The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 April 2003

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]


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]


Ramsar and the Small Island Developing States. "Since 1994, when the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States was adopted, the Ramsar Convention Bureau has supported a number of activities to assist these States in its implementation.Within the 14 agreed priority areas and actions related to environmental and development planning that should be undertaken by SIDS with the cooperation and assistance of the international community, Ramsar concentrated its support on activities related to providing support for developing and implementing integrated coastal zone management plans and strategies; design of monitoring programmes for coastal and marine resources, and support for accession to the Ramsar Convention and the United Nations Environment Programme Specially Protected Areas Protocol for the Wider Caribbean." Here Ramsar's Margarita Astrálaga provides an overview of Ramsar's work with the SIDS, complete with annexes showing Ramsar sites located in those states and Ramsar SGF and WFF financial support for projects for their benefit. [28/03/03]


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]


HumedAndes wetland inventory initiative launched in Colombia. An institutional cooperation initiative to promote and carry out inventories on Andean wetlands is being launched in Colombia. Currently Fundación Humedales and a number of other NGO and academic institutions have agreed to join efforts in order to build a common conceptual framework for the cooperative development of wetland inventories in the highlands of Cundinamarca and Boyacá, and the upper Cauca river valley, covering critical endangered wetland habitats of the country. More details here in English and in Spanish. [24/03/03]


France names four new Ramsar sites for World Wetlands Day. The Ministère de l'écologie et du développement durable, Direction de la nature et des paysages, has celebrated World Wetlands Day by designating four interesting new Wetlands of International Importance. They are the Bassin du Drugeon (5,988 ha) in the Franche-Comté near Pontarlier near the Swiss frontier; Etangs du Lindre, forêt du Romersberg et zones voisines (5,308 ha) in Lorraine, near Dieuze not far from Nancy; Lac du Bourget - Marais de Chautagne (5,500 ha) in the Rhône-Alpes region, between Geneva and Grenoble; and Marais du Fier d'Ars (4,452 ha) on the Atlantic island of Ré off the coast of La Rochelle. Here are the details. [21/03/03] [français et/y español]


Spain designates 10 new Ramsar sites and extends an existing one.The hosts of Ramsar COP8 in Valencia announced during the Conference the designation of 11 new Ramsar sites. Ten of them are now ready for inclusion in the List (the Ramsar Bureau is still awaiting a map for the eleventh: Bahía de Cádiz). They include small wetlands, some of them intermittent, from all over the country, including four in the País Vasco (Basque country) contiguous with France and one in the Canary Islands. Here are brief site descriptions prepared from the Spanish Ramsar Information Sheets by Ramsar's Regional Coordinator for Europe, Tobias Salathé. [11/03/03] Update: The Bahía de Cádiz map has just been received and a site description for this 11th new designation has been added to the article cited above.


STRP agenda papers can now been viewed here (in PDF, that is). For members and observers preparing the 11th meeting of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel, 8-11 April 2003, local postmen will be rolling these very large agenda papers up to the front door in hardcopy format in wheelbarrows, but for fans of the STRP amongst the informed public, here's your only opportunity to get at them before they're torn to shreds during the meetings and emerge at the end of the day as Rev.1. See them in PDF format here. The main purpose of the meeting is for the STRP participants to pore over the mandates and priorities forwarded to them by the COP and the Standing Committee and determine their own plan of work for the next triennium - most of the agenda papers, it must be said, consist mainly of background information for their benefit that is readily available elsewhere in the COP8 documentation. [11/03/03]


News from the SGF. Chile completes SGF 1998 project on High Andean wetlands. The Ramsar Bureau is pleased to announce the completion of project "Impact of mining activities on the conservation status of high altitude (Andean) wetlands in the centre-north of Chile", submitted to the SGF 1998 cycle by Mr. Elier Tabilo, of the organization Conservación de Ambientes Acuáticos de Chile. Three main objectives were developed in the course of this project. The restoration needs for the Andean desert wetlands of Tambo and Puquios were studied first. Impacts were identified and quantified on eight different points of these areas, constituting a good example of a site analysis. The next topic developed was a study of the effects of the activities of the Los Pelambres Mining Company on the landscape and scenery of the mountain range wetlands. After determining the environmental impacts, recommendations were made for the restoration of the wetlands of the Los Pelambres region. The last activity developed by the project was added to the original proposal, and consisted in organizing training workshops for cattle ranchers and peasant farmers of the area, in order to compile traditional knowledge for wetlands conservation. Using this knowledge, a restoration pilot project was carried out in a degraded wetland area. As a final note, both the mining companies and the project organizer are currently considering to use part of the acquired information to formulate Ramsar Information Sheets for the wetlands of Tambo, Puquios, and Piuquenes. -- report by Julio Montes de Oca. [09/03/03] [version en español]


Norway's WWD 2003 at 71° North. Read the brief report by Roy Erling Wranes of World Wetlands Day on the ice at the Slettnes Birdstation at over71º N, in the county of Finnmark, part of the Slettnes Nature Reserve and Ramsar site. The flag may look a little suspicious, but the people are probably real. Here it is. [09/03/03]


Lake Dengizkul decription now available. The Bureau is pleased to forward information on Uzbekistan's first Wetland of International Importance, which was designated on 8 October 2001. (Because the Convention text requires only the name of a site and a map with boundaries, sites accompanying a new Party's accession papers may be accepted by UNESCO without the Ramsar Information Sheet of site data called for by many Resolutions of the Conference of the Parties and thus required by the Bureau.) Lake Dengizkul (31,300 ha; 39°07'N 064°10'E) is the largest saline wastewater closed water body in the SW part of the Kysylkum desert, with typical ecological conditions of natural lakes situated in the deserts of Central Asia. The lake, dried up by the mid-1950s because of overuse for irrigation, has been refilled since 1966 and is very important for maintaining a biodiversity of wetland-dependent species in a largely arid region. It is of crucial importance for migrating and wintering waterfowl, as it is situated on the route of bird migrations from Western Siberia and Kazakhstan to Indo-Pakistani wintering grounds. Lake Dengizkul is also the habitat of many vulnerable and endangered species, especially as it supports more than 1% population of the endangered White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala Scop.). Commercial mining of gas in the vicinity of and on Lake Dengizkul is the main human activity, and this enabled the provision of the population with fuel and thus preserved trees and shrubs, which are important components of the desert ecosystem. However, excessive inflow of drainage water significantly influenced the water level in the lake and the floods have destroyed some habitats recently. Ramsar Site No. 1108. Site description by Ramsar's Jia Ma. [06/03/03]


Agreement signed with Panama for Regional Ramsar Centre.On 28 February, with the endorsement of the Standing Committee, Delmar Blasco, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, signed an agreement with the Government of the Republic of Panama, in the person of H. E. Ambassador Anel Enrique Beliz G., Permanent Representative of Panama to the United Nations in Geneva, to cooperate in the creation and functioning of the "Regional Ramsar Centre for Training and Research on Wetlands in the Western Hemisphere". First considered and welcomed by Standing Committee at its 20th and 21st meetings, October 1997 and 1998, the creation of the Regional Ramsar Centre was the subject of Resolution VII.26 (San José, 1999), and the developing proposal has always been greeted with enthusiastic support, particularly from the region but globally as well. The Centre, planned to be part of the "City of Knowledge" (Ciudad del Saber) in Panama, will promote training and research activities in the region. (A similar regional endeavor for western and central Asia is in the planning stages for creation in Ramsar, Islamic Republic of Iran, and was welcomed in Resolution VIII.41, November 2002.) The text of the agreement, with indicative budget and a photo of the signing, is available here in English and Español. [04/03/03]


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 http://www.medwet.org/news/news_announcements.html. [26/02/03]

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