The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 3 September 2002

Summit events of 1 September and Ramsar MOU with UNCTAD. Secretary General Delmar Blasco reports from Johannesburg on a busy Sunday, 1 September, from the Ramsar perspective, in which Ramsar chaired a session on "Water - Responsibility for security" at the IUCN Centre and participated in the kick-off meeting of the Ministerial Conference on Water to be held in conjunction with the Third World Water Forum in Japan in March 2003. In still another significant event, Mr Blasco and Dr Rubens Ricupero, Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining future cooperation between the secretariats on the BIOTRADE Initiative. See his brief report here and the text of the new MOU here. [03/09/02]

Side event on wetlands training set for Ramsar COP8. Every year since 1994, the Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment (RIZA), part of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management in The Netherlands, has hosted the International Course on Wetland Management at the Wetlands Advisory and Training Centre (WATC) in Lelystad. Over the past few years, RIZA has also hosted a separate International Course on Wetland Restoration. Frank Alberts writes that RIZA and Wetlands International will be hosting a side event (a "diploma granting" side event!) at Ramsar's 8th Conference of the Parties on wetland training opportunities and the Wetlands International "Ramsar Training Service", and his brief announcement, with a few poignant photos of past training courses, are available here. [03/09/02]

Armenia completes SGF project on wetland valuation. Armenia successfully completed its SGF 1999 project "Ecological and economic valuation of Armenian wetlands: a step towards elaboration of the National Wetland Policy". The project was carried out by the NGO Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union (NGO Orientation) and it was financed solely by a grant provided from the Ramsar Convention Bureau. As a result the project delivered the most comprehensive list of Armenian wetlands worked out so far, a wetland database, the first nationwide economic valuation of wetlands, outputs of seasonal ecological and economic surveys at 6 typical wetland areas in different regions of the country and at different altitude, impact assessment analysis of infliction of harms on wetlands by various human activities, promotion of public awareness of sustainable (wise) use of wetland products, values and functions, and last but not least during the project implementation have been identified 4 more wetlands of international importance to be inscribed on the Ramsar List. A brief report by Ramsar's Sergey Dereliev is available here. [03/09/02]

Ramsar/WWF side event, partnerships, plenary session on water (28 August), Ramsar exhibition. Ramsar's man at the Summit, Secretary General Delmar Blasco, supplies this progress report on events at the World Summit on Sustainable Development that are of most interest to the Ramsar community. In anticipation of a more ample report to follow, he indicates that the WWF/Ramsar side event (27 August) honoring nine nations for their recent extraordinary commitments to wetland conservation and the Ramsar List was very well attended and drew encouraging media attention. He reports on two partnership initiatives with which Ramsar will be involved, and offers a somewhat less heartening summary of the plenary session on water issues, 28 August. Finally, Mr Blasco fills us in on how the famous Ramsar Exhibit is doing so far. See his brief report here. [30/08/02]

WWF and Ramsar applaud nine nations at WSSD. So far in 2002, nine nations -- Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Chad, China, Guinea, Peru, Tanzania andZambia -- have each designated more than a half million hectares of freshwater areas as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The commitments of these nine countries add up to 22 million hectares, over 1/4 of the total area of wetlands recognized by Ramsar in the previous 30 years, and they have put the total area of wetlands now under the Ramsar umbrella at over 100 million hectares. At a "press conference and ministerial announcement" in Johannesburg, 27 August, WWF International and the Ramsar Bureau, with the assistance of a number of high-level speakers, are presenting these nine countries with certificates recognizing their foresight and commitment. According to the programme, "the Ramsar Bureau and WWF plan to use this announcement to inspire other countries to follow the example to also protect their freshwater ecosystems, and will take this opportunity to emphasize to the international donor community the importance of these commitments and the related need to contribute greatly increased financial resources for sustainable management of freshwater". A report of the event will follow, but here in the meantime is the programme, as well as WWF's press release for the event, with background papers on the issues involves, and a press release from WWF Bolivia into the bargain. [28/08/02]

Secretary General participates in panel on WEHAB in the first day plenary of WSSD.Delmar Blasco, Ramsar's Secretary General, reports from Johannesburg: "The first day's afternoon plenary of the world summit in Johannesburg was dedicated to another one of the WEHAB issues: biodiversity. (WEHAB stands for water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity, the five issues identified by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as the mega issues that the Summit should address as a priority - thus two of the WEHAB issues are Ramsar issues: water and biodiversity. A UNDP-based group led by Peter Schei (Norway) has produced a WEHAB-biodiversity report distributed at yesterday's plenary, to which the Ramsar Bureau has contributed substantively.) Yesterday's plenary was introduced by Peter Schei and CBD's Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan. A 15-member panel representing the UN system, major groups, and other institutions (including Ramsar) was questioned during 70 minutes by Minister Jan Pronk of the Netherlands, in order to try to understand what are the real issues about biodiversity and ecosystem management. Governments then had another 90 minutes to express their views. Overall it was a interesting debate, with governments (many represented by Ministers) accepting the rules of not reading pre-prepared statements but really engaging in discussion. It is hoped that some of the substance of this plenary will be injected in the Plan of Implementation that continued to be discussed in a separate room at the Sandton Conference Centre in Johannesburg." [27/08/02]

Partners for Wise Use of Wetlands -- Focal Area B: Wise Use and Poverty Alleviation -- CALL FOR PROPOSALS, 2002-2003. The Partners for Wise Use of Wetlands programme was started in 2001 with a first phase that led to 38 projects receiving funding (including Global Peatlands Initiative), from a programme fund provided to Wetlands International by the Directorate General of International Cooperation (DGIS), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Wetlands International now announces a new phase running until December 31, 2003. Partner organisations, which include IUCN, WWF International, BirdLife International, Ramsar Convention Bureau and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and other eligible organizations, are now invited to discuss project proposals that meet the criteria described below. The full announcement is available here, and more information about the programme can be found on the Wetlands International Web site. [16/08/02]

Meetings make progress for the Nestos Delta. The Prefect of Kavala Province in northern Greece, Theodoros Kalliontzis, invited the Ramsar Bureau to visit the ecosystem in the delta of the river Nestos of unique ecological and environmental importance and beauty, and to participate in meetings about its conservation and sustainable management. The Ramsar Site "Nestos Delta and Adjoining Lagoons" was designated on 21 August 1975 when Greece joined the Convention, comprising an extensive delta complex, including saltmarshes, freshwater lakes, coastal lagoons, dune systems and the largest remaining area of riparian forest in Greece. Decreasing groundwater levels resulting from growing irrigation demands and dam construction upstream led to the inclusion of the site on the Montreux Record on 4 July 1990. The focal point for the Ramsar Convention in the Greek Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, Ms Dimitra Spala, Ramsar's Mediterranean Coordinator, Spyros Kouvelis, and its European Coordinator, Tobias Salathé, participated in two meetings on 1 July 2002 in Kavala, and a brief report, with some photographs is available here, now. [08/08/02]

"Wetlands and Environmental Assessment". The World Bank's Environment Department has published a new Environmental Assessment Sourcebook Update (number 28 in the series, 10 pages, June 2002), this one intended to provide guidance on the use of environmental assessments in World Bank-funded projects and programmes likely to affect wetlands. Beginning with the Ramsar Convention definition of wetlands, it succinctly highlights the importance of wetlands to humanity and the environment, describes potential impacts likely to be generated by development activities, and provides guidance on the appropriate type and scope of assessment and environmental planning and management. Brief case studies from Colombia, Pakistan, and Argentina are included, as well as a description of the activities of the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Migratory Species. Written by Colin Rees, with input by Isabel Braga and other Bank staff, and funded by Norway and The Netherlands. [07/08/02]

Further workshop proceedings from the Dakar International Conference on Wetlands and Development. Two new books have newly been released as long-awaited products of the 2nd International Conference on Wetlands and Development, Dakar, Senegal, November 1998. These A4-format 116-page volumes contain the proceedings of two of the most substantial workshops of the conference and present the full texts of the presentations. Integrated Wetlands and Water Resources Management, edited by Ger Bergkamp, Jean-Yves Pirot, and Silvia Hostettler, contains 14 articles and the conclusions and recommendations of the workshop -- Strategies for Wise Use of Wetlands: Best Practices in Participatory Management, edited by Meg Gawler, includes 16 articles and an overview article by the editor. Further information can be sought from Wetlands International in Wageningen, The Netherlands, and in the meantime more information, including the tables of contents, can be seen here. [05/08/02]

ECRR study tour on river restoration set for 9-13 September. Ute Menke writes: "The main goal of the study tour is to contribute to the further development of a Pan European network on river restoration, which is to carry out its activities under the umbrella of the European Centre for River Restoration (ECRR). Next to the ECRR international conferences, organised once per four years and bringing together representatives from all European regions, ECRR starts to organise yearly study tours. These are regarded as relatively low key activity with interactive exchange of experiences within a smaller group. The study tour is open for all those involved in the fields of management, research and communication of river restoration in Europe. We will start this year with the organisation of the first ECRR study tour in the Netherlands, but in the next years other countries in Europe should take their chance of organising a ECRR study tour and of course the ECRR secretariat will support the activity as much as possible." The full announcement and sign-up details are available here. [05/08/02]

The Cultural Heritage of Wetlands available in Macedonian. Metodija Velevski, secretary of the Macedonian National Ramsar Committee, writes that a new 25-page full-color illustrated translation of Ramsar's "Cultural Heritage of Wetlands" info pack has been published by the NRC and the Bird Study and Protection Society of Macedonia, including an additional two-page case study with text and photos detailing the ancient fishing techniques on Dojran Lake, a transboundary lake shared by the FYR of Macedonia and Greece. This attractive publication was funded by the IUCN Netherlands Committee under their Small Grants for Wetlands Programme and provides an excellent model for countries wishing to adapt Ramsar public-awareness materials into local languages with Bureau staff assistance and financial support from sympathetic sources. More information here. [31/07/02]

Bolivia names high-Andean Ramsar site. The Ramsar Bureau is delighted to announce that, effective 11 July 2002, Bolivia has designated its 8th Wetland of International Importance. "Lagos Poopó y Uru Uru" (Oruro department, 967,607 ha, 18°46'S 63°13'W), a National Ecological Reserve, are two associated brackish lakes at over 3,600m altitude which fulfil all eight of the Ramsar Criteria and are excellent representatives of the high-altitude Andean wetlands of the Puna ecoregion. Some 76 species of birds have been reported for the site, including about 120,000 individuals of flamingos Phoenicopterus chilensis, Phoenicoparrus andinus, and Phoenicoparrus jamesi. Endemic and endangered fauna and flora, such as vicuña and pumas, are supported, as well as the cactus Opuntia and Trichocereus. Two pre-Hispanic cultures, the Aymaras and Urus, the latter believed to be one of the oldest ethnic groups on the continent, dating from 2000-1500 before the common era, are present in the area and practice subsistence agriculture and fishing, with some mining and limited grazing and illegal bird hunting also in evidence.

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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