still being negotiated. In view of the "unprecedented" nature and scale of this operation, and of the value of the operation as an example to the many other parties which are encountering problems with agricultural run-off, it may be appropriate to add the Everglades to the Montreux Record.

254. The US report also notes that a restoration project has been initiated at Catahoula Lake Ramsar site. It employs deep tillage to remove lead shot, which is a poison to waterfowl. Initial results indicate that over 90% of the shot can be removed by this process and that rates approach 100% by the second growing season.

255. URUGUAY: Following reports to the Regina meeting of large-scale agricultural and infrastructural work in the very large Bañados del Este Ramsar site (over 200,000 ha), whose boundaries are poorly defined, a first application of the Monitoring Procedure was made in October 1988. This mission suggested that expertise be provided to the Uruguayan authorities in order to identify which areas of wetland required stricter conservation measures, and which areas might be developed for agriculture, in particular rice-growing. The Uruguayan report at Montreux indicated that an environmental impact study had been carried out, but that some loss of wetland was still occurring. A preliminary follow-up mission was carried out by the Ramsar Bureau under the Monitoring Procedure in January 1993, and it was agreed that an expert mission in May 1993 should advise the Uruguayan authorities on delineation of protected sites, and on better definition and possible redrawing of boundaries. The mission’s report is due to be ready for submission to the Uruguayan authorities before the Kushiro meeting. No national report has been received from Uruguay at the time of writing, but as it appears that Bañados del Este has already suffered considerable loss of wetland values, and may well undergo further change in ecological character, it should be retained on the Montreux Record.

256. VENEZUELA: The Venezuelan Ramsar site of Cuare was not originally included on the Montreux Record, but following information submitted to the Bureau in 1991, the Venezuelan authorities approved a visit to Venezuela of a mission under the Monitoring Procedure in October 1991. The principal problem is the existence of waste dumps and unauthorized dwellings within the Ramsar site, and the pollution and change in ecological character they cause to the site. Participants in the Ramsar regional meeting in July 1992 (see paragraph 33) were able to visit Cuare. As indicated in the national report from Venezuela, legal measures have now been taken to change land use procedures in the area concerned and to create a model urban system (see paragraph 148). The Venezuelan report indicates that there are still problems of human settlement at Cuare, and a presentation on the operation of the Monitoring Procedure at Cuare will be made by the Venezuelan delegate in Workshop A on June 11. It is suggested that Cuare be added to the Montreux Record until the pollution and resettlement questions have been solved.

257. MONTREUX RECORD - STATUS AT KUSHIRO: In the light of the information contained in paragraphs 161-256, it is suggested that the Conference of the Parties at Kushiro may wish to include the following sites in the Montreux Record.

(a) Sites already included on the Montreux Record: It is suggested that the following sites be maintained on the record:

1. Algeria:Oubeira
2. Austria:Donau-March-Auen
3. Azerbaijan:Kirov Bays
4. Belgium:Schorren van de Beneden-Schelde
5. Belgium:De IJzerbroeken te Diksmuide en Lo-Reninge
6. Denmark:Ringkøbing Fjord
7. Egypt:Lake Bardawil
8. Egypt:Lake Burullus
9. Germany:Ostfriesisches Wattenmeer & Dollart
10. Greece:Evros Delta
11. Greece:Lake Vistonis & Porto Lago Lagoons
12. Greece:Lake Mitrikou & adjoining lagoons
13. Greece:Nestos Delta & Gumburnou Lagoon
14. Greece:Lakes Volvi & Langada
15. Greece:Kerkini Reservoir
16. Greece:Axios, Loudias & Aliakmon Delta
17. Greece:Lake Mikri Prespa
18. Greece:Amvrakikos Gulf
19. Greece:Messolonghi Lagoons
20. Greece:Kotychi Lagoon
21. Iceland:Myvatn
22. Iceland:Thjorsarver
23. India:Keoladeo National Park
24. Iran:Hamoun-e-Saberi & Hamoun-e-Helmand
25. Iran:Hamoun-e-Puzak
26. Iran:Shurgol, Yadegarlu & Dorgeh Sangi Lakes
27. Iran:Neiriz Lakes and Kamjan Marshes
28. Italy:Stagno di Santa Gilla
29. Italy:Stagno di Molentargius
30. Jordan:Azraq
31. Kyrgyzstan:Issyk-Kul
32. Mexico:Ria Lagartos
33. Poland:Siedem Wysp
34. Senegal:N’diaël
35. South Africa:St Lucia System
36. Spain:Daimiel
37. Spain:Doñana
38. Tunisia:Ichkeul
39. Uganda:Lake George
40. Ukraine:Kerkinitski Bay
41. UK:Dee Estuary
42. Uruguay:Bañados del Este

(b) Sites which might be added to the Montreux Record: In the light of information adduced in paragraphs 161-256 it is suggested that the following sites might be added to the Montreux Record:

1. Algeria:Tonga
2. Austria:Neusiedler-See
3. Bolivia:Laguna Colorada
4. Bulgaria:Srebarna
5. Bulgaria:Durankulak
6. Costa Rica:Palo Verde
7. Germany:Unterer Niederrhein
8. Guatemala:Laguna del Tigre
9. India:Lake Chilka
10. India:Loktak Lake
11. Iran:Alagol, Ulmagol & Ajigol Lakes
12. Iran:Shadegan Marshes
13. Iran:Khuran Straits
14. Kazakhstan:Lower Turgay and Irgiz Lakes
15. Poland:Slonsk
16. Senegal:Djoudj
17. Ukraine:Yagorlits & Tendrov Bays
18. USA:Everglades
19. Venezuela:Cuare

(c) Sites for which further guidance is required: It may be appropriate to add further sites to the Montreux Record. As mentioned in paragraphs 161-256, it might be appropriate to add further sites in Denmark, Germany and UK; some sites in Hungary and Japan should perhaps figure, while cases of possible sites include Camargue (France) and Coppename Monding (Suriname). Guidance and decisions from the Conference and the Contracting Parties concerned will be required on this point.

The following site has been removed from the Montreux Record by the Standing Committee, at the request of the Contracting Party concerned (see paragraph 249):

United Kingdom: Islay-Bridgend Flats

It is suggested that the following site be removed from the Montreux Record by the Kushiro Conference on the basis of information provided by the Contracting Party concerned:

Netherlands: De Groote Peel

258. If the suggestions put forward in paragraph 257 were to be approved, the number of sites included on the Montreux Record would be 61 from sections (a) and (b), plus some possible additions from section (c), and perhaps others in States which have not yet submitted national reports, or with which the Bureau’s contacts have been less intensive.

259. If 61 listed sites - as a minimum - are included in the Montreux Record, then 10% of the sites on the Ramsar List are recognised as having undergone, are undergoing or are likely to undergo a change in ecological character. This is a high percentage and the Conference will no doubt wish to reflect on its implications for the Convention and its reputation and efficacity.

  • Does this high percentage of sites with difficulties mean that the protection offered by the Convention is inadequate? Is it a confession of failure? Or is it a realistic recognition of the difficulties in conserving and making wise use of wetlands, particularly very large sites where there is considerable human pressure on natural resources?
  • Does the apparent need to add many new sites to the record mean that the situation has worsened considerably since Montreux? Or simply that better information is now available?
  • Is the fact that only a small number of sites have been removed from the record since Montreux a further sign that the situation is worsening? Or, once again, that solving deep-seated and complicated wetland problems is a long and slow process demanding resources, management and innovative structures?

260. Discussion of these questions should provide guidance for further work by Contracting Parties, the Standing Committee and the Ramsar Bureau and their partners. Whatever answer is reached, two things are clear:

  • There is a clear need for continued and continuing monitoring of the status of listed Ramsar sites, and particularly of those included on the Montreux Record. Most Contracting Parties of course have their own systems for monitoring the health of their listed wetlands. But it does seem desirable for the Convention to organize a regular review of the status of sites on the Montreux Record. Every three years at the Conference of the Parties does not seem sufficient. It would seem preferable to insititute an annual review, like that operated by the World Heritage Convention of sites included in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. Such a review could be carried on at the annual meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee; or, better (since the Standing Committee’s time is often fully occupied with financial and administrative matters), it could be entrusted to a Scientific or Technical Committee, or to a Wise Use Working Group with an extended mandate. The possible establishment of a Scientific or Technical Committee, or of an extended mandate for a reconstituted Wise Use Working Group, is to be discussed at Workshops A and B, and draft recommendations have already been prepared and circulated (draft recommendation REC 5.5 annexed to DOC. C.5.6; and draft recommendation REC 5.6 annexed to DOC. C.5.7).
  • There is equally a clear need for the Convention to maintain and intensify operation of its Monitoring Procedure, in order to help Contracting Parties to identify problems at listed sites, and to make recommendations about possible solutions.

261. As noted in the foregoing paragraphs, the Monitoring Procedure has been widely used since its establishment in 1988. Monitoring missions generally produce recommendations to the Contracting Party (or Parties) concerned. Such recommendations may take the form of support for current action or of a call for more intensive enforcement of existing regulations; or (especially in developing countries or in countries whose economy is in transition) a Monitoring Procedure report may call for further studies or remedial action -i.e. matters which require finance. While the findings of Monitoring Procedure missions have often been used by the Bureau in preparing projects for funding by Contracting Parties and multilateral agencies, one of the major difficulties has been the lack of financial resources to put recommendations into effect.

262. Specific examples of problems encountered in follow up to Monitoring Procedure missions can be quoted:

  • The mission to Pakistan in 1990 (see paragraphs 105 and 226) called for designation of 15 new Ramsar sites. Follow up action was only possible when a small grant was made in 1992 (from funds actually allocated for the Monitoring Procedure) to enable surveys to be carried out and maps to be produced.
  • The mission to Iran (see paragraphs 204-206) recommended three major actions - holding of a technical meeting on sea-level rise in the Caspian; execution of a major water resources and land use study in the Seistan basin; and restoration of Kamjan Marshes. No funding has been available through the Convention for these activities, though all three are included in the Action Plan developed as part of the Wise Use project.
  • The mission to South Africa (paragraph 236), as well as making a variety of recommendations on the subject of the St. Lucia Ramsar site, called for a plan to promote wise use of wetlands throughout the Maputaland coastal plain of South Africa and Mozambique. No source of funding has become available as yet for such a major undertaking.

Many other examples will be obvious from the country by country review in the previous pages.

263. It remains clear that the Convention, as at present constituted, is not in a position to provide the funding to carry out its own recommendations. It would appear appropriate for the Conference to reflect on this situation, and provide guidance to the Standing Committee and Bureau.

  • Is the role of the Convention to set standards and norms which are recognised worldwide by governments (e.g. criteria for listing; maintenance of ecological character; Montreux Record; guidelines on management, wise use or international cooperation)? Application of these standards would then be implemented by Contracting Parties, with the assistance of technical bodies, and with funding from other sources (e.g. GEF) as has occurred in the case of the new Ghanaian Ramsar sites (see paragraph 80) or Jordan (see paragraph 212).
  • Or should the Convention itself be more closely involved in seeking funding for the execution of its own goals, standards and recommendations? If this is the case, then the Bureau would no doubt have to take on a much greater role in fund-raising. This already happens to some extent through the Wetland Conservation Fund and through projects funded through the Bureau by Contracting Parties. But it implies a different work programme for the Bureau, and it would raise the question of coordination with the Convention’s partner organizations already active in the field of fund-raising.

264. A final question on which the role of the Convention might be reviewed is its possible role in developing working groups on particular wetland problems. It is apparent from the review of the ecological character of listed sites that several problems arise in a number of countries and often affect wetlands in a gradual or chronic rather than an acute fashion. One of these is obviously the problem of pollution and eutrophication through agricultural run-off which is mentioned in many national reports, particularly those from Europe and America with intensive farming practices. A second is the related problem of infestation of waterways by invasive weeds in the tropics. Is there already some structure to allow different countries to exchange experiences in facing such problems? If so, the Convention should certainly establish closer contacts with it, so as to advise Contracting Parties; if not, should the Convention establish advisory working groups, or cooperate with partner organizations to crystallize thinking on such matters and provide a service to Parties?

Action, notably management, at listed wetlands

265. INTRODUCTION: Section 2.4 of the "Outline for national reports" asks Contracting Parties to provide information on "Action at listed sites, notably as regards management".

266. Apart from the reference to maintaining ecological character of listed sites, the Convention text gives little guidance about action to be taken after listing. The only concrete references are in Article 4.4 ("The Contracting Parties shall endeavour through management to increase waterfowl populations on appropriate wetlands") and Article 4.5 ("The Contracting Parties shall promote the training of personnel competent in the fields of wetland research, management and wardening"). Discussion of the need for training of wetland personnel, including managers, will proceed in Workshop B on Wise Use, to be held on Friday June 11. This is a subject of special interest to many developing countries and the national reports contain many references to the need for support in this field.

267. The report of the Wise Use and Criteria Working Group presented to the Montreux meeting, and adopted through Recommendation 4.2, referred to management of listed sites. Annex II to the Recommendation (Proceedings, Vol. I, page 155) states that "At each listed wetland, consideration should be given to the need for management; if management measures are deemed appropriate, a management plan should be developed and put into action". Until now, the Convention has provided little guidance about how management plans should be drawn up, whether for listed sites, for wetland reserves, or for wetlands being managed in a spirit of wise use. While wetland conditions vary enormously from one site and from one part of the world to another, it would appear possible to devise some guidelines of general relevance on the approach or methodology to be adopted in preparing management plans. Workshop C on June 12 will therefore devote attention to developing guidelines of this kind. Some preliminary work has been carried out at technical meetings organized by the Bureau in Bolivia and in Wales (UK) in early 1993, presentations will be made in Workshop C on the results of these meetings and draft guidelines are already proposed under cover of draft recommendation REC 5.8, annexed to document DOC. C.5.8. The draft recommendation contains the important and novel statement of "the need for every Ramsar site to have its own management plan". It is hoped that guidelines on management plans (or rather on the management planning process), if adopted, will prove of value in developing countries and that technical advice and finance might be provided, perhaps through the Wetland Conservation Fund, for development and application of the management planning process at individual Ramsar sites.

268. Many Contracting Parties of course already have extensive experience in management of wetlands, and this is demonstrated in the national reports. The national reports of Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland and United Kingdom give particularly detailed accounts of management activities at their listed sites.

269. BOLIVIA: Laguna Colorada is to receive a grant from GEF, administered by the World Bank, to develop and implement a management plan as from 1994.

270. COSTA RICA: The report emphasizes the need for financial support in carrying out management activities. Management at Palo Verde is supported by the SENARA-BID project, while at Caño Negro, funding is provided by the Netherlands with technical cooperation from IUCN.

271. CZECH REPUBLIC: A large wetland creation and restoration project was initiated in 1992 at the Trebon fishponds Ramsar site, and in 1993 management plans will be developed for all Czech Ramsar sites.

272. FRANCE: At each listed site the French Environment Ministry intends to establish a management committee, whose task will be to make proposals on studies or actions needed for better information or wise use of the site. Some committees have already been established, and their proposals will be submitted to the European Commission for funding under its LIFE programme.

273. HUNGARY: The national report indicates that restoration projects are being carried out or planned at five listed sites, in several cases in relation to the European Community’s PHARE programme.

274. ICELAND: The national report refers to research programmes carried out at the Myvatn-Laxa Ramsar site.

275. JAPAN: The report gives details of work at Japan’s four Ramsar sites, placing special emphasis on educational and public awareness activities.

276. NEW ZEALAND: The detailed notes on management practices at New Zealand’s five Ramsar sites include information on the restoration measures at Whangamarino and Kopuatai Peat Dome, both of which involve raising of water levels.

277. NORWAY: The Norwegian report, as well as providing information on managemnt activities at some of the country’s designated sites, notes that information boards and brochures have been produced for most of the Ramsar sites on mainland Norway. Counts of breeding waterfowl are carried out at least every two years in the Svalbard Ramsar sites, and have revealed a gradual increase in the breeding populations of most species.

278. PERU: The report notes that all three of Peru’s Ramsar sites have minimal infrastructure and staff. Recent governmental budget cuts have only made the situation worse. The initiation in 1991 of a US$ 5 million project at the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (the country’s largest protected area and, at two million hectares, one of the world’s largest Ramsar sites), with support from The Nature Conservancy and AID, was therefore very welcome.

279. ROMANIA: The report refers to a planning workshop held in the Danube Delta, in which Ramsar Bureau staff participated, and which formulated management objectives for the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, whose boundaries coincide with the Ramsar site. A seminar on "Tourism and Environment" was organized in September 1992 in collaboration with the Council of Europe. The report also notes that the GEF Danube Delta Biodiversity project covers both Romania and Ukraine and will finance activities and improve biodiversity. It is closely related to two other regional GEF projects on the Danube River Basin and the Black Sea.

280. RUSSIAN FEDERATION: An "Action Plan for the conservation of wetlands in the Lower Volga" has been developed in coordination with IWRB, but rapid implementation is unlikely because of financial shortages in Russia.

281. SOUTH AFRICA: Management plans are being developed and instituted at all listed sites.

282. SWEDEN: The restoration of Lake Hornborga, mentioned at several previous Ramsar meetings, has now been terminated, except for the raising of the water level which will be completed in 1995. The opening ceremony will take place in May 1993, and the Ramsar Bureau has been invited by the Swedish authorities to participate. A restoration plan is being prepared for Hjälstaviken, and major management schemes have been implemented at several sites such as Helgeån, Åsnen, Tåkern and Svartån.

283. VENEZUELA: The Decree containing the management plan for Cuare is to be published in the near future. Once the measures included in the plan have been carried out, the protection of the site will be greatly improved and its current degradation will be arrested.


General statements on the current national wetland situation

284. INTRODUCTION: Section 3.1 of the "Outline for national reports" invites Contracting Parties to provide a "General statement of the current national wetland situation in the territory of the Contracting Party concerned, highlighting any general tendencies, whether positive or negative". In requesting a general statement of this kind the aim was to see whether any overall tendencies, either positive or negative, could be detected in the approach to conservation and wise use of wetlands, and in awareness of wetlands and their values.

285. MONITORING OF WETLAND LOSS: Detailed figures on wetland loss over the years, and on the amount of wetlands remaining in the world are rarely quoted, even though such data are essential if the rate of loss is to be monitored seriously. The UK report specifically points out that "continuous monitoring and action is essential to ensure that potential threats and damage can be avoided". The US report notes that its efforts to monitor both quality and quality of wetlands (see paragraph 286) have worldwide implications: "As we move to address global issues that may impact ecosystems, a standardized replicable monitoring network to measure long-term changes in wetland quantity and quality is desirable". Paragraph 286 gives some of the few examples of more precise figures.

286. The Canadian report notes that, with over 127 million hectares of wetlands, it holds an estimated 24% of the world’s wetland resource. On a cautionary note, however, it adds that over one-seventh of the original wetland area of Canada has been converted to other land uses. The Danish report notes that land use in Denmark is dominated by agriculture, which covers 62% of the total area, leaving 6% of meadows and marshes, 5% of moors, bogs and sand-dunes and 1% of lakes and water courses. Until 200 years ago, these latter categories were more abundant in Denmark, and more than two-thirds of Danish wetlands have been reclaimed for agriculture, while nearly all streams have been canalized. In France, while there is no detailed estimate of the past situation of wetlands, they have constantly diminished in historical times through urban pressure, river regulation and, in the last thirty years, accelerating intensification of agriculture. The report estimates that two-thirds of French wetlands have been lost in the last hundred years. The German report emphasizes that Germany is one of the most densely settled parts of Europe, with 55% of the area devoted to agriculture, 14% to forestry and only 1.5% in a near-natural state. The Japanese report, referring to the Nationwide Survey of Nature carried out every five years since 1973 under the auspices of the Environment Agency, gives figures for the changes in bogs and fens, lakes, coastlines, tidal flats and rivers (see paragraph 306); in most cases, it would appear that wetland loss is continuing in "this densely populated and highly utilized country". New Zealand, in the last 150 years, has lost up to 90% of its wetlands through land drainage and development, but this trend is now being reversed as all sectors come to recognise wetlands as a valuable resource which needs protection. In Norway, 9% of the total area is classified as wetland and bog, and 5% as freshwater lakes. In South Africa, an arid country 65% of whose area has a mean annual precipitation of less than 500 mm, wetlands are particularly important ecosystems. The US report points out that the US Emergency Wetlands Resources Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to produce wetland status and trends data, and that this effort was converted in 1991 to a continuous monitoring process with the goal of measuring changes in wetland area and reporting these findings at five-year intervals.

287. Precise figures like those in the previous paragraph are rare in the national reports and come mostly from industrialized countries where the pressure for creation of agricultural land has greatly decreased of late, and where funds for such analyses are no doubt more readily available. Both developing countries (Chad and Costa Rica) and developed States (Germany) point out the need for more trained staff. The Costa Rican and Russian reports note that there is no special national programme for analysis of the tendencies in wetland development. Similar estimates will be necessary from other states if a detailed perspective of the situation is to be produced for monitoring of the state of wetlands worldwide. Figures required might include the original area of wetland (perhaps 200 years ago), the area remaining at present, and the percentage of that remaining area enjoying habitat protection measures (e.g. designation for the Ramsar List).

288. The question of quality, as well as quantity, of surviving wetlands is of course equally important, and is rarely raised in the national reports. The US report notes that the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Environmental Protection Agency are discussing monitoring of wetland quality as well as quantity. The Canadian report notes that the concepts of no net loss of wetland functions and recognition of sustainable wise use of wetland resources are common themes across Canada. The Moroccan report presents a different attitude when it draws attention to plans to double the present area of large dams to 100,000 hectares by the end of the century, and to increase the number of smaller dams, which "will allow replenishment of groundwater and increase the number of wetlands". The Slovak report also notes that a large number of artificial wetlands have been created since 1950, while in South Africa the prevailing drought has led to the building in the last few years of numerous water storage dams. The Peruvian report notes that there may be increased pressure for drainage of wetlands when the economic recession is over.

289. AUSTRIA: The national report notes that, after decades of draining land for human use, conservation of wet meadows and the creation of wetlands is now being subsidized, and a law on riverbank management is under discussion.

290. BELGIUM: The Belgian national report indicates that the Flemish executive grants subsidies of up to 60% to two private conservation organizations for purchase of nature reserves. So far 61 private nature reserves covering 1,300 hectares have been established, in addition to the 27 State reserves covering 3,570 hectares, many of them in wetlands (including three Ramsar sites). In the Walloon region, several of the larger wetlands are protected in State reserves, but it has proved difficult to protect smaller sites, which are lost through drainage or infilling; the regional executive has therefore approved a decree for the protection of sites of biological interest, though this has not yet been fully applied.

291. BOLIVIA: Coordination of persons and institutions interested in wetlands is organized by the National Environment Secretariat with a view to identifying priority sites for conservation and including them in the national conservation system.

292. BULGARIA: There are two conflicting general tendencies: on one hand a positive tendency to establish more protected areas, and on the other continuing pollution of watercourses and closed basins because of the use of old technologies, the lack of water treatment systems and the generally poor state of the national economy.

293. CANADA: Some 29% of Canadian wetlands are under federal jurisdiction, 62% under provincial government, and 9% under non-governmental or private tenure. The most severe losses have occurred in areas of major urban concentration and rapid agricultural development. Since settlement began in Canada, up to 65% of coastal wetlands in the Atlantic region, 68% of all wetlands in southern Ontario and 70% of wetlands in prairie agricultural areas and Pacific estuaries have been drained or converted to other uses. Wetland loss in the vicinity of major cities can be as high as 98%. Of these losses, 85% are attributed to drainage for agriculture, 9% to urban and industrial use and 2% to leisure and recreational properties. Flooding for hydroelectricity production and water level management also has a significant impact on wetland resources.

294. The report provides details of national and regional wetland conservation programmes implemented in Canada in an attempt to stem these losses. The "North American Waterfowl Management Plan", implemented jointly with the USA since 1986, and with Mexico since 1988, aims to reverse or modify activities that destroy or degrade waterfowl habitat, and will invest over 1.5 billion Canadian dollars in the next fifteen years; in its first five years of operation 215,000 hectares of wetlands were "secured" and 61,000 hectares "restored or enhanced". The "Great Lakes Action Plan" aims to develop and implement new initiatives for conservation of the Great Lakes, two-thirds of whose shoreline wetlands have been lost. Action Plans have also been established for the St. Lawrence River and the Fraser Estuary. The report also presents details of three bodies: the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, the Wildlife Habitat Canada Program, and Wetlands for the Americas, each established to promote some of the above initiatives.

295. CHAD: The national report points out that the principal economic activities of the country - agriculture, grazing and fishing - take place in wetlands, which is why the Government considers them so important. It has therefore, despite the shortage of trained staff, taken measures for their integrated use in order to maximize production without causing a major impact on the natural balance of the habitat.

296. CHILE: In general the great majority of wetlands remain in a stable condition, despite slight deterioration in some sites. Thus there is little need for urgent action, although the report points out that there is no clear national consciousness of the importance of wetlands.

297. COSTA RICA: There is no overall study of the situation of wetlands at national level, and execution of such a study is considered a matter of high priority. A large number of wetlands (and, since 1977, all mangroves) are legally protected under a number of protected categories. Yet it has proved difficult to implement these measures because of the lack of operational capacity, and many mangrove ecosystems have been totally or partially destroyed for urban expansion, salt production or shrimp ponds. In response to this deterioration, a number of experimental projects, like the Térraba-Sierpe project, have been initiated, and a National Mangrove Commission (which could one day become a National Wetland Commission) has been established. Costa Rica hopes that its membership of Ramsar can consolidate its activities for conservation and wise use of wetlands.

298. CZECH REPUBLIC: Wetland protection now receives greater attention, and large-scale agricultural "improvement" projects have ceased. Despite these trends (which the report considers "mildly positive") the loss of wetland biotopes continues, though at a diminishing rate. Eutrophication is a pressing problem, and though it has been overcome by appropriate management in some sites, adequate funding is rarely available.

299. DENMARK: The national report states that recent years have seen an increasing awareness of the need for wetland management, conservation and restoration. The publication of the Brundtland Commission’s report in 1987 led to the development in 1988 of a Danish Action Plan on the improvement of the environment in general, based on the principle of sustainable use, in which improvement of the aquatic environment occupies a central place. Membership of Ramsar has contributed to important movements in the conservation of wetlands, and increasing interest in environmental issues has led to greater emphasis in recent legislation on nature management and restoration.

300. FRANCE: The report notes three types of negative tendency: the historic urge to drain insalubrious areas and to control floods, man’s ever-improving technical capabilities, and the failure to emphasize the value of wetlands, so that land use has been affected by sectoral economic interests. Furthermore, "blind" development mechanisms were subsidized by public funds. On the other hand strong positive tendencies are now appearing: the reform, since 1989, of the European Community’s structural funds, the development of European directives which oblige States to conserve special protection areas, and the European Commission’s efforts to make funded projects compatible with the varying directives. Within France, growing consciousness of the value of water quality is a major factor, while the French Environment Ministry is cooperating with other ministries to ensure that wetland conservation and management measures are integrated into other land use policies.

301. GERMANY: Only in the 1980s did nature conservation policies develop from species protection and rather small-scale conservation of habitats to a broader conception, so that larger protected areas and landscapes were taken into account. Since the Montreux Conference several formal legal measures have been taken to strengthen wetland conservation measures (e.g. the establishment of large protected areas in the Wadden Sea, the Baltic and in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg); positive efforts to improve water quality in the sea, inland waters and groundwater should be noted. It is not possible to present a precise picture of the wetland tendency in Germany: positive factors (improvements in environmental quality, purchase of sites with public funding, greater involvement of non-governmental organizations) continue, as do negative tendencies (such as intensification of agriculture, greater recreational pressure, disturbance by aircraft, restrictions through major projects or destructive uses - road building, gravel and peat extraction).

302. The German report emphasizes that despite increased efforts, it has not been possible to achieve lasting protection for all ecologically valuable wetlands, including those designated for the Ramsar List. As a result natural or near-natural sites can be conserved only through restrictions in area or compromise. On the other hand, the situation is somewhat different in the five new Länder, where the ecological character of wetlands has suffered rather less. A further problem is the inadequate financial support and staffing available in the field of nature conservation.

303. GUATEMALA: The national report gives an overview of the three main wetland areas of the country: the north west, the Atlantic watershed, and the Pacific mangroves. Most of the northwestern wetlands are included in the Maya Biosphere Reserve. On the Atlantic side, two of the main areas are already being managed by CECON (San Carlos University Centre for Conservation Studies), but the third, Bocas del Polchic, is severely threatened by oil drilling activities and an irrigation project. IUCN has authorized funding for a project to assess the importance of the delta for its inhabitants and it is hoped to propose the area for the Ramsar List.

304. HUNGARY: The drought of the last decade has led several regional conservation directorates to give greater attention to restoration projects. The structural changes in the Hungarian economy might have affected the general wetland situation, and legal measures have been taken so that wetlands in areas with international protection cannot be privatized, nor be the subject of compensation to private owners.

305. ICELAND: Although coastal and estuarine habitats have been little affected by development, lowland mires and lakes have been greatly reduced by agricultural drainage in recent decades. Furthermore, some highland tundras in central Iceland are being affected by hydroelectric developments.

306. JAPAN: The total area covered with wet vegetation (e.g. bogs and fens) was 37,000 hectares in 1986, 83% of which is in Hokkaido; while many areas remain untouched and several have been protected because of their biodiversity, some have recently been affected by human activities. Between 1979 and 1985, 1.6% of the total lake shore was converted from the natural to the artificial category, and 0.8% was urbanized or industrialized. In 1984, only 57% of Japan’s coastline remained intact. In 1991, 51,000 hectares of tidal mudflats remained, with about 4,000 hectares disappearing by reclamation in the previous decade. Very few rivers remain undeveloped: from 1979 to 1985, about 250 kilometres of river bank were artificially modified. On the other hand the importance of rivers has recently been recognised by local communities as recreation areas and as areas for environmental protection.

307. MOROCCO: The national report refers to the variety of natural wetlands in the country, and to plans to create more artificial water storage facilities (see paragraph 288 above).

308. NETHERLANDS: The national report notes that, while Dutch wetlands are well protected from the legal viewpoint, many are affected by air and water pollution, by drainage of surrounding land, and by isolation of natural areas. The main problems are summarized as: acidification, eutrophication, contamination, falling water tables, fragmentation and loss of habitats. The wide-ranging policies adopted by the Netherlands to combat these problems are presented in paragraphs 364-368.

309. NEW ZEALAND: As noted in paragraph 286, vast wetland loss has been recorded in the last 150 years, though nowadays there is a greater sympathy towards wetlands. Farmers are realizing the value of wetlands on their property, whether for attracting waterfowl and game, for stock, for water supply or for aesthetic reasons. Local and regional authorities are also becoming more sympathetic.

310. NORWAY: As in many other countries, wetlands have been drained, cultivated and used as recipients for pollution; they have been lost as a result of industrial development, road building and hydropower development schemes. Some are still being lost, but not as rapidly as a few years ago. Drainage for farmland has decreased, partly as a result of reduced grants or incentive schemes. There seems to be a slightly increasing awareness of the value of wetlands, e.g. for improvement of water quality.

311. PERU: Although it can be stated that Peruvian wetlands are not at present undergoing deterioration or suffering significant pressure, this situation is to a large extent the result of the recession in the Peruvian economy. Economic recovery is likely to lead to an aggravation of environmental problems caused by the extension of agriculture and the mining sector. The main problems are: pollution by mining, industry, oil production and agriculture; habitat destruction by agriculture and overgrazing; infrastructural work such as road-building; and in some cases over-exploitation of natural resources such as fish and waterfowl.

312. POLAND: Ecological policies were based on the former economic situation and have been affected by the change in property relationships. It is envisaged that the Polish parliament will assess these policies in the coming year. The poor state of the national economy has already had positive effects for wetlands, by limiting drainage for agriculture and forestry and by reducing pollution caused by industrial production and excessive use of fertilizers.

313. SLOVAK REPUBLIC: The total area of wetlands in Slovakia was small at the outset, and many natural areas have been destroyed since 1950 by drainage and canalization of streams.

314. SOUTH AFRICA: Because of the dry climate, wetlands are a high priority for protection, but natural wetlands are under substantial pressure.

315. SURINAME: As already indicated in the national report to Montreux, the entire estuarine zone of Suriname (with a total area of 310,000 hectares, 120,000 already protected) is important for waterfowl and like all mangrove systems has a high biological productivity. In recognition of this importance it is proposed to designate the whole as a multiple-use management zone.

316. SWEDEN: Acid deposition is still regarded as a major threat to lakes and watercourses in large parts of Sweden, and large sums are spent each year on liming of freshwater systems to counteract its detrimental effects. Eutrophication of lakes and shallow marine areas also poses a major threat to the natural values of wetlands.

317. SWITZERLAND: The general situation is improving slowly but progressively thanks to: the completion of sewage systems linked to water treatment stations; the obligation to maintain a minimum flow in rivers exploited for hydropower (following the new federal law of 1 November 1992); better application of a 1982 federal directive on river regulation, which pays greater attention to conservation of nature and landscapes; obligation to submit proposals for exploitation of hydropower to an environmental impact assessment.

318. UNITED KINGDOM: The UK report is particularly detailed in its review of the overall situation. It records the UK’s intention to pursue a forward site designation programme under the Ramsar Convention and to extend its application to the UK’s dependent territories. The report then reviews the general situation under each of the main categories of wetland habitat represented in the UK - coasts; estuaries; inland waters; and peatlands.

319. The "Coastwatch" project is producing statistics on the extent of habitats and the use made of them for all the coasts of Great Britain. The severest pressure on coastal sites is in the south and southeast where there are extensive urban and industrial areas. Planning Policy Guidance issued in September 1992 advised that development on the coast should be limited to that which specifically needs a coastal location, and guided to areas already largely developed. Erosion results in some loss of coastal habitat, and some pollution and disturbance to wildlife is continuing. Oil pollution remains a major threat, and the report presents details of the oil spill in the Shetlands in January 1993, and of the proposed inquiry into it.

320. In its section on estuaries, the UK report refers to the "Estuaries Review" which in 1991 published information on each of the 155 estuaries identified in Britain. Local authorities are implementing initiatives based on this review, and English Nature is developing an Estuaries Action Plan. Potential plans for amenity and tidal barrages exist at 22 estuaries, including the Severn, Mersey and Duddon.

321. Under "Inland waters (rivers, lakes and fens)" the UK report notes that, while most rivers remain of good or fair quality, the low flow of some rivers and water bodies has remained a cause for concern. Problems building up for several decades (over-abstraction of water, land drainage and river regulation) have been aggravated by drought. Both industrial concerns and agricultural bodies have been prosecuted for pollution of rivers. A 1991 report indicated that at least 71 SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific interest) had suffered from pollution by farm wastes over the previous five years, while over 100 SSSIs had undergone some degree of damage by enrichment from sewage and agricultural fertilizers. Furthermore, 141 SSSIs suffered acidification damage. The primary cause of this acidification in upland Britain is the deposition of sulphur and nitrogen compounds emitted into the atmosphere during the combustion of fossil fuels; forest canopies can increase the capture of these compounds, and this is now taken into account in the location of new upland forests.

322. The "Peatlands" section refers to reaction in UK to international concern at the afforestation of peatlands in northern Scotland. Of the 120,000 hectares in Caithness and Sutherland to be designated under the SSSI system, just over half had been notified by September 1992; clearer definition of the conservation value of peatlands, along with the removal of tax incentives for forestry, means that peatlands of conservation importance are no longer at risk from creation of new forests. In lowland peat areas, the principal concern is the extraction of peat for horticulture. Peat extraction has now ceased or been reduced on a number of sites, while the Peat Producers’ Association has developed peat-free products and research on peat alternatives and recycled wastes has been commissioned.

323. USA: The national report presents a broad picture of the values of wetlands (noting for example that two-thirds of the commercially important fish and shellfish species harvested along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and half those of the Pacific are dependent on estuarine wetland habitats for food, spawning and/or nursery areas). Restoration of drained and degraded wetlands is a goal of the Department of the Interior; the Fish and Wildlife Service provides finance for action by private individuals. In recognition of the work of private landowners the Service has initiated a programme of "National Wetlands Conservation Awards to the Private Sector".

324. CONCLUSIONS: In general, national reports from industrialized countries indicate a tendency for the loss of wetlands to slow down (though it still continues). Many are now revising their agricultural policies to reduce production and to use less artificial fertilizers, so as to reduce pollution and eutrophication of wetlands. The role of wetlands in maintaining water quality is also receiving increased attention, and improved sewage treatment facilities are being installed. Nevertheless, generation of hydropower continues to change the ecological character of many wetlands. In many states whose economy is in transition, the change in ownership and the new anti-pollution policies are having a positive effect on wetland conservation. In developing countries on the other hand, the situation is less clear, and many appear to see increase of agricultural production through transformation of wetlands as a necessity. The Peruvian report mentions the world economic recession, which may be playing a major role by delaying large projects which would affect wetlands, while the Polish report notes that the poor state of the economy has had positive effects on wetlands.

325. As for governmental and public perception of the values of wetlands, this is clearly on the increase. It is notable that two countries as different in economic terms as Chad and USA both lay great stress on the economic value of conserving wetlands.

326. Most of these comments, however, seem to be based on general impressions and are rarely backed up by precise data. As suggested in paragraphs 285-288, there is a clear need for better monitoring of wetland quantity and quality at global level. Development of an approved monitoring methodology, as suggested in the US report, could well be a task for a Convention Scientific/ Technical Committee.

Progress towards establishment of national wetland policies

327. INTRODUCTION: Section 3.2 of the "Outline for national reports" invites Contracting Parties to report on "Progress made towards establishment of national wetland policies as outlined in the Guidelines for the implementation of the wise use concept of the Convention approved by Montreux Recommendation C.4.10". Article 3.1 of the Ramsar Convention provides that the Contracting Parties "shall formulate and implement their planning so as to promote ...... as far as possible the wise use of wetlands in their territory." From the outset, therefore, the concept of "wise use" has been an integral part of the Convention, and indeed the two main obligations of member States have generally been regarded as designating sites for the Ramsar List and promoting wise use of wetlands.

328. In the Ramsar Convention’s early years, greater attention was paid to the List than to the wise use principle. This is hardly surprising, since the perceived necessity in the 1970s was to establish protected areas, in which of course "wise use" of resources was possible; Ramsar has never advocated prohibition of the use of resources in Ramsar sites. Furthermore, designation of a site for an international list, though by no means an easy task in administrative terms, is nevertheless more straightforward than application at national level of a broad concept for which no users’ manual exists. However, as wetland values and functions other than conservation of biodiversity came to be recognised (notably through the participation in the Convention of more and more developing countries), as it became more and more clear that listed sites were affected by events outside their strict boundaries, and as it was realized that not all wetlands of scientific value could be designated for the List, the need to define and codify the wise use concept was more strongly felt. As a result, the Regina meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in 1987 approved an Annex to the Recommendations which included both criteria for identifying potential sites for the List, and a first version of guidelines for implementation of the wise use concept. For the first time, the List and the Wise Use concept were linked in a single document.

329. Between the Regina and Montreux meetings, the Wise Use and Criteria Working Group worked to refine these criteria and guidelines, and the Montreux meeting adopted revised criteria and, in Recommendation 4.10, more detailed "Guidelines for the implementation of the wise use concept". The essence of the Montreux Guidelines is that the most effective way to approach implementation of the wise use concept is to develop and carry out national wetland policies; the guidelines thus reinforce the text of the Convention which links wise use with formulation and implementation of planning. The headings for the development of these national policies are extremely wide-ranging:

  • improvement of institutional and organizational arrangements; (this involves establishing institutions which can identify wetland concerns and integrate them into the planning process);
  • addressing legislation and government policies; (this involves review of existing legislation and policies, improved application of existing policies, adoption if necessary of new ones, and use of development funds for wetland projects);
  • increasing knowledge and awareness of wetlands and their values;
  • review of the status of all wetlands in a national context (this involves execution of national wetland inventories, and definition of priorities for each site); and
  • action at individual wetland sites.

The Montreux Guidelines accepted that elaboration of such national policies would be a long-term process, and suggested that Contracting Parties should at least formulate priority actions.

330. It is worthy of note that, in recent years, many countries have developed National Conservation Strategies, as suggested by IUCN, UNEP and WWF in the 1980 "World Conservation Strategy". More recently multilateral funding organizations such as the World Bank have called on countries to develop "National Environment Action Plans". The Ramsar concept of national wetland policies is in no way contradictory to such initiatives; on the contrary it seems clear that national wetland policies should be an integral part of any such initiative, since the reappraisal of national institutions, legislation and policies (for which the wise use guidelines call) must of necessity also be appropriate to national conservation strategies and environment action plans.

331. Since Montreux, the reconstituted Wise Use Working Group has been working, with the support of the Netherlands in particular, on a project to provide examples of the application of wise use principles, to develop projects in the spirit of wise use for an Action Plan that might be funded by Contracting Parties, and to provide additional guidance on implementation of the guidelines. These issues will all be discussed in Workshop B on Wise Use, to be held on Friday 11 June, and whose programme is presented in detail in document DOC. C.5.7. One of the outcomes of this workshop is likely to be the approval of "Additional guidance for the implementation of the wise use concept", for which a draft recommendation (draft REC.5.6) has already been circulated.

332. Issues relating to wise use will indeed arise in other workshops. Previous sections of the present document have shown that, in many member States, industrial or agricultural pollution affects many listed sites, so planning and policies will be an issue in Workshop A on "Listed Sites". Workshop C on "Establishment of wetland reserves", to be held on Saturday June 12, will investigate factors outside their boundaries which affect wetland reserves, and the management of large and small reserves. Similarly, Workshop D on "International Cooperation", to be held on Saturday 12 June, will deal with questions of development assistance affecting wetlands, which is included in the Montreux Guidelines as an aspect of wise use.

333. The discussion of wise use will thus be one of the philosophical threads running through the workshops and the whole conference. It is clear that it is a concept of equal relevance to all countries, whether their economies are developed, developing or in transition. It may be that the Kushiro Conference will wish to place even greater emphasis on the wise use concept, and to regard all the commitments accepted by the Contracting Parties as aspects of wise use. If this were the case, it would be logical to re-establish the Wise Use Working Group, giving it a wider mandate to address all kinds of scientifc and technical questions, as suggested in draft recommendation REC.5.6.

334. On the other hand, there may be merit in maintaining the separation between the four principal commitments - listing of sites, wise use, establishment of reserves and international cooperation. The concept of listed Ramsar sites is clearly well established, and presents a convenient way to record the Convention’s progress. Indeed perusal of the national reports, many of which devote the greater part of their attention to listed sites, shows that for many Contracting Parties it is by far the most important obligation. It might dilute and weaken the impact of the Convention if attention is directed away from the simpler concept of listed sites to a less tangible concept which is extremely difficult to measure. In this case, the Conference might prefer to appoint a Scientific or Technical Committee, empowered to advise the Standing Committee and Contracting Parties on additions to the List, application of the criteria, use of the approved datasheet and wetland classification system, the Montreux Record, application of the Montreux Guidelines on wise use, as well as various other matters submitted for the consideration of the Kushiro meeting (additional guidance on wise use, guidelines on international cooperation, on change in ecological character, on management and on public awareness). Draft recommendation REC. C.5.5 addresses the issue of establishing such a committee.

335. In all these discussions, the comments from Contracting Parties in their national reports on progress in adopting national wetland policies as recommended at Montreux, will provide basic guidance. These comments, which will be presented in Workshop B, are summarized in the following paragraphs.

336. In general, most national reports devote greater attention to listed sites than to wetland policy issues. (As the Canadian report notes: "Few other nations have developed wetland policy strategies; the Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation focusses on the sustainable wise use of wetlands, consistent with the Convention’s wise use concept.") Some Contracting Parties, however, present broader policy issues, and their impact on wetlands, in considerable detail. Among these may be mentioned Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, UK and USA.

337. AUSTRIA: A national wetland policy will be formulated on the basis of the National Wetland Inventory.

338. BELGIUM: The national report points out that in 1991 the Flemish authorities published a plan for nature policy in their region, which includes a preliminary map of the "Principal Green Structure of Flanders", showing the principal wetlands and valleys. Two pilot projects related to wetlands (one of them the Ijzer Valley Ramsar site) were established in 1992, and mark the beginning of the application of this Structure. In 1989, the Flemish authorities adopted a decree which makes environmental impact assessments necessary for projects concerning sites classified under Ramsar or the EC Birds Directive. This, says the report, is an important legal recognition of the two instruments.

339. BOLIVIA: The General Law on the Environment has recently been approved and the Congress is currently discussing two draft laws on Forests and Biological Diversity, which deal with wetlands. Bolivia does not at present have a specific policy on wetlands, though there is a tendency to develop one through coordination of the bodies working on the subject. A workshop organized by IUCN’s Wetlands Programme is to be held in Bolivia in March 1993 and is expected to agree on a National Wetland Action Plan in the spirit of the Ramsar wise use concept; the technical meeting of Ramsar site managers, held in January 1993 (see paragraph 33), will provide major inputs to this meeting.

340. BULGARIA: A contract has been signed between the Ministry of the Environment and the Ramsar Bureau for the development of a "National plan for the conservation and wise use of wetlands in Bulgaria". The project is financed by the French Government (see paragraph 97). Working groups have been established to prepare documents on five different regions, using Ramsar data sheets, and to draw up action plans. Their reports will be published in Bulgarian and French, and projects for priority wetlands will be drawn up by the end of June 1993. The plan will be widely distributed among governmental and non-governmental organizations concerned with wetlands.

341. The Bulgarian report also refers to a number of legal and institutional measures which have been taken. A new law on protected areas has been developed and includes the category of "managed reserve" which is most appropriate for wetlands. A new regulation has been adopted on the effects of construction projects on the environment. A proposal has been drawn up for the establishment of a National Agency for the Conservation of the Environment, attached to the Environment Ministry. It would be responsible for management of wetlands of international and national importance, currently managed by a variety of bodies, none of whom have adequate structures, staff or finance. The Parliamentary Environment Commission has deliberated on the status of Srebarna (one of Bulgaria’s Ramsar sites), and will take the necessary administrative and financial measures for the execution of the plan for the area.

342. CANADA: The Canadian report notes that the Government of Canada announced the "Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation" on 9 March 1992. The policy outlines seven "strategies" aimed at building on past achievements and working with ongoing initiatives, notably the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The policy promotes a non-regulatory, cooperative approach. The policy strategies set out directions to put the federal house in order, and are focussed on:

  • developing public awareness;
  • managing wetlands on federal lands and waters, and in other federal programmes;
  • promoting wetland conservation in federal protected areas;
  • enhancing cooperation with federal, provincial, territorial and non-governmental partners;
  • conserving wetlands of significance to Canadians;
  • ensuring a sound scientific basis for policy; and
  • promoting international actions.

The Policy will affect all federal government programmes and institutions in Canada. Implementation guidelines are to be developed in consultation with individual departments and agencies. A public report is available outlining the background to the development of the policy, the rationale for wetland conservation, and the full text of the policy and strategies.

343. One of the major considerations in developing the Federal Policy on Wetland Conservation, according to the Canadian report, was that it should deliver Canadian commitments to the Ramsar Convention. Development of provincial wetland conservation and management policies are under way in several provinces including Alberta and Saskatchewan, while the province of Ontario announced a policy for wetland management and protection in June 1992. This latter policy directs conservation initiatives and protection of provincially important significant wetlands. The initiatives of the three provinces and the federal policy will hence provide wetland policy coverage for almost 70% of Canada’s total wetland base.

344. CHAD: The national report notes that drought conditions have caused many people to move with their animals towards more clement areas, causing a problem of over-exploitation of the natural capacity of the remaining wetlands. In response to this tendency, the Government of Chad has taken a number of initiatives in the field of rural development, through the agency of the National Offices for Development of Horticulture (ONADEH), for Rural Development (ONDR), and for Pastoral and Village Hydrology (ONHPV).

345. CHILE: The national report notes that although a national wetland policy has not yet been formulated, the interest of CONAF (the national forestry corporation) in accepting responsibility for the administration of the Convention and the designation of new Ramsar sites is extremely positive. These comments may be compared to the Chilean report presented at Montreux (Proceedings, Vol. III, page 348) which feared that, without more financial support for CONAF, no more sites could be listed and a wetland policy could not be developed.

346. COSTA RICA: There is no specific national policy on wetlands, but they are integrated into broader documents such as the Conservation Strategy (ECODES) or the Forestry Action Plan (PAFCR). The National Development Plan for 1990-1994 proposes the wise use of natural resources on a sustainable basis through ECODES and PAFCR, but it is not certain that sufficient weight has been given to wetlands. The completion of the national wetland map and the mangrove survey should serve as a basis for specific wetland policies.

347. CZECH REPUBLIC: A national wetland policy has not yet been developed, but some activities relevant to Recommendation 4.10 have taken place. The new Law 114/92 on the Protection of Nature and the Landscape defines wetlands as important elements of the landscape, and the Czech Ramsar Committee has begun preparing a regulation on the implementation of Ramsar. A major research project on wetland systems began in 1991, and includes an inventory and training programme. Wetlands have been classified in different categories on the basis of the national inventory, and management plans are to be prepared in 1993. It is hoped to speed up the process of declaring reserves at wetlands classified as worthy of protection, but the efforts have so far had little success, since property rights are being re-evaluated throughout society.

348. DENMARK: While Denmark does not state that it has a national wetland policy as such, the national report gives details of a series of plans and acts (Action Plan for the Aquatic Environment, new 1992 Nature Protection Act, Act on the Structure of Agriculture, Raw Material Act, and Action Plans for conservation measures on land and at sea) which, taken as a whole, make up an impressive series of wetland initiatives at national level.

349. A Ministerial order on "Delimitation and utilization of important international conservation sites" has been prepared; when approved it will lay down, clarify and implement legal principles for the administration of almost all relevant acts on land use and planning within Ramsar and EC Birds Directive sites. The Convention is included in regional planning guidelines as one of the "obligatory commitments", which means that Ramsar sites are given highest priority in regional land use plans.

350. The Danish report further notes that the Ramsar definition of "wise use" is widely used as a guideline in Danish wetland management. An example of this is the Common Trilateral Cooperation for the protection of the Wadden Sea adopted by the ministers of Denmark, Germany and Netherlands in 1991 (see also paragraph 357). (The Trilateral Wadden Sea work is one of the case studies which figures in the Ramsar Wise Use project mentioned in paragraph 331).

351. The Action Plan for the improvement of the aquatic environment, adopted by the Danish parliament, provides for a reduction of 50% of nitrogen and 80% phosphorous discharge by 1993 at a cost of 12 billion Danish kroner (two billion US dollars). The ecological results are still awaited, but as the Danish report indicates, Denmark is characterized by the vicinity of the sea and has a number of marine Ramsar sites which are relatively extensive compared to the size of the country. It is not possible to solve pollution problems by treating each Ramsar site as a separate unit. The problems must therefore be solved mainly within the framework of general pollution control schemes.

352. The new Nature Protection Act has successively been made more rigorous over the last 15 years, and now meets the intentions for the implementation of the wise use concept adopted at Montreux. In general it protects all saltmarshes, fresh meadows, fens, bogs and moors bigger than 0.25 hectares, and all lakes and ponds bigger than 0.1 hectares. Most streams and brooks are also protected. Over a six-year period, some 740 million Danish kroner will be spent on action projects, many of them relating to restoration of Ramsar sites. The National Forest and Nature Agency has proposed that 20,000 hectares (10% of the area previously reclaimed) should be restored as wetlands in the next two decades.

353. DENMARK - GREENLAND: The Greenland section of the Danish report notes that the seemingly harsh Arctic ranges harbour a surprising diversity of wildlife habitats. The people of Greenland, who are still dependent on subsistence harvesting of natural resources, treasure these prime waterfowl habitats. At all Greenland Ramsar sites, except the two within the national park, hunting is allowed outside the close season. There are no permanent human settlements nor any kind of exploratory or industrial activity within Greenland Ramsar sites, except for oil exploration in one of them.

354. FRANCE: The national report indicates that wetland conservation is one of the priorities in the 1991 plan for the environment developed by the Ministry for the Environment. Rather than establishing a sectoral wetland policy, the French Government aims to make wetlands benefit from existing protection mechanisms and to integrate proper wetland management techniques into other land use policies. The report gives details of legislation concerning wetlands in France: the Nature Protection Law, the decree on coasts, the European Community Directives on Wild Birds and on Natural Habitats, and the Water Law of 3 January 1992, which for the first time gives a legal definition of wetlands. It also refers to contractual and financial measures, noting that the rapid increase in funding available from French and European Community sources is an indication of the growing interest in wetlands. Wetlands have also figured largely in increased funding for extensive agriculture which pays greater attention to the environment. In 1991, the tax advantage for wetland drainage was suppressed; further work is needed on fiscal measures to encourage extensive farming.

355. GABON: The national report states that no national wetland policy has as yet been defined.

356. GERMANY: The national report notes that, while the "wise use" concept is often considered as being of special relevance to developing countries where many people live in and around the wetlands, it is no less relevant in a densely populated country like Germany, especially in the larger Ramsar sites. Increasing recreational activity, occupation of sites for housing or industry, and extraction of mineral wealth mean human impact on wetlands.

357. The report notes that there is no overall conceptual approach to the application of the wise use principle, but examples from several fields are offered:

  • Farming: one recent example of an overall conceptual approach is the compensation paid to farmers, with European Community support, for more extensive use of their land, especially green meadows. This has arisen in several Ramsar sites, but in most cases is on a voluntary basis and for a restricted period.
  • Trade and Industry: although it is difficult to reconcile such activities with the concept of wise use (except in the case of extensive hunting, agriculture or fisheries), major trade and industry installations often exist very close to Ramsar sites. These can be controlled through planning regulations, as can extraction of gravel, sand, clay, oil and gas. Efforts to restrict road-building in larger Ramsar sites is a way of restricting tourist pressure.
  • Recreation pressure: there is increasing recreational pressure in and around many of the larger Ramsar sites, notably those on the coasts and in alpine areas. Attempts are being made to develop "soft" tourism and to provide educational opportunities.
  • Trilateral agreement on the Wadden Sea: The sixth ministerial conference in Denmark in 1991 agreed on the principle of applying the wise use concept throughout the Wadden Sea which is shared between three states. By the next conference in 1994 it is hoped to establish these principles in national actions and some progress has already been made, for example restriction of mussel fisheries in Germany (see also paragraph 350).

358. GUATEMALA: The report states that no national policies on wetlands have as yet been established. The non-governmental organization Hidros has however developed a strategy for conservation of the mangroves of the southern coast, which could be used when a national strategy is developed.

359. HUNGARY: A project to establish a national strategy on wetland conservation, to begin in 1993, is an integral part of the process of developing the Nature Conservation Act.

360. ICELAND: The national report indicates that the main emphasis of the work of the Nature Conservation Council is on: developing public awareness of wetlands and their values; surveying existing wetlands and working towards conservation of the most important sites; and cooperation with other Nordic countries in listing river systems and wetlands of conservation value.

361. ITALY: The national report refers to a series of ad hoc national training courses on wetland management and education, and to the establishment of the MedWet Forum (see paragraph 39), with its secretariat in the Italian Ministry of Environment. The Forum (whose tasks include wetland inventories; management; public awareness; and making research results more easily available) has a major role to play in promoting conservation, management and sustainable use of wetlands, but will require exceptional financial support from the European Community.

362. JAPAN: The national report does not state that there is a national wetland policy on wetlands, but presents activities carried out in Japan under the five headings mentioned in the outline for national reports:

Under "organization", the national report outlines the activities carried out by the Nature Conservation Bureau of the Environment Agency, especially those for wetlands.

Under "legal aspects", the national report refers to the application of the principal legal instruments: there are 54 National Wildlife Protection Areas and 3,453 Prefectural Wildlife Protection Areas under the 1918 Wildlife and Protection and Hunting Law; under the Nature Conservation Law of 1972 there are five wilderness areas, ten Nature Conservation Areas and 513 Prefectural Nature Conservation Areas; the Natural Parks Law of 1957 has permitted the establishment of 28 National Parks, 55 Quasi-National Parks and 301 Prefectural National Parks. The new law on endangered species which came into force in April 1993 is also applicable to wetlands. The report also refers to several laws for the management of water quality; under the Lake Water Quality Law of 1984 comprehensive measures such as construction of sewerage systems and control of pollution sources are carried out. Effluent standards for control of phosphorous and nitrogen have been established, as for example at the Ramsar site of Izu-numa and Uchi-numa (see paragraph 211).

Under "knowledge and awareness", the report presents a list of international meetings organized in Japan in the last three years.

Under "problems at particular wetland sites", the report refers to the Implementation Scheme for Environmental Impact Assessment, agreed by the Cabinet in 1984.

Under "Priority actions at national level", the Japanese report comments on the importance of the Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention. The Government of Japan wishes to make the best use of this opportunity to increase Ramsar sites in Japan, and encourages local governments to apply for designation of potential Ramsar sites. The Government also expects that this conference, the first of its kind in Asia, will raise awareness of the necessity and importance of wetland conservation, and lead to an increase in the number of Contracting Parties, especially in southeast Asia.

363. MOROCCO: The Moroccan report also presents actions taken under the five headings of the "Outline":

Under "Organization", the Ministry of Agriculture has developed its policy of strengthening rational management by giving ever greater financial support to wetlands, both those included in the Ramsar List like Merja Zerga and others such as Iriqui and Massa. In order to introduce an integrated multi-disciplinary approach, the following measures have been taken or are planned at each protected area: establishment of a management structure, technical committee and consultative committee, appointment of a forestry engineer.

Under "Legislation", the report notes that most Moroccan wetlands are situated in areas classified as hunting reserves, and are therefore well protected by the annual hunting decrees. However they are also affected by some traditional uses, which is why a general law on nature protection is now being studied. Following the setting up of the Souss-Massa National Park, funds have been provided in the 1993 budget, and similar measures will follow when the Iriqui and the Eastern High Atlas parks have been set up.

Under the heading of "Awareness", the Moroccan report notes the establishment of visitor centres at the Ramsar sites of Sidi-Boughaba and Merja Zerga. The report considers the question of "wetlands in the national context" with respect to training and, noting the need to provide funding for adequate training programmes, refers to a course held in 1992.

Under "Measures at specific sites" the report details sites registered as "classified natural sites", and measures taken at two of the country’s most important wetland sites, Merja Zerga and Iriqui.

364. NETHERLANDS: The Netherlands report is one of those which devotes most of its attention to the question of wise use and national wetland policies. It confirms that the Nature Policy Plan, announced in the national report for Montreux, has been adopted by the Dutch parliament. This plan sets out objectives and outlines of nature and landscape policy for the next thirty years. Under the plan, the Netherlands has opted for a spatially stable and sustainable "National Ecological Network". Included within this network are: "core areas" - areas (including all wetlands of international importance) of high ecological value, which will be given priority in application of national instruments for protection and management; "nature development areas" - zones that offer realistic prospects for ecological development, covering about 50,000 hectares, predominantly on former agricultural land; and "ecological corridors" - areas or landscape structures contributing to migration of animals or plants within and between core areas. The sustainability of the network is supported by a buffer zone policy directed at eliminating or minimizing external influences.

365. The Netherlands report notes that, besides the Nature Policy Plan, other recent policy initiatives which aim to protect the environment include: the National Environment Plan Plus, the Third Memorandum on Water Management, the Agricultural Structure Memorandum and the Fourth Policy Document on Physical Planning Extra. It also refers to the establishment with Belgium and Germany of transboundary nature areas. It adds that wetland policy is not only the responsibility of national government, but also of lower authorities, and is developed in collaboration with Dutch private conservation organizations. In 1992, the Dutch Government granted the NGO Wetland Group the status of national NGO Ramsar Committee.

366. After presenting the Netherlands’ national wetland policy, the report goes on to provide details of its international wetland policy. Conservation and wise use of wetlands is one of the priorities for the Netherlands’ international nature policy, which underlines the importance of adequate functioning and further development of Ramsar. The policies set out in Netherlands policy papers have been translated since 1990 into actions and measures in a number of regions. At Pan-European level, the Netherlands has urged the importance of realizing a European ecological network. To this end, a basic document has been prepared, and in November 1993, the Netherlands will host a conference on "Conserving Europe’s natural heritage: towards a European ecological network". To mark the end of its mandate as representative of Western Europe on the Ramsar Standing Committee, the Netherlands hosted a European Ramsar Meeting in Lelystad in September 1992 (see paragraphs 27 and 39). The Netherlands has also drafted a concept for the Western Palearctic Waterfowl Agreement under the Bonn Convention, and has subsidized the European Union for Coastal Conservation.

367. In terms of cooperation with eastern and central Europe, the Netherlands report gives details of wetland projects supported, among others in Poland (Biebrza and Green Lungs of Poland), the Danube Delta, river corridors in Poland and Hungary, national inventory of wetlands in Poland, Sivash in Ukraine and an Arctic reserve in Russia. The report also mentions cooperation with Turkey (Göksu Delta). Projects supported elsewhere concern the Banc d’Arguin (Mauritania), Gabon and Guinea-Bissau and Cuare (Venezuela). Under the so-called KNIP fund, projects in Kenya (including an inventory of the Tana Wetland Reserve in support of its designation under Ramsar) have been financed.

368. Dutch development cooperation policies pay particular attention to wetlands as ecosystems which make a highly significant contribution to biodiversity, as well as to the prosperity and well-being of local populations. Where private or public organizations from the Netherlands participate in projects that may affect wetlands, the Government will ensure that adequate account is taken of ecological interests. This policy is clearly stated in Government development cooperation policy. The Multi-Year Programme for Nature and Landscape 1993-97 states that the Netherlands aims to make ecological review a part of all relevant foreign activities.

369. NEW ZEALAND: The national report states that the "New Zealand Wetlands Management Policy" was adopted in 1986. Its objectives include: preservation and protection of important wetlands; maintenance of a wetland inventory; and promotion of public awareness of wetland values. The Resource Management Act of 1991 is driven by the principle of sustainability, and provides for wetlands to be covered by water conservation orders. Previously this level of protection was only available for rivers which flowed through wetland areas. Consideration of wetlands is a matter of national importance which must be taken into account when powers are being exercised under the act. The act provides the community at large with an opportunity to gain improvements in the protection of wetlands by the provision of appropriate policies in regional policy statements or plans.

370. The New Zealand Protected Natural Areas Programme, focussed primarily on terrestrial systems, continues nevertheless to be important in identifying wetlands of representative value. The Marine Protected Areas Programme identifies coastal and estuarine areas.

371. NORWAY: Norway initiated a systematic conservation programme for wetlands and other types of natural habitats, based on regional inventories, in the early 1970s. County conservation plans for wetlands, for mires and bogs, and for important seabird colonies are the most relevant in the present context. Wetland conservation plans have been adopted for 14 of the 18 counties, mire and bog plans for 14 and seabird plans for ten. It is planned to finalize all county conservation plans relevant to wetland conservation and waterfowl and seabird conservation by 1995. In recent years about 50 new reserves have been established each year, bringing the total number at the end of 1992 to 1,030. Several of the 18 national parks contain wetlands of importance to breeding waterfowl. A decision on the plan for major extensions to the national park network is to be made by parliament in 1993.

372. The general Norwegian policy on wetland conservation is to protect the most important areas under the Nature Conservation Act. However, not all wetlands can be protected as nature reserves, and the conservation of the remainder must be covered under the general physical planning process. The 1986 Planning and Building Act allows County Governors to object to plans which will have a negative effect on conservation interests. Municipal authorities may also establish nature conservation areas through this act; so far around twenty wetlands have benefited.

373. On the subject of rivers, the report notes that Environmental Impact Assessments are required before decisions are made on hydropower schemes. The 1985 national Master Plan for Water Resources (presented at the Regina Ramsar meeting in 1987) identified watercourses where conflicts between hydropower and other interests should be as small, and the hydropower as economic, as possible. The Master Plan covers 310 watercourses all over the country. A total of 195 watercourses have been given protection against hydropower development through conservation plans, and the legal basis to protect them against other human interference is being prepared. Plans to protect an additional 127 watercourses are to be presented to parliament in 1993.

374. PERU: The Peruvian report lays great stress on the Programme for conservation and sustainable development of wetlands in Peru, which has been drawn up as a joint effort between governmental and non-governmental organizations. It has published a document entitled "Bases for the establishment of a programme for conservation and sustainable development of wetlands". Further documents are to be published and distributed in 1993.

375. POLAND: The Polish report notes that endeavours were made in the previous year to obtain financial support from the Committee for Scientific Research for a project entitled "Strategy for wetland conservation in Poland". The parliament’s Highest Chamber of Control recently made random checks on improvement projects carried out in 18 voivodships (provincial administrations), peat exploitations and the Institute for Improvement, Meadows and Pastures. The irregularities recorded were the basis for a general inventory of such operations. The voivodships are to redress the situation where possible, including the restoration of the peat exploitation sites.

376. ROMANIA: The "Ecoregions Differentiation Programme" includes a section dealing with the following wetland issues: establishing a network of wetlands; estimating wetland biodiversity; establishing inventories of potential Ramsar sites; comparing the present network with the situation four years ago; understanding the real direction of change in wetlands; and developing conservation and restoration strategies.

377. SLOVAK REPUBLIC: The national report indicates that 121 district and 38 regional environment offices, working under the authority of the Ministry of the Environment, carry out governmental policies, which include nature protection policies. Nature protection is currently regulated by Law 1/1955, but a new law on nature and landscape protection, establishing more effective conditions for nature protection, including wetland systems, will come into force in 1993. Environmental Protection Law 17/1992 and Agricultural Land Protection Law 307/1992, together with the planned Environmental Impact Assessment Law, will give better protection for wetlands. The former plan on water resources management has recently been replaced by hydrological plans which take greater account of ecological conditions in individual watersheds.

378. SOUTH AFRICA: The national report indicates that a draft "National wetland conservation policy" has been presented to the South African Working Group for discussion, and has been circulated to Government departments for comment. A revised draft will be submitted to the Minister so that policy can be determined in terms of the Environment Policy Act (No. 73 of 1989). A draft policy on "Water for managing the natural environment" has been circulated by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. It is a so-called "demand sector consideration" and does not address the impact on the environment of water resource development projects. A rationalization of these various draft policies will be required before implementation. At the end of the national report, in the section on follow up to Montreux Recommendations, information is provided on an eight-point wetland conservation programme, prepared by the Department of Environment Affairs. The programee includes: interdepartmental cooperation; national Ramsar Working Group; national inventory; national policy on wetland conservation; research programme; wetland protection; establishment of a central wetland information office; and international actions.

379. SWEDEN: The Government has decided to strengthen the protection of wetlands and is currently considering a proposal involving a total ban on land drainage in southern Sweden, as well as at specific sites of great conservation value. Much attention is paid to wetland protection and management by Swedish non-governmental organizations.

380. TUNISIA: The conservation of wetlands was the subject of new legislation in the revision of the Forestry Code approved under law 88-20 of 13 April 1988. Articles 224, 225 and 226 of the code deal with the definition and protection of wetlands. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited at Ichkeul, Tunisia’s Ramsar site, and the other sites are wardened by agents of the forestry service. It should be noted that of Tunisia’s 15,000 hunters only about a thousand occasionally practise waterfowl hunting.

381. UGANDA: Although no national report has been received from Uganda at the time of writing, it is well known from previous meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties and from the case study presented by Uganda in the Ramsar Wise Use project (see paragraph 331) that Uganda has developed a wide-ranging national wetland policy.

382. UNITED KINGDOM: The national report indicates that the UK has a published environmental strategy, with an annual reporting procedure. The elements of this policy affecting wetlands are presented under the principal headings of the "Guidelines" on implementation of the Ramsar wise use concept:

Under "Legislation and government policy", the report notes the importance of the European Community Habitats and Species Directive, adopted on 21 May 1992, which will be fully implemented in UK. With reference to "Planning and nature conservation", the report presents the laws and Planning Policy Guidance documents issued (including Planning Policy Guidance on Nature Conservation and on Coastal Planning), and the statement on countryside policy in England. On the subject of "Water and government policy" the report notes that the 1989 Water Act strengthened the framework for pollution control in England and Wales through establishment of the National Rivers Authority as an independent body to safeguard the water environment; similar powers exist for Scotland and Northern Ireland. "Conservation Guidelines for Drainage Authorities" have been issued, and in future all substantial discharges of sewage into the sea will be treated in accordance with the European Community Urban Waste Water Directive. On "Peat and Government Policy" the report notes that information for the formulation of a National Peatland Conservation Strategy is being gathered, while in the field of "Agriculture and Government Policy" a number of initiatives linking agriculture and conservation have been launched or extended: the Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme, set up under European Community Regulation 2328/91, is being expanded and emphasis is now placed more on habitat restoration than on protection alone.

Under "Institutional and organisational arrangements" the report notes that the major change affecting nature conservation has been the reorganization of the former Nature Conservancy Council into country councils responsible for England, Scotland and Wales. The Isle of Man, as a UK Dependent Territory, was formally included in UK’s ratification of the Ramsar Convention in October 1992.

Under "Actions to increase knowledge and awareness of wetlands and their values" the report presents an extensive review and bibliography of the scientific research on wetlands being carried out in UK by Government bodies, specialist institutions and non-governmental bodies. In particular it refers to work on estuaries and coastal saline lagoons, one of the most localized of wetland habitats in UK.

383. USA: The national report notes that the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with other federal agencies and the states, has a number of priority activities under way to address wetland conservation and relate it to national policy objectives. These include:

  • "Monitoring Wetland Status and Trends": as indicated in paragraph 286, this is well advanced in the USA, and particular areas of the US, where intensification of information is required, have already been identified.
  • "Wetland Acquisition": the Fish and Wildlife Service is continuing to acquire wetlands for the National Wildlife Refuge System with funds from sale of the Federal Duck Stamp.
  • "National Wetlands Priority Conservation Plan": this plan, which derives from the 1986 Emergency Wetlands Resources Act, provides general direction and guidance on identification of types and locations of wetlands that warrant priority consideration for acquisition by federal and state agencies.
  • "North American Waterfowl Management Plan": also mentioned in the Canadian report (see paragraph 294), the plan aims to restore the continent’s waterfowl populations to the levels of the early 1970s. It is complemented by the "North American Wetlands Conservation Act" passed in 1987, and to date restoration, research, legal and education projects have benefited 1.8 million hectares of wetland (1.4 million in Mexico, 243,000 hectares in Canada and 134,000 hectares in USA).
  • "Food Security Act": this act of 1985 and 1990 enables the Federal Government to restore wetlands and preserve millions of hectares of wetlands in a relatively inexpensive way.

A variety of programmes emphasizing public education about wetland values have been prepared, and a full-colour brochure about the USA’s "Wetlands of international importance", detailing US participation in Ramsar activities, was printed and distributed. In terms of international activities, the Fish and Wildlife Service has primary responsiblity for implementing a number of international treaties, including Ramsar; it hosted the 1991 Ramsar Standing Committee meeting.

384. VENEZUELA: The national report refers to the management plan for the Cuare reserve which establishes short-, medium- and long-term plans for the administration and management of the area.

385. CONCLUSIONS: As a general conclusion to the preceding paragraphs, it can be said that only Canada and Uganda state that they have established national wetland policies in the sense of the Montreux Guidelines. Several Contracting Parties, on the other hand, (in particular Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and USA) give details of actions which go a long way to establishment of national wetland policies. These actions often appear to be particularly concerned with the biodiversity aspects of wetland conservation and wise use. It should be added that the Norwegian report refers to an agreement to assist Indonesia in preparation of a national wetland policy as part of a cooperative programme on biodiversity.

386. It would be valuable for the Contracting Parties to look more closely at their own policies and to indicate more clearly whether they feel that they are implementing the Wise Use Guidelines on national wetland policies (perhaps in the framework of a national conservation strategy or environment action plan). The Canadian delegation has already indicated that it would welcome the opportunity to host an informal meeting at Kushiro to discuss further the question of the establishment of national wetland policies. Furthermore the draft "Additional guidance for the implementation of the wise use concept" contained in the Annex to document DOC. C.5.7 (which will be discussed in Workshop B on 11 June) was developed following discussions within the Convention’s Wise Use Working Group and is intended to provide more detailed guidance for Parties who wish to develop national policies.

387. Material in the national reports summarized in the preceding paragraphs suggests that some Contracting Parties (and in particular Bolivia, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, Peru, Poland and Romania) are interested in developing national wetland policies in the style of the Guidelines approved at Montreux.

Progress towards establishment of national scientific inventories of potential Ramsar sites

388. INTRODUCTION: Section 3.3 of the "Outline for national reports" invites Contracting Parties to report on "Progress made towards establishment of national scientific inventories of potential Ramsar sites, as recommended under Montreux Recommendation C.4.6". As recognized in the Guidelines on the implementation of the wise use concept, inventories of wetlands are a basic tool for planning wise use and management of the wetland resource, and for monitoring its health, whether from a quantitative or qualitative point of view. Over the past ten to fifteen years, a number of wetland inventories or directories, covering most of the major regions of the world, have been compiled under the auspices of various international scientific bodies, and in particular ICBP (now BirdLife International), IUCN, IWRB, UNEP, WCMC and WWF. Such volumes have been published on the Western Palearctic (1980), the Neotropics (1986), Asia (1989) and Africa (1992), and an Oceanian Inventory is to be published at the time of the Kushiro meeting; ICBP’s series of "Important Bird Area" publications should also be mentioned in this context. Furthermore, plans are in hand for regional wetland directories of the Middle East, and the States of the former USSR. A presentation on the current status of regional wetland inventories is to be made in Workshop A on "Listed Sites" on Friday 11 June. Reference should also be made here to the long experience of compiling and updating wetland inventories in North America.

389. As is also noted in the wise use guidelines, it is clearly necessary for each state to have a national inventory, which may take the appropriate regional inventory as its point of departure, and thus obtain more detailed information on its own wetlands. This has been recognized by several recommendations of earlier meetings of the Conference of the Parties (e.g. Cagliari Recommendations 1.4 and 1.5 or Groningen Recommendation 2.3) which called for inventories (or so-called "shadow lists") of potential Ramsar sites to be established. Montreux Recommendation 4.6 strengthened this idea by calling on Contracting Parties (in cooperation with competent bodies) to draw up their own "national scientific inventory" of wetlands, with particular reference to sites meeting Ramsar’s criteria for identifying wetlands of international importance. Workshop A will also include presentations on two such national inventories, from France and Indonesia.

390. The following paragraphs summarize comments in the national reports on progress made by the Contracting Parties in drawing up such national scientific inventories of wetlands, in particular of potential Ramsar sites.

391. ALGERIA: The report indicates that a national wetland inventory is to be drawn up, and that it will enable some wetlands to be reclassified.

392. AUSTRIA: A national wetland inventory is currently being compiled in cooperation with the provincial governments and will form the basis for the national wetland policy.

393. BELGIUM: An inventory of wetlands of biological interest has been drawn up in the Walloon region, while in the Flemish region the "Principal Green Structure of Flanders" (see paragraph 338) fulfils the function of an inventory.

394. BOLIVIA: In establishing scientific inventories, priority is being given to wetlands which are potential Ramsar sites, as for example in Santa Cruz province. The wetland coordinator is drawing up a national list of wetlands, on the basis of which Bolivia could evaluate and prioritize those of international importance

395. BULGARIA: In connection with the work on the National Plan for Wetlands (see paragraph 340), an inventory of most wetlands along the Danube and all wetlands of the Black Sea coast has been carried out. Censuses of wintering waterfowl under IWRB’s programme have been carried out each year, and a special role has been played in monitoring of wetland sites over the last three years by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds.

396. CHILE: The national report notes that a project for inventory of the wetlands of the three northern administrative regions was submitted to the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund, with a view to making new designations for the Ramsar List.

397. COSTA RICA: The establishment of the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) which is responsible for the National Biodiversity Inventory, represents an important step forward in the efforts to organize national scientific inventories, including those of potential Ramsar sites. Studies in three areas (Tortuguero, Gandoca and Manzanillo) and in the Térraba-Sierpe mangroves are well advanced. Completion of the strategy is considered a basic requirement.

398. CZECH REPUBLIC: The second version of the survey of aquatic and wetland sites, covering about a thousand sites, was published in 1992. Thirty-five were evaluated as being of national importance, and five as internationally important, according to Ramsar criteria. Details of these five are annexed to the report and, once official approval has been received from the Ministry of the Environment, it is proposed that they should be designated for the Ramsar List at Kushiro.

399. DENMARK: A programme to monitor breeding bird populations, as well as staging and wintering birds, in Ramsar and EC Birds Directive sites in Denmark was initiated in 1987 and the results published in 1990. The results of surveys in Ramsar sites (included as Appendix I to the national report) show that these sites fulfil their objectives to a certain extent. The programme, reduced to a single midwinter count since 1990, will provide information on the need for designating potential Ramsar sites and for other site-related wetland protection approaches.

400. FRANCE: The National report gives a historical overview of the development of wetland inventories in France. It emphasizes the importance of the development since 1982 of the national inventory of "ZNIEFF" (natural areas of ecological, faunal or floristic interest), which has a section devoted to wetlands classified under 20 types (classification annexed to the national report). It is intended to make the ZNIEFF typology conform with the European Community’s CORINE-Biotope typology.

401. Until 1990, there were only rough estimates of the area of wetlands in France. The total was estimated to be about 15,000 km2 of various categories, i.e. 3% of the total land surface. The area in the overseas departments was not so well known; however, 400,000 km2 of mangroves, savannahs and swamp forests have been recorded in French Guiana. From 1990, a "wetland observatory" programme was launched, and in its first phase selected 70 sites covering 20,815 km2. The ZNIEFF inventory might be used to complete these data, since it includes 44,700 km2 of wetlands in its category of sites of the greatest interest.

402. A French list of sites which meet at least one of the Ramsar criteria has been developed, including sites in the overseas departments and territories. Studies of the possibility of designating watercourses, and specifically the Loire, for the List is being carried out.

403. GERMANY: The "Centre for Waterfowl Research and Wetland Conservation in Germany" identifies and describes potential Ramsar sites as part of its ongoing monitoring programme. Similar initiatives are carried out in the Länder, notably Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen and Schleswig-Holstein.

404. GUATEMALA: No plans at present exist to produce an updated inventory of Guatemala’s wetlands, indicating those of international importance.

405. HUNGARY: The establishment of the national wetland inventory, to begin in 1993 as part of the project to set up a national strategy for wetland conservation, will be followed by the publication of a national wetland atlas, intended for the professional community and local authorities.

406. ICELAND: The Iceland Conservation Register is an inventory of protected species, protected areas, national parks and sites of special interest. Last published in 1991, it is revised every three years and serves as a first step in negotiations for site protection.

407. ITALY: The national report was accompanied by the "Inventario delle Zone Umide del Territorio Italiano", a 263-page volume, published by the Ministry of the Environment in 1992, and including datasheets for 103 wetlands, 47 of which are Ramsar sites.

408. JAPAN: The Environment Agency has carried out several specific surveys of wetlands in the framework of the Nationwide Survey of Nature, including bogs, first-class rivers, natural lakes larger than 1 hectare and tidal flats. A new "Wetland Survey" is to be carried out in 1993.

409. MOROCCO: The IWRB midwinter waterfowl counts are carried out each year at all Morocco’s main wetlands, including the Ramsar sites. Monthly reports on fauna and flora of the Ramsar sites are made by the persons in charge of each site.

410. NETHERLANDS: The latest national scientific inventory of potential Ramsar sites was made in 1989. Since the information is now dated, a review is to be made. An analysis of the waterfowl numbers in these sites over the last 20 years is also planned.

411. NEW ZEALAND: The Wetlands of Ecological and Representative Importance (WERI) inventory has been established as part of the national Wetlands Management Policy (see paragraph 369). WERI was used in compiling information for the New Zealand section of the Oceania Wetland Inventory (see paragraph 388), which uses the Ramsar criteria.

412. NORWAY: Comprehensive surveys, carried out as part of the preparation of county conservation plans (see paragraph 371), provide a good basis for identifying potential Ramsar sites. An unofficial shadow list has been prepared, based on the surveys and other background data.

413. PAKISTAN: Pakistan participates in the annual midwinter waterfowl censuses and the results are forwarded to IWRB. The report names the 15 other wetlands recommended for Ramsar listing by the Ramsar Monitoring Procedure mission in May 1990.

414. PERU: The National Agrarian University of La Molina houses the Conservation Database, which contains specific information on the country’s important wetlands. Since Peru has only recently become a Contracting Party, proposals for additional Ramsar sites have not yet been made.

415. POLAND: A general inventory of natural phenomena, including wetlands, is currently being carried out in 19 voivodships (provinces).

416. RUSSIA: The inventory of wetlands began in 1977 and is still coordinated by the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Nature Conservation and Reserves. As a result of this work, proposals for the listing of 23 additional Ramsar sites have been drawn up and submitted for comment to the local authorities where these wetlands are situated. The lack of sufficient financial means, and unresolved questions of land ownership, have hampered the establishment of a systematic national scientific inventory of potential Ramsar sites.

417. SLOVAK REPUBLIC: A long-term strategy entitled "Gene pool - Biodiversity - Ecological stability", begun in 1991 and due to be completed by 1995, includes the mapping of biotopes at a scale of 1:25,000. A supporting programme of wetland inventory includes threats to wetlands. One of the goals is to select the most important sites for inclusion in the Ramsar List, and so far three areas in the floodplain of the Rivers Danube, Morava and Latorica have been identified.

418. SOUTH AFRICA: A draft list of priority wetlands in South Africa was collated from the existing literature on South African wetlands and presented to the national Ramsar Working Group for comment. The data is currently being entered into a database and, on completion, will be published by the Department of Environment Affairs.

419. SWITZERLAND: The national report refers to a series of wetland inventories, deriving from the Nature and Landscape Protection Law. The inventory of raised bogs and transitional bogs of national importance, with its order dated 21 January 1991, is in force. The inventory of alluvial areas of national importance, with its order dated 28 October 1992, is in force. The inventory of blanket bogs of national importance is currently being reviewed by the cantons, and is expected to be published in 1993 or 1994.

420. Following the "Rothenturm initiative", accepted in 1987, "marshes of special beauty and national interest" are to be given strict constitutional protection, which will require amendment of the Nature and Landscape Protection Law. A draft inventory of such areas has been submitted to the cantons, and though some difficulties have arisen since the legal order is not yet known, it is hoped that the measure will come into force in 1994.

421. UKRAINE: The national report notes that a decision has been taken to start a national scientific inventory of wetlands and potential Ramsar sites in 1993.

422. UNITED KINGDOM: The report presents details of a number of wetland inventories available in UK. An International Sites Database on all sites identified as qualifying for designation under Ramsar is held by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). A study of the implementation of Ramsar in the UK Dependent Territories has been carried out. JNCC has prepared a review of the all-Ireland network of sites which qualify as Ramsar sites for birds. Following the publication of "Important Bird Areas in Europe", a review of such areas in the UK has been carried out and published (as recommended by Montreux Recommendation 4.6), with local government officers particularly in mind. Other relevant databases include the Invertebrate Sites Register.

423. A UK national wetland inventory has not been published for all wetlands, although the National Rivers Authority is currently working on such a project. In the meantime the report gives details of existing inventories of certain wetland types, including: estuaries; peatlands; raised bogs; saltmarshes; sand dunes; coastal lagoons and intertidal wetlands; littoral and sublittoral wetlands; and fens.

424. USA: The National Wetlands Inventory Project, in cooperation with state and federal agencies, is mapping wetlands in the United States. Approximately 70% of the wetlands in the lower 48 states, 20% of Alaska and all of Hawaii have been mapped and classified. It is required by law that the lower 48 states be mapped by 1998 and Alaska by the year 2000. Additional functions of the inventory include: developing and maintaining classification and inventory technologies and maintaining the list of plant species that occur in US wetland habitats.

425. VENEZUELA: The national report refers to inventory work of the wildlife of the Cuare Ramsar site, in particular as regards fish and Cayman Crocodylus acutus.

426. CONCLUSIONS: It is clear from preceding paragraphs that many Contracting Parties are already engaged in the compilation and updating of national wetland inventories, at different intensities according to the resources and staff available. Thus whereas Netherlands remarks that its "latest" report from 1989 is already "dated", Guatemala does not have an updated national inventory, and has no plans for one, while the Russian report specifically mentions lack of funds as a reason for the delay in producing a national scientific inventory. Support for those Parties which need it would appear to be a very high priority indeed in any action plans supported under the auspices of the Convention.

427. As in many other Ramsar activities, the first motivation for action has been the study and conservation of waterfowl. Many national reports refer to the pioneering work of waterfowl censuses which in many cases first drew attention to the importance of wetlands. It now appears urgent to build on these first waterfowl census results by developing them into wider wetland inventories.

428. Nevertheless, the complexity and cost of the task of executing and maintaining wetland inventories should not be underestimated. Even Contracting Parties such as France, UK and USA, which have been engaged for some time in the preparation of wetland inventories, make it clear (see paragraphs 400-402 and 422-424) that the end of the task of initial inventory is not yet in sight, quite apart from later updating. There seems to be a need to consider whether the Convention’s Scientific or Technical Committee (if established) should establish some ground rules for inventories. Such rules could help ensure that inventories are carried out in a standardized way, thus allowing comparison between inventories from different states, and in monitoring wetland quantity and quality. It would also be valuable to distinguish between the painstaking scientific work needed for detailed monitoring, and the "quick and dirty" surveys needed for rapid assessment of the general situation. The work on inventories in the Mediterranean being carried out under the auspices of MedWet (see paragraph 39) may offer guidance in this respect.

Progress towards priority actions at particular wetlands, especially establishment and wardening of nature reserves in non-listed wetlands

429. INTRODUCTION: Section 3.4 of the "Outline for national reports" invites Contracting Parties to report on "Progress made towards `Priority actions at particular wetland sites´ as outlined in the `Guidelines for the implementation of the wise use concept´ (Montreux Recommendation C.4.10); in particular establishment and wardening of nature reserves on non-listed wetlands (Article 4.1). As recognised in the introduction to the wise use guidelines, and as is clear from the section of the present document devoted to national wetland policies (paragraphs 327-387), elaboration of national policies is a long-term process. The guidelines therefore suggest that Contracting Parties should develop "Priority actions at national level". The section of the guidelines devoted to this item note that priority actions might include:

(i) identifying the issues which require the most attention;
(ii) taking action on one or more of these issues;
(iii) identifying the wetland sites which require the most urgent action; and
(iv) taking action at one or more of these sites.

430. The present item in the national report outline was intended to review action by Contracting Parties who, in the period before developing national wetland policies, had identified and carried out these priority actions. In fact, rather few Contracting Parties seem to have interpreted the section in this way, and most national reports provide either further information on action at listed sites or information on management or other measures at non-listed istes. In general, any information on listed sites has been included in the present document in the section on listed sites (paragraphs 101-283); information on non-listed sites is summarized in the following paragraphs, with a view to its use as a contribution to the discussion in Workshop C on "Establishment of Wetland Reserves" to be held on Saturday 12 June.

431. One of the themes of Workshop C will be management of wetlands, whether they be Ramsar sites, non-listed reserves, or wetland sites unlikely to be established as Ramsar sites or wetland reserves. Hitherto, the Convention has provided remarkably little guidance on management of wetlands or on how to develop integrated wetland management plans. It is suggested that the Kushiro meeting might approve a recommendation calling for the establishment of a management plan for all Ramsar sites, and offering guidelines on a methodology for such plans. A draft recommendation, and proposed guidelines on methodology attached as an Annex, have been distributed as document DOC. C.5.8 and Annex to DOC. C.5.8. (Rev. 1).

432. BULGARIA: The national report presents information on the "managed reserves" (five sites: Isvorska Estuary; Stamoplo Marsh; Veleka Estuary; Tchokliovo Marsh; and Silistar) and "strict reserves" (one site: Ropotamo) established since the Montreux meeting, and on plans for establishment of other new reserves (enlargement of Belene Islands and Srebarna).

433. CHAD: The national report refers to a number of sites not designated for the Ramsar List which enjoy legal recognition. Lakes Tréné and Léré are included in the Binder-Léré Faunal Reserve, which is managed for the maintenance of its biodiversity. Lake Chad and its basin are managed by an international commission of which Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria are members. The Commission regulates activities in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, forestry, fauna, water power, grazing and tourism, in order to use the area without major impact. Chad’s two principal rivers, the Chari and the Logone, which drain the whole of the south of the country, are in the Lake Chad catchment and are indeed the main sources of water for the lake; they therefore also come under the authority of the Commission. Lake Iro, one of the most important areas of southeast Chad, is rich in fishery and faunal resources; it is the southern part of the Wildlife Reserve of Bahr Salamat, currently established as Lake Iro controlled hunting reserve. Other important lakes and rivers exist, and Chad is aware of the need to manage its wetlands, but is confronted by major difficulties because of the lack of trained staff.

434. COSTA RICA: The national report emphasizes that, even before becoming a Contracting Party, Costa Rica had taken effective measures for the setting up of wetland nature reserves not included in the Ramsar List. A high percentage of the wetlands of Costa Rica are included in the national protected areas system.

435. CZECH REPUBLIC: The structure of the Czech Ramsar Committee makes it possible not only to monitor the condition of listed sites, but also to react rapidly to the conservation needs of those not on the List. In 1991 interventions were made in favour of the conservation of several non-listed sites in North Moravia, Central Bohemia and South Moravia. A conference on wetland protection, held in 1992 and focussed on the ICBP concept of Important Bird Areas, developed a conservation strategy for particular sites.

436. DENMARK: The prohibition of hunting from motor boats and the possible restriction of the use of lead pellets for hunting (see paragraph 134) could affect not only Ramsar sites, but also non-listed sites.

437. FRANCE: The national report presents information on two very different but very important wetland systems, neither of them designated for the Ramsar List, the Marais Poitevin in western France and the River Loire. The Marais Poitevin, (already mentioned as a potential Ramsar site in Recommendation 2.9 of the 1984 Groningen meeting) covering a mosaic of wetlands of 81,000 hectares created by the action of man and nature over the centuries, has been a subject of dispute in recent years. While some graziers, ecologists and local organizations wished to maintain high water levels, many land owners wished to lower water levels to allow cultivation of arable crops. A study carried out in 1990 showed that 30% of the marsh area and 52% of the grassland had been turned into arable land since 1973. (A more detailed document is appended as an Annex to the national report). Following an official investigation it was decided that the area no longer warranted the classification of "Natural Regional Park". A new draft park charter has been prepared, with a view to allowing the State to play its full role in the "battle for the safeguard of the marsh", and was submitted to the local authorities by the Ministry of the Environment in December 1992. It is expected that a definitive charter, which will meet the aspirations of those who wish to conserve the Marais Poitevin, will be approved in the coming weeks.

438. In the case of the River Loire (where the French Government is considering the designation of the catchment as a Ramsar site - see paragraph 402), the French national report recalls that the building of the Naussac and Villerest dams and the strengthening of the riverside dikes took place in the early 1980s. The Public Body for the Management of the Loire and its Tributaries (EPALA) was established and studies for three major dams (Serre de la Fare on the River Loire, Veurdre on the River Allier and Chambonchard on the River Cher) were initiated. In 1990, after receiving the results of a series of studies, the Government emphasized a number of points:

  • In the field of river management, priority will be given to the restoration and maintenance of the river. The preliminary plans for the Veurdre dam must be developed in relation to the results of maintaining the river; the proposed dam of Serre de la Fare is cancelled; the over-ambitious design of the Chambonchard dam is not accepted and the State suggests to EPALA that the hydropower dam of Rochebut be rebuilt instead.
  • A programme for conservation of natural sites in the valleys of the Loire and its tributaries, costing 100 million French francs (about US $15 million), will be carried out in the next five years.
  • The Loire observatory will be established at Orléans; local communities will be requested to adopt a resolute policy of conserving floodplains; and EPALA will be requested to develop an integrated planning approach, based on protecting people from flooding, guaranteeing water supplies and conservation of the natural environment.

439. GABON: The national report includes a general annex on "Wetlands of international importance in Gabon". It points out that coastal wetlands in Gabon extend for 900 kilometres along the Atlantic and are relatively untouched except in the neighbourhood of the towns of Libreville and Port-Gentil, and that a remarkable series of inland lakes is to be found on the Ogooué, downstream of Lambaréné. This annex adds that, apart from Gabon’s three listed Ramsar sites, four important sites have no protection: the Bay of Mondah north of Libreville, the left bank of the River Gabon, the delta of the Ogooué, and the lakes and marshes of the middle Ogooué. It adds that a 1987 report produced at the request of IUCN and the European Commission recommended that three of them be protected. The annex concludes with the recommendation that the Bay of Mondah and the Ogooué delta should be added to the Ramsar List.

440. GERMANY: The national report notes that competence for establishment and wardening of legally protected areas, and for proposals on designation of wetlands for the Ramsar List lies with the Bundesländer (provinces). A variety of wardening models exists, from purely governmental to purely non-governmental, but in most Länder, some form of cooperation exists, under which monitoring and information gathering is carried out. However, in some Länder there is no long-term financial guarantee for the wardening. A syposium on "Protection and wardening in large reserves" was held in June 1992 and made a number of recommendations on training and financing of wardens.

441. The national report also notes that the federal programme for "Promotion of major nature conservation projects" has been in existence since 1979 and is one of the few instruments that allows the federal authorities to provide direct financial support for conservation activities such as land purchase, management activities or compensation in the Bundesländer. The programme began with an annual budget of four to seven million Deutschmark, and in 1992 had 40 million (about US$ 25 million). The report includes a table showing 21 wetlands, many of them Ramsar sites, which benefit from this programme.

442. GUATEMALA: The national report notes that for the present, the Guatemalan wetland requiring urgent action is the Bocas del Polchic (see paragraph 303), which should be included in the Ramsar List.

443. JAPAN: The national report records that four sites have been declared as National Wildlife Protection Areas since the Montreux meeting, two of which (Sarobetsu and Tofutsu-ko) are important for waterfowl. Uryu-numa-shitsugen in Hokkaido was newly designated as a Quasi-National Park in 1990.

444. NETHERLANDS: In the framework of the Nature Policy Plan (see paragraph 364), the most important instruments for protection and management of natural areas (under which wetlands will be given priority, whether or not they are included on the Ramsar List) are: purchase by the state or private conservation bodies (in which case the state subsidizes 50% of the cost); designation as a national park; designation under the Nature Conservation Act; designation under the Memorandum on Agriculture and Nature Conservation. In 1990 and 1991, a total of 6,112 hectares was purchased. Until the beginning of 1993, three wetlands (Schiermonnikoog, Dwingelderveld and Weerribben) had been designated as national parks and designation of three more (Groote Peel, Hamert and Biesbosch) is planned in 1993. Between 1990 and 1992 a total of 31,926 hectares of wetland of international importance was designated under the Nature Conservation Act, bringing the total wetland area covered by the Act at the beginning of 1993 to 225,620 hectares. By the beginning of 1992, 190,492 hectares of ecologically valuable agricultural land had been brought under the Agriculture and Nature Conservation Memorandum.

445. NEW ZEALAND: The national report presents examples of a series of priority wetland actions which include submissions on water right applications, submissions on Regional and District plans, reservation, covenanting, investigation of potential Ramsar sites, preparation of management plans, survey and monitoring, research, threatened species management, restoration, plant and animal pest control, water level management, publicity and educational work. The report notes that wetland conservation work is also undertaken by other bodies including the Fish and Game Councils and Ducks Unlimited (NZ) Inc, a non-profit-making organization.

446. PAKISTAN: The national report gives details of six projects relating to wetland conservation included in the core programme of the eighth Five Year Plan (1993-1998). Costing in all 426 million rupees (about US $15 million), the three largest concern the creation of a coastal national park in the Indus Delta, conservation of wetlands in Sindh province and a wetland ecosystem study. The three others relate to wetlands in the transboundary region, marine turtle management and mangrove rehabilitation in the Indus Delta.

447. PERU: The national report notes that the National System of National Parks and other Protected Areas already contains a number of wetlands, and that other wetlands (notably Estuario de Virrilá, Manglares de San Pedro, Laguna El Paraiso, Lago Parinacochas and Lagunas de Inuria) should if possible be added in the short term. An overall plan for the protected areas system will be developed in 1993-94, and in it conservation of wetlands will be a major factor.

448. POLAND: Over the last three years two national parks and 27 landscape parks have been established by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Many wetlands are included in the areas enjoying legal protection. Plans for establishing four new national parks (including the Biebrza Valley which is intended as a Ramsar Site) and about 100 nature reserves are currently in preparation.

449. SLOVAK REPUBLIC: The most important wetlands in the Slovak Republic are protected under the Nature Protection Law 1/1955. Up to 1993, 249 protected areas containing wetlands with a total area of 5,500 hectares have been established. The national report presents details of the wetland types protected and notes that protected areas are periodically inventoried and are the subject of a ten-year "welfare" programme.

450. SOUTH AFRICA: The Department of Environment Affairs is formalizing a procedure known as "Integrated Environmental Management". A series of guideline documents have been published; these include identifying activities which may have an impact on the environment, and environments which need special consideration (including wetlands).

451. SWITZERLAND: The national report presents details of a series of research projects carried out in recent years, and notes that the maps of Swiss alluvial zones are to be published in 1993. The agreement between two cantons and a Swiss NGO, with financial support from the federal authorities, on management of the southern shores of the Lake of Neuchâtel has been renewed for another five years.

452. UKRAINE: More than 200,000 hectares of wetlands enjoy different forms of legal protection and are thus exempt from future privatization measures.

453. UNITED KINGDOM: The national report notes that nature reserves may be established by Government agencies as National Nature Reserves, by local authorities as Local Nature Reserves or through the many voluntary conservation bodies. Two marine reserves have been established, and 29 Marine Consultation Areas (marine areas deserving particular distinction in respect to the quality and sensitivity of their marine environment) in Scotland. A part of Fenn’s, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses has been acquired to end commercial peat extraction, and negotiations are proceeding over the rest of the area with the peat extraction company which has donated 3,200 hectares of freehold peatland to English Nature.

454. USA: The US report, under the heading "Wetland Technology Exchange with other Ramsar Parties", gives details of a series of technical workshops and meetings, several of them of an international character, held over the last five years. It notes that the USA has made a concerted effort since the Regina meeting to exchange wetland information and technical knowledge with other member nations, including Costa Rica, Hungary, Mexico and Poland. This has been a mutually beneficial undertaking which has resulted in closer ties between wetland researchers and resource managers. Technical information exchanges are continuing and there is interest in expanded technical meetings of this type in the near future.

455. CONCLUSIONS: As already noted in paragraph 430, rather few Contracting Parties seem to have identified priority actions as a halfway house to developing national wetland policies. On the other hand, the present section clearly illustrates that a number of urgent actions and long-term priorities have been identified in non-Ramsar sites (e.g. conservation of the Marais Poitevin and Loire in France, of coastal and inland wetlands in Gabon, and of Bocas del Polchic in Guatemala). Furthermore the US point about developing technology exchange is certainly a matter of the highest importance which merits further thought and action.


General comments on the implementation of the Convention and any difficulties experienced

456. INTRODUCTION: Section 4.1 of the "Outline for national reports" invites Contracting Parties to provide "General comments on the implementation of the Convention (Article 6.2a) and on any difficulties experienced". Article 6 paragraph 2 (a) of the Ramsar Convention states that the Conference of the Contracting Parties shall be competent "to discuss the implementation of this Convention". The present section of the national report was therefore designed to enable the Contracting Parties to present general comments on the implementation of the Convention, and in particular on any difficulties they had encountered in implementation of the Convention.

457. Bulgaria, Denmark, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway and South Africa all report no significant difficulties in implementation.

458. ALGERIA: The national report indicates that difficulties are encountered in the application of the terms of the Convention. Problems have arisen with the introduction of fish in Lake Oubeira.

459. AUSTRIA: The national report notes that, because of Austria’s federal structure, nature conservation lies within the competence of the Länder (provinces). Implementation is therefore also a matter for provincial governments. (It is noteworthy that a similar comment was made in a different context - see paragraph 441 - in the German report). Efforts are currently being made to formalize cooperation between Austria’s Federal Environment Ministry and the provincial governments in order to improve implementation and financing.

460. BOLIVIA: The national report emphasizes the need to make the Ramsar Convention better known at all levels of government and in non-governmental circles. This will require a publicity campaign about the advantages of membership. Within Bolivia, a structural reorganization of the bodies responsible for the environment is going on, and so a programme of implementation of the Convention has only just begun.

461. CANADA: The Canadian report also states that awareness of the Ramsar Convention in the governmental, management and public sectors has been viewed as insufficient in Canada. Towards improving general knowledge of Ramsar activities, the Canadian Wildlife Service published the 1991 report "Wetlands for the World: Canada’s Ramsar Sites", and has significantly expanded the distribution of the Ramsar Newsletter. The secretariat of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) has promoted the informal Canadian Ramsar Network which strives to link Ramsar managers, researchers and interest groups with the Canadian Wildlife Service.

462. CHILE: The Chilean report notes that it will be easier to make general comments when the Convention’s recommendations are implemented through a State body, and adds that the current situation is progressing favourably in this direction.

463. CZECH REPUBLIC: The national report points out that the implementation of the Convention is hindered by legal problems. Many obligations cannot be carried out because no adequate legislation exists at national level. As noted in paragraph 347, a regulation which would solve this discrepancy between the Convention and Czech national legislation is in preparation.

464. The Czech report also notes that a further problem is the inadequate level of knowledge of the Convention, both among the public and in Government.

465. FRANCE: The national report summarizes France’s actions under the Convention since it became a Contracting Party in 1986, emphasizing that its priorities are: conservation of listed sites through the establishment of management committees for each site; listing of further sites, with priority given to designation of major rivers and of wetlands in overseas departments and territories, especially French Guiana and Guadeloupe.

466. Under the heading of difficulties in implementation, the French report notes that, at local level, the value of listing sites under Ramsar is not always perceived, given that there are already other designations at national, European Community or international level. Quite apart from the real problem of this continued adding of labels, it is necessary to create awareness at national level of the advantages of the Convention. The advantages of the label need to be publicized more effectively; granting of European Community funding for Ramsar sites would be an effective catalyst.

467. GERMANY: In the Bundesländer, where competence for nature conservation lies, attempts are being made to apply the Ramsar Convention. In formal legal terms the Ramsar sites in the new Bundesländer have benefited by the political changes, essentially through the protection measures taken in 1990. As far as the Wadden Sea is concerned - and it is Germany’s biggest wetland of international importance, the whole of which has now been designated for the Ramsar List - it has been decided to apply the Ramsar concepts of wise use and international cooperation. However the wetlands designated under the Convention still do not form a complete network of waterfowl habitats; new sites will be designated at the appropriate time.

468. The German report notes that, in a number of individual cases, efforts have been made (often with the assistance of NGOs) to apply conservation measures foreseen under the Convention. Yet the Convention remains too little known, both among conservation officials and officials not directly concerned with conservation, and to the general public.

469. The report also points out that the requirements of the Convention cannot in many cases be reconciled with the demands made on the sites by other activities (economy, agriculture, fisheries, recreation). The report concludes that it will be up to the responsible authorities of the Bundesländer in future to apply the Convention better.

470. GUATEMALA: The national report notes that, following distribution of information about the Convention, it is gradually becoming better known, as are Guatemala’s obligations under it.

471. JAPAN: The national report notes that the implications and benefits of designation as a Ramsar site are still not fully understood by local governments. The Environment Agency is actively encouraging local governments to designate new sites on the occasion of the Kushiro meeting.

472. NETHERLANDS: The Netherlands, says the national report, has always recognised the value of conservation and wise use of wetlands and, in conformity with its various policy instruments described in paragraphs 364-368, will continue its efforts to implement the Convention.

473. NEW ZEALAND: As well as reporting no significant difficulties in implementing the Convention, the national report states that New Zealand is committed to implementation and mentions its support for the Oceanian Wetland Inventory and its intention to designate more sites. In preparing new sites, consultations are held with local authorities and communities and with indigenous peoples, with the aim of explaining the Convention and its implications. This may mean a delay in designation, but benefits the conservation of the wetland in the long run.

474. PAKISTAN: In the National Conservation Strategy and the Forestry Sector Management Plan greater attention has been paid to the wetlands of Pakistan and, as indicated in paragraph 446, higher allocations for wetland projects are being made in the next Five Year Plan.

475. POLAND: Implementation of the Convention has been more effective since the enacting of the Nature Protection Law of 16 October 1991, which gives areas recognized as being of international importance appropriate status in internal legislation. The regulations enable the Polish courts to apply standards required by international agreements and to promote management of natural resources in a way compatible with the Convention and in particular the wise use guidelines.

476. ROMANIA: The national report emphasizes the need for the support of strong professional non-governmental organizations in the national Ramsar Committee if the Convention is to be implemented in an appropriate way.

477. RUSSIA: The lack of criteria for wetlands of national and international importance in existing national legislation, and of regulations relating to such sites are the main causes of difficulties in implementing the Convention.

478. SLOVAK REPUBLIC: The national report notes that, in addition to implementation of the Convention by Government officials, members of the largest NGO in Slovakia (the Slovak Union of Nature and Landscape Protectors) are involved in protection and inventory of wetlands.

479. SWEDEN: The Government is currently reviewing the relationship between international conventions and national legislation in order to improve implementation of the Convention. Government and NGOs also feel that information about the Convention and listed sites has to be better distributed to authorities and organizations so that the public remains well informed about the concept of the Convention.

480. UNITED KINGDOM: The national report indicates that the Convention has been useful in highlighting the international status of sites during planning processes.

481. USA: The national report notes that there is now an NGO Ramsar National Committee that provides a point of contact and coordination between Government and non-governmental entities.

482. CONCLUSIONS: The comments in the present section of the national reports are, whether explicitly or implicitly, supportive of the convention. A number of Contracting Parties (France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand) take the opportunity to reaffirm their intention of implementing it more intensively, in particular through the designation of additional Ramsar sites.

The difficulties encountered by the Contracting Parties may be resumed under the headings of: need for more publicity; need for national legislation to apply the provisions of the Convention; and need for involvement of non-governmental organizations in the application of the Convention. These points are developed in the ensuing paragraphs. In addition, the French report points to the desirability of making funds available for listed sites, while the German report notes that it is often difficult to reconcile the Convention’s aims with other demands placed upon listed areas.

483. Several Contracting Parties (Bolivia, Canada, Czech Republic, Japan) empahasize that the Convention needs to be better and more widely known, both by Government officials and the general public. While publicity about the Convention is of course in the first instance a matter for each Contracting Party in its own country, the Standing Committee and Ramsar Bureau have already taken steps to provide supporting documentation. They have developed a Communications Plan but, despite additional voluntary financial support from a number of Contracting Parties, finance has been a problem. A request to the Global Environment Facility for funds to undertake communications activities in eastern Europe was not successful.

484. The national reports from the Czech Republic, Sweden and Russia note difficulties in application of the Convention when there are no corresponding legal instruments in the national legislative arsenal. The Polish report illustrates that application is much easier, once such instruments exist. There could perhaps be an opportunity for international cooperation here, with countries working together to exchange experiences, or for the Bureau and its legal consultants to provide advice and expertise.

485. The Romanian and Slovak reports both mention the need for support from the NGO community, while the USA report refers to the national NGO Ramsar Committee and the German report points out that NGO involvement has often been instrumental in achieving the Convention’s objectives at specific sites. The question of involvement by NGOs was raised at the meeting of the European Ramsar regions in Lelystad, Netherlands in September 1992 (see paragraphs 27 and 39), and the Netherlands as host of the meeting is to present a draft recommendation, agreed by Lelystad participants, for the approval of the Kushiro meeting.

Instances where the Convention has facilitated conservation of particular sites or species

486. INTRODUCTION: Section 4.2 of the "Outline for national reports" invites Contracting Parties to note "instances where the Convention has facilitated conservation of particular sites or species". The present section of the national report was designed to enable Contracting Parties to highlight the achievements of the convention, and thus to provide illustrations of its value and efficacity, which could be useful in publicity campaigns.

487. BELGIUM: The national report notes events at two wetland areas. In the IJzer valley, agricultural "improvement" projects and the construction of a new pumping station have been abandoned, while at the Diksmuide Ramsar site in the Ijzer valley extensions to an industrial complex have been prevented. Meanwhile, in the estuary of the Schelde, the construction of a second container terminal, close to the Ramsar site of Groote Buitenschoor, is now subject to a critical environmental impact assessment.

488. BOLIVIA: The national report states that the existence of the Ramsar site at Laguna Colorada has served as a basis for developing studies on several species of flamingo and for generating exchanges with neighbouring countries. Although no precise programmes have as yet been developed, solid bases for cooperation exist, and the Convention has helped towards the achievement of this objective.

489. BULGARIA: The idea of wise use and the possibility of developing eco-tourism, says the national report, helped to persuade the people of Tsarevo in the Burgas region to agree to the designation of wetland reserves. The Convention will play a role in the protection of Lake Chabla and Durankulak, and in bringing together the interests of local people and nature conservation.

490. CANADA: Ramsar designation is viewed, according to the national report, as a valuable, continuing rationale for wetland protection on all Canadian Ramsar sites, and as a tool for attracting funding and interest in all of Canada’s wetland initiatives, nationally and internationally.

491. CHILE: The national report asserts that the possibility of receiving financial assistance for implementation projects, scientific studies or technical support through the Wetland Conservation Fund is considered as crucial, since many countries have no funds for such initiatives.

492. COSTA RICA: Costa Rica hopes, in its national report, that the Convention will facilitate and support its efforts to conserve sites of major interest, such as the region of Tortuguero and the zones of Gandoca and Manzanillo, where there is a need to integrate uses to achieve sustainable development of natural resources.

493. CZECH REPUBLIC: According to the national report, arguments based on obligations under the Ramsar Convention had a decisive effect in obtaining official approval for a project on floodplain forest management in the wetland area of Litovelské Pomoravi, proposed as a future Ramsar site. The Ramsar Convention also served as a main argument against the construction of the canal linking the Danube, Odra and Elbe rivers, which would have led to the destruction of a great number of unique woodland habitats and would have endangered two proposed Ramsar sites. The wise use concept was stressed in negotiations over the management of Trebon fishponds, where effective legal protection is lacking outside the core area.

494. DENMARK: It is the general experience of the Ministry of the Environment, notes the national report, that Ramsar has facilitated conservation of Danish sites, such as the Wadden Sea, Ringkøbing Fjord, Nissum Fjord, Nibe Bredning and Ulvshale-Nyord, and has strengthened arguments for their conservation. An example of species protection is the case of a forthcoming order giving total protection to the White-fronted Goose Anser Greenland albifrons flavirostris during its stay at Naera Coast Ramsar site, the only important roost for this migratory goose in Denmark.

495. FRANCE: It is difficult, according to the national report, to quote specific cases of site conservation, since many sites are covered by a variety of designations. Nevertheless the very nature of the Ramsar Convention, which calls for broad exchange of information and for integrated management and wise use, means that designated sites constitute examples of good management.

496. GERMANY: The report notes that in some Bundesländer Ramsar status has been used to oppose or prevent interventions incompatible with nature conservation.

497. HUNGARY: The national report reveals that the Convention has been invoked at Hortobágy to prohibit fishing in the waterfowl breeding period, and at Lake Fertö to ban waterfowl hunting.

498. ICELAND: Iceland, as the national report indicates, is currently working with Denmark, Ireland and UK on a multilateral agreement for protection of the Greenland White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons flavirostris. The agreement will in all probability be ready before the Kushiro meeting. (A presentation on this subject is to be made in Workshop D on Saturday June 12).

499. JAPAN: The national report states that, after the designation of Izu-numa and Uchi-numa as Ramsar sites, the Miyagi Prefecture Foundation for environmental protection of the two sites was established, and is playing a central role in promoting conservation of the wetland. In terms of species protection, the Japanese Crane Grus japonensis has benefited from increasing conservation activities since the designation of Kushiro-shitsugen as a Ramsar site.

500. NETHERLANDS: It is the general experience of the Government of the Netherlands, recorded in the national report, that the Convention has facilitated the wise use of certain wetlands in discussions on hunting and fisheries.

501. NEW ZEALAND: As explained in the national report, the Convention and the criteria for identifying wetlands of international importance are often used in support of the protection of wetlands in New Zealand. To cite specific examples, the listing of Whangamarino wetland under Ramsar was a strong part of the argument in favour of raising the water level sufficiently to maintain the ecosystem without adversely affecting adjoining land uses. Listing of Farewell Spit has increased respect for the area.

502. NORWAY: International importance according to the Ramsar criteria has been actively used as an argument for conservation of wetlands included in the Ramsar List, says the national report. Listed status has played an important role in preventing human activities or developments in or near several listed sites, and is also an important factor for prioritizing and effecting management activities. Examples since Montreux include: Åkersvika, where Ramsar listing has been very important in support of arguments by the County Governor against modifications in the vicinity, and for extension of the reserve and compromise on the building of the skating hall (see paragraph 224); Nordre Øyeren whose status as a Ramsar site has been important in evaluating the activities of the nearby brick factory (see paragraph 225); and Tautra and Svaet, where Ramsar status was an important argument in a decision to suspend further fish farming.

503. PERU: Although Peru has only been a Contracting Party for a short period, the national report indicates that the proposal to list Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve as a Ramsar site was used as an argument to avoid activities which would have posed a threat to the site.

504. ROMANIA: The national report comments that the Convention supported all conservation actions in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve.

505. RUSSIAN FEDERATION: The national report comments that inclusion of a site on the Ramsar List facilitates organization of reserve status, including complete withdrawal of the site from economic use.

506. SOUTH AFRICA: The national report notes that, as previously stated at Montreux, the fact that the St. Lucia System had been listed by South Africa under the Ramsar Convention has been used extensively by parties arguing against the proposed mining of the dunes along the Indian Ocean (see paragraph 236).

507. SWEDEN: The national report notes that, in general, any proposed exploitation of a Ramsar site creates publicity and leads to calls for an environmental impact assessment.

508. UKRAINE: The national report indicates that, because of the Ramsar Convention, the impact of military disturbance in the boundary area of the Black Sea Nature Reserve has been diminished, and discharge of polluted water into the reserve has been decreased; the interest of foreign experts and funding has been attracted to the Danube Delta; and the level of protection has increased in Kerkinitski Bay (now a Nature Reserve) and Sivash Bay (now a National Park).

509. UNITED KINGDOM: The national report states that the international significance of sites such as The Swale and Glac na Criche (see paragraph 251) and Bridgend Flats (see paragraph 249) played an important role in averting damaging development. The general principles have also been successfully used in defence of threatened wetlands, even if they were not of international importance. Article 5 on international cooperation of transborder interest has been used for the first time in the sense of conservation of migratory waterfowl, with the preparation of an international conservation plan for the Greenland White-fronted Goose (see also paragraph 498).

510. CONCLUSIONS: The national reports summarized in the preceding paragraphs clearly suggest a number of ways in which the Ramsar Convention has facilitated conservation and wise use of wetlands. One way in which it has done so is through the international recognition given to a site included on the Ramsar List, which has an effect at national level. This effect may avert damaging developments (examples come from Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Ukraine and United Kingdom); it may make conservation action more easily acceptable (examples from Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Romania and Russia); or it may lead to an environmental impact assessment (Sweden).

511. Another way in which Ramsar may help is by generating funds, either through its Wetland Conservation Fund (Chile), or by causing national funding to be released (Canada, Japan). A third way is through its wise use provisions, cited by the Czech Republic, France and Netherlands. Finally, Ramsar has made a contribution to species conservation in Bolivia, Denmark, Iceland, Japan and United Kingdom.

Consultations about implementing Article 5, especially on wetlands extending over the territory of more than one party

512. INTRODUCTION: Section 4.3 of the "Outline for national reports" invites Contracting Parties to provide "comments on consultations held with other Contracting Parties about implementing obligations arising from the Convention (Article 5), especially in the case of a wetland extending over the territories of more than one Contracting Party". One of the three items of top priority for 1991-93 agreed by the Contracting Parties in their programme document (Montreux Proceedings, Vol. I, page 266) was "development assistance and international cooperation for shared resources and shared species". Workshop D on Saturday 12 June will be on the subject of "International cooperation for wetland conservation". The afternoon session will deal with international co-operation on shared sites and species, and will consider a draft recommendation on "Guidelines for implementation of Article 5" (for detailed programme see document DOC. C.5.9, with draft recommendation REC. C.5.13 attached). The present section of the national report was designed to enable Contracting Parties to present their activities in this field as a contribution to Workshop D.

513. BELGIUM: The national report notes that, at the heathland complex at Kalmthout which extends into the Netherlands, the procedure for establishment of a regional park has been under way in the framework of Benelux since 1987.

514. The tidal mudflats of the lower River Schelde, designated by Belgium (see paragraphs 168 and 487), form a cross-frontier complex with ecosystems in the Netherlands, including the famous "Verdronkene Land van Saaftinghe". The Belgian report points out that the area in the Netherlands has not been designated for the Ramsar List. (This question was also raised in the Monitoring Procedure report of February 1988).

515. In the planning of measures to prevent siltation at the Zwin Ramsar site (see paragraph 163), consultations were held with officials and managers from the Netherlands.

516. BOLIVIA: The national report states that the first technical meeting of managers of Ramsar sites in the Neotropics, held in Bolivia in January 1993 (see paragraph 33), discussed the development of transfrontier projects relating to sites and species, the first-planned being for flamingos (see paragraph 488).

517. BULGARIA: The national report refers to the role of the WWF and its Auen-Institut in a project for management of the Belene islands in the Danube and other alluvial forest projects in the Danube.

518. CANADA: The national report notes that Canada’s advice and experience with the implementation of the Convention and management of Ramsar sites has been sought by several other parties. Canada has shared its Ramsar and wetland policy experience through the Ramsar Wise Use project and various other fora.

519. CHILE: The Chilean report records contacts with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, but considers that, before all else, priority should be given to implementation of national wetland policies.

520. COSTA RICA: The national report notes that transfrontier cooperation was already under way before Costa Rica became a Contracting Party. With Nicaragua, the Siapaz project which aims at appropriate use of natural resources (including wetlands) in the boundary area, is going ahead, while similar efforts are being carried out with Panama.

521. CZECH REPUBLIC: Close cooperation has been established with the Austrian Ramsar Committee, according to the national report. This cooperation is focussed on the establishment of a multilateral national park in the floodplain forests of the Dyje, Morava and Danube, shared by Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the Slovak Republic. The Czech section includes the proposed Ramsar site of Mokrady Dolního Podyjí.

522. DENMARK: The national report refers to cooperation with the Netherlands and Germany on the Wadden Sea, which includes a ministerial declaration, scientific symposia, and a broad exchange of information.

523. FRANCE: The national report includes references to cooperation between France and Germany for conservation of the Rhine. The two countries have agreed to designate Special Protection Areas under the European Community’s Birds Directive in the shared section of the river, which will be designated for the Ramsar List.

524. GABON: The national report refers to the project carried out over the last two years with the support of WWF. The project aims to support anti-poaching and public awareness measures at Petit Loango, one of the country’s three Ramsar sites, which may become Gabon’s first national park.

525. GERMANY: The national report refers to international cooperation in the Wadden Sea, Baltic and along the River Odra and the Rhine. It also provides extensive details of the measures taken in Germany for the protection of the North Sea and the Baltic.

526. In the well-known case of the Wadden Sea, the report refers (like the Danish report - see paragraph 522) to the joint actions with Denmark and the Netherlands, which it calls a model for cooperation on transfrontier sites or ecosystems, and which have led to broad-ranging agreements for conservation of the Wadden Sea. The national report notes that cooperation of a similar kind, though it is not yet so extensive or so successful, exists with other Baltic coastal states to protect the Baltic from increasing pollution.

527. Another example of transfrontier cooperation is with Poland, where actions are under way to establish a large protected area in the lower valley of the River Odra, which is already a Ramsar site on the German side. The German report echoes the statements in the French national report (see paragraph 523) about designation of parts of the Rhine under the Ramsar Convention.

528. GUATEMALA: The national report notes that, although Guatemala has not as yet undertaken contacts on wetlands with neighbouring states, the existence of CILA should be mentioned. CILA, the International Commission on Boundaries and Waters, coordinates development projects in catchments shared between Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.

529. HUNGARY: The national report records that (as in the case of the Czech Republic - see paragraph 521) Hungary is regularly invited to meetings of the Austrian Ramsar Committee and holds consultations with Austrian experts on transboundary habitats. Similar consultations are to be held in relation to the two proposed parks of Duna-Ipoly (National Heritage) and Drava-Danube (National Park).

530. NETHERLANDS: The Netherlands national report, like those of Denmark and Germany (see paragraphs 522 and 526), mentions trilateral cooperation on the Wadden Sea, referring also to the agreement on seals in the Wadden Sea and to the memorandum of intent on the Wadden Sea and The Wash and North Norfolk Coast, two ecologically similar areas on the east coast of England, both on the Ramsar List. The report also mentions the trilateral decision to investigate whether it is possible to designate the Wadden Sea, in terms of its ecological values, for the Ramsar List on a common basis (i.e. not separately by the three states, as at present).

531. NEW ZEALAND: The national report points out that, although New Zealand has no wetlands which extend over the territories of more than one Contracting Party, it maintains close liaison with Australia through the Australia and New Zealand Conservation Council Wetland Network and Species Network. It also maintains links with south Pacific countries and the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP).

532. NORWAY: The national report mentions an agreement with Russia to establish a cross-border nature reserve containing substantial wetland areas in Pasvik. On the Russian side, 27,000 hectares have been legally protected, and plans for protection of 2,000 hectares on the Norwegian side are expected to be approved in 1993. As noted in paragraph 385, Norway is to assist Indonesia in drawing up a national wetland policy.

533. POLAND: The Polish report notes that, as the construction of the dam on the Oswinka River downstream from the Siedem Wysp Ramsar site (see paragraph 229) will influence outflow of water to the Kaliningrad province of the Russian Federation, consultations are under way to discuss the impact of this operation on both sides of the border.

534. ROMANIA: The Romanian report notes that consultations were held with Ukraine in relation to the implementation of the Convention in the Ukrainian sector of the Danube Delta.

535. RUSSIAN FEDERATION: The national report notes that the greater part of Lake Khanka, the Russian sector of which has been designated for the Ramsar List, lies in China, and that a special bilateral agreement about the lake will be necessary, perhaps between Russia’s Primorsky Region and the neighbouring Chinese region.

536. SLOVAK REPUBLIC: Contacts have been established with Austria. There is a proposal to designate the alluvial forests on the Slovak bank of the River Morava (or March) for the Ramsar List. (The Austrian bank is already designated - see paragraph 165). Coordination of the protection of ecosystems along the border with Hungary has already been effected.

537. SOUTH AFRICA: The national report points out that, after the proposed changes to the border with Namibia, part of the present South African Ramsar site of Orange River Mouth will be in Namibia. Furthermore, Walvis Bay, a wetland which South Africa proposes to designate for the List, falls under a joint management agreement between South Africa and Namibia. The joint designation of these two wetlands, as soon as Namibia joins the Convention, is under discussion.

538. UKRAINE: The Ukrainian national report, like the Romanian report (see paragraph 534), refers to the joint Danube Delta Project, and the protocol of scientific cooperation between Danube Delta reserves in Romania and Ukraine. The latter, notes the report, is supported by WWF Germany.

539. UNITED KINGDOM: The UK national report, like the Netherlands national report (see paragraph 530), refers to the twinning of the Wadden Sea with The Wash and the North Norfolk Coast, both UK Ramsar sites, and notes that exchange visits have taken place. It also refers to cooperation beween Ireland and UK on the all-Ireland review of Special Protection Areas and Ramsar sites of importance for birds; this has taken as its starting point the fact that the waterfowl of the two countries are one shared resource and require to be assessed in an international context.

541. The UK report also mentions international cooperation on two species, the Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis and Greenland White-fronted Goose (for the latter, see paragraphs 498 and 509). Ruddy Ducks do not occur naturally in Europe and their presence is the result of birds escaping from private collections in the UK; following hybridization with the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala, whose global stock is threatened, the Spanish authorities requested the UK to reduce Ruddy Duck numbers. An international meeting has been held and a research project on control techniques and public reaction to a control programme is being funded. The UK believes that a coordinated approach is the only satisfactory solution and urges other Contracting Parties to support these initiatives and to curb the spread of the Ruddy Duck.

542. CONCLUSIONS: The preceding paragraphs illustrate that the obligation, included in Article 5 of the Convention, to consult with other parties about its implementation and the emphasis given to this matter in the "Priorities for attention 1991-93", adopted at Montreux, have been given greater attention than ever before by the Contracting Parties. In some cross-frontier sites where cooperation was already in progress (such for example as the Wadden Sea) activities have been strengthened and developed; indeed the German report suggests that Wadden Sea trilateral cooperation is a model for such action. In others where transboundary cooperation had not previously been brought to the attention of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, new examples of cooperation have been quoted. Many are between eastern and western Europe, and the vast political changes which have taken place since Montreux have no doubt played a major contribution here.

543. Another interestng development is the suggestion (both from the Wadden Sea States and from South Africa) of the possibility of joint designations of cross-frontier sites.

544. The above examples of cross-frontier collaboration should help to guide delegates in their reflections on the guidelines for application of Article 5, suggested in draft recommendation REC. C.5.13. It should however be recalled that international cooperation may relate not only to sites and species but has, in previous meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, been defined as extending to development assistance. This is the other aspect of international cooperation under Ramsar, to be considered in the next section.

Role of Development Agencies, both bilateral and international, in wetland conservation

545. INTRODUCTION: Section 4.4 of the "Outline for national reports" invites Contracting Parties to provide "comments on the role of Development Agencies in wetland conservation, both as regards appropriate agencies in Contracting Parties and international governmental agencies (Montreux Recommendation 4.13)". Montreux Recommendation 4.13 was on "Responsibility of Multilateral Development Banks towards Wetlands"; it reiterated recommendations on this subject approved at Regina, and called on Contracting Parties to urge Multilateral Development Banks and other Development Agencies to advance conservation and wise use of wetlands through improved technical assistance and consideration of these issues early in the planning process.

546. As noted in paragraph 512, one of the three items of top priority for 1991-93 agreed by the Contracting Parties in their programme document (Montreux Proceedings, Vol. I, page 266) was "development assistance and international cooperation for shared resources and shared species". Workshop D on Saturday 12 June will be on the subject of "International cooperation for wetland conservation". The morning session will deal with "Wetland Conservation and Development Assistance". Presentations will be made on the work of both multilateral and bilateral development assistance agencies, and the workshop will consider several draft recommendations related to development assistance: on the relationship between Ramsar and the Global Environment Facility (draft recommendation REC. C.5.10); on inclusion of conservation and wise use of wetlands in multilateral and bilateral development assistance programmes (draft recommendation REC. C.5.11, which includes a call for the organization within the next two years of a conference to coordinate policies of environment and development assistance ministries); and on future funding and operation of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund (draft recommendation REC. C.5.12). For details of the programme see document DOC. C.5.9, to which the draft texts of the three recommendations are attached. The present section of the national report was designed to enable Contracting Parties to present their activities in this field as a contribution to Workshop D.

547. ALGERIA: The national report notes that Algeria would be glad to receive technical assistance for the conservation and wise use of wetlands in the country, since no studies offering guidance on the use of wetlands are available.

548. BOLIVIA; Multilateral organizations operating in Bolivia have not developed or given priority to a specific policy on wetlands, according to the Bolivian report.

549. CANADA: Canada’s major aid agency, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), continues to ensure effective implementation of its Environmental Policy, most recently updated in December 1992. This policy provides guidance to ensure that wetland conservation and wise use of natural resources are considered in development proposals that may influence Canadian funding or expertise. CIDA has recently completed a major study, to be published in 1993, of the status and issues involved in wetland conservation in Central America. CIDA also supported a workshop on conservation and sustainable management of freshwater wetlands in Bangladesh in 1992.

550. CHAD: The national report indicates that, given the importance attached to wetlands in Chad, and the difficulties experienced in promoting their conservation and wise use, Chad would welcome assistance in the forms of finance, technical input and training.

551. COSTA RICA: The national report gives examples of support provided by development agencies for work in the National Conservation Areas System. At Caño Negro, the Netherlands has supported the administration and management of the site, and negotiations over the financing of the implementation of the conservation strategy are in their final stage. In recent years, Switzerland and the InterAmerican Development Bank have supported the development of the Tempisque Conservation Area, and it is hoped that US-AID may in future provide further support. At Tortuguero, a number of agencies and NGOs have provided support, notably the European Economic Communities, US-AID and Denmark. Finally, for the management of Térraba-Sierpe, support has come from Denmark, IUCN’s Wetland Programme and CATIE.

552. The Costa Rican report notes that, while support has been received in the past, it is important that it should continue in the future and that it should respond to the priorities established for the management of the sites.

553. DENMARK: The national report indicates that the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) has issued four reports concerning wetland conservation since 1988. They deal with environment and development, water resources management, agriculture in wet areas and fisheries. DANIDA is funding an 11 million kroner (US$ 2 million) wetland management programme, implemented by WWF-Denmark, at the Bangweulu Swamps in Zambia, a Ramsar site.

554. HUNGARY: The national report notes that the Netherlands Multilateral Fund is to finance, via IUCN, a project on river corridors in Hungary, which will assess the natural values of the Danube and its main tributaries.

555. JAPAN: The Japanese national report indicates that it will be necessary to place increased emphasis on environmental considerations at the aid implementation stage.

556. The report notes that the Government of Japan, while making it clear to recipient countries at annual aid meetings the importance which it attaches to environmental considerations, has paid close attention to these factors during the selection, implementation and evaluation of individual projects. During implementation of development studies, projects are examined from the perspectives of air and water pollution and a variety of other effects on the natural and social environment.

557. In cases in which environmental aspects require special attention, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) implements project formulation studies with the participation of environmental experts. JICA is studying ways of ensuring the effective incorporation of environmental considerations into development aid projects, and guidelines for individual project categories are being prepared. Thus, guidelines for dam construction were completed in 1990 and for agricultural development and social and economic infrastructure facilities in 1992. Guidelines for environmental impact studies of general environmental considerations in manufacturing are due for completion in 1992.

558. When providing assistance, the Japanese Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) carries out preliminary checks to ensure that developing countries have provided for environmental considerations at the planning and preparation stages of projects. OECF has published guidelines for environmental considerations, and is thus striving to ensure they are taken into account at both planning and implementation stages of Official Development Assistance (ODA) projects.

559. MOROCCO: The national report states that, in the field of development assistance in the conservation of wetlands, to date there have not been any specific projects which have had a prejudicial effect on wetlands.

560. NETHERLANDS: The national report refers to the detailed entries on international wetland policy summarized in paragraphs 366-368 of the present report.

561. NEW ZEALAND: The national report indicates that New Zealand supports Montreux Recommendation 4.13.

562. NORWAY: The national report indicates that the Norwegian Development Agency (NORAD) has supported several wetland projects, among them the wise use project at the Kafue Flats, Zambia (a Ramsar site), and several projects in Central America.

563. PAKISTAN: The national report states that the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank are supporting projects in Pakistan which have had or will have both positive and negative effects on the country’s wetlands. Among projects supported are projects to remove waterlogging, thus ultimately decreasing areas of wetland. Formulation of the National Wetland Policy is necessary to meet this negative effect. The report requests the help of the Ramsar Bureau in monitoring.

564. SOUTH AFRICA: The national report indicates that the Development Bank of Southern Africa recognizes the relationship between environmental quality, natural ecosystems and development.

565. SWEDEN: Negotiations about the possible involvement of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) in Ramsar are currently taking place.

566. SWITZERLAND: The Swiss report notes that the development cooperation and humanitarian aid department of the federal foreign ministry is, in general, well aware of the need to safeguard nature and landscapes, and wetlands in particular, in its assistance progammes to developing countries. It has already made substantial contributions to IUCN conservation programmes. While it has not yet supported projects from Ramsar Contracting Parties forwarded via the Ramsar Bureau, this possibility is being studied and could be carried out in early 1993.

567. UNITED KINGDOM: The report notes that the UK, through its Overseas Development Administration (ODA) has supported a number of wetland activities in developing countries to enable both parties and non-parties to carry out the Convention’s objectives. Thus it supported four WWF projects to increase local awareness and training in wetlands. ODA supported participation in the wetland conference held in Pakistan in December 1991.

568. In its bilateral aid programme, ODA funds a variety of projects, including the development of a database on mangroves in Belize and a project for management of a new national park in Brazil. ODA will consider such projects if they are given priority by developing countries and are part of national strategies for sustainable development.

569. CONCLUSIONS: Perhaps the most striking conclusion that may be drawn from the foregoing section is that the amount of information provided is so small compared to other subjects. It would appear that, despite recommendations on the effect of development assistance at Regina and Montreux, Contracting Parties still do not regard it as an important matter in a Ramsar context.

570. Thus the information provided by donor countries is scanty, and many major donors do not give any information at all; where information is provided, it is generally on the subject of specific conservation projects supported by development assistance agencies, rather than on the effects of development projects on the environment. This would suggest that there is still too little contact between the development community and the environment community in donor countries.

571. In recipient countries too, there is relatively little priority given to this aspect. Some parties take the opportunity to emphasize the need for greater support, a few review existing projects in their country. There seem to be differing views over the effect of development assistance projects: whereas the Moroccan report indicates that such projects have not caused any damage, the Pakistan report speaks of negative effects and requests assistance from the Bureau.

572. It therefore seems clear that Workshop D will provide a valuable opportunity for Contracting Parties to clarify their views on the subject of development assistance. At the same time the workshop will have an opportunity to review the role of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Fund and of Ramsar’s relationship to the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It should be recalled that two of the draft recommendations proposed for consideration deal with: the need for Ramsar Contracting Parties to affirm clearly that Ramsar would welcome support from the GEF (draft recommendation REC. C.5.11); and the desirability of closer cooperation between environment and development assistance authorities in both donor and recipient countries, perhaps through the holding of a major international conference on the matter (draft recommendation REC. C.5.12).

Action taken on Montreux recommendations

573. INTRODUCTION: Section 4.5 of the "Outline for national reports" invites Contracting Parties to provide information on "action taken by Contracting Parties as a result of Recommendations adopted by the Montreux Conference".

574. The Montreux Conference adopted fourteen numbered recommendations. It also adopted five numbered resolutions, and four unnumbered resolutions (the latter relating to conference documents on the Framework document or programme, Finance, Standing Committee and Secretariat). The Montreux meeting requested the Standing Committee to provide for Kushiro a clarification of the difference between recommendations and resolutions.

575. The national reports contain rather few specific comments on actions taken as a result of the Montreux recommendations since, in most cases, detailed information has been provided elsewhere in the report. Brief remarks are provided by Denmark, France, Netherlands, Poland and Venezuela. Among the reports which include more detailed comments are those from the Czech Republic, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa (see paragraph 378) and United Kingdom.

576. CONCLUSIONS: One conclusion that might be drawn is that the most important recommendations are those which provide general guidelines and standards which may be used in their day-to-day operations by the Contracting Parties and Bureau, such as those on criteria, guidelines for wise use, Montreux Record or Monitoring Procedure. With this in mind, the Standing Committee and the Bureau have prepared and circulated in advance to Kushiro participants a series of draft recommendations on guidelines and mechanisms to improve the operation of the Convention, as follows:

Draft recommendations to be discussed in Workshop A (texts attached to document DOC. C.5.6):

  • Draft REC. C.5.1 on specific Ramsar site issues;
  • Draft REC. C.5.2 on review procedure for sites not qualifying under the Ramsar criteria;
  • Draft REC. C.5.3 on operation of the Montreux Record;
  • Draft REC. C.5.4 on change in ecological character;
  • Draft REC. C.5.5 on a Scientific or Technical Committee.

Draft recommendations to be discussed in Workshop B (texts attached to document DOC. C.5.7):

  • Draft REC. C.5.6 on wise use and additional guidance on the guidelines;

Draft recommendations to be discussed in Workshop C (texts attached to document DOC. C.5.8):

  • Draft REC. C.5.7 on zonation in reserves;
  • Draft REC. C.5.8 on a methodology for wetland management;
  • Draft REC. C.5.9 on public awareness;

Draft recommendations to be discussed in Workshop D (texts attached to document DOC. C.5.9):

  • Draft REC. C.5.10 on Ramsar and the Global Environment Facility (GEF);
  • Draft REC. C.5.11 on multilateral and bilateral development programmes;
  • Draft REC. C.5.12 on the Wetland Conservation Fund;
  • Draft REC. C.5.13 on guidelines for the implementation of Article 5.

577. The Bureau understands that some Contracting Parties may wish to propose a small number of additional recommendations, notably recommendations encouraging the establishment of national Ramsar committees and participation in Ramsar activities by non-governmental organizations.


578. The present paper draws on the national reports provided by Contracting Parties on their activities since the Montreux meeting. It also however uses much other information accumulated by the Ramsar Bureau in the course of its operations over the last three years. The use of this information has allowed the Bureau to put the varied and detailed information contained in the national reports into the context of the Convention’s ongoing activities. It has also allowed the Bureau to provide details from Contracting Parties which did not submit national reports or submitted them after the deadline.

579. It is a constant complaint of compilers of such reviews that reports do not arrive on time. Despite past recommendations by the Conference of the Contracting Parties, the present document is based on only 38 national reports (exactly 50% of the number of Contracting Parties), most of which arrived well after the "deadline" of 9 December 1992, six months before the conference. The Kushiro meeting may wish to attempt some further action to improve the situation, but the compiler remains dubious of the efficacity of any such measures.

580. One other important issue where improvement is also needed is in the reports from developing countries. In general it will be clear that their views are under-represented in the present document. This, as the reports from developing countries clearly explain, is because they are short of resources and staff to do the real work of conservation and wise use of wetlands, let alone to produce reports. Perhaps some way could be found in future of helping them compile their reports; one method might be through better coordination at regional level, which has already begun to play a larger role in the last triennium. If staff can be appointed at Bureau headquarters to help Regional Representatives to improve regional coordination, these staff members could play a role in assisting in the formulation of national reports.

581. Another improvement in reporting procedure would be to provide more details in the "Outline for national reports" of the type of information required. Different national reports for Kushiro present information on the same subject under a variety of different headings. There is a need for annotations to explain exactly what should go where.

582. It is hoped that the present document may provide a general background guide to the issues which will arise at the Kushiro meeting. It is intended as a breviary for participants, which presents not only the comments from national reports, but also the context in which they arise. Since these same issues are likely to remain the constant concerns of the Convention in the future, there may be some value in revising the document in the light of the decisions taken at Kushiro, and printing it as a general guide to the convention.

583. The compiler thanks any readers who have had the patience and forbearing to follow him so far, and hopes that so much foliage and verbiage may help safeguard some wetlands.

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