Nicaragua announces 7 new Ramsar sites on World Wetlands Day

01/02/2002

The Ramsar Bureau is especially glad to announce that the Government of Nicaragua has designated seven new Wetlands of International Importance, effective 8 November 2001, to be announced in ceremonies on World Wetlands Day 2 February 2002, comprising a very impressive array of wetland types and values. An enormous effort has gone into the compilation of the very thorough, almost book-length Ramsar Information Sheets, totaling a coverage of 361,752 hectares in all parts of the country, carried out by MARENA (the Ministerio del Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) assisted by a large number of non-governmental organizations, namely the Asociación Ambientalista Audubon Nicaragua (ASAAN), the Fundación del Río, Amigos de la Tierra, PROGOLFO, the Coordinación Nacional del Corredor Biológico Mesoamericano, the Centro Inter Universitario Moravo de la Bluefields Indians & Caribbean University, and the Proyecto de Conservación y Desarrollo Forestal PROCODEFOR, and la Comisión del Medio Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales de la Asamblea Nacional. In particular, very substantial financial and technical support was provided to the preparation for these designations by IUCN Mesoamerica and its Nicaraguan Wetlands Working Group. Nicaragua, which joined the Convention in 1997, now has eight Ramsar sites totaling 405,502 hectares.

Cayos Miskitos y Franja Costera Immediata. 08/11/01; Atlántico Norte; 85,000 ha; 14°23'N 082°46'W. Marine Biological Reserve. Offshore Caribbean island and shoals and adjacent mainland coastal areas 12km to the west, comprising an impressive array of wetland types, principally frequently-flooded areas dominated by shrubs, riverine systems in which are found gallery forests, and estuaries bordered by mangrove forests in near-natural state. The coastal area and the coral reef of Cayos Miskitos support several rare and endangered species, including the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), the Caribbean manatee (Trichechus manatus), and the "Tucuxi" freshwater dolphin Sotalia fluviatilis. The Association of Indigenous Women of the Costa Atlántica recently initiated a promising ecotourism project. Ramsar site no. 1135.

Deltas del Estero Real y Llanos de Apacunca. 08/11/01; Chinandega; 81,700 ha; 12°53'N 087°13'W. Natural Reserve. An estuarine ecosystem that is part of the large mangrove systems of the Golfo de Fonseca shared with El Salvador and Honduras, marked by semi-intensive and extensive shrimp cultivation, fishing, and agriculture. Within the site some 35 species of fauna have been identified, and part of the site was declared a Reserve for Genetic Resources in 1996 in order to preserve a species of wild maize (Zea luxurians or nicaraguensis) that is endemic to Nicaragua and found only in this area. The original diversity of the site has suffered from human impacts such as agrochemical and organic waste, sedimentation, deforestation, and excessive hunting. Ramsar site no. 1136.

Lago de Apanás-Asturias. 08/11/01; Jinotega; 5,226 ha; 13°10'N 085°58'W. An artificial lake or reservoir formed by two electricity-producing barrages of the Río Tuma in the mountainous north of the country, characterized by seasonally flooded agricultural land, water storage areas, and canals for transport and drainage. The endangered "Perro de Agua" (Plata Otter, Lutra longicaudis) is supported, and the site is also important for a number of aquatic birds and for fish, a number of which have high economic value in the area. The site has high potential for ecotourism because of its migratory birds and artisanal fishing practices, and recreational and educational potentials are high as well. Ramsar site no. 1137.

Refugio de Vida Silvestre Río San Juan. 08/11/01; Río San Juan, Atlántico Sur; 43,000 ha; ca.10°56'N 083°40'W. Wildlife Refuge, Biosphere Reserve. A long, slender, convoluted site following the course of the Río San Juan along the Costa Rican frontier to the city of San Juan del Norte, then northward along the Caribbean coast, part of the Biosphere Reserve Indio Maiz, forming one of the two most extensive biological nuclei of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. The site comprises an array of wetland types, including estuary and shallow marine waters, coastal freshwater lagoon, and intertidal marsh, as well as permanent lakes, rivers, and pools, inter alia. Nearly all of the Ramsar Criteria are met, and four species of turtles, as well as the manatee Trichechus manatus, are supported. Ramsar site no. 1138.

Sistema de Humedales de la Bahía de Bluefields. 08/11/01; Atlántico Sur; 86,501 ha; 11°55'N 083°45'W. Comprising a diversity of ecosystems from saline to freshwater, encompassing the "bay", which is in fact a coastal lagoon associated with the Río Escondido. The intertidal forested areas and mangroves form habitat and biological corridors for endangered larger animals, such as the jaguar (Pantera onca), Central American Tapir or "Danta" (Tapirus bairdii), the howling monkey Alouatta fusca, and ocelot Leopardus pardalis. The system is regenerating despite the devastation of Hurricane Joan in 1988. The site is extremely important for the artisanal fishing which forms the economic and cultural base of the ethnic groups in the area. Problems associated with population growth and pollution pose threats, though several communities have organized a group of communal park-wardens. Ramsar site no. 1139.

Sistema de Humedales de San Miguelito. 08/11/01; Río San Juan; 43,475 ha; 11°25'N 084°51'W. Situated along the southeast coast of Lago Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America), the site maintains a rich biological diversity, supporting a large number of species of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. It also performs essential functions in the prevention of natural disasters, in purifying and recycling the water of the lake, and in regulating local climate. Ramsar site no. 1140.

Sistema Lagunar de Tisma. 08/11/01; Managua, Granada; 16,850 ha; 12°04'N 085°56'W. A number of small lake, marsh, and river shore ecosystems associated with the northwest shores of Lake Nicaragua. The sites supplies water for cattle grazing, rice cultivation, and irrigation of pastures, recharges groundwater and assists in flood control, retains sediments and contaminants, and supports a number of species of migratory birds. Inhabitants of the site benefit by meat and fish and derive fiber materials for the fabrication of handkerchiefs, mats, fans, and other handicrafts. Rice cultivation and resulting alterations of water level and agrochemical effects have a direct impact upon the site. The Audobon Society Nicaragua assisted in preparation of the designation and in the ongoing development of a management plan, with support from the government.

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