Society of Wetland Scientists names Ramsar Grant winners for 2002

15/04/2003

Society of Wetland Scientists' Ramsar Support Grant Program

Announcement of 2002 awards

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.

More information on this grant program can be found 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.

The Society of Wetland Scientists (Society) is a non-profit charitable and educational organization with a mission of augmenting the conservation and understanding of wetlands. The Society encourages the acceptance of wetland science as a distinct discipline by supporting student education, curriculum development, and research, and provides an independent forum for the exchange of ideas and information developed within wetland science. The Society has approximately 5,000 members from about 65 countries, with 13 regional chapters in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Society members receive the Society's peer-reviewed scientific journal Wetlands and newsletter SWS Bulletin, regional chapter newsletters, discounted registration at the annual conference, and voting privileges. More information on the Society, including membership information, can be found on the web at www.sws.org.

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. 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 and 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.

-- 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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