The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 1 November 2004
Headline story.Evian Encounter on Himalayan region. Ramsar's Evian Encounter for the Himalaya-Hindu Kush-Pamir-Allay region and the Mekong River basin countries is presently under way in Evian, France, 1-6 November 2004. The Evian Encounter series of seminars is part of a Ramsar Convention project financed by the France-based Danone Group, which includes the Evian Mineral Waters Society. The Encounters are designed to be discussions among high-level officials from the Contracting Parties to the Convention of current approaches to the implementation of the Ramsar Convention. This year's session, however, is being organized for both Contracting and non-Contracting Parties from the area under study. As the Himalayas function as Asia's water tower and are popularly known as the "roof of the world", with unique ecological and cultural values, they require a global focus for action. The Ramsar Convention Secretariat is very pleased to see a regional initiative emerging from the collective efforts of the countries in the region supported by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), WWF International, and Ramsar, as well as individual experts. This meeting will be a further step to consolidate the initiative and define its modus operandi for effective regional cooperation on the conservation and wise use of wetlands in this shared watershed, in continuing fulfillment of Ramsar Resolution VIII.12 on mountain wetlands. Here is the programme in PDF format. [01/11/04]
Headline story.Seminar on the role of ecosystems as water suppliers, Geneva, 13-14 December 2004. Switzerland is organizing a seminar on the role of ecosystems as water suppliers which will take place on 13 and 14 December 2004 in Geneva, at the Palais des Nations. The Seminar is being prepared by the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape and the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations (UNECE) secretariat of the Water Convention, in close cooperation with that of the 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and of the UNECE Timber Committee. Please find the information under: http://www.unece.org/env/water/meetings/ecosystem/seminar.htm. The need to adopt an integrated approach and the role of ecosystems in water management has been increasingly recognized in past years, but putting it into practice with concrete measures is a complex exercise and a great challenge for every country. The seminar seeks to take stock of the available experience in the UNECE region, share best practices and bring in valuable expertise from other regions. To this aim Mr. Philippe Roch, Swiss State Secretary, has addressed a letter to the Ministers of Environment, Forestry and Agriculture in the UNECE region inviting them to submit national reports on the practical experience of integration of forests and wetlands in water management.
Tobias Salathé, Senior Advisor for Europe, is in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 29-31 October 2004, for the Third Meeting of the Coordinating Committee on Global Action for Peatlands. [29/10/04]
Guangchun Lei, Senior Advisor for Asia, and Assistant Advisor Liazzat Rabbiosi, Peter Bridgewater and Nick Davidson, Secretary General and Deputy SG, are in Evian, France, during the week of 1-5 November 2004, for the 5th Evian Encounter. See related news item on this page. [01/11/04]
Dwight Peck, Communications Officer, is in Montreal, Canada, 1-5 November 2004, for the Convention on Biological Diversity's "Informal Meeting on Interoperability of Information among the Three Rio and Other Environmental Conventions", 2-3 November, and bilateral talks with the CBD Secretariat afterward. [01/11/04]
Margarita Astrálaga, Senior Advisor for the Americas, Assistant Advisor Iván Dario Valencia, and Peter Bridgewater, the Secretary General, will be in Merida, Mexico, 7-12 November 2004, for the Third Panamerican Ramsar Regional Meeting, the first of the Ramsar regional meetings in preparation for COP9. Here is the index page. [01/11/04]
World Wetlands Day 2005 materials ready for distribution. World Wetlands Day falls on 2 February every year, and each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular. In 2004, some 250 events in 85 countries were reported to us in the Secretariat and described on our Web pages. Every year, with generous financial assistance from the private sector Danone Group, the Secretariat has offered a new selection of posters, stickers, videos, pocket calendars, leaflets and information packs free of charge, and this year is no exception - an attractive and thought-provoking poster and three new stickers have been produced and are now available in English, French, or Spanish for event organizers all over the world, as well as in electronic format for those who might wish to customize them or print large quantities for themselves. In a break from the past, this year stocks of these materials have been shipped to the Convention's Administrative Authorities in the national governments of member States, and we are providing a list of contacts in all of these countries to whom event organizers should direct their requests in the first instance. Click here for further information about the available materials and how to order them. [28/10/04]
Ramsar in Norway. A Mid-Scandinavian symposium on the management of Trondheimfjord took place on 8-10 October 2004 in Stiklestad, Norway, organized by the Nord-Trøndelag county group of Norsk Ornitologisk Forening, the BirdLife International partner in Norway. Trondheimfjord is one of the longest fjords in Norway, surrounded by much agricultural land. Especially along its eastern shores, an important number of tidal and shallow water zones and flats, river estuaries and shoreline wetlands remain. Currently the two counties of South and Nord Trøndelag harbour six Ramsar Sites. "How to make best use of the Ramsar Convention tools by using them as an instrument for environmental planning and management" was the theme of a presentation at the symposium and of a special meeting of Ramsar's Adviser for Europe with the national and regional environment authorities and the mayors of the communes alongside Trondheimfjord. The briefing provided a useful occasion for conveying Ramsar's integrated approach at catchment basin level, including biological factors, but also social, institutional, economic and cultural aspects. Here is Ramsar's Tobias Salathé's characteristically informative and well-illustrated brief report on the meeting and field trip afterward. [28/10/04]
Visit by the delegation from Hunan Province, China. Invited by the Secretary General, Dr. Peter Bridgewater, the Hunan Delegation led by Mr. Yang Zhengwu, the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of Hunan, China, visited the Ramsar Convention Secretariat on 24 October 2004.[29/10/04]
New publication. Atlas of Loktak published. Wetlands International, Loktak Development Authority, and India-Canada Environment Facility have brought out a publication 'Atlas of Loktak lake' that presents information on ecological, hydrological and socio-economic aspects of this Wetland of International Importance in India. The book is the outcome of the project on sustainable development and water resources management of Loktak Lake with financial support provided by India-Canada Environmental Facility. Loktak lake is the largest wetland in the northeast of India, traditionally used for agriculture and fisheries. [29/10/04]
Sri Lanka launches National Wetland Policy. "During the past 15 years, Sri Lankan Authorities have increasingly recognized the importance of wetlands and their management. The first major step was the establishment of the National Wetland Steering Committee (NWSC) in 1990 with Cabinet approval, which was reconstituted in 2003, in order to integrate plans for wetland areas and to coordinate development and conservation activities. . . . The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, after having gone through a very wide consultative process, where all relevant stakeholders including the general public in country were involved, ultimately prepared the National Wetland Policy which was approved by the Government of Sri Lanka in May 2004." Here is a brief report on the policy and the way forward by Deputy Director T M A S K Rodrigo. [28/10/04]
International Canvasback Award for Canada's Ken Cox. David A. Smith, Chief Division of Bird Habitat Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, describes the presentation of the International Canvasback Award to Canada's Ken Cox on behalf of the North American Waterfowl Management Committee and partners in the United States. [27/10/04]
Vacancy announcement. Mekong vacancy for Environmental Economist. The joint UNDP/ IUCN / MRC Mekong River Basin Wetland Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use Programme is a five-year programme of activities in the four lower Mekong countries. The Programme will strengthen the mechanisms for conservation of wetland biodiversity and assist the four countries with testing sustainable use approaches in demonstration sites. The programme is being managed from a Programme Management Unit (PMU) in Vientiane, Lao PDR. Presently the programme is seeking an Environmental Economist -- the position will initially be for a period of two years with possibility of extension for a further three years. Candidates from the four Lower Mekong countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam) will be given preference. The deadline for applications is 10 November 2004. [link later removed] [27/10/04]
Announcement.Management of transboundary Ramsar Sites - Chances and Challenges. An International Conference from 18-19th November 2004, Austria. Many Wetlands of International Importance listed under the Ramsar Convention are located in border zones of adjoining countries. Despite their obvious transboundary connectivity, these "shared wetlands" are often not perceived and treated as ecological and hydrological units. This poses a major challenge to wetland conservation, not only in terms of habitat management, regional planning and decision making, but also with respect to environmental education and public awareness activities. The conference will provide a forum for an intensive exchange of experience concerning these issues. It is intended for all persons involved in transboundary wetland conservation and management, namely conservation specialists, environmental educators and public relations officers from protected areas, experts in regional planning and members of higher administrative bodies responsible for transboundary Ramsar sites. [25/10/04]
A loss for wetland conservation. The staff of the Ramsar Secretariat are grieved by the death of Vadim Georgievitch Vinogradov who passed away on the 8th of October 2004 at his home in Moscow, Russia, one day before his 56th birthday. Vadim Vinigradov graduated from Moscow University, Faculty of Geography in 1971, and worked at the Faculty's Eastern Expedition in 1971-1977, at the Research Institute for Nature Conservation in 1977-1995, at the International Foundation of Reforms in 1995-1998, at the Federal Research Institute for Medical Problems of Health in 1998-2001, and at the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Science from 2001. In his scientific studies, Vadim Vinogradov formulated the basic principles of wetland ecosystem dynamics in connection with their status in the system of biogeocoenosis successions, developed the national wetland classification and compiled the first national estimation of waterfowl populations by species (together with Vitaly Krivenko), developed the scheme of territorial zonation of the country for the purpose of wetland inventory, and carried out research on wetlands and water birds in many localities. Vadim worked on the Ramsar Convention from the early stages of its development. Thanks to his efforts, many important objectives of the Convention were translated into national strategic, legislative and managerial instruments. [22/10/04]
Ramsar Handbooks available on CD-ROM. The second edition of the "Ramsar Toolkit", the Handbooks for the Wise Use of Wetlands, consists of 14 volumes containing all of the major guidance documents adopted by the Conference of the Contracting Parties through COP8 in 2002, combined with additional illustrative material such as background studies, case studies, photographs and tables. The compilation of the series, which is available in the three official languages of the Convention (English, French, and Spanish), was completed in September 2004, and the handbooks were posted on this Web site for download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, along with unpolished Word versions of their texts. Now the same PDF and Word texts of the handbooks are available free of charge on CD-ROM, all three languages (and including the Ramsar Manual) on one CD, and readers who wish to have a copy of their own should contact Montse Riera in the Secretariat, firstname.lastname@example.org. [15/10/04]
Ramsar at CITES by remote control. In an effort to ensure that our Convention's views on synergy and interlinkages between conventions were heard at the CITES COP13 meeting just finishing up in Bangkok, the Secretary General arranged for Standing Committee member Victoria Lichtschein, from Argentina, to deliver a message on this issue on his behalf during the agenda item on cooperation amongst conventions, 13 October. This provides an excellent example of where the Secretariat and the Contracting Parties can work together to deliver key messages in a cost-effective and timely way. The text of the remarks can be found here. [14/10/04]
Progress in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment's Ramsar Synthesis Report. Alongside a final full meeting of the lead authors of each of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Conditions & Trends, Scenarios, Responses and Sub-global Assessments report chapters, members of the MA's Ramsar Synthesis Team (co-led by Rebecca D'Cruz, former Ramsar Regional Coordinator for Asia, and Max Finlayson, Chair of the STRP) met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 25-29 September 2004 to work further on the draft MA Synthesis Report being prepared to meet the information needs identified by the Ramsar Convention as a key user of the MA's work. Here is Nick Davidson's illustrated report on the progress of the MA work and the final steps remaining over the next year before its completion. [11/10/04]
El Sitio Ramsar Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta en Colombia amenazado por un desarrollo incontrolado. El Secretario General de la Convención de Ramsar, Sr. Peter Bridgewater, expresó recientemente su preocupación frente al proyecto de construcción de un puerto multipropósito sobre el territorio del municipio de Palermo (Departamento del Magdalena). En efecto, este proyecto, iniciado por la firma Retramar SA, en este momento sin los permisos ni autorizaciones necesarias para su ejecución, está afectando seriamente la Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta y el Delta Estuarino del Río Magdalena, un complejo de humedal de gran importancia declarado Humedal de Importancia Internacional bajo la Convención de Ramsar por el Gobierno de Colombia el 18 de junio de 1998. Más. [09/10/04]
Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Ramsar site threatened by uncontrolled development. The Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, Mr. Peter Bridgewater, recently expressed his concern about a projected multipurpose port in the municipality of Palermo (Department of Magdalena, Colombia). This project, started by the company Retramar SA, is currently without any permit or authorization and is seriously affecting the Ciénaga de Santa Marta and the Estuary Delta of the Magdalena River, a wetland complex of great importance, designated as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention by the Government of Colombia on the 18th of June 1998.
Secretary General congratulates ex-Africa intern. Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General, today expressed the Secretariat's congratulations to our colleague Nassima Aghanim: "Nassima Aghanim, Ramsar's ex-Assistant Advisor for the Africa region, brilliantly defended her DEA (Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies) diploma yesterday in Paris. Nassima has been working for two years now on a comparative study of how successful three Ramsar Small Grants Fund (SGF) projects in Africa have been. Based upon one site in Togo and two in Algeria, Nassima's study demonstrates the importance of the bottom-up approach in management plans and the key role of the local communities. Nassima completed her study in the framework of the DEA "Environnement: Milieux, Techniques et Sociétés" (Environment: Ecosystems, Techniques and Societies) of the French Natural History Museum (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle) in Paris, with the support of the Ramsar Convention. Nassima graduated with 16/20, an excellent score indeed, and is planning to follow her university career with a PhD. The Ramsar Secretariat would like to express our heartiest congratulations to Nassima for her achievement, and looks forward to seeing more of her work for Ramsar in the future." [08/10/04]
Publication announcement.Floating Islands: A Global Bibliography.Floating Islands, by Chet Van Duzer, is described as "a unique treasury of information about one of nature's marvels: floating islands. The bibliography contains more than 1800 citations of books and articles in twenty languages on the subject, annotated and cross-referenced, and with both thematic and geographic indices. All aspects of floating islands are addressed, including their formation, the causes of their buoyancy, their role in the ecology of lakes and wetlands, their flora and fauna, their role in the dispersal of plants and animals, and methods for controlling and managing them. Works are also cited on artificial floating islands used for agriculture, human habitation, wildlife habitat, and improvement of water quality; and floating islands in literature, myth, and legend. The book includes the text and an English translation, with detailed notes, of G. C. Munz's rare 1711 thesis on floating islands, Exercitatio academica de insulis natantibus, as well as photographs of several floating islands." Hardcover, 6 x 9, 428 pages with indices and 24 illustrations, ISBN 0-9755424-0-0, US$44.95, Published by Cantor Press (http://www.cantorpress.com). [08/10/04]
SWS travel grants offered for annual meeting. "The Society of Wetland Scientists offers travel awards to international wetland scientists (i.e., those from countries other than US and Canada) to help defray the expense of their attending the SWS meetings. In 5-10 June 2005, the 26th International Wetlands Meeting ('Coastal Plain Wetlands: Ecological, Landscape, and Regulatory Transformations') will be held in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. I am chairing the International Travel Awards Committee and would like to request your help in spreading the word to international wetland scientists that they are welcome to apply for the travel award (includes registration fee and up to $1500 in travel expenses). More information, including eligibility requirements and application form, is available on the SWS Web site (http://www.sws.org/charleston2005/international.htm). The deadline for applications is December 15, 2004. Thank you in advance for your help." Jim Perry, Chair, International Travel Awards Committee (email@example.com). (James E. Perry, Ph.D., PWS, Vice Chair, Department Coastal and Ocean Policy, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, Virginia, USA). [07/10/04]
Related story.SWS Ramsar Support Grants for 2004. Since the establishment of the Ramsar Support Grant Program in 1999, the Society of Wetland Scientists have awarded 18 grants totaling $90,000 to wetland professionals in 15 countries. The awards for 2004 were announced here in April 2004.
New study of Caribbean reefs. The World Resources Institute has published a new 80-page softcover book entitled "Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean", by Lauretta Burke and Jonathan Maidens, jointly under the auspices of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) and the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme. "The richly illustrated report identifies nearly two-thirds of the region's reefs to be directly threatened by human activities, and estimates future economic losses from diminished coral reef fisheries, dive tourism and shoreline protection services at between US$350 and US$870 million per year." The text is available in PDF and HTML from WRI at http://reefsatrisk.wri.org/, and presently the WRI site indicates that a CD-ROM version will be available from the same address soon. [07/10/04]
From the Wetlands Forum. Query on ongoing work on biodiversity of ricefields in Asia-Pacific. "Dear colleagues, We are seeking information on ongoing or completed studies and publications on the biodiversity value of rice fields, especially as a habitat for waterbirds. Work from East Asia would be of most relevance, but examples from further afield would also be of great interest. The Seosan City Government of South Korea is hosting an international symposium on wetlands in mid-November and would like to highlight some of the work. If you have any relevant information or are involved in such work, I would greatly appreciate if you respond to me at the earliest. Thanks in advance. With best wishes, Taej." Dr. Taej Mundkur, Wetlands International - South Asia, New Delhi (firstname.lastname@example.org). [07/10/04]
Ramsar visit to the Libyan mission in Geneva. The Ramsar Secretary General, Dr. Peter Bridgewater, paid a courtesy call recently to Her Excellency Mrs. Najat AL-HAJJAJI, Ambassador of Libya to the United Nations. The objective of the visit was to discuss the strengthening of the Convention's implementation in Libya and the role Libya could play in its capacity of Chair of the Africa Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) in the preparation and organization of the 9th meeting of the Conference of Contracting Parties (Ramsar COP9) scheduled to take place next year in Kampala. A bit more detail and a photo. [07/10/04]
Ghana launches National Wetlands Committee. In ceremonies last month, Prof. Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands and Forestry, acknowledging the importance of wetlands and associated fresh water systems in supplying goods and services to people, declared the creation of the Ghanaian National Wetlands Committee in Accra with a call for the institution of appropriate measures to protect wetlands and make them more useful. In addition, the Ministry also announced the adoption of a National Wetlands Conservation Strategy in order to facilitate the implementation of the tenets of the forest, wildlife and land policies with regard to wetland conservation, and Prof Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu, former chair of the Ramsar STRP, said that she is "convinced that such a policy will encourage more community participation in the management of the country's wildlife resources". In the same ceremony, the Minister made a point of confirming that the country would continue honouring its obligations under the Ramsar Convention. The committee is composed of 21 members and presided by Dr. Charles A. Biney, Director of the Water Research Institute and acting Secretary General of the Water Resources Commission. Further information at http://www.ghana.gov.gh/living/article.php?id=0000006726.[04/01/04]
Tour du Valat publication on Mediterranean temporary pools. At the culmination of a European Union-funded project (LIFE Nature programme), the Biological Station Tour du Valat (located in France's Camargue Ramsar Site) has published a comprehensive, two-volume document on "Mediterranean Temporary Pools", in both English and French versions. The project covered field work at seven sites in Mediterranean France including Corsica, and the report refers also to results of parallel studies at a number of additional sites in Morocco and Algeria. The project was a substantial trigger for Resolution VIII.33, adopted by the Contracting Parties at Ramsar COP8 in Valencia, providing "Guidance for identifying, sustainably managing, and designating temporary pools as Wetlands of International Importance". The two volumes "Mediterranean Temporary Pools / Les mares temporaires méditerranéennes" now provide easily accessible and substantial scientific and technical details to further illustrate and support the Guidance provided through Resolution VIII.33. Tobias Salathé's review of the new work, and how to get it, can be found here. [02/10/04]
Reminder. Wetland Awards deadline at the end of this month. The Wetland Conservation Awards ("for actions that have significantly contributed to long-term conservation and sustainable use of wetlands") were established by the Ramsar Convention in 1996 in order to recognize and honor the contributions of individuals, organizations, and governments around the world towards promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands. The 2005 Awards will be made in the three categories of management, science, and education, and as in the past each will be accompanied by the Evian Special Prize of US$ 10,000, courtesy of the Danone Group (France). The deadline for nominations is 31 October 2004, so readers who are considering making a nomination should turn their attention to completing the nomination forms as soon as possible. The general index page, with criteria and nomination forms in English, Français, and Español, can be seen here. [01/10/04]
Honors for former Mayor Wanibuchi. The city of Kushiro, in Hokkaido, Japan, has recently conferred its first award of honorary citizenship upon former mayor Toshiyuki Wanibuchi on 15 September 2004. Mayor Wanibuchi worked hard from 1990 onward to bring the Ramsar Parties to Kushiro for the 5th meeting of the Contracting Parties in 1993 and to make that COP one of the Convention's most memorable for thorough preparations and hospitality. in 1995, Mr Wanibuchi became the first president of the new Kushiro International Wetland Centre (KIWC), dedicated to following up on the momentum created by the COP; Naoko Satoh of KIWC and former Ramsar staff member Dr Satoshi Kobayashi will be joining in a Kushiro reunion of COP5 participants on 1 October 2004, and the latest edition of UNITAR's training sessions on wetlands and biodiversity management will be convening there later in the year. Ramsar Secretary General Peter Bridgewatercontributed a message of greetings for the occasion of Mr Wanibuchi's Kushiro ceremony. [30/09/04]
More to follow. Watch this space. Feedback and suggestions are welcome to: the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland (tel +41 22 999 0170, fax +41 22 999 0169, e-mail ). Updated regularly by Dwight Peck, Ramsar Secretariat.