The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 May 2002

Sweden enlarges nine Ramsar sites. Effective 19 November 2001, the Government of Sweden designated 21 new Wetlands of International Importance and expanded the boundaries of nine previously-designated Ramsar sites. Descriptions of the newly-named sites will appear here soon, but in the meantime, here is a brief listing of the new extensions. [02/05/02]

Dojran Lake - first meeting of the ad hoc working group, 17 April 2002. Dojran is shared between Greece and FYR Macedonia, and in the past few years it has suffered a significant fall in the water level, coupled with increased pollution concentration due to the reduced water volume and increased agricultural run off. Under the initiative of MedWet, supported by the Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre (EKBY) and Skopje office of the Germany's aid agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), a first meeting was held on 11 and 12 December 2001, hosted by EKBY in Thessaloniki and chaired by MedWet. The ad hoc working group established by that meeting has now had its own first meeting, and the MedWet Coordinator, Spyros Kouvelis, describes its outcomes here. [01/05/02]

Niger Basin Authority marks progress in Ramsar designations. A Regional Workshop of the GEF - Niger Basin Authority (NBA) project on "Reversing Land and Water Degradation Trends in the Niger River Basin" was held 15-18 April 2002 in Niamey, Niger, attended by all the NBA member countries representatives except those from Mali, as well as representatives of inter-African and international institutions. Its objectives related to issues including the improvement of the GEF-Niger Basin Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) and the approval of 10 pilot demonstration projects to be undertaken in the Niger Basin. In ceremonies associated with the workshop, M. Mohammed Bello Tuga (left), Executive Secretary of the Niger Basin Authority, signed a letter from the NBA (co-signed with the Director General of WWF International and the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention) to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan, reporting Guinea's designation of six new Ramsar sites in the Niger Basin, as called for by Decision 6 of NBA Heads of State and Government on 16 February 2002. A summary of the meeting, a few photos, and reprints of some of the documents, including the letter to Secretary General Annan, are available here, with assistance from Mr Denis Landenbergue of the WWF Living Waters Programme, who represented the Ramsar Convention in the meetings. [30/04/02]

European conference on transboundary waters. "Sustainable management of transboundary waters in Europe" was the theme of the international conference convened by the Environment Ministries of Poland, Finland, and Germany and the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management of the Netherlands in the Polish coastal resort Miedzyzdroje, from 21-24 April 2002 in honour of the 10th Anniversary of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, also known as the UN-ECE Water Convention (Helsinki, 1992). Tobias Salathé reports on the objectives and results of the conference and provides photos of the accompanying Vikings. [26/04/02]

Management guide for Mediterranean Lagoons. Recently, after three years of intensive work, the Languedoc-Roussillon Regional Directorate (DIREN) of the French Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment published a handbook "Guide méthodologique de gestion des lagunes méditerranéennes" (in French). This is the impressive result of collaboration of many university specialists, private scientists, public authorities, consultancy firms, private institutions and NGOs, working together under a European Union co-funded LIFE project for the conservation of the coastal lagoons in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé supplies further detail here. [23/04/02]

Ramsar Pan-American Pre-COP8 Regional Meeting set for Ecuador. Representatives of Ramsar Contracting Parties, non-contracting parties, intergovernmental institutions, and non-governmental organisations will gather in Guayaquil, Ecuador, 1-5 July 2002, for the 2nd Ramsar Pan-American Meeting. The meeting will serve as final preparation for the Neotropics and North American regions' position before the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to be held in Valencia, España, 18-26 November 2002. It will be hosted by the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Ecuador and the Ramsar Convention Bureau, with the generous financial assistance of the governments of Canada, Spain, and the United States of America. Further information, registration forms, and documents are available here. [18/04/02]

Los representantes de los Países Partes de la Convención de Ramsar, Países no-Parte, organizaciones intergubernamentales y no-gubernamentales se darán cita en Guayaquil, Ecuador, del 1-5 de julio de 2002 para la II Reunión Regional Panamericana. La Reunión servirá como preparación final de la posición de las regiones de Norte América y el Neotrópico para la 8va Conferencia de Partes, a realizarse en Valencia, España, del 18-26 de noviembre de 2002. El anfitrión de la Reunión será el Ministerio del Ambiente del Gobierno del Ecuador, quién se encargará de la organización conjuntamente con la Oficina de la Convención de Ramsar, y con la generosa ayuda financiera de los gobiernos de Canadá, España y los Estados Unidos de América.

Draft Strategic Plan 2003-2008 now available. On 10 April 2002, the new printed version of the sixth draft of the Convention's Strategic Plan 2003-2008 was communicated to the Parties by diplomatic notification and shipped in five copies to each of the Administrative Authorities. Parties are invited to consult through all the relevant sectors of government, the National Ramsar/Wetlands Committees where they exist, and appropriate members of the NGO community, with a view to arriving at broad-based final inputs to the Plan at the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in Valencia in November 2002. In addition, Parties are requested to follow a similar multisectoral consultative process in arriving at "provisional national targets" for each of the Plan's objectives and actions, and to that end "Provisional National Target forms" have also been supplied to the Administrative Authorities on diskettes. Copies of the sixth draft and the targets form are available to the AAs and to the general public, both in printed form and in a variety of electronic formats, and more information is available here. [16/04/02]

Workshop for Crane Network sites in Northeast Asia. As a follow-up to a first workshop in China in August 2001, from 27 February to 2 March 2002 some 30 participants from six countries met in Kushiro, Japan for the "Workshop on Environmental Education and Ecotourism at Crane Network Sites in Northeast Asia", organized by the North East Asian Crane Site Network. The workshops are financially supported by the Ramsar Convention's Evian Project (funded by the Société des Eaux Minérales d'Evian of the Danone Corporate Group (France) and the French Global Environment Facility) and the City Government of Kushiro, Japan, and Simba Chan, the Network's Flyway Officer, here describes the purpose and result of the meetings and provides some photographs. [16/04/02]

Wetland training course at Azraq Oasis, Jordan, March 2002. On 2nd to 7th March, Azraq Oasis Ramsar site (Jordan) served as a case study for a 6-day Training Course on Management Planning organized under the MedWet initiative. The course gathered about 30 participants from Albania, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Tunisia, from both governments and NGOs. The course will enable participants to design management plans for 15 wetland and coastal sites (some of them Ramsar sites), as part of the 2nd phase of the MedWetCoast project. The course was organised in partnership by the Royal Society for Nature Conservation of Jordan, ATEN (the French training organisation for protected areas staff), and Tour du Valat Biological Station. Draft management plans were designed by the participants for Azraq using existing baseline data, field visits, and meetings with local stakeholders. The efforts made by RSCN to save as much as possible of the Oasis despite the tremendous local pressure on water resources was highly appreciated, as well as its professionalism in training, based upon many years of collaboration in the Middle East. Dr Christian Perennou, Project Leader for Training with Tour du Valat, provided this report and a photograph of the participants. [16/04/02]

USA names new companion site to Cheyenne Bottoms. The Bureau takes great pleasure in announcing that the United States has designated Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (effective 12/02/02, 8,958 hectares, 38°05'N 098°29'W) in the state of Kansas as its 18th Ramsar site. The new site represents an excellent example of inland salt marsh, a rare habitat type in the USA's midwestern region, ranging from high salinity to almost fresh water depending upon varying precipitation and saline inflow from Rattlesnake Creek, resulting from local geological conditions which bring a layer of salt groundwater close to the surface upstream. The salt marshes, interspersed with mixed grass prairie and agricultural fields, provide critical nesting, migration, and wintering habitat for more than 311 bird species and literally millions of individuals. A number of nationally endangered and threatened species are present, including the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, whooping crane, interior least tern (Sterna antillarum), and piping plover. A diversity of habitat is provided by native grass uplands, fresh and saltwater marshes, and salt flats, and the site comprises a major site for migratory birds - because of the sporadic nature of prairie thunderstorms, Quivira complements the nearby Cheyenne Bottoms Ramsar site, such that when one is dry or flooded the other is nearly always suitable for use by shorebirds. The two sites, because of this sharing of habitat, often host over 90% of the world's population of such species as stilt sandpipers (Calidris himantopus) and white-rumped sandpipers (Calidris fuscicollis), as well as hundreds of thousands of geese and cranes. A large and growing number of tourists (presently 60,000 p.a.) enjoy wildlife observation at the site, with benefit of a visitors' centre, and a Friends of Quivira volunteer support group organizes many imaginative activities. [11/04/02] [français et/y español]

Yugoslavia celebrates 25th anniversary of Ludas Lake as a Ramsar site. On 27-28 March 2002 the public enterprise managing Ludas and Palic lakes in the northern Vojvodina autonomous region of Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) and cooperating agencies celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the declaration of shallow Ludas Lake in the Pannonian steppe area as a Wetland of International Importance on 28 March 1977 when the (then) Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia joined the Convention on Wetlands. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé participated in the ceremonies, seminar, and discussions, and provided this brief report along with some excellent photographs. [12/04/02]

First meeting of Bulgaria's Ramsar Committee. The inaugural meeting of Bulgaria's National Ramsar Committee took place on 28 March 2002, with representatives of government and non-governmental organizations casting a final eye over Bulgaria's National Report for Ramsar COP8 and discussing a number of proposed new Ramsar sites and extensions, among other items on the agenda. Ramsar's Sergey Dereliev was there and contributed this brief report with a few photographs. [12/04/02]

Austria designates 11th Ramsar site. The Bureau is very pleased to announce that Austria has named Lafnitztal (2,180 hectares, 47°15'N 016°05'E) as its 11th Wetland of International Importance. The interesting new site, which includes EC Directives Special Protection Areas, is a length of the Lafnitz river, formerly the international frontier with Hungary until the 20th century and presently the border between the states of Burgenland and Styria in the eastern part of the country, comprising numerous natural and semi-natural stretches over three-quarters of its length and an excellent example of freely meandering river. The length of the river sides and associated seasonally flooded agricultural land support a high species diversity, including otter (Lutra lutra), Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), and White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) and as much as 10% of the world population of fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) and yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata), as well a number of rare and endangered plant species. The Ramsar Centre Lafnitztal visitors' center offers school courses and field excursions. [Photo here] [09/04/02] [français et/y español]

Ramsar address to CBD's COP6. On 8 April Mr Delmar Blasco, Secretary General, addressed the plenary session of the 6th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, meeting 7-19 April in The Hague. He summarized the progress of cooperation between our two Conventions and described the progress of the draft 3rd Joint Work Plan, before turning his attention to other potentially fruitful areas of synergy. He expressed his concern that the preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development have not so far paid sufficient attention to coordination and synergies among the biodiversity-related conventions, and he urged the delegates to seize the opportunity to foster such synergies, particularly at national level. Here is the text of his brief statement. [08/04/02]

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