The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 4 January 2002

Venezuela meeting on the Andes. The beautiful city of Mérida (Venezuela) was host to the IV International Symposium on Sustainable Development of the Andes, during the days 25 of November to the 2nd of December of 2001. The Symposium was organized by the Andean Mountain Association (AMA) with the sponsorship the United Nations University. Marco Flores's brief account is in Spanish and English. [21/12/01]

Dates set for WATC wetland courses 2002. Ir. Bouke Ottow has announced the dates for next year's wetland courses run by the Wetland Advisory and Training Centre in Lelystad, The Netherlands, part of the Directorate-General of Public Works and Water Management in the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. These highly successful courses, explicitly based upon Ramsar principles and guidelines, have graduated many young wetland managers from 40 countries who are now influencing wetland policy in "wise use" directions internationally and in their own regions. The 9th annual International Course on Wetland Management will take place from 22 August to 2 October 2002 and the deadline for applications is 1 March. The 3rd annual International Course on Wetland Restoration will be held 29 May to 26 June 2002, and the deadline for applications is 1 January 2002. More information can be had from WATC directly at and the brochures and application forms can be downloaded in PDF format from this Web site [since removed]. [14/12/01]

Ramsar Advisory Mission to Chilika Lake, India. Some time ago, the Ministry of Environment and Forest of India informed the Ramsar Bureau of the work that has been done for the improvement of the ecological condition of the Chilika Lake Ramsar site and initiated the process for removing this site from the Montreux Record, the list of Ramsar sites where change in ecological character has occurred, is occurring, or is likely to occur as a result of human interference. (Chilika Lake was designated for the Ramsar List in 1981 and added to the Montreux Record in 1993.) With the advice of the Convention’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), an advisory team consisting of Najam Khurshid, Ramsar Regional Coordinator for Asia; Dr Max Finlayson of Australia’s Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss) and a member of the STRP; and Dr Sidharth Kaul of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forest, will visit the site, 11-14 December, to review the improved conditions and management of influencing factors reported by the Ministry. Whilst there, they will make a comparative analysis of the site with those ecological conditions mentioned at the time of inclusion into Montreux Record through direct observation, interviews with different stakeholders, available data, and discussion with the implementing agencies. [11/12/01]

Technical Assistance mission to Tanzania. Regional Coordinator Anada Tiéga is presently in Tanzania, 12-18 December, in response to a request for technical assistance from the National Wetland Working Group. The Working Group is the first arrangement that has been set up in order to initiate and develop a permanent mechanism for the coordination of the implementation of the Convention at national and subregional level, with the assistance of the IUCN Regional Office for East Africa. The United Republic of Tanzania acceded to the Ramsar Convention on 13 August 2000 and a number of significant initiatives are under way, including outlook on wetland inventories, Ramsar site designation and management, and policy development. The visit will cover the following items: essential information on the Ramsar Convention with a focus on key areas of work; wetland inventory; wetland policy and  legislation; Ramsar site designation; Ramsar site management; subregional cooperation and communication. The visit includes discussion with the Group on the first day and field trips to five areas as well as the first Ramsar site, where the ongoing management planning process will be discussed with major stakeholders. Potential Ramsar sites will also be discussed on the ground. [11/12/01]

New bilingual Web site on wetlands is created in China. Recently a new bilingual (Chinese and English) Web site on wetlands is open in China. This Web site is managed by Wetlands International – China with the aim at promoting public awareness of wetlands value and functions in China and letting overseas readers know about development and problem of wetlands in China. At present the Web site is still at trial basis with relatively simple contents. It is believed that with experience gained it will become a good window for both Chinese and foreign readers. Chinese readers may through this window may gain wetland knowledge and its new development trends in the world, and foreign readers may through this window get to learn more of the development of wetland causes in China. Wetlands International – China is sincerely hoping that our readers show more care for and extend their support to this new bilingual Web site. Their comments and suggestions are most welcome ( Please click (Reported by Li Lukang, WI-China). [11/12/01]

MedWet Coordination Unit opened in Athens. MedWet is a coordination mechanism for wetland activities in the Mediterranean Basin and owes its origins to an international conference organized by Wetlands International (then IWRB) in Grado, Italy, in February 1991. The MedWet1 project (1992-1996), funded by the European Union, began building the collaborative MedWet network and developed regional methods and tools; MedWet2 extended the initiative throughout the Mediterranean Basin. In 1999 MedWet became a formal inter-regional structure for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention and serves as a model for regional wetland cooperative structures elsewhere. A MedWet Committee was established by Ramsar Resolution VII.22, and a MedWet Coordination Unit was established to keep things rolling along more or less merrily and maintain sanity amongst the Ramsar Bureau, the Unit itself, and the three technical support institutions (EKBY in Greece, Tour du Valat in France, and SEHUMED in Spain). On 21 November, ceremonies in Athens, Greece, inaugurated the new home of the Coordination Unit now based in Greece's National Center for the Environment and Sustainable Development in the newly renovated -- dare we say it -- palaceof Villa Kazouli! The Convention's MedWet Coordinator, Spyros Kouvelis, and Policy Advisor, Nejib Benessaiah, in addition to two support personnel to be seconded from EKBY, and the premises themselves, are being fully funded for two years by the Government of Greece and are considered to be outposted staff of the Ramsar Bureau in Gland.

At this time we place before you, first, a little more background on the MedWet Initiative, some photos of Villa Kazouli to make you look resentfully at the cubicles and removable partitions of your own little workplace, and the text of the Secretary General's inspiring remarks at the inauguration ceremonies on 21 November, in which many paragraphs begin "I would also like to express my thanks to...." [05/12/01]

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