Society of Wetland Scientists names Ramsar winners for 2001

28/01/2002

Society of Wetland Scientists Ramsar Support Grant Program
2001 Awards

In 1999 the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) formed a SWS Ramsar Support Grant Program to advance Ramsar Convention on Wetlands objectives, including the selection, designation, management, and networking of Ramsar sites, and implementation of the Ramsar Convention's Wise Use guidelines. Projects are funded at a level of US $5,000 per year on a competitive basis as reviewed by a 5-member Committee of members of the SWS International Chapter, Ramsar Convention Bureau, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation.

For the 2001 round of grantmaking, SWS received many quality proposals and wishes there were sufficient funds to award them all. Applicants submitted 51 proposals of which SWS was able to fund 4 (8%). SWS allocated $10,000 to fund two proposals this year, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation provided matching funds to award two proposals from Latin America. Dr. Eduardo M. da Silva (Federal University of Bahia, Brazil), Dr. Michael Marshall (Coastal Seas Consortium Inc), Dr. Ann Hodgson (Resource Designs Inc), Laurie Hunter (US Fish and Wildlife Service), Dr. Nick Davidson (Ramsar Convention Bureau), and Eric Gilman (grant program manager) comprised this year's SWS proposal evaluation team.

A summary of the four projects being supported by the SWS Ramsar Support Grant Program follows:

1. Dr. Gleb Gavris, Kyiv Sozological Centre, Ukraine, is receiving a grant to inventory resources of the Middle Desna floodplain wetlands, an area of approximately 560 km2, located between the Seim River estuary (Chernihiv Region of Ukraine) and the Russian border (Brjansk Region). Research will be conducted along 150 km of the Desna River in the Sumy and Chernihiv Regions. Investigators will prepare a Ramsar Information Sheet to recommend designation of the wetland area to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Desna River, a tributary of the Dnipro River, is considered to be one of the most valuable natural areas of Ukraine. The wetlands of the middle Desna floodplain support rare plant communities and migratory waterfowl. Matching funds and in-kind contributions are to be provided by the Kyiv Sozological Centre, National Natural Park (Desnyansko-Starogutsky), Scientific Centre on Nature Conservation of the Ministry of Ecology and Nature Resources of Ukraine, and League of Concerned for Nature Reserves.

2. Dr. Fátima Mereles of the Fundación Desdel Chaco (Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the South American Chaco), Paraguay, is receiving a grant to collect baseline ecological data and compile existing data on the Paraguayan portion of the Palmar de las Islas, prepare a Ramsar Information Sheet to be submitted to the Environmental Secretariat of Paraguay to propose designation of the site to the Ramsar List, and prepare an integrated bilateral management plan for the Palmar de las Islas wetlands. The Palmar de las Islas, a lagoon system of palm forests in the boreal Chaco, straddles the border between Paraguay and Bolivia. The Bolivian portion of the wetland, along with the Salinas de San José, was designated a Ramsar site in September 2001. The Fundación Desdel Chaco will pursue designation of the Paraguayan portion of the Palmar de las Islas to the Ramsar List and institute joint integrated management of the wetlands system by both countries. Guyra Paraguay, Wildlife Conservation Society, Pilar National University, and Dirección de Recursos Hídricos are collaborating with Fundación Desdel Chaco to implement this project.

3. Mr. German I. Andrade, Fundación Humedales de Colombia, is receiving a grant to collect requisite information to complete a Ramsar Information Sheet for Lake Fúquene, Colombia, will create a map indicating the wetland boundaries and surrounding watershed, and conduct an awareness-raising campaign to foster grassroots support for protection of the wetland. Lake Fúquene is a 30 km2 shallow tropical high altitude (2,549 m) wetland located in the Colombian Eastern Cordillera. The lake supports several endemic and globally threatened species, including the Bogotá rail (Rallus semiplumbeus), green-billed gallinule Gallinula malanops, marsh wren (Cistothorus apolinari); and the local endemic populations of marsh cacique Agelaius icterocephalus bogotensis and least bitterns Ixobrychus exilis bogotensis. The lagoon also supports three endemic fish (Eremophilus mutissi, Grundulus bogotensis and Pygiduim bogotensis) and several endemic invertebrates. The lagoon is also important for northern migrants such as the common teal Anas discors and osprey Pandion haliaetus. The lake has significant regional economic values, and provides resources for approximately 150 poor families settled on its shores, who are fishermen, reed harvesters, and artisans. Lake Fúquene has been significantly degraded due to irrigation for the dairy industry resulting in reduced surface water levels, increased nutrient inputs resulting in eutrophication, and introductions of alien invasive vegetation and fish.

4. Professor Sabir Bin Muzaffar, Independent University of Bangladesh, is receiving a grant to conduct a census of waterfowl, analyze the waterfowl hunting rate, conduct research on waterfowl feeding ecology, and sample freshwater macroinvertebrates at Tanguar Haor wetland, Bangladesh. Tanguar Haor is a Ramsar site, supporting between 20,000 and 60,000 migratory waterfowl. Ten species of birds that are found at the wetland are globally threatened. 25,000 people residing in 46 villages surround the wetland and rely on waterfowl, mollusks, and fish for subsistence and economic use. A management plan is being developed, in part, to address the non-sustainable hunting of waterfowl. Professor Muzaffar's research promises to assist with completion and implementation of the wetland management plan.

SWS is a non-profit organization of approximately 5,000 wetland professionals. SWS publishes a peer-reviewed scientific journal called Wetlands and a newsletter called the SWS Bulletin, holds an annual conference and regional conferences, and manages scholarship and awards programs. The objectives of the Society are to (a) operate solely and exclusively as a charitable and educational organization to foster conservation and understanding of wetlands; (b) advance public education and enlightenment concerning the world's wetland resources; (c) provide an independent forum for an interchange of ideas and data developed within wetland science; (d) develop and encourage wetland science as a distinct discipline by supporting student education, curriculum development, and research; (e) encourage and evaluate the educational, scientific, and technological development and advancement of all branches of wetland science and practice; and (f) encourage the knowledgeable management of wetland resources.

SWS is glad to be able to support wetlands conservation and research endeavors in support of the Ramsar Convention.

-- reported by Eric Gilman, Grant Program Manager, Chair, Society of Wetland Scientists International Chapter, egilman@lava.net

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