The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 March 2001

Recent progress with the River Basin Initiative. The River Basin Initiative on integrating biological diversity, wetland and river basin management (RBI) is a joint initiative by the Ramsar Bureau and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) under the framework of the 2nd CBD/Ramsar Joint Work Plan. It aims to help Parties to the Conventions implement both the Ramsar Guidelines on integrating wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management (Resolution VII.18, Wise Use Handbook 4) and the CBD programme of work on inland waters biodiversity. Having recently been awarded a UNDP project development fund grant, the RBI secretariat is preparing a "country needs assessment" and will seek input at a side event during the CBD's SBSTTA-6 in mid-March. Here are the details, so far as presently known. [28/02/01]

Children's book on the Colombian Amazon. El Instituto Amazónico de Investigaciones Científicas (SINCHI), en Bogotá, Colombia, ha completado una investigación sobre ecosistemas acuáticos de la Amazonía y ha publicado una cartilla dirigida especialmente a los niños, "Humedales de la Amazonia Colombiana. La cartilla contiene 32 paginas, excelentemente ilustradas, con valiosa información sobre la clasificación, fauna, flora, servicios e importancia de la conservación de los humedales Amazónicos de Colombia. Para mas información acerca de esta publicación favor de comunicarse a Esta publicación ha sido posible gracias a una aportación del US Department of State y el US Fish and Wildlife Service a través del Fondo Humedales para el Futuro de Ramsar. [28/02/01] [English version]

New book on integrated management of the river Cetina watershed. "The Priority Actions Programme, a regional activity centre of the Mediterranean Action Plan (the UNEP implementing structure of the Barcelona Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean), has recently published the results of an environmental and socio-economic study covering the river Cetina catchment in Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. This study is remarkable for several reasons that are close to some of the Convention on Wetland's main concerns." Dr Tobias Salathé reviews River Cetina Watershed and the Adjacent Coastal Area: environmental and socio-economic profile. [23/02/01]

Ramsar responds to article on the Wise Use principle. A recent article entitled "Wise use of wetlands under the Ramsar Convention: A challenge for meaningful implementation of international law", by David Farrier and Linda Tucker, in the Journal of Environmental Law, Vol 12, No. 1 (2000), examined the evolution and various aspects of the Wise Use principle under the Ramsar Convention and used Australia as a case study to draw the conclusion "that in an Australian domestic context ratification of the Biodiversity Convention has rendered the Ramsar Convention largely redundant." This provocative statement was drawn from the authors' argument that the Ramsar Convention is segmented in its approach and therefore "inherently limited", whereas, the authors state, the Convention on Biological Diversity is not. Lest this shaky conclusion go unchallenged, Dr Bill Phillips of Mainstream Environmental Consulting, former Deputy Secretary General of the Convention, has prepared a response which clarifies many of the article's misconceptions and supplies compensation for its unfamiliarity with significant Ramsar events over the past five or six years. Here is his review. [23/02/01]

Training course on survey techniques held in Fiji. A second training course in Fiji, sponsored by the Asia Pacific Wetland Managers Training Program, was completed between 29 January and 2 February 2001. This course, entitled "Inventory of freshwater and mangrove biota of Fiji: a field and lab-based course on systematic survey techniques and identification of fishes, invertebrates and aquatic plants", was hosted by University of South Pacific, Institute of Applied Sciences, and jointly managed by Wetlands International - Oceania, the Fiji Department of Environment and USP. Aaron Jenkins was the course coordinator and leader and he was assisted by specialists from USP. Read about it here. [20/02/01]

Ramsar signs MOC with Barcelona Convention. In ceremonies in Nairobi, Kenya, 11 February 2001, presided over by Mr Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of UNEP, during the 21st Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Mr Delmar Blasco, Ramsar Secretary General, signed a memorandum of cooperation with M. Lucien Chabason, Coordinator of the Coordinating Unit of the Mediterranean Action Plan of the Secretariat of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (also known as the Barcelona Convention). Among the objectives of the new agreement are to:

  • assist the Governments of the Mediterranean countries to grant legal protection to Ramsar sites so that all Ramsar sites fulfil the eligibility conditions for inclusion in the list of 'Specially protected areas of Mediterranean importance';
  • reinforce the conservation and integrated management of the Mediterranean wetlands;
  • ensure the coordination and complementarity of technical tools and modules prepared by MedWet and the RAC/SPA for the survey of sites and training on subjects related to wetlands; and
  • cooperate to establish guidelines for the sustainable use of wetlands in the region, especially within the activities of the Mediterranean Committee on Sustainable Development.

Anada Tiéga reports on Algeria. Anada Tiéga, the Bureau's Regional Coordinator for Africa, joined Denis Landenbergue of WWF's Living Waters Campaign in Algiers for the World Wetlands Day celebrations and designation of ten fine new Ramsar sites in that country. Here is his brief report. [16/02/01]

Kamiali Wildlife Management Area (KWMA).Miriam Philip reports on her mission in a Ramsar Small Grants Fund-financed project in Papua New Guinea. "The objectives of the Kamiali trip were to create awareness on priority target groups particularly land owners, local communities including women, youth groups and children on the importance of conservation and wise use of wetlands, increase the knowledge and to gain support in getting Kamiali WMA nominated as a Ramsar Site, revise the draft of Kamiali Ramsar Information Sheet, and participate in the ongoing leatherback turtle (a noteworthy fauna of the Kamiali wetlands) monitoring program. " Here are the details. [16/02/01]

Algeria's ten new Ramsar sites. In ceremonies in Algiers on World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2001, the Government of Algeria announced the designation of ten new Wetlands of International Importance. These new sites are extremely important additions to the Ramsar List, because they include an impressive array of under-represented wetland types typical of arid lands, including salt-bed chotts, oases, and "gueltas", totalling more than 1.8 million hectares. In addition to their key geographical position for migratory birds seeking support for their daunting journeys across the Sahara, these sites include guelta wetlands not so far to be found in the Ramsar classification system, human-made below-ground hydrological systems in the ancient "fouggara" irrigation system, rich evolutionary adaptations to the harsh arid conditions in isolated circumstances, and unique cultural significance in the ancestral fouggara water distribution social organization, frequently in the shadow of remains of 14th century Ksar oasis fortresses. Ramsar's Anada Tiéga and Denis Landenbergue of WWF's Living Waters Campaign participated in the ceremonies in Algiers and both commended the Government of Algeria for these impressive designations, and the Living Waters Campaign is also to be thanked for its support to Algeria throughout the process of preparing these new sites for designation. See brief site descriptions here, and a photo essay here. [13/02/01]

Greater coordination of environmental treaties urged. Speaking at the 21st Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Ministerial Environment Forum, on 7 February, the Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, Mr Delmar Blasco, called for much greater coordination and harmonization amongst all of the environment-related conventions, both the three UNCED treaties and the 200+ other international agreements, all of which "at the end of the day converge in the quest of a sustainable planet for human survival with decent conditions for all". Mr Blasco urged that UNEP be mandated "to prepare a medium- and long-term action plan for achieving real synergies among conventions" in order to harness their collective efforts and help to alleviate the burdens of government agencies in fulfilling their commitments under so many treaties. "We have welcomed all attempts to bring the conventions to work together, in particular UNEP’s attempts," he said, "but we consider that those efforts have been, so far, too timid. Possibly because, as is no secret, and in spite of the UN General Assembly resolution that emphasized the importance of UNEP’s role in this area, for a number of reasons UNEP has found resistance in pursuing this role, and as a consequence, to a large extent, the conventions are still operating in a dispersed manner." Here is the text of his address. [09/02/01] [français et/y español]

New Zealand Wetlands Awards announced on World Wetlands Day. Hon. Marian Hobbs, Minister for the Environment, and Hon. Sandra Lee, Minister of Conservation, have announced the three winners of the New Zealand Wetlands Awards honored on 2 February 2001. The ministers' press release provides further details on the Whakaki Lake Trustees, the Pauatahanui Reserve Management Committee of the Forest and Bird Protection Society, and Norske-Skog Tasman and their contributions to the wise use of wetlands in New Zealand. [08/02/01]

Prespa Park Coordination Committee meets in Skopje. The transboundary Prespa Park was created a year ago, on World Wetlands Day 2000 (background here). Now, a year later, at the invitation of the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of the FYR of Macedonia, the Coordination Committee of the Prespa Park, composed of representatives of Albania, Greece and the FYR of Macedonia, as well as observers from the Ramsar Convention, donor organizations, and NGOs, held its first meeting in Skopje on 30-31 January 2001. Here's a brief report from Ramsar's Tobias Salathé. [06/02/01]

Bulgaria completes SGF project at Srebarna. The 1997 Small Grants Fund project "Development and Implementation of a Management Plan for Lake Srebarna Ramsar Site" has been successfully accomplished. The project resulted in a management plan (in both Bulgarian and English) for one of the five Bulgarian Ramsar sites, elaborated by the best Bulgarian experts and based on a comprehensive monitoring program of physical, chemical and biological features. Most significant parts of Plan were discussed with the main stakeholders and their recommendations incorporated in the final version of the plan. The project was carried out by the Central Laboratory of General Ecology. The management plan includes 22 working programs and 77 projects (17 of them of high priority) to achieve the main objectives presented in the plan. There was also database, including maps, data on the quality of the agricultural lands and land use within the site, as well as GIS maps (showing topography, vegetation, soil and land ownership categories) created during the project. More information about the Lake Srebarna and SGF project can be found on . -- reported by Inga Racinska. (Some photos here.) [07/02/01]

Dominican Republic states Ramsar intentions. The Bureau has received from the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations in Geneva a copy of a World Wetlands Day press release from the office of the President of the Dominican Republic, providing general information about Ramsar and the obligations the country will acquire when acceding, explaining the present threats to the country's wetlands, and stating that the Environment Secretariat (Semarena) is in the process of preparing the accession papers to be submitted to Congress for its approval. [06/02/01]

Switzerland extends Geneva site for World Wetlands Day. Meinrad Küttel, Ramsar's focal point in the Swiss Government, has notified the Bureau that the Government is extending the Ramsar site formerly known as Rade de Genève to almost double its size and has renamed it "Le Rhône genevois - Vallons de l'Allondon et de La Laire". Here's an announcement prepared by Denis Landenbergue, WWF's Living Waters Campaign: "As a contribution to the 2001 World Wetlands Day and the 30th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention, Switzerland, the host country of the Ramsar Bureau, is happy to announce the extension of the Ramsar Site that was designated in 1990 near Geneva. The newly extended site encompasses the port of Geneva, the Rhône from Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) southwestward all the way to the French frontier, as well as the adjacent Allondon and Laire river valleys. This is a step towards a hoped-for transboundary wetland of international importance that could include the Etournel marshes in France." Here is the brief site description in the Annotated Ramsar List. [01/02/01]  [français et/y español]

Joint press release: Wetlands events send another wake-up call for world’s fresh water. Gland, Switzerland - "As celebrations surrounding World Wetlands Day commence around the world, WWF, the conservation organization, and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands have warned that unless more is done to protect vital wetlands, water shortages will be more severe in at least 60 countries by 2050, and flooding-related disasters could increase substantially." View the rest of it right here (English, français, español). [30/01/01]

Australia names three new sites for World Wetlands Day. On 2 February, the Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP, Federal Member for Murray and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, will attend World Wetlands Day ceremonies at The Wetland Centre, Newcastle, and announce the designation of three new Wetlands of International Importance, as well as extensions of four existing Ramsar sites, in Western Australia. The new sites, effective as of 5 January 2001, are Becher Point Wetlands (677 hectares), Lake Gore (4,017 ha), and Muir-Byenup System (10,631 ha) – the newly extended sites are Ord River floodplain (now 141,453 ha), Peel-Yalgorup system (now 26,530 ha), Toolibin Lake (now 493 ha), and Vasse-Wonnerup system (now 1,115 ha). Here are brief descriptions of all of these welcome new Ramsar sites. And don't miss this great WWD postcard. [24/01/01]

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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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