The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 December 2003

Paraguay designates its 5th Ramsar site. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Government of Paraguay has designated "Laguna Chaco Lodge" (2,500 hectares, 22º17'S, 059º18'W), a private reserve in the Presidente Hayes department, as its fifth Wetland of International Importance, bringing its total Ramsar surface area to 777,500 hectares. As described by Ramsar's Iván Darío Valencia from the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheet, Chaco Lodge is a saltwater lake, the largest of the water bodies in the lake system of the Central Chaco, surrounded by xerophytic woods and shrubs and halophytic vegetation. The site is one of the few relatively undisturbed natural areas in the Chaco, hosting an impressive biodiversity, including the endangered Chacoan Peccary Catagonus wagneri and the Brazilian Tapir Tapirus terrestris. Several wintering shorebird species are abundant, with up to 25,000 Wilson's Phalaropes Phalaropus tricolor, 4,000 White Rumped Sandpipers Calidris fuscicollis, and 3,000 Pectoral Sandpipers Calidris melanotos, all of them figures above 1% threshold. Chaco Lodge is entirely devoted to conservation and small scale ecotourism, and hunting and cattle ranching pressures from the surrounding area are very limited. The greatest threat, however, comes from the intense drought affecting the region the past few years. The site designation was carried out with the support of the NGO Fundación DeSdelChaco (Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the South American Chaco). More details and photos are available here. [02/12/03] [Español]

Mexico designates 10 Ramsar sites to celebrate the National Conservation Week [México designa 10 nuevos sitios Ramsar celebrando la Semana Nacional de la Conservación]. In the third edition of the National Conservation Week, focusing on the International Year of Freshwater, Mexico is today announcing the designation of 10 new Ramsar sites with a total area of 777,814 hectares. This is a very important development for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Mexico, raising its number of Ramsar sites to 17, and reaching 1,881,790 ha of Ramsar sites in the country. The National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP) promotes this week, celebrated every year in late November to commemorate the creation of the first protected area in the country more than 70 years ago. The new Ramsar sites include several National Parks and a Biosphere Reserve, but also areas not otherwise protected. Worth highlighting are the efforts to designate sites with coral reefs, karstic systems, seagrass beds, and mangroves, as well as two wildlife sanctuaries for the protection of nesting marine turtles. Brief descriptions of the new Wetlands of International Importance based upon the Ramsar Information Sheets that accompanied the designations have been prepared by Iván Darío Valencia, and further information is available in Spanish on the CONANP Web site. [27/11/03] [Español]

Bangladesh enlarges Sundarbans Ramsar site. The government of Bangladesh has recently provided an updated Ramsar Information Sheet on its Sundarbans Ramsar site, first designated for the Ramsar List in May 1992, enlarging its area from 596,000 to 601,700 hectares. Now to be called "Sundarbans Reserved Forest", this Ramsar and World Heritage site is one of the most important mangrove forests in the world and has been significantly threatened from a number of directions for many years. The nearby Sundarbans mangrove forest across the border in India is not yet a Ramsar site but it is hoped that it will be soon. This extension increase the area of Bangladesh's two Wetlands of International Importance to 611,200 hectares. Ramsar's Liazzat Rabbiosi has distilled from the new RIS a brief summary of the site's main ecological and cultural features, and that's available, with photographs, right here. [26/11/03]

Global wetlands surveyed from space. On 20 November the European Space Agency (ESA) formally began a project to map wetlands from space, providing data on around 50 sites in 21 countries worldwide. ESA's new €1 million Globwetland project is producing satellite-derived and geo-referenced products including inventory maps and digital elevation models of wetlands and the surrounding catchment areas. These products are intended to aid local and national authorities in fulfilling their Ramsar obligations, and should also function as a helpful tool for wetland managers and scientific researchers. The project will be carried out by an international consortium headed by the Canadian high-tech company Atlantis Scientific Inc., and the team is completed by the Dutch company SYNOPTICS, the German company Remote Sensing Solutions GmbH, and Wetlands International. More information is available from the ESA's press release today, the text which has been reprinted on our site as well. [25/11/03]

News from the Wetlands for the Future. Reserve Personnel Training in Laguna del Tigre, Ramsar Site in Guatemala [Capacitación de personal de reservas en la Laguna del Tigre]. With funding support of Wetlands for the Future (project WFF/01-2/GTM/1), Fundación Propetén ( carried out in 2002 the "School of Agroforestry promoters and Wetland Park Rangers" in the Las Guacamayas Biological Station in Laguna del Tigre National Park (Ramsar site in the Montreux record). The course was developed by an interdisciplinary group of biologists, agronomists, environmental educators and sociologists. 39 community leaders and park rangers graduated from the course, including personnel from the National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP). Here is Iván Darío Valencia's brief report in English and in Español. [24/11/03]

Upcoming Ramsar meeting for African parliamentarians. The action plan of the environmental component of NEPAD includes wetlands among the environmental priorities for the continent, and political decision-makers have therefore an important role to play in the conservation and wise use of wetlands in human development. In that spirit, the government of Benin, the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Network for Environment and Sustainable Development in Africa (NESDA) have jointly organised the first meeting of West and Central African Members of Parliament about wetlands. The objective of the meeting is to brief the deputies of West and Central Africa and draw attention from decision makers and the public to a number of key issues involving the ecological and socio-economic aspects wetland sustainable use and what parliamentarians can do to help. The meeting will be held on 27-28 November 2003 in Cotonou, Benin, with financial assistance from the governments of Sweden, Belgium, and Norway, and it will gather representatives of the environment/development commissions from the National Assemblies of 17 countries of West and Central Africa, as well as the executive secretaries of river basin authorities covering the Gambia, the Senegal, the Niger, and Lake Chad Basin. Here is a NESDA press release on this meeting, in English and French. [21/11/03]

Web site for Prespa Park. The Prespa Park is an innovative transboundary wetland protected area including Ramsar sites, inaugurated on World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2000, by the prime ministers of Albania, Greece, and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Ramsar Secretary General. This Web site has been following the progress of the Park and its Coordination Committee, most recently its March 2003 meeting and GEF PDF B project. Now, as Frosso Mantziou ( of the MedWet Coordination Unit reports, you can follow all the news on Prespa Park's own Web site. "Dear all, As discussed at MedWet Com5, the Transboundary Prespa Park Web site has been set up (with financial support from the German agency GTZ) and is hosted at the MedWet Web site. You may visit it by clicking on the Prespa Park logo at MedWet's home page". [20/11/03]

Ecotourism conference in Adelaide, Australia. Ramsar's Peter Bridgewater presented a keynote address last week to the Ecotourism Conference in Adelaide, Australia. The idea of drawing together tourism operators more closely to nature conservation areas was a theme of the conference, and one that Ramsar needs to keep under review globally. Peter also visited the Ramsar award-winning site of Banrock Station Winery, some 220km from Adelaide (Peter with site manager Tony Sharley, left) and met with the Ramsar implementation team in the Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra. More here. [17/11/03]

Managing rivers wisely. The World Wide Fund for Nature International's Living Waters Programme has recently published a very useful book on Integrated River Basin Management. The well-illustrated 94-page softcover work begins with a summary of the global freshwater crisis and briefly describes the principles of IRBM - the introduction then notes that "WWF and numerous partner organizations have launched conservation field projects . . . to demonstrate key aspects of IRBM in many countries around the world. The 'lessons learnt' from these projects reflect a broad range of geographical, socio-economic and cultural factors, and are based on findings and conclusions over a period of time." This book distills 11 'lessons' from 14 case studies from around the world, many of which involve Ramsar sites, including the Everglades, the Danube Delta, Gwydir in Australia, Lakes Chad and Prespa, Kafue Flats, and La Cocha. Compiled and edited by Tim Jones and Bill Phillips, both former members of the Ramsar Secretariat, and designed by Tim Davis, the book offers not only the lessons and the case studies but also an informative look at the way in which WWF and its partners work effectively on the ground. More immediately, all of its parts can be downloaded in PDF chapter by chapter, by selecting individual case studies (in English) and/or the "Introduction & Synthesis" (in English, French or Spanish) from [14/11/03]

Ramsar visit to Bulgaria.Tobias Salathé of Ramsar and former Ramsar secretariat member Hervé Lethier of OMPO have been contracted by the French GEF (FFEM) to make an ex post evaluation for a project they supported to cover the Dobrudja region, a steppe and cultivated steppe region with the two Ramsar sites Durankulak and Shabla lake. The first of these is presently on the Montreux Record and both have management plans, at least nominally, so the mission will be looking at classical management problems and checking out the current situation in order to see if (and under what conditions) Durankulak could be removed from the Montreux Record of threatened sites. The mission team will also be holding discussions with the Bulgarian Administrative Authority about future opportunities for progress in wetland conservation and wise use. Tobias' in-country costs are covered by FFEM and the Bulgarian government. A full report will follow in due course, and a trip report with some of Tobias' excellent photos may come along much sooner than that. [10/11/03]

Culmina con éxito taller sobre humedales de alta montaña en América Latina. Del 1 al 3 de octubre del 2003, en el Jardín Botánico de Bogotá, se llevó a cabo el taller "Turberas y otros humedales de Alta Montaña de América Latina" convocado por el Grupo Páramo y UICN; organizado por EcoPar y Fundación Humedales. El taller fue parte del proyecto del mismo nombre financiado por La Iniciativa Global de Turberas que está ejecutándose en los 8 países de América Latina con humedales de alta montaña: Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Chile y Argentina. Informe. [07/11/03]

Workshop on High Mountain Wetlands in Latin America was a Success. In the Botanical Garden of Bogota (Colombia), from the 1st to the 3rd of October the workshop "Peatlands and other high mountain wetlands in Latin America" was held. The workshop was set on invitation by Grupo Páramo and IUCN and organized by EcoPar and Fundación Humedales. It formed part of a project with the same name financed by the Global Peatland Initiative. This project is being executed in eight Latin American countries with high mountain wetlands: Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Here is the meeting's report. [07/11/03]

Another new publication. Cahier thématique "les zones humides et l'eau". Le PNRZH (Programme National de Recherche sur les Zones Humides), lancé en 1995 par le gouvernement français, constitue un des volets du plan d'action interministériel pour les zones humides. Cofinancé par les Agences de l'eau et les ministères chargés de l'Environnement, de l'Equipement, et de l'Agriculture, ce programme vise à fournir des clés rationnelles pour une gestion durable de ces milieux. Dans une démarche globale de valorisation des acquis, le PNRZH publie son premier cahier thématique " Les zones humides et l'eau ". // The Programme National de Recherche sur les Zones Humides (National Research Programme on Wetlands), launched in 1995 by the French government, is part of the inter-ministerial action plan for wetlands. Co-financed by the Water Agencies and the Ministries of Environment, Equipment and Agriculture, this programme aims to give key elements for a wise use and sustainable management of these habitats. In a global effort to develop the knowledge and share experience, the NRPW brings out its first thematic journal "Wetlands and water". More details here in English and in Français. [05/11/03]

Panama names fourth Ramsar site. The Ramsar Bureau is very pleased to announce that Panama has designated its fourth Wetland of International Importance, the "Bahía de Panamá" (48,919 ha., 08°57'N 079°01'W ) in the province of Panamá, effective 20 October 2003. Ramsar's Iván Darío Valencia describes the new site thus: Located to the east of Panama City on the the Pacific coast, the site features broad intertidal mudflats divided by several estuaries, mangrove forests, swamp forests, and freshwater pools. It is renowned as an important stopover for migrating shorebirds: up to 360,000 individuals have been counted in one season and it is estimated that 1-2 million birds stop there during migration. The site harbours over 8% of the world population of Western Sandpipers Calidris mauri with records of over 280,000 birds, 20% of Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus, and over 1% of the biogeographical populations of Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla, Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus and the Plover Pluvialis squatarola. Endangered species in the area include the Giant Anteater Myrmecophaga tridactyla, Baird's Tapir Tapirus bairdii, American Crocodile Crocodylus acutus, Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta and the endemic tree species Annona spreguei. Fishing and agriculture are the main human activities in the area, but due to its proximity to Panama City, pressures from urban development are increasing, as well as pollution from sewage waters discharged into the sea. Several research activities with shorebirds have taken place, and the site was recently declared an Important Bird Area. The Sociedad Audubon de Panamá assisted in the preparation of the technical data for the designation. [04/11/03] [français et/y español]

Water and wetland work under the Danube Commission. The Danube river is a source of life for 83 million people living in its 800,000 km2 basin, covering 18 European countries. In 1994, the Danube River Protection Convention was signed to encourage Contracting Parties to intensify their water management cooperation. With its entry into force in 1998, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River ( was established as the main decision-making body. It represents a common platform for the sustainable use of the basin's resources. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé has provided an update on the Commission's recent work and the results of the 7th meeting of its Ecological Expert Group, 22-23 September 2003, held near Munich, Germany, nicely illustrated with photos of a field trip to floodplain restoration sites along the Isar river. Click here now. [04/11/03]

Australia names its 64th Ramsar site. "NSW Central Murray State Forests" (84,028 ha., 35°39'S 144°39'E) in New South Wales was designated as a Wetland of International Importance as of 20 May 2003 but the announcement has been delayed a bit -- composed of discrete but interrelated forest units that together with the Barmah and Gunbower Forests Ramsar sites in Victoria form the largest complex of tree-dominated floodplain wetlands in southern Australia, the site contains rare wetland types within the Riverina bioregion, particularly floodplain lake and floodplain meadows and reed swamps. Linked through an unbroken riparian corridor along the Murray and Edward Rivers, the forests are in high ecological condition and contribute significantly to the conservation of globally and nationally threatened species. The site has been managed under multiple use principles including forestry for almost 150 years, making it one of the longest continuously managed natural resources in Australia. Currently the site is used for timber harvesting, apiculture, fishing, bird watching and scientific study. [04/11/03] [français et/y español]

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

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