International Workshop on Conservation of Wetlands and their Wise Use in Korla City, Xinjiang of China

26/06/2001

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KORLA DECLARATION

Adopted at the International Workshop on Conservation of Wetlands and their Wise Use, held in Korla City of Xinjiang, China June 5-12, 2001

The International Workshop on Conservation of Wetlands and their Wise Use was held in Korla City, the Capital of Bayangolin Prefecture of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China from 5-12 June 2001. It was attended by 134 participants from throughout China as well as overseas. Chinese participants came from a broad range of agencies from central provincial and local governments, Universities, research institutions, as well as experienced experts and scholars in field of environment protection and wetland conservation. International and overseas organizations participating included from Ramsar Bureau, Wetlands International, CBD-Ramsar River Basin Initiative/Global Environment Centre, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), IUCN-Netherlands Committee, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Ramsar Centre-Japan.

The meeting was officiated by Mr. Ma Fu, Vice Administrator of State Forestry Administration of China, Mr. Xiong Huiyin, the Vice Chairman of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Mr. Shen Maocheng, the Commissioner of China People’s Political Consultation Conference.

The participants discussed a range of issues related to conservation and wise use of wetlands, with a focus on wetland management, community participation and migratory waterbirds and proposed a number of recommendations for action.

The International Workshop on Conservation of Wetlands and their Wise Use and its participants:

Appreciating the efforts made by Wetlands International, the Government of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the Government of Bayangolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang to organise the workshop;

Recognising that the wetlands are one of the most important natural ecosystems and their conservation and wise use play a significant role in development; however wetlands are being lost and degraded and that this is impacting both the local communities and biodiversity;

Aware that many countries in the Asian region are parties to international environmental conventions including the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and that these conventions provide a framework for cooperation to address shared issues;

Noting that the CBD and the Ramsar Convention have established a River Basin Initiative to share information, link and support activities to promote integrated management of wetlands, biodiversity and river basins;

Further recognising that migratory waterbirds are a key component of the biodiversity of the wetlands of China and other countries and the need to develop an action plan for the Central Asian-Indian Flyway as outlined in the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy;

Appreciating the actions of the Chinese Government to develop a National Wetland Conservation Action Plan and also to undertake a range of activities to enhance protection and restoration of wetlands in various regions of the country;

Further aware that China has recently adopted a Policy to guide the development of Western China stating that maintenance of natural ecosystems and the wise use of water resources form a basis for the future sustainable development;

Congratulating the government of Xinjiang for its proposed action to restore the wetlands of the lower Tarim River Basin and in trying to reduce the use of water by agriculture and other sectors to ensure environmental flows to natural systems;

Expressing concern at increasing water demand and water development projects which may negatively impact on wetlands and their biodiversity;

Urges urgent action to sustain and restore wetland and water resources including the adoption of new approaches, based on local and international experience and scientific assessments;

RECOMMENDS THAT THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS BE TAKEN By International organizations, Governments, NGOs and other bodies:

1. Encourage China and its neighbouring countries to work together to actively implement environmental conventions and associated activities such as the River Basin Initiative (RBI) and the Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy.

2. Promote the development of the River Basin Initiative in the Asian region to act as a framework to support the assessment and exchange of experience in wetland, biodiversity and river basin management through conduct of assessments, compilation of case studies and also capacity building activities.

3. Develop an action plan for the conservation of migratory waterbirds in the Central Asian-Indian Flyway including the establishment of a network of internationally important sites.

4. Facilitate the active participation of local communities and other stakeholders in all stages of wetland conservation and management activities - through the formulation and implementation of an integrated wetland education and awareness strategy.

5. Develop information and training materials on wise use of wetlands and water resources based on both international (such as the relevant Ramsar guidelines) and local experience (through preparation of case studies and reviews of local experience) to assist the sustainable development of western China.

6. Undertake a more detailed assessment of the experience and lessons learned in management of rivers, wetlands and biodiversity in Xinjiang Autonomous Region to help guide future development and restoration projects.

7. Strengthen international cooperation to support wetland conservation in the Asian region, particularly in fields of wetlands management, information exchange, and capacity building.

The meeting requests the organizers to disseminate this statement widely and follow up on its implementation.

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