The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 7 January 2003
Cuba names five new Ramsar sites. The Bureau of the Ramsar Convention is delighted to announce that the Government of Cuba has designated five extraordinarily valuable wetlands for the List of Wetlands of International Importance, bringing that country's total surface area under the Ramsar umbrella to 1,188,411 hectares. These five sites include an impressive array of coastal wetland types and provide support for many species of flora and fauna, some of them rare or endangered. The very commendable efforts by Cuban authorities to designate these new sites have been materially assisted by WWF's Living Waters Programme. The new Ramsar sites are 1) Buenavista (313,500 ha) in Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus provinces, 2) Ciénaga de Lanier y Sur de la Isla de la Juventud (126,200 ha) on the Isla de la Juventud, 3) Gran Humedal del Norte de Ciego de Avila (226,875 ha) in Ciego de Avila province, 4) Humedal Delta del Cauto (47,836 ha) in Granma and Las Tunas provinces, and 5) Humedal Río Máxima-Cagüey (22,000 ha) in Camagüey province. Here are brief site descriptions prepared by Ramsar's Julio Montes de Oca. [07/01/03]
Australian NGO-private sector team wins conservation award. Bill Phillips, former Ramsar DSG, forwards the news that "BHP Billiton mining company and Conservation Volunteers Australia are delighted to announce that the Revive Our Wetlands program has won the National Large Business category of the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships. Revive was the only environmental program to win out of the six Award categories. This success is a testament to the increased prominence of wetland conservation. Since its inception two years ago, Revive has achieved significant outcomes on 100 of Australia's most important wetlands. These include: Greater community involvement in wetland conservation; 150,000 stems (meaning small trees etc) planted; 600 hectares of weed control; 50 kilometers of fencing; 30 kilometers of walking tracks; 85 flora and fauna surveys. BHP Billiton and Conservation Volunteers Australia would like to say thank you and congratulations to all our 100 project partners and the thousands of Revive volunteers. This has been a fantastic effort and we look forward to more wetland conservation in 2003. For more information visit www.reviveourwetlands.net." Best wishes, Phil Harrison, Director Corporate and Government Affairs, Conservation Volunteers Australia; Melinda Buckland, Group Manager Community Programs, BHP Billiton.Conservation Volunteers Australia, PO Box 423, Ballarat Vic 3355, 03 5333 1483 Visit us at www.conservationvolunteers.com.au." [21/12/02]
India names eleven new Ramsar sites. The Bureau is very pleased to announce the designation by the Government of India of 11 new Wetlands of International Importance, bringing the Party's total to 19 Ramsar sites covering 648,507 hectares (these new sites were, in fact, added to the Ramsar List in early November 2001, but because of Ramsar COP8 it has taken us this long to prepare the brief site descriptions). These extremely interesting new sites range geographically all over the country, from three sites in Kerala in the southwest and another in Tamil Nadu in the southeast to another at 4,595m (15,075 feet) altitude in the Himalaya. They include coastal estuaries, dammed reservoirs, and lots of mangroves, and they include the famous East Calcutta wetlands, the traditionally developed natural urban waste water treatment system that is also enormously productive in fish and other commodities - and Bhoj wetlands at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, about which we featured a photo essay by Dr Madhu Verma about a year ago. Many of the sites qualify on hydrological grounds, many for their birds and some for their sea turtles, others for their support for fisheries, and a few are considered to be sacred in one way or another. It's well worth mentioning that WWF-India has been instrumental in the preparation of the site data for all of these new designations, as part of a project supported by WWF's Living Waters Programme; indeed, many of the government's 'Ramsar Information Sheets', the site datasheets, contain valuable detailed recommendations for government and community actions for future management of the sites. Peruse brief descriptions of the new sites here. [20/12/02]
Namibia completes Ramsar SGF project on wetland inventory and management planning. Holger Kolberg of the Directorate Scientific Services, Ministry of Environment and Tourism, has forwarded the outputs from Namibia's 1997 Small Grants Fund project -- a CD-ROM containing a database inventory of the country's Ramsar sites and other wetlands, as well as GIS data and updated Ramsar Information Sheets on all four of its Ramsar sites and draft management plans for three of them. A number of public information materials have also been produced, including a brochure summarizing the results of the inventory and individual leaflets on Namibia's Wetlands of International Importance. Congratulations to Namibia for the completion of this valuable project and the production of these useful tools. More details here. [19/12/02]
More stuff for World Wetlands Day. The superb WWD 2003 poster has an accompanying hardcopy "background paper", similarly entitled No wetlands - No water!, which amplifies the subject considerably, specifically on three themes: 1) "Freshwater - Is There Enough?", 2) "Water for Ecosystems?", and 3) "Wetlands, Water and Poverty Eradication", all nicely written up by Sandra Hails and filled with quotable factoids and attractively laid out, and NOW, only now, reprinted on this Web site, and only on this Web site. Look on the WWD 2003 index page and click on the right button if you can. Send for your free stuff and plan big gala events for 2 February 2003 or thereabouts, and try to convince the voting public that the viability of wetland functions is worth voting for -- and then, after the dust has cleared, send us a short or long report of your World Wetlands Day activities, with or without photos, as you wish, and we will post it here on the Ramsar Web site, as we've done in the past. Photos may be electronic or physical prints, but the texts should definitely be in electronic format, since nobody here types very well anymore or has time to transcribe your scribbled notes. Hint: the so-called "Ramsar sites brochure", a 3-ply nicely illustrated foldout about why we bother to designate Ramsar sites in the first place, makes a great stocking stuffer and can double as a placemat at your World Wetlands Day sitdown buffet, so order them in quantity. [17/12/02]
Ramsar urges sustainable trade at UNEP meeting. At the UNEP-MEA Meeting on Enhancing MEA and WTO Information Exchange (Palais des Nations, Geneva, 11 November 2002), Ramsar's Alain Lambert made a presentation on sustainable trade, which was summarized in the Chairman's Report of the meeting as follows: "Promoting sustainable trade. The promotion of trade in sustainably produced products was identified by some participants as a way both to promote implementation of MEAs and to enhance the contribution of trade to sustainable development more generally. Information exchange between trade and environment officials could help combine expertise to integrate these policy objectives, and support WTO discussions on the liberalization of trade in environmental goods and services. Information exchange could help identify new market access opportunities in this sector for developing countries. The representative of the Ramsar Secretariat described a number of national level projects (in Brazil, Ecuador, the Comoros, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa) which are promoting trade in sustainably produced products from wetlands, achieving both poverty alleviation and nature conservation objectives." [18/12/02]
Conservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Management of High-Andean Wetlands. On 5-6 December 2002, an international workshop on high-Andean wetlands was held in Iquique, Chile, sponsored by the Ramsar Convention and large number of local and national institutions and financially supported by GEF/UNDP, the Centre for Development Studies (CED), and the private sector mining company Collahuasi. More than 100 people attended, including representatives of local communities and indigenous people, government officials, academics and experts from the region, and progress was made at reach consensus on a number of management issues for these very special places. The Bureau's Margarita Astràlaga (left, at the Salar del Huasco Ramsar site) reports on the the results of the meeting and the subsequent study tour of the Salar del Huasco, site of an ongoing GEF/UNDP project. Here is her brief report, with photos. [16/12/02]
Bolivia receives a new prize from WWF for wetland conservation. After receiving recognition for efforts and initiatives for conserving wetlands in August, once again, during the Summit in Johannesburg, Bolivia was for a second time recognized in November at the eighth Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP8), on wetlands (COP8) held in Spain. This second recognition for Bolivia, consisting in the "Gold Duck" award on behalf of WWF, responds to the interest of the country in preserving its freshwater wetlands. Ms. María Marconi, representative from the Bolivian Ministry of Sustainable Development and Planning, indicated that after the COP8, their willingness to continue the process for wetland conservation through the organization of a national workshop aimed at defining policies for a national plan and a regulations for wetlands management including the Ramsar Sites. Bolivia possesses one of the largest and best preserved freshwater wetlands in the world, the Bolivian Pantanal, as well as 8 other declared wetlands of international importance (Ramsar) totaling an area of 6,518,073 hectares conserving different ecological characteristics.[16/12/02]
Bolivia recibió nuevo premio de WWF por conservación de humedales. Luego de ser reconocida en agosto por los esfuerzos e iniciativas por conservar los humedales, durante la Cumbre de Johannesburgo, Bolivia es nuevamente reconocida por WWF en el mes de noviembre, durante la Octava Conferencia de las Partes de la Convención Ramsar sobre humedales (COP8) realizada en España. Este segundo reconocimiento a Bolivia que consiste en la entrega del premio "Pato de Oro" por parte de WWF, responde al interés de este país por conservar sus humedales de agua dulce. Cabe resaltar que María Marconi, representante del Ministerio del Ambiente del gobierno boliviano, comunicó luego de la COP8 a WWF Bolivia, su voluntad política de continuar el proceso para la conservación de humedales mediante la organización de un Taller Nacional para definir políticas de un plan nacional y un reglamento para la gestión de humedales incluyendo a los sitios Ramsar. Bolivia posee uno de los humedales de agua dulce más grande y mejor conservado del mundo, el Pantanal Boliviano y junto con éste tiene actualmente 8 sitios declarados humedales de importancia internacional (Ramsar), los cuales suman un área de 6.518.073 hectáreas y conservan diferentes características ecológicas.
Kyrgyz Republic brings vital Central Asian areas into the Convention. The Ramsar Bureau is very pleased to announce that Abdulqawi Yusuf, Director of the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs of UNESCO, has informed the Bureau that as of 12 November 2002 the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia has completed the procedure of accession to the Convention, as amended by the Paris Protocol of 1982, and becomes the Convention's 134th Contracting Party with entry into force on 12 March 2003. With documents signed by Askar Akaev, President of the Republic, and Muratbek Imanaliev, Minster of Foreign Affairs, the Kyrgyz Republic has submitted a map showing boundaries for its first Wetland of International Importance, the high-altitude "Isyk-Kul State Reserve with the Lake Isyk-Kul". When first designated as a Ramsar site by the former Soviet Union in 1976, the Ramsar site 'Issyk-kul Lake' covered 629,800 hectares (42°27'N 077°16'E) and was added to the Montreux Record of threatened sites in July 1990, but it remains to be seen, when the new Ramsar Information Sheet has been received from the Kyrgyz Republic, how the present designation will compare with that from the Soviet era.