The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 1 November 2004

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]

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: 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.

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]

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]

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]

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.

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[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]

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