Japan designates Fujimae and Miyajima

21/10/2002

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Japan names two new Ramsar sites

The Government of Japan has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, both chiefly because of their great value for migratory shorebirds. Fujimae-Higata (Aichi prefecture, 323 hectares, 35°04'N 136°50'E) is tidal flat at the mouths of the Shonai, Shinkawa, and Nikko rivers as they flow into the port city of Nagoya. The site is an important staging site along the East Asia-Australia Flyway with one of the highest shorebird counts in Japan - some seven species of shorebird surpass the 1% threshold in the area, and more than 20,000 waterbirds have been counted frequently. The wetland is also visited by a number of endangered species, including the birds Tringa guttifer, Botaurus stellaris stellaris, Tadorna tadorna, and Sterna albifrons sinensis, among others, and the endangered fish Chaenogobius macrognathos. Once part of extensive tidal flats in the northern part of Ise Bay, the site remains relatively unaltered itself amid widespread transformation of the surrounding areas for development purposes. A popular site with bird watchers, it is said that, when plans to "reclaim" the tidal flat entirely for a dumping site were abandoned by the City Council, "the site became a symbol of the wetland conservation movement in Japan". Bird watching facilities exist and a wetland education centre is planned for 2003-4.

Miyajima-numa (Hokkaido, 41 ha; 43°20'N 141°43'E) is a small, open, shallow freshwater lake left by the nearby Ishikari river, surrounded chiefly by rice paddy. The lake is one of the most important staging sites for migratory Anatidae species, especially large ones, that winter in Japan, and more than 50,000 Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons stop over in the spring. The government-owned site is used as an agricultural reservoir for surrounding farmlands and is popular with bird watchers.

Japan presently has 13 Ramsar sites, totaling 84,089 hectares, and these two new designations bring the Convention's global total to 1200 sites. Descriptions of all of Japan's Ramsar sites are available here.

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