Society of Wetland Scientists Ramsar Support Grants -- summary of awards

23/07/2003

Society of Wetland Scientists' Ramsar Support Grant Program

Summary of Grant Awards

The SWS Ramsar Support Grant Program, established in 1999, advances Ramsar Convention objectives, including the selection, designation, management, and networking of Ramsar sites, and implementation of the Ramsar Convention's Wise Use guidelines. Projects are funded at a level of $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 grant guidelines and application form for the grant program can be viewed on the SWS web site at <www.sws.org/regional/international/Ramsar.Support.Framework>. For additional information, contact Eric Gilman, Grant Program Manager, at ericgilman@earthlink.net.

1999 Grant Awards

1. In 1999 SWS awarded a grant to the Wetlands International Asia Pacific Lower Mekong Basin Programme to develop in-country expertise to monitor seagrass beds and coral reefs, and to nominate a site to the Ramsar List.

2. In 1999 SWS awarded a grant to Dr. Eduardo M. da Silva of the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil, to support his efforts to nominate a wetland from the State of Bahia to the Ramsar List. This latter project was awarded using funds awarded to SWS from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

2000 Grant Awards

Four grants were awarded in 2000, using $10,000 allocated by SWS, and $11,000 matching funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation (formerly the Office of International Affairs).

1. Mr. Paul Mafabi, Programme Coordinator of Uganda's National Wetlands Programme and Assistant Commissioner of the Wetlands Inspection Division of Uganda's Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment, is being awarded a grant to develop and publish wetland wise use guidelines. Mr. Mafabi will hold workshops to form a Wetlands Wise Use Guidelines Taskforce, will collect existing information on current wetland use and management practices, will field test draft guidelines, and will publish and distribute Wetland Wise Use Guidelines, in support of Uganda's National Wetlands Policy, to attempt to influence people's attitudes and practices to result in the wise and sustainable use and management of wetlands, and garner community support for additional Ramsar site designations.

2. Dr. Milan Valachovic of the Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Department of Geobotany, Slovakia, is being awarded a grant to produce and publish the third volume of Plant Communities of Slovakia, Wetland Vegetation. The Slovak Academy of Sciences is providing co-funding to print the publication. The book will provide standard assessment information on wetland vegetation types and can be used as a fundamental source of information to prepare Ramsar Information Sheets for additional Ramsar site designations, and to prepare site management plans.

3. Mr. Sergio Gabriel Domber, Manager of the Parque Nacional Laguna Blanca, Argentina, is being awarded a grant to make improvements to the Laguna Blanca National Park Visitor Educational Center, train interpretive personnel, and prepare an educational pamphlet, in support of the Laguna Blanca National Park General Management Plan. The Parque Nacional Laguna Blanca is an existing Ramsar site. The goal of the Visitor Educational Center is to encourage local community understanding of and participation in site management and augment recreational visitor education to encourage wise use.

4. Mr. Edgar Gonzales of the Asociacion Kechua Aymara para la Conservación de la Naturaleza y el Desarrollo Sostenible (ANDES) and Indigenous People's Biodiversity Network (IPBN), NGOs based in Peru, and Mr. Francesc Giro, Director of Fundacion Natura, an NGO based in Spain, are being awarded a grant to prepare a management plan for Huacarpay wetland as an initial step to lead to eventual designation of the site to the Ramsar List. Huacarpay wetland, with notable important habitat for at least 57 species of migratory birds, is located close to the city of Cuzco and the wetland faces numerous anthropogenic threats, including drainage, conversion for agriculture and cattle raising, alien species, hunting, and pollution. The site has significant capacity for sustainable ecotourism development as an alternative to current activities that threaten to degrade the site.

2001 Grant Awards

For the 2001 round of grant-making, SWS received a record 51 proposals to the SWS Ramsar Support Grant Program from 34 countries, of which SWS was able to fund five. SWS allocated $10,000 to fund two proposals this year, and, for the third year, we received a grant for $16,500 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation to award 3 proposals from the Latin America and Caribbean region. Dr. Eduardo M. da Silva (Federal University of Bahia, Brazil), Dr. Michael Marshall (Coastal Seas Consortium Inc), Ann Hodgson (Resource Designs Inc), Laurie Hunter (US Fish and Wildlife Service), Dr. Nick Davidson (Ramsar Convention Bureau), and Eric Gilman (grant program manager) comprised this year's SWS proposal evaluation team. A summary of the five projects being supported by the SWS Ramsar Support Grant Program follows:

1. Dr. Gleb Gavris, Kyiv Sozological Centre, Ukraine, is receiving a grant to inventory resources of the Middle Desna floodplain wetlands, an area of approximately 560 km2, located between the Seim River estuary (Chernihiv Region of Ukraine) and the Russian border (Brjansk Region). Research will be conducted along 150 km of the Desna River in the Sumy and Chernihiv Regions. Investigators will prepare a Ramsar Information Sheet to recommend designation of the wetland area to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Desna River, a tributary of the Dnipro River, is considered to be one of the most valuable natural areas of Ukraine. The wetlands of the middle Desna floodplain support rare plant communities and migratory waterfowl. Matching funds and in-kind contributions are to be provided by the Kyiv Sozological Centre, National Natural Park (Desnyansko-Starogutsky), Scientific Centre on Nature Conservation of the Ministry of Ecology and Nature Resources of Ukraine, and League of Concerned for Nature Reserves.

2. Dr. Fátima Mereles of the Fundación Desdel Chaco (Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the South American Chaco), Paraguay, is receiving a grant to collect baseline ecological data and compile existing data on the Paraguayan portion of the Palmar de las Islas, prepare a Ramsar Information Sheet to be submitted to the Environmental Secretariat of Paraguay to propose designation of the site to the Ramsar List, and prepare an integrated bilateral management plan for the Palmar de las Islas wetlands. The Palmar de las Islas, a lagoon system of palm forests in the boreal Chaco, straddles the border between Paraguay and Bolivia. The Bolivian portion of the wetland, along with the Salinas de San José, was designated a Ramsar site in September 2001. The Fundación Desdel Chaco will pursue designation of the Paraguayan portion of the Palmar de las Islas to the Ramsar List and institute joint integrated management of the wetlands system by both countries. Guyra Paraguay, Wildlife Conservation Society, Pilar National University, and Dirección de Recursos Hídricos are collaborating with Fundación Desdel Chaco to implement this project.

3. Mr. German I. Andrade, Fundación Humedales de Colombia, is receiving a grant to collect requisite information to complete a Ramsar Information Sheet for Lake Fúquene, Colombia, will create a map indicating the wetland boundaries and surrounding watershed, and conduct an awareness-raising campaign to foster grassroots support for protection of the wetland. Lake Fúquene is a 30 km2 shallow tropical high altitude (2,549 m) wetland located in the Colombian Eastern Cordillera. The lake supports several endemic and globally threatened species, including the Bogotá rail (Rallus semiplumbeus), green-billed gallinule Gallinula malanops, marsh wren (Cistothorus apolinari); and the local endemic populations of marsh cacique Agelaius icterocephalus bogotensis and least bitterns Ixobrychus exilis bogotensis. The lagoon also supports three endemic fish (Eremophilus mutissi, Grundulus bogotensis and Pygiduim bogotensis) and several endemic invertebrates. The lagoon is also important for northern migrants such as the common teal Anas discors and osprey Pandion haliaetus. The lake has significant regional economic values, and provides resources for approximately 150 poor families settled on its shores, who are fishermen, reed harvesters, and artisans. Lake Fúquene has been significantly degraded due to irrigation for the dairy industry resulting in reduced surface water levels, increased nutrient inputs resulting in eutrophication, and introductions of alien invasive vegetation and fish.

4. Professor Sabir Bin Muzaffar, Independent University of Bangladesh, is receiving a grant to conduct a census of waterfowl, analyze the waterfown hunting rate, conduct research on waterfowl feeding ecology, and sample freshwater macroinvertebrates at Tanguar Haor wetland, Bangladesh. Tanguar Haor is a Ramsar site, supporting between 20,000 and 60,000 migratory waterfowl. Ten species of birds that are found at the wetland are globally threatened. 25,000 people residing in 46 villages surround the wetland and rely on waterfowl, mollusks, and fish for subsistence and economic use. A management plan is being developed, in part, to address the non-sustainable hunting of waterfowl. Professor Muzaffar's research promises to assist with completion and implementation of the wetland management plan.

5. Maria Carolina Hazin, Ministério do Meio Ambiente, Brazil, received a grant to raise awareness of wetland values at the National Park of Logoa do Peixe, National Park of Araguala, and Ecological Station of Carijós by bringing school children between 8 and 13 years old to the three protected areas. The children will (a) be given a lecture on wetlands, disseminating relevant principles of the Ramsar Convention Bureau's Wise Use Guidelines; (b) be taken on field trips into the three wetland sites; and (c) be provided with materials to draw or write a story about the wetland they have visited. The drawings and stories will be reviewed by the Ministry of Environment, Directoria do Programa Nacional de Áreas Protegidas. The Ministry of Environment will award prizes to the authors of the best two drawings and best two stories, and the best 20 to 30 drawings and stories will be chosen for a printed book. About 750 copies of the book will be printed, to be distributed at the three protected areas and other venues to enable broad dissemination to the public.

2002 Grant Awards

For the 2002 round of grant-making, the SWS Ramsar Support Grant Program received 29 proposals from 23 countries, of which SWS was able to fund 4 (14%). SWS allocated $10,000 to fund two proposals, and, for the fourth year, we received a grant for $11,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation to award 2 proposals from the Latin America and Caribbean region. Dr. Maria Jose' L. Boavida (Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal), Dr. Seb Buckton (The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, UK), Dr. Zullash Uddin (Environment Construction Engineering Corporation, Japan), Dr. Frank Rivera-Milan (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of International Conservation), Dr. Nick Davidson (Ramsar Convention Bureau), and Eric Gilman (grant program manager) comprised the proposal evaluation team. A summary of the four projects supported by the SWS Ramsar Support Grant Program in 2002 follows:

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. Xuan Thuy, the only Ramsar Site in Vietnam, is 14,000 ha comprising 3 estuarine islands. Mangrove forests comprise half of the reserve's area. At least 60 species of water birds winter at the site, including seven endangered species. Thousands of local community members depend on the natural resources of the wetland. Project activities will include capacity building and establishment of a bee keeping association to establish a sustainable bee keeping industry in the wetland as a means of reducing the current overuse of the wetland's natural resources.

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. Mar Chiquita is among the largest saline lakes of the world and the largest in South America (5,000 km2). The lake supports 148 species of birds, is the main breeding area for the Chilean flamingo, where at least 100,000 flamingos have been recorded in recent years. Mar Chiquita is also a very important wintering site for migratory shorebirds, particularly Wilson's Phalaropes. Pressure from development and an expanding tourism industry threaten the site. Project activities will include conducting a rapid biological assessment to describe the site's biodiversity and structure, identifying locations of sensitive sites, creating GIS layers and maps, soliciting review of a draft Management Plan by the local community of the municipality of Miramar and Reserve authorities, and pursuing adoption of a Management Plan.

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. The section of river being considered for nominating a new Ramsar site supports several waterbird species, with 20 dominant species, and crosses through Moldova and Ukraine. The Novodnestrovsk hydropower stations have altered the temperature of river waters, with concomitant alteration of vegetation communities. Project activities will include collecting data on the biodiversity of the site, preparing a draft Ramsar Information Sheet, and presenting the Ramsar List nomination materials to the Ministries of Environment of Moldova and Ukraine.

4. Mr. Martín Lezama-López, Universidad Centroamericana, received a grant to raise awareness of Ramsar List designations of four Nicaraguan wetlands through convening a series of stakeholder workshops and forming management committees with representatives of all interest groups. Workshop recommendations are to be presented to the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, which will identify key components of management plans for each of the four Ramsar sites. The four Ramsar List wetland sites targeted by this project are the (1) Deltas del Estero Real y Llanos de Apacunca, Chinandega, an estuarine ecosystem that is part of the large mangrove systems of the Golfo de Fonseca shared with El Salvador and Honduras; (2) Lago de Apanás-Asturias, Jinotega, an artificial reservoir formed by two electricity-producing barrages of the Río Tuma in the mountainous north of the country; (3) Wetland System San Miguelito, situated along the southeast coast of Lago Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America); and (4) Sistema Lagunar de Tisma, located between Masaya and Granada, this Ramsar site consists of a number of small lake, marsh, and river shore ecosystems associated with the northwest shores of Lake Nicaragua.

-- reported by Eric Gilman (ericgilman@earthlink.net), Honolulu, Hawaii; National Audubon Society, Oceans Department, and Society of Wetland Scientists Board of Directors, Chair, International Chapter

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