The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 3 March 2003

Ramsar's next Secretary General to take up the reins in August 2003. The Ramsar Bureau is delighted to announce that yesterday, at its 29th meeting, the Standing Committee selected Dr Peter Bridgewater to become the new Secretary General, to replace Mr Delmar Blasco, who will be stepping down at the end of July 2003 after eight years of distinguished service for the Convention on Wetlands. Chosen by the SC in closed session from amongst a short-list of very strong candidates, Dr Bridgewater's selection was greeted by enthusiastic approval when it was announced before Contracting Party Observer States, International Organization Partners, and the Bureau's staff, and Mr Blasco, indicating that he was extremely pleased to be turning the secretariat over to such able hands, pledged to work closely with the new appointee over the next five months to ensure a seamless transition. Read the full press release, with photos, right here! [02/03/03]

Standing Committee names new STRP for Ramsar. At its 29th Meeting, held 26-28 February 2003, the Ramsar Standing Committee reviewed a large list of nominees for the regional members of the Convention's scientific subsidiary body, the Scientific and Technical Panel (STRP) for the triennium 2003-2005, and chose 14 experts to be invited to join the STRP, according to the regional proportions following the Standing Committee's own regional representation as laid down in Resolution VII.1.The regional experts will join representatives of the four International Organization Partners (BirdLife International, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Wetlands International, and WWF International) as full members of the STRP, as well as a number of expert representatives of invited observer organizations from the NGO and MEA communities. Here's the list of STRP appointees. [03/03/03]

Agreement signed: MedWet, Tour du Valat, and WWF-MedPO.Maria Anagnostopoulou, MedWet Communications Officer, reports that "new collaboration has been established among the MedWet Initiative, Tour du Valat and WWF-MedPO, for common action to conserve freshwater ecosystems in the Mediterranean. Its objective is to increase the added value of joint efforts and produce more effective and efficient results for the Mediterranean region. Based on this collaboration agreement, WWF MedPO and TdV will strengthen their collaboration in the framework of the MedWet programme and in line with WWF's global conservation priorities (TDPs and Ecoregion Conservation), and TdV's five year plan, for the conservation of Mediterranean Freshwater Ecosystems. MedWet will seek the participation of the other members of the Technical Network where appropriate." More details, with the text of the agreement and photos, are available at [26/02/03]

Bolivia completes SGF project on Lake Poopó. The Ramsar Bureau is pleased to announce the completion of project "Evaluation of the current status of Lake Poopó for its designation as a Ramsar site and the establishment of a Wise Use and Integrated Management Area", submitted to the SGF 1998 cycle by Mr. Omar Rocha of the World Conservation Society (WCS)-Bolivia (and national STRP focal point). Here are the details, with a map and photos. [25/02/03]. [Español]

Two new publications for Guatemala and Latin America / Dos Nuevas Publicaciones para Guatemala y Latinoamérica. El Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas de Guatemala (CONAP) y la Asociación para el Manejo Integrado de los Ecosistemas Naturaleza y Ambiente (MILENYA) nos extendió una invitación a la presentación y entrega oficial de las publicaciones: "Humedales de Importancia Internacional, en una Encrucijada - Conservar o Conservar: El Caso de Manchón-Guamuchal. Informe Técnico, Imágenes, Consideraciones y Reflexiones." Por: Ph.D. Yara Schaeffer Novelli, Universidad de Sao Paolo-Instituto Oceanográfico Laboratorio BIOMA-Bioecología de Manglares, Sao Paulo, Brasil. y "Memoria de Mesa de Manglares - II Congreso Forestal Latinoamericano". Estas publicaciones fueron presentadas el pasado Miércoles 19 de Febrero, 2003 en las oficinas de CONAP - 5a avenida 6-06 zona 1 Edificio IMP, Salón Delfines, 5to Nivel, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala. [25/02/03]

Argentina celebrates WWD2003 with a high-Andean Ramsar site. The Bureau is very pleased indeed to announce that, as of 2 February 2003, the Government of Argentina has designated its 12th Wetland of International Importance. The "Reserva Provincial Laguna Brava" (405,000 ha., 28°24'S, 69°05'W) is located at altitudes between 2500-4500m above sea level and includes a system of saline and hyper-saline shallow lagoons. Characteristic high-Andean communities of bofedales (wet-marshy meadows) are found above 3000m. The Reserve is host to a rich biodiversity associated to the wetland, with abundant summer populations of endemic waterfowl, including James' and Andean flamingos (Phoenicoparrus jamesi and P. andinus). The site also has special recognition as a Reserve for Camelids, most notably vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) and guanaco (Lama Guanicoe). Historically, the region was utilized by the Incas as an important enclave for domination of local populations and as a natural Andean transit point to Chile. Currently, it is precisely the development of an international road, plus the possibility of mineral prospecting, which could potentially affect the site. Recent management and zoning measures are to be strengthened to insure the proper long-term conservation of the site. Excellent photographs of the new site by Horacio de la Fuente are available here. -- site description by Julio Montes de Oca. [21/02/03]

Honduras designates its 5th Ramsar site. The Bureau is pleased to announce that the Republic of Honduras has designated its 5th Ramsar site, finalized on 3 February 2003 -- the Laguna de Bacalar in Gracias a Dios department (7,394 ha, 15°08'N, 85°10'W). The Laguna de Bacalar is a marine-coastal wetland on the Caribbean coast characterized by broad-leaf forest, swamps, and mangrove forest. The areas adjacent to the lagoons are dominated by mangroves, characterized by red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), white mangrove (Languncularia racemosa), and buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus). The site's rich fauna includes endangered species like the Caribbean manatee (Trichechus manatus), uncommon birds such as the jabirú (Jabiru mycteria) and fish characteristic to this type of ecosystem, including schoolmaster snapper (Lutjanus apodus) and horse-eye jack (Caranx latus). The site is invaluable in providing flood control, sedimentation capture, and stabilization of the reflux between the sea and the lagoon, which is fed by the Sico Tinto o Negro river. Economic activity by small populations in the area, including agriculture, deforestation and illegal fishing remain as threats. However, government and non-governmental organizations remain active in promoting sustainable fishing practices and appropriate micro-basin management. -- site description by Julio Montes de Oca. [20/02/03] [français et/y español]

Iberoamerican Workshop on Wetlands and Sustainable Development - Dr. Lucas Fernández, coordinator of the XVII CYTED (Iberoamerican Programme of Science and Technology for Development) Wetlands Network ( has informed us that the Network is organizing the 1st Iberoamerican Regional Workshop on Wetlands and Sustainable Development, to be held in Panama City, Panama, from 26-28 May 2003. Please find here the Workshop's information brochure (Spanish), including registration form. [20/02/03]

Taller Iberoamericano de Humedales y Desarrollo Sostenible - El Dr. Lucas Fernández, Coordinador Red Humedales Subprograma XVII CYTED (Programa Iberoamericano de Ciencia y Tecnología para el Desarrollo) ( informa que la Red Iberoamericana de Humedales del Programa CYTED celebrará en la ciudad de Panamá del 26 al 28 de mayo próximo su I Taller Científico sobre "Los Humedales de Iberoamérica y el Desarrollo Sostenible". Sírvase encontrar adjunta la circular de información sobre el Taller, incluyendo la ficha de inscripción.

Slovenia has successfully completed its SGF 1997 project "Establishment of a National Wetland Inventory". The State Agency for Nature Protection of the Slovenian Ministry of Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy provided the Ramsar Bureau with a comprehensive final report on the SGF 1997 project which has contributed much to wetland conservation in Slovenia by setting up a firm base for development of a National Wetland Database. Read this summary of the project and its results prepared by the Bureau's Sergei Dereliev. [18/02/03]

News on the Conservation Finance Alliance. During the week 3-7 Feb. several members of the CFA (World Bank, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Ramsar Convention, WWF-US, USPark, and USAID) met in Washington to review and finalise several chapters of the forthcoming "Sustainable Financing Guide for Environmental Managers". The Guide will now be tested in several protected areas around the world, including several Ramsar sites (Mamiraua - Brazil, Paracas - Peru) and officially launched at the World Parks Congress (3 September). The Conservation Finance Alliance is also preparing a training programme on conservation finances for protected area managers. For more information, including the latest draft of the guide, see - reported by Alain Lambert, Ramsar. [18/02/03]

Netherlands names 14 new Ramsar sites. 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. 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.[17/03/02] [français et/y español]

Ramsar-supported project distinguished as Eco-Index Innovative Eco-Initiative of the Month. The Eco-Index, developed in the framework of the Rainforest Alliance's "The Race to Save the Neotropics" program, highlights exemplary conservation initiatives. The Neotropical Centre for Wetlands Training (Centro Neotropical de Entrenamiento en Humedales - CNEH) is dedicated to the training of professional and technical staff, decision makers, and community leaders in academic institutions, governmental organizations, non-governmental and grass-roots organizations on the management and conservation of wetlands in the Neotropics, as well as in the creation of support material and public awareness on this topic. The CNEH was kick-started in 1996 when the WWF Central American Regional Office started providing funds for its initial publications and training events. From 1998, the Centre has received additional funding from the Ramsar Convention's Wetlands for the Future Fund, which is kindly supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Dept. of State of the United States of America. More information, and version en español, right here. [15/02/03]

Australia designates six new Ramsar sites, and extends another. The Ramsar Bureau is delighted to announce that Australia has designated six new Ramsar sites and extended one of its earlier ones. Australia now has 63 Wetlands of International Importance, totaling 7,287,645 hectares - actually these new sites were added to the Ramsar List as of 21 October 2002 but are only now being presented to the wetland public as we catch up with outstanding issues following COP8 in Valencia. The splendid new sites include three coral reef Nature Reserves far out to the north and northeast of the continent, all in near-pristine condition, as well as a collection of seven watercourses on the west side of Christmas Island, "The Dales", off to the west. Another new site is the well-known Banrock Station Wetland Complex, where the Banrock Station Wines company has combined wetland rehabilitation, commercial wine-making, and education and public awareness so effectively that the company was awarded the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award at COP8 in November 2002. The sixth site is a pair of small swamps, Fivebough and Tuckerbil, settled pretty comfortably in amongst the surrounding land uses near Leeton in New South Wales, another good example of the "wise use concept".

In addition to these new sites, Environment Australia has added a tiny 45 hectares to the existing Kooragang Nature Reserve site (2,926 ha), designated for the Ramsar List back in 1984 - a small addition, but what an excellent choice, for it's the well-known Shortland Wetlands, connected to Kooragang by a wildlife corridor, the site of the pioneering Wetlands Centre, founded in 1986 with the objectives of wetland rehabilitation and educational/public awareness activities, now an innovative leader in wetland CEPA activities. Lots more detail here. [14/02/03] [français et/y español]

Djibouti joins the Convention. The Bureau is delighted to announce that UNESCO has sent notification that on 22 November 2002 Djibouti deposited its instrument of accession with the Director-General to the Convention and the 1982 Paris Protocol. The Convention will therefore enter into force for Djibouti on 22 March 2003. The 136th Party's first Ramsar site is Haramous-Loyada (3,000 hectares, 11°35'N 043°09'E), a coastal site comprising intertidal sand and mud flats, islands, sandy shores, coral reefs, and shallow marine waters extending from just south of the capital, Djibouti city, to the Somalian frontier. No fewer than seven wadis issue into the sea, favoring the creation of mini-deltas suitable for mangroves. The site meets both of the waterbird Criteria, and a number of species, both wintering and staging, can be seen; the Ile de Haramous and its satellite islets provide places for nesting, rest, and refuge for more than 70 waterbird species. The marine waters also provide habitat for Dugong dugon, and the turtles Chelonia mydas and Caretta caretta frequent Haramous. The surrounding area provides agricultural and pastoral livelihoods to a considerable human presence, and the marine parts provide fish and crustaceans to local communities. Port extensions from the nearby city, as well as over-grazing, over-collection of wood for heating, and sand extraction are viewed as potential threats, as is the progress of two alien invasive species, the common crow Corvus splendens and the "chilean mesquite" tree Prosopis chilensis. Proposals to create an ornithological reserve are in the works. [11/02/03] [français et/y español]

Les Cèvennes Biosphere Reserve gets thorough wetland atlas. The French National Park and Biosphere Reserve Les Cévennes and the Adour-Garonne Water Management Agency have just published an exhaustive wetland inventory of the Mount Lozère area in the form of an A3-format atlas, composed of a series of 1:10,000 scale maps plus an exhaustive introduction that illustrates usefully several wetland conservation aspects addressed by a number of Resolutions adopted by the Contracting Parties during their most recent Conference in Valencia, Spain (COP8). Tobias Salathé reports here. [10/02/03]

Wetkit 2003 launched in Canada.Pauline Lynch-Stewart writes to the Ramsar Forum: "The new and improved WetKit: Tools for Working with Wetlands in Canada ( was launched this week at Canada’s National Conference on Wetlands Stewardship in Ottawa. WetKit is Canada’s premier Internet site for discovering and accessing wetland information, stewardship advice and conservation technologies. The WetKit website was built by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) in partnership with the Government of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and Wildlife Habitat Canada. . . . WetKit also helps Canada to deliver our obligations under the Ramsar Convention, by sharing with the Bureau and other Contracting Parties our progress on strategic objectives of the Convention." Read more here. [10/02/03]

Now available. Ramsar intervention to the Ministerial Consultation segment of the UNEP Governing Council meeting.The 22nd Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the United Nations Environment Programme is taking place this week, 3-7 February 2003, in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ramsar Secretary General's intervention to the Ministerial Consultation segment, 6 February, is now available here. (His address to the plenary session on 4 February is also available.) [07/01/03]

Alien invasive species in Africa's wetlands launched on 5 February. IUCN-The World Conservation Union's Eastern Africa Regional Programme took the opportunity of UNEP's Governing Council meeting currently taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, to launch a new booklet, Alien invasive species in Africa's wetlands: some threats and solutions, by Geoff Howard and Susan Matindi, on behalf of IUCN, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP). In an incisive 16 pages, the booklet outlines the threats and costs involved in the spread of invasive species of flora and fauna through the continent's wetlands and looks in more depth at a number of the worst offenders. Read more here about the new publication and how it can be obtained. [06/02/03]

Argentinian NGO announces plans for a very large Ramsar site for WWD 2003. Fundación Proteger announces: "In view of World Wetlands Day, 2nd February, and continuing with its campaign to create protected areas as Ramsar Sites in the Paraná and Paraguay rivers, Fundación Proteger will start a trip around the fluvial provinces of Argentina. Starting on January 29th, the provincial governments will publicly make known their commitment to supporting the proposal and beginning a participative process with social stakeholders, producers and the scientific sector. The initiative is supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF International) through the Living Waters Programme, the representative of which, Denis Landenbergue, visited the region some days ago. The proposal is to promote the declaration of new Ramsar Sites on the wetlands of Paraná and Paraguay rivers through five provinces, and the surface to be covered reaches 1,500,000 hectares of fluvial wetlands." Three press releases in Spanish and a summary of the situation in English, with photos, are all available on our World Wetlands Day pages. Nota de prensa (español). [06/02/03]

Ramsar addresses UNEP Governing Council on relationships among environment conventions.The 22nd Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the United Nations Environment Programme is taking place this week, 3-7 February 2003, in Nairobi, Kenya. Here is the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention's address to the plenary session on 4 February. See also Earth Negotiations Bulletin, [05/01/03]

Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands in Guatemala. Raquel Sigüenza de Micheo (, National Coordinator, OTECBIO Biosafety Project (and former Ramsar intern!) reports on the publication of the Proceedings of the I National Workshop on Training "Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands in Guatemala", carried out with the support of CONAP (Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas), INAB-IUCN-European Union's Mangrove Project, the Neotropical Training Center (CNEH), PROARCA/Costas, the WWF Regional Office for Central America, and the Ramsar Convention Bureau. Read more here (Spanish). [06/02/03]

Raquel Sigüenza de Micheo (, Coordinadora Nacional , Proyecto de Bioseguridad OTECBIO (y antigua pasante en la Oficina Ramsar) informa sobre la publicación de las Memorias del I Taller Nacional de Capacitación: "Conservación y Manejo de Humedales en Guatemala", con el apoyo de CONAP (Consejo Nacional de Areas Protegidas), el Proyecto Manglar de INAB-UICN-Unión Europea, el Centro Neotropical de Entrenamiento (CNEH), PROARCA/Costas, la Oficina Regional de WWF para Centroamérica y la Oficina de la Convención de Ramsar.

Workshop on Ichkeul Lake, Tunisia. Ichkeul is the only Ramsar site of Tunisia and one of the most important wetlands of the western Mediterranean basin, along with Camargue (France), Doñana (Spain) and El Kara (Algeria), included in the Montreux record of the Convention since 1990 (and also in the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger), due to the restriction in water supply resulting in a serious threat of change of ecological status for the lake and the surrounding marshes. A workshop was hosted 28 & 29 January 2003 by the Tunisian authorities, and specifically by ANPE (Agence Nationale de Protection de l'Environnement), the Environment Agency of the Ministry of Environment and Land Use. It was organized with financial support by UNESCO - World Heritage Centre, and technical support by IUCN-Mediterranean Office and the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat (member of the MedWet Technical Network). The objective of the meeting was to assess the options for a sustainable future for Ichkeul, especially as regards the water regime and development potential of the surrounding region. Read the MedWet Coordinator, Spyros Kouvelis' report, with photos, here. [05/02/03]

Ramsar / UNEP workshop on Africa's wetland management strategy report.UNEP and Ramsar, with financial support from the Swiss Government, hosted a workshop in Valencia, Spain, just prior to the opening of Ramsar's COP8: "Developing further the Plan of Action to implement Africa's wetland management strategy under the Environmental Initiative of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development)", and the report of the meeting is now available on this Web site. [04/02/03]

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]

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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