The Netherlands names 14 new Ramsar sites, and extends another

17/02/2003

The Ramsar Bureau is very glad to announce the next batch of newly designated and extended Ramsar sites. The Government of the Netherlands has made a significant contribution to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, adding 14 sites and extending one more site impressively. It's especially worth noting the superior quality of the maps for these sites elaborated in GIS. The Ramsar Bureau is further cooperating with the Dutch authorities concerning 11 more sites that are in the process of designation, in line with the data requirements specified by the Parties in various Resolutions.

The Netherlands has thus more than doubled the area of wetlands that it has placed under the Ramsar umbrella, from about 327,000 hectares (including the overseas territories) to 38 Ramsar sites covering 691,228 hectares. With more in the bureaucratic pipeline.

One of the new sites stands out for particular mention. The vast Waddensee, one of the four greatest wetlands in Europe by any standard and shared by The Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, is administered cooperatively by the Common Waddensee Secretariat, but is present in the List of Wetlands of International Importance only in smaller separate sections designated by each of those three Parties. The new Dutch site Waddeneilanden, Noordzeekustzone, Breebaart (135,000 hectares) helps to unite a large portion of the southwestern sections into a more coherent Ramsar whole.

Here are brief Annotated Ramsar List descriptions drafted by Ramsar's Sergei Dereliev --

Broekvelden / Vettenbroek. 23/09/02. Zuid-Holland. 700 ha. 52º03'N 004º47'E. SPA. A complex of shallow slightly brackish lakes, criss-crossed by land strips, peatlands, reed fringes, wet meadows and improved grasslands located near the famous city of Gouda, where the Dutch Gouda cheese comes from. The current landscape has been formed by land reclamation and peat extraction activities. The wetland has been declared a Ramsar site mainly for its importance for waterbirds - first it is a place for significant congregations (average peak 22,559 for 1991/92-1996/97) and, second, it hosts nearly 2% of the biogeographic populations of the Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii and the Wigeon Anas penelope. The main human uses include boating, commercial fisheries, farming, and tourism. The site is threatened by non-industrial pollution and expansion of agricultural lands. Ramsar site no. 1240.

De Wieden. 23/09/02. Overijssel. 9,400 ha. 52º42'N 006º03'E. SPA. A habitat-diverse site comprising shallow small and bigger freshwater lakes and numerous canals established by peat extraction activities mainly in 18th and 19th centuries, reedbeds, fens, wooded peatlands and non-wooded ones, and wet meadows. It is adjacent to the Ramsar site Weerribben. The site has been chosen for Ramsar status for being a particularly representative example of a partially forested lowland peatland with lakes and canals resulted from peat extraction - the most extensive lowland peatland in northwestern Europe. It is also a habitat for several rare and endangered species and communities - 15 plant communities, 7 plant species, 14 mosses species, 6 species of mushrooms, 8 species of freshwater snails and the same number of insects, as well as 7 species of breeding birds. The site is also a refuge for more than 1% of the biogeographic populations of five waterbird species. It acts as a water storage reservoir from drains of the surrounding polders and provides water for irrigation. Among the main human uses are tourism (with a visitors' centre), angling, boating, commercial fisheries, farming, and reed harvest. The site is seriously threatened by drainage due to groundwater abstraction and intensive farming in the surrounding polders, as well as by non-industrial pollution. Proposed for SAC under the Habitat Directive 92/43/EEC. Ramsar site no. 1241.

Drontermeer. 23/09/02. Overijssel, Gelderland, Flevoland. 600 ha. 52º30'N 005º51'E. Nature Conservation Act, SPA. A shallow (1.25m average) freshwater lake bounded on west by the dyke of the Oostelijk Flevoland polder (reclaimed in 1957) and on the east by the mainland. It is adjacent to lakes Ketelmeer and Vossemeer on the north and to Lake Veluwemeer on the south (separated by sluices). It qualifies as a Ramsar site for its importance for the Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii - up to 2.1% of the W Siberian / NW European biogeographic population winters there. The lake acts as a drain for the adjoining polder and like most of the other lakes around has unnatural high summer and low winter water levels. The chief human uses are boating, commercial fisheries, shipping traffic, and sand extraction. Serious threats are posed by non-industrial pollution with nutrients increasing eutrophication, and by extraction activities. Some measures are planned to extend the water fringe reedbeds in favour of breeding birds. Ramsar site no. 1242.

Fluessen / Vogelhoek / Morra. 23/09/02. Friesland. 2,100 ha. 52º56'N 005º32'E. SPA. The site comprises an extensive rather deep (maximum depth 18 m) freshwater lake, adjoining marshes and surrounding wet meadows. There is sparse water fringe emergent aquatic vegetation, but none submerged. It has been declared a Ramsar site for its importance for the Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis - up to 3.4% of the biogeographic population gathers there in winter time. The lake acts as a temporary reservoir for drained water from the surrounding polders before discharge into the Wadden Sea. Among the main human uses are boating, commercial fisheries, and tourism. Ramsar site no. 1243

Haringvliet. 23/09/02. Zuid-Holland. 10,800 ha. 51º46'N 004º15'E. Nature Conservation Act, SPA. Formerly (together with Hollands Diep and De Biesbosch) one of the estuaries of the Rhine/Maas system (separated from the sea in 1970), now a 27km-long stagnant freshwater lake bordered by reedbeds, willow shrub stands and wet meadows. The site meets at least three Ramsar criteria - first, it is a habitat for several rare and endangered species (5 species of freshwater snails, 8 species of fish, 9 species of birds and 1 species of mammals); second, it is a place for large concentrations of waterbirds - average peak of 67,307 birds for 1991/92-1996/97; and third, it hosts more than 1% of the biogeographic populations of six waterbird species. The principal human uses comprise boating, commercial fisheries, shipping traffic, and tourism. Some threats posed on the site are non-industrial pollution, accumulated polluted sediments, industrialization, and urbanization, especially construction of wind mills. It is meant in 2005 to re-open the lake to the sea in order to attempt restoration of fresh/salt water gradient and tidal water movements. Proposed for SAC under the Habitat Directive 92/43/EEC. Ramsar site no. 1244.

IJmeer. 23/09/02. Flevoland, Noord-Holland. 7,400 ha. 51º21'N 005º04'E. SPA. A stagnant freshwater lake (average depth 3.9m) that together with Lake Markermeer has been separated from Lake IJsselmeer by the closing the Houtribdijk dyke in 1975. In the east it is bordered by polders Oostelijk and Zuidelijk Flevoland. No other wetland types are represented, as the banks are basalt dykes. Declared a Ramsar site for hosting large concentrations of waterbirds (average peak 155,007 for 1991/92-1996/97) and providing refuge to more than 1% of the biogeographic populations of the Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula and the Pochard Aythya ferina. The lake acts as a drain for the surrounding polders, with waters discharged into the North Sea through the North Sea Channel. Main human uses comprise boating (ca. 1,700 boat docking places), commercial fisheries, shipping traffic, sand extraction, and tourism. The site is threatened by non-industrial pollution, reclamation plans, intensive commercial fisheries, industrialization and urbanization, especially construction of wind mills. Ramsar site no. 1245.

IJsselmeer. 23/09/02. Friesland, Flevoland, Noord-Holland. 108,000 ha. 51º45'N 005º27'E. Nature Conservation Act, SPA. Previously known as Zuiderzee, it was cut off from the Wadden Sea by the Afsluitdijk dyke in 1932 and about 45% was reclaimed as polders. Presently it is a vast shallow freshwater lake (up to 4-5 m depth) and the largest freshwater basin in the country. The lake represents the only wetland type in the site as its banks are basalt dykes without water fringe vegetation. It has been declared a Ramsar site mainly for its importance for waterbirds -it is an important moulting area for many species, it is a place for large congregations (average peak 193,665 for 1991/92-1996/97), and it hosts more than 1% of the biogeographic populations of 20 bird species (as much as 35% of the NW European population of the Greater Scaup Aythya marila). IJsselmeer plays a crucial role in regulation of hydrology in the northern region of the country - it acts as a drain for this surrounding land and water is discharged into the Wadden Sea through Afsluitdijk dyke or into North Sea via Markermeer and the North Sea Channel. Main human uses include tourism, commercial fisheries, shipping traffic, boating (ca. 11,000 boat docking places), and sand extraction. The site is threatened by unnatural water level management, intensive commercial fisheries, industrialization and urbanization, especially construction of wind mills. Ramsar site no. 1246.

Lauwersmeer. 23/09/02. Groningen, Friesland. 5,800 ha. 53º22'N 006º13'E. Nature Conservation Act, SPA. A dammed estuary, formerly part of the Wadden Sea but closed off in 1969, now a shallow freshwater lake (average depth 2.1m) though retaining the estuarine geomorphology. Besides the lake part, there are also permanent freshwater marshes, wet grasslands and arable lands. It has been designated as a Ramsar site for hosting over 1% of the biogeographic populations of 8 waterbird species. The lake has a crucial role in regulation of hydrology in the northern region of the country - surplus water from the provinces of Groningen and Friesland is discharged into the Wadden Sea via Lauwersmeer. When sea levels are high, surplus water is temporarily stored in the lake, thus causing significant fluctuation of lake water levels. Water quality is poor, especially in summer, due to inflow of drained water from a large area of farmlands and the river Rhine. The primary human uses include tourism, commercial fisheries, shipping traffic, boating, and farming. The site is threatened by non-industrial pollution, gas exploration, and excessive reed harvesting. A natural park covering the entire site is under establishment. Ramsar site no. 1247

Leekstermeergebied. 23/09/02. Groningen, Drenthe. 1,450 ha. 53º11'N 006º26'E. SPA. A freshwater lake, south of the city of Groningen, surrounded by reedbeds, peatbogs and pastures, with some small marshes and wet grasslands around the average-one-meter-deep lake. The site qualified for Ramsar status due to its importance for waterbirds - it is a place for large congregations of birds (average peak 33,500 birds for 1993/94-1997/98) and it provides refuge to about 4% of the biogeographic population of the White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons - roosting in the lake and feeding in the surrounding grasslands. The lake serves as a drain for the surrounding polders and it provides water for irrigation. However, water level is maintained and stable. The main human uses include commercial fisheries, boating, and tourism. The site is threatened by non-industrial pollution, drainage and unnatural water level management. Ramsar site no. 1248.

Markermeer. 23/09/02. Flevoland, Noord-Holland. 61,000 ha. 53º32'N 005º15'E. SPA. A stagnant freshwater lake separated from the adjacent north IJsselmeer in 1975 by closing the Houtribdijk dyke, and connected to IJmeer from the south. Markermeer has an average depth of 3.9m, but in areas of sand extraction could reach up to 30m. The water level is controlled and in summer it is kept higher for irrigation purposes. The site is particularly important for waterbirds - large congregations with mean peak 155,007 birds (1991/92-1996/97) and nine species of birds are present with more than 1% of their biogeographic populations. The lake acts as drainage for the surrounding polders. Main human uses - commercial fisheries, shipping traffic, boating (ca. 3,400 boat docking places), extraction, tourism. It is threatened by encroaching industrialization and urbanization, pollution and expanding extraction activities. Ramsar site no. 1249.

Sneekermeer / Goengarijpsterpoelen / Terkaplesterpoelen and Akmarijp. 23/09/02. Friesland. 2,300 ha. 53º01'N 005º46'E. SPA. A complex of freshwater lakes, originated from peat extraction activities, and adjoining marshlands and wet meadows. It has been designated as a Ramsar site for its importance for waterbirds - it hosts more than 1% of the respective biogeographic populations of the Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis, the White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons, and the Wigeon Anas penelope. It serves as a drain for the surrounding polders and surplus water is discharged into the Wadden Sea. Part of the water is used for irrigation. Main human uses comprise boating (ca. 1,800 boat docking places), commercial fisheries, tourism, and farming. The most significant threat posed on the site is drainage. Ramsar site no. 1250.

Veerse Meer. 23/09/02. Zeeland. 2,575 ha. 51º32'N 003º44'E. SPA. Formerly part of the Oosterschelde estuary (closed in 1961), now a 20km-long stagnant brackish lake with sandbanks and small islands, surrounded by wet meadows, improved grasslands, arable lands and some wood plantations. Designated a Ramsar site for hosting significant concentrations of waterbirds (average peak 27,993 for 1991/92-1996/97) and providing refuge to more than 1% of the biogeographic populations of the Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis, the Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, the Wigeon Anas penelope, and the Coot Fulica atra. The lake acts as a storage basin for surplus water pumped from the surrounding polders and subsequently discharged into the Oosterschelde connected with the North Sea. The water level is kept unnatural with high summer and low winter measures. Human uses comprise boating, commercial fisheries, tourism, and farming. The site is threatened by non-industrial pollution, causing eutrophication, and by insufficient water exchange with Oosterschelde. It is envisaged to build a sluice through the Zandkreekdam dyke, separating the lake from Oosterschelde, to attempt natural water management and improvement of water quality. Ramsar site no. 1251.

Waddeneilanden, Noordzeekustzone, Breebaart. 23/09/02. Noord-Holland, Friesland, Groningen. 135,000 ha. 53º26'N 005º47'E. Partly National Park, Nature Conservation Act, SPA. The site covers the sand dune area of the Wadden Sea islands Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog and the adjacent North Sea coastal zone. Besides the dunes and the marine areas (up to 3 nautical miles which is about 15m depth), there are also small patches of other wetland habitats like salt marshes, coastal freshwater lakes, and wet grasslands. It has been designated as a Ramsar site because of the very good examples of rare wetland habitats and refuge to several rare and endangered species: seven plant species and same number of mosses and mushrooms, eight breeding species of birds included in Annex I of the EU Bird Directive and one mammal species from Annex II of the EU Habitat Directive. The site also hosts large congregations of birds - mean peak 83,612 specimens (1991/92-1996/97), and 11 waterbird species are present with more than 1% of their biogeographic populations. The sand dunes act as a natural defense for the islands against the North Sea impact. The main human uses include commercial fisheries, shipping traffic, boating, extraction, tourism. Some of the islands are very popular destinations - Texel with c.650,000 and Schiermonnikoogn with c.300,000 tourists per year. A national park covering the sand dunes on the island of Texel is under establishment. Ramsar site no. 1252.

Zoommeer. 23/09/02. Noord-Brabant, Zeeland. 1,175 ha. 51º30'N 004º12'E. Nature Conservation Act, SPA. A stagnant freshwater lake with some adjacent wet meadows. It is located east and west of the Schelde-Rhine connection (shipping lane) and forms a common hydrological unit with the Ramsar site Krammer-Volkerak. The wetland has been declared a Ramsar site for its importance for waterbirds - it hosts 1% or more of the respective biogeographic population of the Gadwall Anas strepera, the Shoveler Anas clypeta, and the Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta. The primary human uses are boating, commercial fisheries, shipping traffic, tourism, and dairy farming. Threats are posed by non-industrial pollution with nutrients increasing eutrophication and by intensive livestock grazing. A management plan for the Volkerak-Zoommeer hydrological entity is under elaboration. Ramsar site no. 1253.

EXTENSION (1):

Westerschelde en Verdronken Land van Saeftinge. 04/09/95. Zeeland. 19,500 ha. 51º23'N 003º50'E. Nature Conservation Act, SPA. The Ramsar site "Verdronken Land van Saeftinge" has been extended from 3,500 ha to 19,500 ha and renamed in September 2002. The site represents the estuary of the River Schelde with many mudflats, sandbanks, and a raised saltmarsh, the only estuary in the southwestern part of the country that is still open to the sea, stretching 60 km from the border with Belgium to the North Sea. The site meets several Ramsar Criteria: the 3,500-ha saltmarsh Verdronken Land van Saeftinge is among the largest and most intact examples of Atlantic saltmarshes in Europe and a refuge for several rare and endangered communities and species - 6 plant communities, 2 red-listed moss species and 1 red-listed species of mushroom and vascular plant; it is an important moulting and pre-migratory fattening site for several wader species (e.g. Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Great Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Curlew Numenius arquata, Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus, Turnstone Arenaria interpres) and a moulting site for the Shellduck Tadorna tadorna, as well as a place for large congregations of waterbirds (average peak 131,283 for 1991/92-1996/97) and hosting more than 1% of the respective biogeographic populations of 14 bird species. The east part of Westerschelde is one of the most polluted areas of the Netherlands, with pollutants either imported with Schelde waters from Belgium or originating from industrial zones near Vlissingen and Terneuzen. The main threats are posed by industrial pollution (discharges, polluted sediments), non-industrial pollution causing eutrophication, dredging and canalization, harbour extensions and wind mill constructions. Human uses comprise boating, commercial fisheries, tourism, shipping traffic, extraction activities, and diary farming. There are two separate sites within the Ramsar boundaries proposed for SAC under the Habitat Directive 92/43/EEC. Ramsar site no. 748.

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
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