The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 5 July 2002

Burundi becomes the Convention's 133rd Party. The Bureau is very pleased to report that Burundi deposited its instrument of accession with the Director-General of UNESCO on 5 June 2002, which means that the Convention will come into force for Burundi on 5 October 2002. The new Party's first Ramsar site is Delta de la Rusizi de la Réserve Naturelle de la Rusizi et la partie nord de la zone littorale du lac Tanganyika (1,000 hectares, 03°20'S 029°20'E), part of the Rusizi Nature Reserve. Comprising the Rusizi delta and northern shore of Lake Tanganyika, part of the lower Rusizi plain shared with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, the site is considered an "ornithological paradise" for its stopover and nesting places for migratory waterbirds and makes an ecological connection between Lakes Tanganyika and Kivu. In addition to large numbers of aquatic birds, the site supports the reptiles crocodiles and tortoises in significant numbers and a fish life, dominated by the Cichlidae, which presents a marked endemicity - the lungfish Protopterus aethiopicus is also present. Among mammals the hippopotamus is most abundant, and the sitatunga or marshbuck (Tragelaphus spekei), becoming rare throughout Africa, can be found within the site. The use of cattails Typha domingensis in basketry forms an important source of revenue for local people, and customary fishing is practiced in the lakes of the delta. Rice and cotton growing is carried out in the surrounding area, and the use of fertilizers and pesticides is seen as a potential threat to the biodiversity of the delta and lake. The Ramsar family welcomes this new Party and its fascinating new Ramsar site. [04/07/02] [français et/y español]  


Ramsar Award winners announced for 2002. The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards were created by the Conference of the Parties in 1996, and the first Awards were conferred at the opening ceremonies of Ramsar COP7 in San José, Costa Rica, in 1999. The awards for 2002, to be presented at Ramsar COP8 in Valencia in November 2002, have now been announced. Their purpose is to recognize and honor, every three years, individuals, organizations, and government agencies that have made a significant contribution to wetland conservation and sustainable use in any part of the world. This year the Awards are recognizing a private company in Australia, a government agency in India, and a consortium of NGOs in Central Europe. The Ramsar Award is complemented by the Evian Special Prize, consisting of US$10,000 generously donated by the Danone Group (France), owner of Evian Mineral Waters, as part of a programme of support to the Ramsar Convention.


Summary of Ramsar Small Grants Fund projects in the 2001 cycle. The Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands established the Ramsar Small Grants Fund (SGF) with a view to providing assistance for wetland conservation and wise use in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.In the 2001 cycle of project proposals, a total of 49 completed proposals were evaluated by Ramsar staff and presented to the Standing Committee at its 26th meeting, 3-7 December 2001. Within the funds available, a total of nine project proposals were approved for funding in this year's cycle, for a total of 334,890 Swiss francs. In addition, a further five of the SGF proposals were taken over for funding by Wetlands International, as part of its agreement with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), and by the World Wide Fund for Nature's Living Waters Programme, for an additional total of 193,979 Swiss francs. Thus, thanks to this additional assistance, a total of 14 Small Grants Fund projects have received funding in the 2001 cycle, for a total of SFR 528,869 [ca.US$ 330,000 at that time]. Voluntary contributions directly to the Small Grants Fund in the 2001 cycle have been made by Austria, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA, and by WWF Living Waters Programme in addition to its two adopted projects. Here is a brief description of the 14 projects. [02/07/02]


West Africa Subregional Meeting reported. On 5-7 June, some 63 representatives from Ramsar Contracting Parties, the International Organization Partners, and regional and international organizations gathered in Cotonou, Benin, for the Convention's subregional meeting for West Africa, Madagascar, and Comoros, with the hospitality of the Agence Beninoise de l'Environnement and generous financial assistance from the Governments of Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. The participants identified challenges and outlined actions in five major areas: a unified voice in COP8; the wise use of all wetlands; designation and management of Ramsar sites; international cooperation; and implementation capacity. The agreed conclusions are now available here in English with a few representative photos. [20/06/02]


Dominican Republic joins the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Bureau is delighted to announce that on 15 May 2002 the Dominican Republic deposited its instrument of accession with the Director-General of UNESCO, and thus the Convention as amended by the Paris Protocol of 1982 will enter into force for the Dominican Republic on 15 September 2002. The treaty's 132nd Contracting Party has designated as its first Wetland of International Importance the Lago Enriquillo (ca.20,000 hectares, 18°28'N 071°39'W), a hypersaline lake formed by an ancient channel of the sea, at 35km in length the largest lake in the Caribbean, as well as the surrounding swamps, wet meadows, and irrigated cropland, with one large and two small islands. The site is significant for the biodiversity of the region, supporting three of the largest reptiles found on the island, all of them threatened. It also provides habitat for at least 65 species of domestic and migratory birds, of which five are considered threatened. Cave decorations with pictographs and petroglyphs from pre-hispanic Taínos people can be seen, of which the best example of taíno art can be found on an ancient coral reef called Las Caritas, an archaeological site frequently visited by tourists. Diversion of inflowing water for agricultural purposes is perceived as a potential threat to the ecological character of the site. A visitors' centre on the Isla Cabritos, the original core of the present National Park, has developed numerous educational activities.


China: Workshop on National Wetland Inventory methodology and technology. "Under the guidance of the Ramsar Convention Implementing Office, China, on May 20 2002 the national Wetland Monitoring Center at State Forestry Administration (SFA) organized a workshop on national wetland inventory methodology and technology. Participants were from Wetland International Asia Pacific, Wetland International-China Program, and relevant institutes in China Science Academy and some universities. The workshop focused on addressing technical difficulties that occurred during the first national wetland inventory, with the purpose of bringing advanced methodology of international experience into China, so that the previous document, "Technical Regulations on National Wetland Inventory", could be modified and completed by finalizing detailed rules for implementation. At last, it is possible to lay a strong ground for the upcoming second national wetland inventory and also provide future wetland management with information service. The database will support future designation of Ramsar sites and how to implement Ramsar guidelines of wise use. On behalf of the government, Mr. Bao Daming, Director of Wetland Division at SFA, gave a lecture on general guidelines of national wetland inventory and monitoring. Dr. Alvin, senior technical officer in WI- Asia Pacific, offered an introduction on Asia Wetland Inventory and relevant methodology. Dr. Wang Xuelei from China Science Academy demonstrated how to apply GS, GPS and GIS to national wetland management. Dr. Huang Guilin, senior program officer, illustrated how the first national wetland had been carried out on the basis of current technical regulations. After discussion and communication by participating experts, China will fulfill its commitments to wetland inventory in Asia and support WI in this field with better technical capacity." -- Reported by Mr. Leikun, Ramsar Convention Implementing Office, China. [19/06/02]


Cooperative project for Chile's Andean wetlands. La Corporación Nacional Forestal de Chile (CONAF) y la Convención de Ramsar se complacen en anunciar la aprobación del proyecto "Plan de Acción para la Conservación y Desarollo de los Humedales Altoandinos en Chile". El proyecto será financiado en su totalidad a través de una generosa contribución de US$30.800 de la compañía Minera Escondida Ltda., a través de la gestión de su Presidente, Sr. Bruce L. Turner. La compañía ha mostrado continuamente una gran disposición a fortalecer los lazos entre el sector privado y las autoridades ambientales en Chile. El proyecto esta destinado a establecer la planificación integral de las acciones y mecanismos de conservación y desarrollo de humedales altoandinos seleccionados en las regiones de Tarapacá, Antofagasta, y Atacama. Para mayor información sobre este proyecto favor contactar al Sr. Juan Pablo Contreras, Director General CONAF-Antofagasta (jcontrer@conaf.cl) y al Sr. Bruce L. Turner, Presidente, Minera Escondida Ltda. (escondida@chilnet.cl).

The National Forest Corporation of Chile (CONAF) and the Ramsar Convention are pleased to announce the approval of the project "Action Plan for Development and Conservation of Andean Wetlands in Chile". The project will be financed entirely with a generous contribution of US$30,800 from the company Minera Escondida Ltda., through the efforts of its President, Mr. Bruce L. Turner. The company has continuously shown a great disposition to strengthen the links between the private sector and the environmental authorities in Chile. The project is aimed at establishing integral planning of the conservation and development mechanisms and actions in the regions of Tarapacá, Antofagasta and Atacama. For more information on this project, please contact Mr. Juan Pablo Contreras, Director General CONAF-Antofagasta (jcontrer@conaf.cl) and Mr. Bruce L. Turner, President, Minera Escondida Ltda. (escondida@chilnet.cl). [14/06/02]


More details on upcoming "Role of Wetlands in Biosphere Reserves" workshop. The Czech National Committee for the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), the Czech Ramsar Committee, and the Pálava Biosphere Reserve are hosting a wetland workshop in Mikulov from 13 to 18 October, the main aims of which are to provide UNESCO/ MAB with guidelines on: 1) the full use of the various values wetlands provide to biosphere reserves where they are present; 2) the evaluation of wetlands prior to their incorporation into both existing and new biosphere reserves; 3) the appreciation of the importance of biosphere reserves containing significant proportions of wetlands for environmental management, nature conservation and sustainable development on a broader scale (regional, national, continental, etc.); and 4) the coordination of activities postulated by the Seville strategy for biosphere reserves and those postulated by the Ramsar Convention, in wetlands which are simultaneously (parts of) biosphere reserves and wetlands of international importance listed under the Ramsar Convention. More registration and travel details are now available here. [14/06/02]


UK names two new sites in Northern Ireland. The Bureau is pleased to announce that the United Kingdom has designated two small new Ramsar sites in Northern Ireland. Fardrum and Roosky Turloughs (43 ha; 54°24'N 007°43'W) consists of three "turloughs" in a group, the only ones in Northern Ireland and the most northerly occurrence of this lake type in Ireland and the UK - intermittent lakes and pools in a limestone basin, wherein inflowing water rises through the limestone with changes in groundwater levels and flows out again via sinks, which can be clearly seen during dry periods. The area is particularly rich in types of water beetles. Over-grazing by domestic livestock, vegetation succession, and eutrophication are perceived as potential threats. Turmennan Lough (15 ha; 54°23'N 005°42'W) is a valley mire, transitional between fen and bog, characterized by a broad range of surface conditions, ranging from slightly base-rich to markedly acidic, influenced by the position of the ground water table in the surface peat layer. The main plant community of the mire surface is an extensive mixed sedge sward dominated by Bottle Sedge Carex rostrata, growing over a carpet of brown mosses that are replaced by Sphagnum bog mosses where the water is more acidic. The diversity of wetland habitats support a rich invertebrate community that includes notable water beetles and several locally distributed species of Odonata. Livestock grazing is the principal land use in the area. The UK presently has 169 Wetlands of International Importance. [14/06/02] [français et/y español]


Argentina designates large saline lake Mar Chiquita.The Bureau is delighted to announce that effective 28 May 2002 the Republic of Argentina has designated its 11th site for the Ramsar List, the fascinating Bañados del Río Dulce y Laguna de Mar Chiquita (ca. 996,000 hectares, 30°23'S 062°46'W) in Córdoba Province. The largest and most important endorheic catchment in Argentina, the site comprises the Mar Chiquita (one of the largest saline lakes in the world, with waters varying between saline and hypersaline), the expansive swamps of the Río Dulce (or Río Petri) on the northern shore, and the mouths of several secondary rivers to the south. The site fulfils all eight of the Ramsar Criteria and is considered one of the most important wetlands in Argentina and in the Chaco ecoregion in terms of the richness of its biodiversity in a range from freshwater to very saline. A number of species meet the waterbird Criteria, including Egretta thula (400,000 individuals), Phalaropus tricolor (200,000), Phalacrocorax olivaceus (42,000), Bubulcus ibis (60,000), and Plegadis chihi (400,000), and at least 4 species above the 1% threshold. Some 27 species of fish are known to breed in the site. Livestock raising and fishing are principal land uses, with some forestry and agriculture. The area holds enormous anthropological interest for the ancient peoples and lifestyles in evidence and abundance of archaeological sites. There are presently 1175 wetlands under the Ramsar umbrella, covering 102,105,513 hectares, of which Argentina's 11 boast 2,669,589 ha. [12/06/02] [français et/y español]


Ramsar Outreach Programme under review. Resolution VII.9 of Ramsar COP7, San José, 1999, adopted the Outreach Programme for the Convention on Wetlands for the period 1999-2002, by which the Contracting Parties committed themselves to promoting public awareness of wetland values and functions and the Ramsar wise use principles to the best of their abilities. In particular, the Parties resolved to appoint governmental and non-governmental national focal points to create an international network for communication, education, and public awareness (CEPA) on wetland values and to develop a national wetland outreach action plan to aid in that work. Some progress has been made in fulfilment of that Programme, but as the triennium draws to a close, much more remains to be done. The Ad Hoc Outreach Group has been developing a draft Programme for 2002-2005, and on 10-11 June a drafting group met in the Ramsar Bureau to push the work forward. Here is a brief report and a few photos. [13/06/02]


Ramsar and the CBD's work on inland water ecosystems. On 12 June 2002, Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General, and Carmen Revenga (WRI, on loan to Ramsar) travel to Wageningen, Netherlands, to participate in the Liaison Group meeting on 13-15 June for the CBD's review and elaboration of their programme of work on inland water ecosystems, which will be considered by CBD's SBSTTA8 in early 2003 and its COP7 in 2004. This work forms a key element of the CBD/Ramsar 3rd Joint Work Plan (2002-2006) which was approved by CBD COP6, since through CBD's COP3 Decision III/21 Ramsar acts as a lead partner in the implementation of CBD activities related to wetlands. The preparations of the review and elaboration of the programme of work, including holding this Liaison Group meeting, have been made possible by the financial support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) under the "Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands - Global Programme" managed by Wetlands International, who are hosting the Liaison Group meeting. The Ramsar Bureau is facilitating the work of preparing the review the inland waters programme of work, through managing the funding from DGIS through Wetlands International and, at the request of CBD secretariat, the engagement of two consultants: Carmen Revenga (currently based in the Bureau) and Yumiko Kura of the World Resources Institute are preparing a review of the state of knowledge of the status and trends of inland water biodiversity; and Bill Phillips (formerly Ramsar's Deputy Secretary General) is preparing the draft review and elaboration of proposals for the future inland waters programme of work. [12/06/02]


Bolivia designates an important lake in the Chaco ecoregion. The Bureau is pleased to report that the Government of Bolivia has designated Laguna Concepción (31,124 hectares, 17°31'S 61°21'W) in the Chaco ecoregion as its 7th Wetland of International Importance. The new site comprises a lake and associated wetlands that is representative of the wetlands of the Gran Chaco, characterized by a flat area of woodland and scrub marsh with poor drainage. The expanse of open water of some 6,179 ha is surrounded by palm groves of Copernicia alba and the southern cattail Typha domingensis. The lake is one of the most significant bodies of water in the east of Santa Cruz province, particularly important for wintering migratory birds from both northern and southern hemispheres, as well as for large mammals. The area was formerly inhabited by indigenous people pursuing a nomadic hunting and gathering way of life, but presently it is occupied by private cattle ranchers and by indigenous people and campesinos practicing the same occupation. Over-grazing and over-hunting are among potential threats to the ecological character of the site. WWF-Bolivia and the Living Waters Programme have been instrumental in preparing this important site for designation. [11/06/02] [français et/y español]


University of La Plata begins programme on pampasic wetlands. Ing. Galo O. Delavault, PREGAHP Co-ordinator, announces that the Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo de la Universidad Nacional de La Plata has recently approved the creation of the Programme for the Study and Management of Pampasic Wetlands (PREGAHP). This programme is addressed to the study and management of natural and artificial wetlands in the Province of Buenos Aires. It encompasses several integrated disciplines with the purpose of attaining a scientific knowledge permitting the development of sustainable environmental policies. At present, the PREGAHP has the participation of more than twenty professionals (researchers, lecturers, and members of governmental organizations) specialized in different branches of the physical and biological environment. In addition, several graduate students whose directors are part of the programme´s staff are becoming involved. Some postgraduate courses related to the proposed activity are being prepared.

The directors, Lic. Fernando De Francesco and Dr. Juan Alberto Schnack, note that among the programme's several objectives are the elaboration of systematic inventories of pampasic wetlands, descriptions of their more conspicuous physical and biotic components, the nature and intensity of human interventions on them, and the identification of the nature and magnitude of potential environmental impacts and the most adequate measures to mitigate their deleterious effects. More information about the Programa para el Estudio y Gestión Ambiental de Humedales Pampásicos is available from Galo Delavault - Fiscalía de Estado (delavault@fiscalia.gba.gov.ar). [10/06/02]


World Environment Day. Launch of the Tri-National Wetlands Initiative. At ceremonies in Bali, Indonesia, 5 June 2002, the Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the Ramsar Bureau have organized a side event to the 4th Preparatory Committee meeting for the World Summit for Sustainable Development in order to launch the Tri-National Wetlands Initiative. The Initiative, a WWF Gift to the Earth, will provide a model for collaborative approaches to wetland management in three conservation areas covering 3 million hectares of internationally significant wetlands in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. Delmar Blasco, Secretary General, is speaking briefly, along with Michele Bowe, WWF Indonesia; the Hon Dr Muhammad Prakosa, Minister of Forestry of Indonesia; the Hon Dr David Kemp, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Australia; Dr Wari Iamo, representing the Minister for Environment and Conservation, Papua New Guinea; and Mr Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF's Living Waters Campaign. Here is the text of the Secretary General's brief address to the gathering. [05/06/02]


Ramsar's 2nd Oceania Regional Meeting report is presented to the anxious public. The regional meeting for Oceania, in preparation for Ramsar COP8, was held in the SPREP training center in Apia, Samoa, 6-8 May 2002, with financial assistance from Australia, the USA, and France, and was attended by representatives from American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, Kingdom of Tonga, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, as well as the Australian National University, BirdLife International, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), Wetlands International, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and the University of the South Pacific. The report and some photos are now available here. [07/06/02]


Tanzania designates rich new Ramsar site. The Bureau is delighted to announce that the United Republic of Tanzania has named an enormous new Ramsar site in the south central part of the country. The Kilombero Valley Floodplain site (25/04/02; Morogoro Region; 796,735 ha; 08°40’S 036°10’E) covers some 260km by 52km fed by many rivers and with huge seasonal variations in the water dynamics, embodying an exceptionally wide variety of wetland types and fulfilling all eight of the Ramsar Criteria. High concentrations of large mammals, especially Puku antelope Kobus vardoni (with nearly 75% of the world population), buffalo, elephant, hippotamus, and lion, are supported, and three endemic birds are known. Two fish species (Citharinus congicus and Alestes stuhlmanni) are endemic to the site and downstream in the Rufiji River. Fishing has traditionally been the primary resource use, though agriculture (especially rice farming) is rapidly expanding, as is cattle grazing due to immigrant pastoralists. Irish Aid has been active in supporting wise use development projects since 1999, and it is planned that Ramsar designation will be followed up by Government wise use initiatives with support from Danish Foreign Aid (Danida). Tourism is largely represented by organized hunting in the dry season, which communities feel bring few local economic benefits. The new designation is Tanzania’s third Ramsar site, covering a total of 4,271,516 hectares, and brings the Convention’s totals to 1172 sites covering 97,251,060 ha. [04/06/02]


Photos available. Berbak Park in Indonesia. In completing his master's studies in 2000, Asril conducted field research at the Berbak Park Ramsar site in Indonesia on behalf of the government's Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology. Berbak, one of the world's best known expanses of wetland, located in Jambi Province, Sumatra, Indonesia, had been hard hit by the fires of 1997, and Asril's task was conduct field measurements on the extent of recovery. Here are some of his photos taken in the course of his studies. [04/06/02] 

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