Society of Wetland Scientists awards four Ramsar grants for 2001

14/12/2000

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Society of Wetland Scientists Ramsar Support Grant Program Awards for 2001

The Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) Board of Directors approved the formation of a SWS Ramsar Support Framework in June 1999. This Support Framework includes a grant program to support SWS members in advancing Ramsar Convention objectives, including the selection, designation, management, and networking of Ramsar sites, and implementation of the Ramsar Convention's Wise Use guidelines.

Projects are funded at a level of $5,000 per year on a competitive basis as reviewed by a three-member SWS Ramsar Support Framework Subcommittee of the SWS International Committee, in consultation with a Ramsar Bureau representative. Only SWS members working on Ramsar-related activities in countries that are on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Development Assistance Committee (DAC) List of Aid Recipients are eligible to receive grants under this program, and priority is given to applicants from countries below the threshold for World Bank loan eligibility.

This year, SWS received many quality proposals and wishes there were sufficient funds to award them all. SWS allocated $10,000 to fund two proposals this year, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of International Affairs is providing matching funds to award two proposals from Latin America.

A summary of the four SWS-funded projects in the year 2000 cycle (for 2001) follows:

1. Mr. Paul Mafabi, Programme Coordinator of Uganda's National Wetlands Programme and Assistant Commissioner of the Wetlands Inspection Division of Uganda's Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment, is being awarded a grant to develop and publish wetland wise use guidelines. Mr. Mafabi will hold workshops to form a Wetlands Wise Use Guidelines Taskforce, will collect existing information on current wetland use and management practices, will field test draft guidelines, and will publish and distribute Wetland Wise Use Guidelines, in support of Uganda's National Wetlands Policy, to attempt to influence people's attitudes and practices to result in the wise and sustainable use and management of wetlands, and garner community support for additional Ramsar site designations.

2. Dr. Milan Valachovic of the Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Department of Geobotany, Slovakia, is being awarded a grant to produce and publish the third volume of Plant Communities of Slovakia, Wetland Vegetation. The Slovak Academy of Sciences is providing co-funding to print the publication. The book will provide standard assessment information on wetland vegetation types and can be used as a fundamental source of information to prepare Ramsar Information Sheets for additional Ramsar site designations, and to prepare site management plans.

3. Mr. Sergio Gabriel Domber, Manager of the Parque Nacional Laguna Blanca, Argentina, is being awarded a grant to make improvements to the Laguna Blanca National Park Visitor Educational Center, train interpretive personnel, and prepare an educational pamphlet, in support of the Laguna Blanca National Park General Management Plan. The Parque Nacional Laguna Blanca is an existing Ramsar site. The goal of the Visitor Educational Center is to encourage local community understanding of and participation in site management and augment recreational visitor education to encourage wise use.

4. Mr. Edgar Gonzales of the Asociación Kechua Aymara para la Conservación de la Naturaleza y el Desarrollo Sostenible (ANDES) and Indigenous People’s Biodiversity Network (IPBN), NGOs based in Peru, and Mr. Francesco Giro, Director of Fundacion Natura, an NGO based in Spain, are being awarded a grant to prepare a management plan for Huacarpay wetland as an initial step to lead to eventual designation of the site to the Ramsar List. Huacarpay wetland, with notable important habitat for at least 57 species of migratory birds, is located close to the city of Cuzco and the wetland faces numerous anthropogenic threats, including drainage, conversion for agriculture and cattle raising, alien species, hunting, and pollution. The site has significant capacity for sustainable ecotourism development as an alternative to current activities that threaten to degrade the site.

SWS is a group of approximately 5,000 scientists, managers, administrators, consultants, teachers, students, and others with an interest in wetlands. SWS publishes a peer-reviewed scientific journal called Wetlands and a newsletter called the SWS Bulletin, holds an annual conference and regional conferences, and manages scholarship and awards programs.

SWS is glad to be able to support wetlands conservation and research endeavors in support of the Ramsar Convention.

-- Announced on behalf of SWS by Eric L. Gilman [egilman@lava.net]

[Further background on the Society of Wetland Scientists' Ramsar Support Framework and the winning proposals from the 1999-cycle for 2000 can be found in our report on last year's awards, http://ramsar.org/caxref:4930. -- Web Editor.)

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