The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 3 February 2003

World Wetlands Day 2003. The 7th annual World Wetlands Day took place officially yesterday, 2 February 2003, and if history is any guide, activities of all kinds were hosted by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, local site managers, friends-groups, and school classes in more than 70 nations around the world -- if not on the Sunday, then at some other day conveniently nearby or even spread out over a week. This year, as in the past, the Ramsar Bureau was pleased to be able to supply (thanks to funds from the Evian project of the Danone Group) a number of helpful materials to help whip the wetland visitors into hysteria and give them something to take away, including a new poster and background paper, a Ramsar sites brochure, a new video, and an inspirational message from the Secretary General -- all of which will have continuing uses long after the Great Day. Alas, because of the unhappily scheduled meeting of the Conference of the Parties in November and the looming Standing Committee meeting at the end of this month, the Bureau was not able to post all of the submitted WWD plans, press releases, agendae, etc., prior to WWD, but there is still some hope that we will be able to continue the tradition by posting your reports of what actually happened in your neighborhoods. World Wetlands Day enthusiasts, please do send us your reports (in electronic formats) of your activities, whether they were joyous clean-up days or solemn seminars, long or short reports, with or without photos, as you wish, and we'll do our best to post either brief summaries or the whole reports on this Web site, as we have done in the past. [03/02/03]


Ramsar Mission to the Ouse Washes. In October 2000, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), the Ramsar Administrative Authority for the United Kingdom (now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA), requested the listing of the Ouse Washes Ramsar site (designated 1976; 2,469 ha; 52º29'N 000º12'E) on the "Montreux Record", the Convention's list of sites requiring priority conservation attention The Ouse Washes were created in the 17th century to store and convey flood waters by a system of sluices, pumps and embankments, but have evolved considerably since then, with a number of negative impacts. A Ramsar Advisory Mission was requested, and the Ramsar Bureau's European Coordinator Tobias Salathé invited a hydrology and river basin planning expert, Dr Roel Posthoorn of the Wetlands Advisory and Training Centre (WATC) in the Dutch Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment (RIZA) and an expert on floodplain and wet grassland ecology, Professor Eckhart Kuijken of the Flemish Institute for Nature Conservation, to join him in the mission. Furthermore, experts of DEFRA, the UK Environment Agency, English Nature, and several non-governmental institutions took part in the mission, which (allowing for hoof-and-mouth delays) was carried out in November 2001. Here, at long last, is the final mission report, which succinctly summarizes the problems encountered and outlines potential solutions. Ramsar Advisory Mission No. 49 report. [31/01/03]


Resolution Collectors, take heart! The English language versions of all the 7,421 (more or less) Resolutions adopted by the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties have now been finalized and are available on this Web site in HTML, Word, and PDF formats -- see the Resolutions index page here. The Spanish versions have been textually finalized and many posted already, and the rest only await posting here, so a few more days may suffice. The French versions are just a wee tiny little bit behind the pace, but should be ready as well in a week or ten days. Print versions of the English and Spanish should also be coming along in a few weeks' time, with French to follow, and when all three are fully suited out and brushed down, with hair combed neatly back and collar buttoned up, a CD-ROM with all three sets of the 46 Resolutions and their annexes can be sent out into the world to make their meagre fortune -- we can hope that we'll be seeing them brightly out the door on a CD within a month or six weeks' time. Then readers can really get down to saving wetlands. [29/01/03]



Update on SAP-Bio. The acronym stands for 'Strategic Action Plan for the conservation of coastal and marine biodiversity in the Mediterranean region'. Spyros Kouvelis, the MedWet Coordinator, participated in the SAP-Bio Advisory Committee meeting in Tunis last week, and here provides a brief update on how this important GEF-funded project is progressing. [28/01/03]


Celebration for one of the Convention's "Founding Fathers". A special celebration was held in Basle (Switzerland) for Luc Hoffmann's 80th birthday on 23 January 2003. Luc is an initiator of many essential wetland conservation initiatives in Europe and beyond, including the lengthy preparation and final adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar in 1971. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé attended the event and provides a brief summary of Luc's enormous contributions to wetland conservation institutions and some of the testimonials. You can read it here. [25/01/03]


Award for Serbian wetland volunteers. The voluntary service Young Researchers of Serbia are active for the conservation of Obedska Bara Ramsar site, a large oxbow lake in the Sava floodplain west of Belgrade in the Vojvodina autonomous region of Serbia (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). This includes research, monitoring, management and wetland restoration work in cooperation with the Institute for the Protection of Nature of Serbia and the Governor of the Obedska Bara Reserve, the public forestry enterprise "Srbijašume". Hundreds of volunteers from Serbia and all over the world have participated in regular work camps at the site over the past ten years. The conservation NGO launched an education and awareness campaign under the title The return of the Ibis, referring to one of the more evocative guests of the Ramsar site, the migratory Glossy Ibis. Jelena Beronja, coordinator of Young Researchers of Serbia's international programme writes to the Ramsar Bureau that their project was awarded an acknowledgment prize by the "OGUT Environmental Award 2002" scheme, run by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Water Management (the Ramsar administrative authority in Austria) and OGUT, the Austrian Society for Environment and Technology. The Ramsar Bureau congratulates "Young Researchers of Serbia" for this international recognition of their efforts and work over many years under difficult circumstances, and wishes them much future success. -- reported by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar. [25/01/03]


Wetlands Stewardship conference set for World Wetlands Day, nearly. In association with World Wetlands Day on February 2, a National Conference on Canadian Wetlands Stewardship will be held in Ottawa, February 3-5, 2003. Hosted by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) and the Federal Wetlands Forum, the primary objective of this conference is to facilitate consensus and definition of new directions for wetland stewardship and management in Canada over the next decade. The conference agenda focuses on dialogue and joint discussion to chart a policy direction for wetland stewardship. Recommendations will be derived through facilitated sectoral working sessions. The publication "Wise Use of Mires and Peatlands" launched at Ramsar's COP8 will have its Canadian launch at the event on February 4 by the President of the International Peat Society. Detailed conference information is posted on the NAWCC (Canada) and Canada Stewardship Portal web sites: www.wetlandscanada.org and www.stewardshipcanada.ca .  [25/01/03]


Belarus names four new Ramsar sites. The Ramsar Bureau is very pleased to announce, somewhat belatedly, that Belarus has designated four new Wetlands of International Importance as of 21 October 2002, slated for announcement in November but delayed by Ramsar COP8 and its fallout. Belarus first became active in the Convention in 1999 (with its succession to the former Soviet Union, dated August 1991), and quickly added two more large and interesting sites to its obligatory first one. The four new sites bring Belarus' total to seven Ramsar sites covering 276,307 hectares, and they are - Kotra (Grodno Oblast, 10,584 ha, 54°00'N 024°30'E), a transboundary wetland with Lithuania's Cepkeliai Ramsar site; Osveiski (Vitebsk Oblast, 22,600 ha, 56°05'N 028°10'E); Yelnia (Vitebsk Oblast, 23,200 ha, 55°35'N 027°52'E); and Zvanets (Brest Oblast, 15,873 ha, 52°05'N 024°50'E). As with its earlier designations, the assistance of NGOs and academic institutions has been much appreciated by the authorities - for example, for the Yelnia site, Bird Conservation Belarus, the BirdLife International partner, with support from RSPB, carried out studies in 1999 in preparation for Ramsar designation, and its recommendations for stabilizing the hydrological regime of the mire are being carried out with support from Wetlands International and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. A number of other studies in 2001, financially supported by Oiseaux Migrateurs du Paléarctique Occidental (OMPO), permitted the compilation of the Ramsar Information Sheet and related work by Vitebsk State University and the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. Here are brief descriptions of the four new Ramsar sites prepared by Ramsar's Sergey Dereliev. [22/01/03]


Authoritative manual of the wise use of peatlands. During the side event on the "Global Peatland Initiative" on 20 November 2002 at Ramsar's COP8, Jan Sliva, the president of IMCG, and Gerry Hood, the President of IPS, presented the Ramsar Bureau with a first copy of the "Wise Use" book. During three years of consultations and meetings, the International Peat Society and the International Mire Conservation Group developed detailed guidelines that are now published in the manual "Wise Use of Mires and Peatlands: background and principles including a framework for decision-making". The book is based on specialized input from some fifty experts, written and edited by Hans Joosten (Greifswald University, IMCG) and Donal Clarke (Bord na Móna, Ireland, IPS). The term "wise use" was taken from the Ramsar Convention with the intention to convey the idea that there can be a reasonable approach to choose between using peatlands to meet people's needs and conserving them for their scientific and ecological benefits. Ramsar's Dr Tobias Salathé provides more background on the new book and adds in the ordering details. [21/01/03]


Bulgaria names five new Ramsar sites and extends three others. Bulgaria has doubled the number of its Wetlands of International Importance, as of 24 September and 11 November 2002, from five to ten, and extended the boundaries of three more, including Lake Srebarna. Located mostly on and around islands in the River Danube and surroundings and along the southern Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea, particularly around the city of Burgas, these important new designations bring Bulgaria's Ramsar totals to 10 sites covering 20,306 hectares. Ramsar's Sergey Dereliev has provided brief descriptions of the new sites, and the extensions as well, and notes that in addition to their importance as biodiversity "hotspots", some of them have particular cultural importance for their traditional salinas - indeed, the Lake Pomorie site has been one of the four target sites within the All About Salt (ALAS) project in the period 1999-2002, and a museum of the salt works has recently been opened there. In his coverage of these new and extended sites, Sergey draws attention to the continuing work of NGOs in the area, especially for their assistance in developing and helping to implement management plans: the Bulgarian-Swiss Biodiversity Conservation Programme, the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds/BirdLife Bulgaria, Bulgarian Ornithological Centre, the Central Laboratory of General Ecology, Le Balkan, and Green Balkans. Here are the brief descriptions of the new and extended sites. [20/01/03] [espanol]


Hungary joins the AEWA. "The Secretariat of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) is pleased to announce that Hungary has deposited its instruments of accession at the Depositary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. By doing this Hungary has become the 38th Party to the Agreement. On behalf of the 'AEWA family' I would like to welcome Hungary as a new Party and take this opportunity to thank all policy officers and others who have worked hard over the last few years to convince the Government of the importance of AEWA for the conservation of migratory waterbirds." Best wishes, Bert Lenten, Executive Secretary of AEWA, UNEP/ AEWA Secretariat, UN-Premises, Martin-Luther-King Str. 8, 53175 Bonn, Germany, Tel: (+49) 228 815 2413, fax: (+49) 228 815 2450, E-mail: aewa@unep.de, Website: http://www.unep-wcmc.org/aewa. [17/01/03]


Cuba: Taller Internacional Educación Ambiental y Manejo Integrado Costero(International workshop on environmental education and integrated coastal management, with a case study on sustainable tourism in coastal areas, based on the new Ramsar site Humedal Río Máximo-Cagüey). La Unidad de Medio Ambiente del Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente en la Provincia de Matanzas y el Proyecto "Acciones prioritarias para consolidar el cuidado y conservación de la biodiversidad en el ecosistema Sabana-Camaguey" de Cuba, tiene la satisfacción de invitar a investigadores, profesores y especialistas ambientales interesados en la investigación, gestión y educación relacionada con el Manejo Costero Integrado al I Taller Internacional Educación Ambiental y Manejo Integrado Costero que se celebrará en el Balneario de Varadero, provincia de Matanzas, Cuba, del 16 al 22 de abril del 2003. Hispanophones, read more here. [17/01/03]


New Ramsar Standing Committee, 2002-2005. The 8th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties elected a new Standing Committee to oversee Convention matters during the next triennium until the next COP set for Uganda in 2005. Later the same day, the inaugural meeting of the new Standing Committee (SC28) elected its Chair and Vice Chair and expressed its gratitude for the work of the previous SC, 1999-2002. The present composition of the Standing Committee reflects the regional proportions mandated by Resolution VII.1 and includes two member states that will take their seats as soon as their regional quotas are achieved. The new SC elected Dr Gordana Beltram (Slovenia) as its Chair and Mr Javad Amin Mansour (Islamic Republic of Iran) as its Vice-Chair for the next triennium. The first full meeting of the new Standing Committee will take place in Gland in late February 2002, and the next one in November 2003. The present composition:

Africa: Botswana, Ghana, Morocco
Asia: Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan (Indonesia to join as from 3 March 2003)
Europe: Armenia, Austria, Romania, Slovenia
Neotropics: Argentina, Nicaragua. (Bahamas will join as soon as the Convention comes into force for the 25th Party from this region.)
North America: Canada
Oceania: Papua New Guinea
COP8 host country: Spain
COP9 host country: Uganda
Permanent observers: Netherlands, Switzerland, BirdLife International, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Wetlands International, WWF International.


Middle East Subregional Meeting report. We have for you the detailed report of the Ramsar COP Subregional Meeting, held in Beirut 7-9 October 2002, and the list of participants into the bargain.  [14/01/03]


Ecuador names 10th Ramsar site. The Bureau is very pleased to announce that Ecuador has designated its 10th Ramsar site, "Parque Nacional Cajas" (29,477 hectares, 02º50'N, 079º14'W) - Ramsar's Julio Montes reports: "A mountainous system of exceptional characteristics, the Cajas National Park includes over 300 bodies of water. In the Lagunas del Cajas area, this sui generis type of high-Andean wetland is found at the closest point between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The site is distinguished because of its unparalleled scenic beauty, its archaeological remains of ancient Andean cultures, and its highly vulnerable endemic flora. Additionally, it has been identified as a key bird conservation area within Ecuador, as well as an important transit point for migratory species. Notable vulnerable species in the site include spectacled (Andean) bears (Tramarctos ornatus), Andean condors (Vultur gryphus), as well as threatened plant species Podocarpus spucey and Polylepis sp. Administrative authority of the National Park has been transferred from the Ministry of Environment to the local municipality in a process of de-centralization that will attempt to strengthen the management of this one of a kind ecosystem." Ecuador's Ministry of Environment particularly wishes to acknowledge the help of the Illustrious Municipality of Cuenca, through the ETAPA (Empresa Publica Municipal de Telecomunicaciones, Agua Potable, Alcantarillado y Saneamiento de Cuenca) company in this successful new Ramsar designation. [11/01/03]


USA names California coastal site to the Ramsar List. The Bureau is very pleased indeed to announce that the United States of America has designated its 19th Wetland of International Importance (as of 30 September 2002) - Tomales Bay (2,850 ha, 38º09'N, 123º23'W) in the state of California, just 50 km north of the city of San Francisco near Point Reyes protected area. (Nearby Bolinas Lagoon has also been a Ramsar site since 1998.) Tomales Bay is a marine-coastal wetland consisting of geomorphologically dynamic estuaries, eelgrass beds (Zostera marina), sand dune systems, and restored emergent tidal marshes which floods the northern 20 km of the San Andreas Fault-generated Olema Valley on the central California coast. The site fulfills all eight Ramsar Criteria. Approximately 90% of the bay's 28.5 km2 area is subtidal with a much greater area of open water at low tide than most other Pacific coast estuaries, thus becoming a suitable waterbird habitat through the tidal cycle. Because the 58,000 ha. watershed is non-industrial and has a low human population density, the bay is relatively pristine. The site supports several endangered or threatened plant and animal species, and is an important waterbird migratory stopover site and over-wintering ground along the Pacific flyway - it regularly hosts over 20,000 individuals in the winter months, most notably of surf scoter (Melanitta pespicillata), bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), and greater scaup (Aythya mariloides). In the past, the site has been affected by industrial and agricultural activities, which have since been terminated or mitigated. Local authorities and private and non-governmental organizations have conducted a number of watershed protection measures and conservation and restoration projects over the past 40 years in the area. -- site description: Julio Montes. [09/01/03]

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