The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 1 May 2003

Estonia names 11th Ramsar site. The Ramsar Bureau is pleased to announce that the Government of Estonia has designated Laidevahe Nature Reserve (2,424 hectares, 58o18'N 022o49'E), a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Important Bird Area, for inclusion in the Ramsar List. A mosaic wetland complex with broad diversity of lagoons, shallow coastal lakes, more than 40 islets, coastal saltmarshes, and extensive reedbeds, the new site is part of the core area of the West Estonian Archipelago Biosphere Reserve (1990). Among the wetlands occur patches of boreo-nemoral broadleaved forests, alvars and dry meadows. When water levels are low, mudflats are exposed and several islets connect with each other. The site preserves representative examples of several wetland types of the Boreal biogeographic region within one complex, and it is a refuge for many rare and endangered plant and bird species. Two migratory species - the Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis and the Dunlin Calidris alpina schinzii - are present with more than 1% of their biogeographic populations, and the site is an important foraging, spawning and nursery ground for a long list of fish. Among the main human uses are small-scale farming and forestry, livestock grazing, reed harvesting, subsistence fishing and hunting. Famous cultural monuments situated nearby are Püha Church and Valjala Castle. An Estonian traditional, but threatened, race of horses is bred nearby. Overgrowing of meadows due to a decrease in grazing and mowing rates is seen as a potential threat, as are intensification of commercial and recreational activities and privatization of land. A master "green" plan for local municipalities, including references to Laidevahe, has been adopted by the authorities, and a separate management plan for the reserve is to be drafted by June 2003. The Estonian Native Horse Conservation Society and the Society for the Protection of Seminatural Communities have initiated restoration of coastal meadows and pastures within the site. (Site description by Sergei Dereliev, Ramsar.) Estonia now has 11 Ramsar sites covering 218,374 hectares. [30/04/03]

Brazil chooses Pantanal site for the Ramsar List. The Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands is delighted to announce that Brazil has designated a significant portion of the Pantanal in Mato Grosso State as a Wetland of International Importance, the Reserva Particular do Patrimonio Natural SESC Pantanal, to complement the related 135,000-hectare Pantanal Matogrossense Ramsar site. An extraordinarily interesting feature of Brazil's 8th site is the fact that it is an extensive privately owned protected area, with government authorization, and includes such management aids as 5 fire control towers, an airplane, 6 boats, 6 all-terrain vehicles, and 26 professional staff and 16 trained rangers, and 1 airplane pilot. The separately-managed hotel employs 100 people, a 500-square-meter visitors' centre is in construction, and a nearby social ecotourism lodge on the other side of the Cuiabá River has 120 beds -- currently, around 10,000 visitors come to enjoy the reserve per year. The Serviço Nacional do Comercio (SESC) is a non-profit organization created by law and funded through an annual contribution from private enterprises, with branches in every state in the country. As a reserva particular de partimônio natural (RPPN), its legal status is said to differ from a national park only in terms of ownership; the owner could legally sell the area but, under the RPPN law, only if the objective of nature protection would not be altered. Here is a brief description of the site, in English and Spanish, drawn from the Ramsar Information Sheet by Ramsar's Julio Montes de Oca. [30/04/03]

Seminar set for Armenia. Karen Jenderedjian (, Leading Specialist, Ministry of Nature Protection, writes that, with the help of a 2002 grant from the Ramsar Small Grants Fund, "The Ministry of Nature Protection of Armenia, the Ramsar Convention Bureau, the Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union, and LakeNet are pleased to announce the International Seminar Current Issues of Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands and Wetland Biodiversity in The European New Independent States to be held in Sevan, Armenia from 15 to 19 September, 2003. Information letter and application form in English and in Russian (Word format) are here." [29/04/03]

Socio-Economics of Wetlands. Launched at Ramsar's COP8 by Wetlands International and RIZA (Institute for Inland Water Management and Waste Water Treatment), The Socio-Economics of Wetlands, is now available in PDF format from Wetlands International's Web site. In the Foreword to this 34-page booklet, Ramsar's Delmar Blasco and RIZA'a Bart Fokkens write "Until it is widely accepted that wetland values can be significant and should be investigated prior to making development decisions, the world's wetland resources will continue to decrease despite many good intentions. The challenge now is to raise the awareness of these facts; a challenge that this booklet takes up. It explains the fundamentals of the socio-economic wetland values, their evaluation and role in decision making in a clear and accessible format." The booklet will soon be available for purchase on-line in hard copy through the Natural History Book Service, the distributors of Wetlands International titles (check the WI Web site under "Publications"). [23/04/03]

Society of Wetland Scientists announces Ramsar Grants for 2002. The Society of Wetland Scientists manages a Ramsar Support Grant Program, established in 1999, to advance Ramsar Convention objectives, including the selection, designation, management, and networking of Ramsar sites; and the promotion of Ramsar's Wise Use guidelines. Projects are funded at a level of US$5,000 per year on a competitive basis as reviewed by an evaluation team, which typically includes 3 SWS International Chapter members, a Ramsar Bureau representative, and a representative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation. The following three projects received support by the grant program's 2002 round of grant-making. Two additional projects may also be funded pending the availability of matching funds. 1. Mr. Le Dien Duc, National University of Hanoi, Vietnam, is receiving a grant to establish a community-based bee keeping industry in the mangroves of the Xuan Thuy Ramsar Site, Red River Estuary, North Vietnam. 2. Dr. Enrique Bucher, Universidad de Cordoba, Argentina, is receiving a grant to develop a Management Plan for Mar Chiquita, Argentina, a Ramsar Site designated in 2002. 3. Dr. Vitalii Lobcenco, BIOTICA Ecological Society, Moldova, is receiving a grant to pursue designation of a new Ramsar Site at the middle Dniester River. Eric Gilman of the National Audubon Society and Chair of the International Chapter of the SWS here provides more background on the SWS and descriptions of the three successful proposals. [15/04/03]

Ramsar and LakeNet sign MOC. The LakeNet NGO (based in Annapolis, Maryland, USA), with its global initiative to protect and restore the health of the world's lakes, is making an active contribution to the protection of lake ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them by promoting the wise use of the wetland resources and, through its online information services and stakeholder and expert networks, providing a source of information and expertise. LakeNet and the Ramsar Convention share a common goal in the conservation and wise use of lake ecosystems for people and nature, and the conservation aims of LakeNet and the aims expressed in the text of the Ramsar Convention and its Strategic Plan 2003-2008 are fully synergistic. Both LakeNet and Ramsar, in order to formalize the cooperation between their secretariats, seized the occasion of Ramsar's 11th meeting of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation to run the duration of the Strategic Plan 2003-2008, with Delmar Blasco, Ramsar's SG, and David Read Barker, President of LakeNet, applying ink to the parchment on 11 April 2003 in the Ramsar facilities in IUCN HQ in Switzerland. View the brief text of the MOC and photos of the signing right here. And then view LakeNet's brilliant Web site at [14/04/03]

River basin task force for China's Yangtze River. Top-level government officials and international development organizations together launched a task force aimed at providing policy recommendations to top leaders of China's State Council on how to implement an integrated approach to solve river basin issues and restore the balance of nature and people in the Yangtze. CCICED (China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development) is a high-level consultative body providing strategic consultation to China's State Council concerning the environment and development issues. Its Task Force on Integrated River Basin Management (IBRM) was officially launched in Beijing on 27-28 March 2003, and consists of twelve prominent experts, six from China and six international experts from the Netherlands, UK, US, Japan, the Ramsar Convention Bureau, and WWF International -- Alain Lambert will be representing the Ramsar Bureau. Here is WWF's press release with further details. [08/04/03]

Southwestern Switzerland girding loins for STRP's 11th meeting. The 11th meeting of the Convention's advisory subsidiary body, the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), will be taking place in Gland in the Suisse Romande area of Switzerland, where civil defense units are leaping to orange alert. [Thumbnail left: New STRP chair Max Finlayson at STRP10, with George Zalidis and Mike Alexander.] The 15 expert members, newly-elected by COP8 in Valencia in November, are already joining the airport security queues all over the world on a regionally proportionate basis, and will be joined in Gland by representatives of the Convention's four International Organization Partners (BirdLife International, IUCN-the World Conservation Union, Wetlands International, and the Worldwide Fund for Nature International), as well as still more expert representatives of a large number of observer scientific organizations and of some of the other global Multilateral Environment Agreements, some 70 participants in all (not counting the hired help). STRP VIPs are arriving today, Monday, for preliminary planning meetings, and the ponderous plenaries get underway tomorrow, under Max Finlayson's hopefully able chairmanship. The chief purpose of this meeting is to sort through all of the many tasks requested of the STRP by the Convention's Strategic Plan 2003-2008 and the 46 Resolutions adopted by the COP in Valencia, cogitate upon the priorities suggested by the Standing Committee at its 29th meeting, February 2003, and then develop its own work plan for this triennium 2003-2005, with Expert Working Group assignments and their planned outputs and timelines and what not else. A very busy week for a lot of people, but, for many more people in this world, enviable nonetheless. Reports and, eventually, photos will be available here as these historic events unfold. [07/04/03]

South Australia launches landmark Wetland Strategy. Bill Phillips writes: "The state government of South Australia chose World Wetlands Day this year to launch what is now considered the benchmark wetland strategy in Australia. Why a benchmark ? This is the first time one of our state governments has deliberately positioned such a policy document under its State Water Plan, meaning that the primary delivery mechanism will be through what are called the Catchment Water Management Boards. As the name suggests these are catchment-based multistakeholder bodies that are responsible for developing and implementing integrated water resource management. The wetland strategy sits beside and is designed to work in an integrated way with the actions being taken to manage riparian zones, floodplains, water-dependent ecosystems and the allocations of water for the environment. Also important is the fact that the strategy sets out a range of actions to promote local actions, institutional and resourcing arrangements, community awareness, the recognition and management of Ramsar sites, wetland inventory and data management and priority research directed at guiding future management." Photos of the strategy development team are available here.[02/04/03]

New publication for Argentina's Laguna Iberá. Dr. Jorge Casciotta of the Museum of La Plata, La Plata National University, Argentina, informs us about the presentation of the new Spanish language publication "Los peces de la Laguna Iberá" (Fishes of Laguna Iberá) produced in the framework of the Ramsar Wetlands for the Future-sponsored project, "Ichtyofauna of Laguna Iberá and its importance in the Reserve's designation as a Ramsar site". / El Dr. Jorge Casciotta, del Museo de la Plata en la Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina, nos informa de la presentación de la nueva publicación "Los peces de la Laguna Iberá", la cual ha sido desarrollada en el marco del proyecto "La ictiofauna de la laguna Iberá y su importancia en la designación de la reserva como sitio Ramsar" apoyado por el Fondo Humedales para el Futuro de la Convención de Ramsar. [01/04/03]

MedWet/Regions' first meeting held in Palma. The kick off meeting (first meeting of its Steering Commitee) was held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, on 6 and 7 March. In that meeting, the programme partners discussed and agreed on administrative and technical aspects of the project. This is a project that was prepared by Tour du Valat on behalf of Ramsar's MedWet Initiative and approved by the EU INTERREG MEDOC funding programme. It brings together 11 Regions from Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Morocco, and includes activities for wetlands management, inventory and public awareness. The approval of this project is a great success and big news for MedWet. For comprehensive information on the programme objectives, partners, sites and activities (and some photos too) see:

Progress on the Prespa Park. On 29 March 2003, the Prespa Park Coordination Committee, bringing together representatives of Albania, Greece and the FYR of Macedonia, as well as Ramsar / MedWet, held a special meeting in the Greek village of Aghios Germanos. This extraordinary session had as a purpose to evaluate the proposed structure and management of a project development phase (PDF B) for a large (close to € 15 million) GEF programme, which will address biodiversity and sustainability issues in the Prespa Lakes region. Already the German government, through KfW - the Bank for Reconstruction, has committed a considerable part of the necessary funds. Here is Senior MedWet Advisor Thymio Papayannis' brief report of the outcomes. [01/04/03]

Turkey's National Wetlands Strategy for 2003-2008. Turkey has been accepted as one of the most important countries of both Europe and the Middle East as regards wetlands. The two main reasons for this are 1) the rich and widespread wetland habitats (71 wetlands of international importance have been determined according to Ramsar's fish and waterfowl criteria. Following the evaluations which will be realized according to vegetation and other animal species this amount will be increased), and the geographical characteristics which give rise to the passage of two main migratory routes of the west palearctic region. Since becoming party to the convention, 4 sites in 1994 and 5 sites in 1998 have been designated as Ramsar site in Turkey. In 2002, the Regulation on Conservation of Wetlands was put into force, and became an instrument for improving the conservation of these wetlands - the "National Wetlands Committee" which was established through this regulation became an important tool to develop coordination and collaboration between relevant institutions. "2003-2008 National Wetlands Strategic Plan for Turkey" was prepared with the participation of delegates from all relevant governmental institutions, NGOs, and stakeholders based on Ramsar 2003-2008 Strategic Plan approved by COP8, and will become an important guidebook for the conservation and wise use of wetlands. [text adapted from the introduction] Turkey's English version of its new strategy has been reproduced here. [26/03/03]

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