SEHUMED produces new technical manual on water quality sampling -- it can be yours

05/08/2003

Technical manual for sampling water quality at Ramsar sites.

Numerous Resolutions and Recommendations of the Convention have called for greater technical attention by the Parties to the quantity and quality of the water associated with wetlands. In particular, Resolution VII.25 (1999) on Measuring environmental quality in wetlands requested the Contracting Parties to intensify studies on the presence and significance of toxic substances in the water, sediments and biota of wetlands. Now SEHUMED, the Sede para el Estudio de los Humedales Mediterráneos (the "Seat" for the Study of Mediterranean Wetlands) at the University of Valencia, has produced a succinct and practical text the purpose of which is to provide a technical review of methods for carrying out such sampling and making biological, physical and chemical determinations. Recommendations for sampling water, biota and bottom sediments in Ramsar wetlands / Recomendaciones para la toma de muestras de agua, biota y sedimentos en humedales Ramsar is a 226-page illustrated softcover volume that includes both the Spanish original and English translation - it was prepared primarily by Drs Enrique Andreu Moliner and Antonio Camacho González, with the collaboration of Spanish academic colleagues, and published on behalf of SEHUMED, MEDWET, and the Ramsar Convention by the Dirección General de Conservación de la Naturaleza (DGCN) of Spain's Ministerio de Medio Ambiente in Madrid. It includes prefatory words by DGCN director Inés González Doncel and Ramsar's Delmar Blasco and covers a full range of technical aspects of water sampling techniques and chain of custody, sampling of organisms and ecotoxicity, and dealing with muds and sediments. Inés' and Delmar's prefaces can be viewed below, and the book itself can be ordered free of charge from the Ramsar Bureau by requesting it from Valerie Higgins - of course, it's August in Europe, so one must be patient whilst awaiting the book's arrival. [Sorry, our supply of copies is now all gone. 20/04/04]


PRESENTATION

The creation of protected natural areas throughout the world and the human impulse to get closer to nature, along with a growing appreciation by society of the function and values of wetlands, have meant that wetland ecosystems have come to be considered among the most valuable on Earth in recent years.

Despite protection and conservation efforts targeting wetlands, it is evident that they are still severely threatened by the inappropriate use of natural resources. In order to remedy this situation, environmental authorities, researchers, educators, and public and private administrators need suitable instruments and tools. The availability of effective tools will make it possible to incorporate assessments of ecological quality into the planning and management of wetlands.

The present manual, prepared by the Seat for the Study of Mediterranean Wetlands (Sede para el Estudio de los Humedales Mediteránneos, SEHUMED) at the University of Valencia, has met this goal after a study of protocols for sampling water, sediments, and biota in wetlands.

The decision to develop this manual was motivated by two events. The first was Spain's response to the resolution presented by the Spanish Ministry of the Environment in relation to water quality in wetlands, made at the COP7, held in San José, Costa Rica (1999), and embodied in Resolution VII.25: "Evaluation of water quality in wetlands". The second was Recommendation 27 of MedWet/Com2, which emerged from a meeting held in Valencia (Spain, 2000), where the possibility of preparing new publications for the MedWet series was discussed, including one on «Water Quality.»

The strategic plans of the countries that signed the Convention on Wetlands incorporate some of these guidelines in relation to water quality. This is the case of the Strategic Plan for the Conservation and Rational Use of Wetlands, which constitutes the framework of reference for the management of Spanish wetlands.

This manual must be considered a welcome innovation because there has been no other initiative to date describing a methodology specifically applicable to wetlands located in countries in the Mediterranean basin.

Inés González-Doncel
General Director of Nature Conservation
Ministerio de Medio Ambiente
4 de noviembre de 2002


PREFACE

The Office of the Ramsar Convention welcomes the publication of this manual by SEHUMED. As indicated in the introduction to the book, the Ramsar Convention addresses topics relative to the amount and quality of water required to maintain the ecological values of wetlands. This concern, fundamental as it is (and just plain common sense), is a new concern for the Ramsar Convention and, generally speaking, for those who are interested in the conservation and sustainable use of freshwater and coastal marine systems.

The amount of water necessary to ensure the correct function of a wetland system is still a topic of debate. For this reason, we should be working to develop methods that will elicit a rapid response to this question, because the pressure to use available water is often so intense that there is little time to discuss the question. Too often there have been poorly informed decisions that have had a very negative impact on the function of aquatic systems.

With regard to the other fundamental topic that is closely related with the amount of water, its quality, we also must advance as quickly as possible. The unavailability of sufficient water can be disastrous, but whether water is scarce or abundant, poor water quality is as pernicious as the lack of water.

This manual describing the techniques of sampling, the chain of custody, and ecotoxicological tests in wetlands should prove very useful for those who are responsible for conserving the ecological values of wetlands in general and, more especially, the wetlands that have been added to the List of Wetlands ofInternational Importance (the Ramsar List) by the signatories of the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention has developed and continues to develop technical guidelines to help countries meet the obligations that they contracted when they included sites on this List. I am sure that this manual, although it has not been reviewed by the Scientific and Technical Review Panel of the Ramsar Convention, will be well received by specialists. These technicians often are aware of their obligations with respect to Ramsar, but feel as if they were unarmed due to the lack of suitable instruments for implementing compliance.

I am sincerely pleased with this effort of SEHUMED and I hope that the Ramsar Convention will continue to receive similarly useful contributions in the future.

Delmar Blasco
Secretary General
Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
2 October 2002.

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