The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 September 2004

 Dominican Republic's protected areas law raises concerns. The Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention reiterated last week his concern about the new law on Protected Areas which was approved by the Parliament of the Dominican Republic but which is now undergoing litigation as to its unconstitutionality. On the occasion of the nomination of H.E. Dr. Leonel Fernández as the new President of the Dominican Republic, the Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, Dr Peter Bridgewater, reminded the Government of its international obligations regarding protected areas. [02/09/04]

¿Qué futuro para los humedales de la República Dominicana? El Secretario General de la Convención de Ramsar reiteró la semana pasada su preocupación acerca de la nueva ley sobre áreas protegidas aprobada por el Parlamento de la República Dominicana pero actualmente demandada por inconstitucionalidad. En ocasión de la toma de posesión de S.E. Dr. Leonel Fernández como nuevo Presidente de la República Dominicana, el Secretario General, Dr. Peter Bridgewater, recordó al Gobierno sus obligaciones internacionales en materia de áreas protegidas. Más aqui.


Luc Hoffmann Medal for Wetland Science and Conservation. On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Wetlands International announces a new award - the Luc Hoffmann Medal for Wetland Science and Conservation. The award will be presented every triennium in honour of Luc Hoffmann, one of the founders of Wetlands International and a continuing source of inspiration and support to those who share his passion for wetlands. It has been established to highlight Luc's belief that effective nature conservation activities need to rely on good science, as well as in recognition of his own outstanding achievements in this field. The award will be conferred to an individual who has demonstrated excellence in one or more of three categories: scientific research; communication, education and/or public awareness; and wetland management. Max Finlayson's call for nominations can be found here. [25/08/04]


Ramsar, governments, and international organizations critical of Ukrainian canal. Several international organizations and countries, including the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, UNESCO, the Government of Romania, Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Shröder, and the Government of the United States of America, have expressed their deepest concern regarding Ukraine’s repeated deafness to the recommendations of the international community. The country’s project to build a navigable waterway through the Bystroye arm of the Danube delta has raised significant international opposition, as the project is affecting an important natural area listed as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and the core zone of a UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, as well as a national protected area in Ukraine. Here you will find the text of the Ramsar press release protesting the further work on this canal and offering technical assistance in finding a solution to the problem. [24/08/04]


Progress on the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative. The first meeting of the Interim Steering Committee of the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative took place in Sarapiquí, Costa Rica, 10-13 August 2004, and Ramsar's Margarita Astrálaga reports that representatives of Colombia, Costa Rica, Santa Lucia, Uruguay, and the United States, as well as the Ramsar and CMS Secretariats, WWF, BirdLife International, American Bird Conservancy and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network were all on board {photo left}. A draft strategy document was hammered out painstakingly and will be distributed for comment throughout the region in the coming months, and the participants were able to groundtruth the strategy themselves in big rafts on the Sarapiqui river. Margarita's brief report on the objectives and the outcomes of the meeting includes a summary of her other discussions with government and NGO colleagues on the implementation of the Convention in Costa Rica and provides a useful update. Here is her illustrated report. [20/08/04]


Niger names three important Ramsar sites in the Niger basin. The government of Niger, which has been taking vigorous steps in recent years, with the energetic assistance of WWF International's Living Waters Programme, to designate for the Ramsar List a number of extremely valuable wetland areas along the Niger River and in the Lake Chad Basin, has recently listed three new sites, totaling over three quarters of a million hectares along the Niger and two of its former tributary valleys from the north. Ramsar's Abou Bamba, Senior Advisor for Africa, was able to present Niger's president, Mamadou Tandja, with "site diplomas" for the three new sites at President Jacques Chirac's meeting in Paris on 26-27 April 2004, "Partenariat international pour le Bassin du Niger: vision partagée, de la stratégie vers un plan d'action", and now that the site datasheets have been thoroughly gone over by the Africa team in the Secretariat, the new RSs can be added to the List of Wetlands of International Importance. The three sites are Dallol Bosso (376,162 hectares), Dallol Maouri (318,966 ha), and Zone humide du moyen Niger II (65,850 ha) in the Niger floodplain.[17/08/04]


Paraguay designates another Ramsar Site in the Chaco. Following Laguna Chaco Lodge, listed in october 2003, Laguna Teniente Rojas Silva in Boquerón department joins the Ramsar List as of 14 July 2004 as the 6th Ramsar Site in the country. Fundación DeSdelChaco was instrumental in supporting the designation and preparing the Ramsar Information Sheet. As described by Ramsar's Iván Dario Valencia, based upon the Ramsar Information Sheet, the Laguna Teniente Rojas Silva (8,470 hectares, 22º38’S 059º03’W) is part of the watershed of the Riacho Yakaré Sur in the Paraguayan Chaco and alternates between freshwater and brackish conditions. Here is his brief report in English and Spanish. [16/08/04]

Paraguay designa un nuevo sitio Ramsar en el Chaco. Tras la inclusion de la Laguna Chaco Lodge en la Lista de Humedales de Importancia Internacional en octubre de 2003, la Laguna Teniente Rojas Silva se convierte en el sexto sitio Ramsar de Paraguay. La Fundación DeSdelChaco apoyó la designación y elaboró la Ficha Informativa Ramsar. Más.


Progress on the MA's Ramsar Synthesis Report. Deputy Secretary General Nick Davidson is in Kuching (Sarawak), Malaysia for the meeting of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment's Ramsar Synthesis Report Team (16-18 August). The Team, co-lead by Max Finlayson (STRP Chair) and Rebecca D'Cruz (former Ramsar Bureau Regional Coordinator for Asia) will be preparing the first full draft of this important MA product for the Ramsar Convention. The Synthesis Report will summarise and highlight key findings of the full MA chapters on the Conditions and Trends of Wetlands, future scenarios, and response options, in a succinct and accessible form for use by Ramsar Contracting Parties and all others concerned with the conservation and wise use of wetlands. The contents of the Synthesis report is being guided by the set of key questions setting out Ramsar's information needs from the MA, which were prepared by the Scientific and Technical Review Panel in the early days of the MA process. Later this year, the draft report will be circulated for review to all Ramsar Administrative Authorities and the STRP, before the report is finalised and published in 2005. [16/08/04]


INTECOL7 calls for wise use of wetlands. The 900 participants in the 7th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference, 25-30 July 2004, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, summarized their conclusions and recommendations in the so-called "Utrecht Declaration on Wetlands", in which, amongst other things, they called upon the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention to act upon "their obligation to identify all sites within their territories that can be classified as wetlands of international importance and ensure the conservation and wise use of these sites". The text of the Utrecht Declaration, borrowed from http://www.bio.uu.nl/intecol/declaration/, has been reproduced right here. [13/08/04]


Parliamentarian Hiroyuki Tani presses for Ramsar values in Japan. The Honorable Hiroyuki Tani, a member of the Japanese Diet (Parliament), who paid a visit to the Ramsar Secretariat in December 2003, has recently met with Ms. Yuriko Koike, Minister of the Environment in Japan, on the 3rd of August 2004 in order to discuss Ramsar issues in Japan. Specifically he urged the designation and sustainable management of more Wetlands of International Importance before COP9 and encouraged the government to facilitate the participation of NGOs and local communities in the Ramsar Site designation process. Here is a very brief illustrated report of that meeting. [13/08/04]


Wetlands Centre Australia plans national forum. The Wetlands Centre Australia is launching The Wetland Innovation Series through a National Forum. Entitled Innovations, Obligations and Incentives, the Forum will be held on Tuesday 21st September 2004 at The Wetlands Centre, 10 minutes from Newcastle in the lower Hunter Valley. The Forum will focus on: Interpretation and update on all significant legislation and reforms affecting development adjacent to wetlands in NSW, and Providing central access to cutting-edge approaches for managing activities in wetland catchments, including planning and policy-making; urban design; assessment and prioritisation; incentives and tools. The Wetland Innovation Series is designed to challenge current thinking and practice. It will provide direct access to up-to-date knowledge, tools and technology, and key players and specialists in the field of wetland management from across Australia. Here is the announcement, sent to us by Kylie Yeend, Project Officer, Hunter Ramsar Communication Strategy, with a link to a PDF brochure which includes application forms. [13/08/04]


Ramsar welcomes the Marshall Islands as its 140th Party. The Secretariat is extremely pleased to welcome another new Party from the Oceania region, the Republic of the Marshall Islands - the procedure for accession has been completed on 13 July 2004 and the treaty, as amended by the Paris Protocol of 1982, will therefore come into force for the Marshall Islands on 13 November 2004. The new Party's first Ramsar site, Jaluit Atoll Conservation Area (69,000 hectares, 06°00'N 169°34'E) is a large coral atoll comprising 91 islets with a land area of 700 ha enclosing a large lagoon and including diverse and relatively pristine marine and terrestrial habitats, such as reefs, sandflats, seagrass beds, mangroves, and sand cays. There is a considerable range of relatively healthy marine species populations of reef fish and invertebrates, and though terrestrial species are more limited there are turtle nesting beaches and seabird roosting islands in relatively stable condition. A human population of fewer than 2000 people practices a subsistence lifestyle. Traditional land ownership and resource management have been effective, but as resource uses fall increasingly under local government councils, there has been a decline in sustainable management awareness and practices. Potential threats include over-harvesting, especially of marine species for off-island markets, and the prospect of rising sea levels associated with global warming. A management plan is in effect, and the new site designation data, prepared by John Bungitak of the EPA, has benefited by the work of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and of Bill Phillips of Mainstream Consulting with funding provided by WWF. [12/08/04]


Novedades del Centro Regional Ramsar para la Capacitación e Investigación sobre Humedales en el Hemisferio Occidental. En cumplimiento del Convenio entre el Gobierno de la República de Panamá y la Secretaría de la Convención, así como de la Resolución VII.26 de la COP7, el 5 de enero del 2004 inició operaciones el Centro Regional Ramsar, luego de un proceso de varios meses para la selección de la Directora Ejecutiva y la asignación de la partida presupuestaria aportada por Panamá, como capital semilla para su operación inicial. Durante los primeros seis meses de gestión, ha enfocado sus esfuerzos en el desarrollo de una estructura legal y operativa que incluye su reconocimiento mediante una ley (Ley No.33/2004), el establecimiento de los sistemas administrativos y financieros, el plan estratégico y de trabajo, la línea base para la evaluación de su desarrollo institucional y el diseño de diversos proyectos. Por otra parte, se está realizando un diagnóstico regional dirigido a identificar las necesidades de fortalecimiento de los puntos focales de la Convención así como de otros actores relevantes en la región para los ecosistemas de humedales, con base en el cual se diseñarán los diversos programas de capacitación que el Centro ofrecerá, considerando que como parte de sus objetivos se encuentra apoyar el cumplimiento del Plan Estratégico de la Convención Ramsar y las prioridades de los países miembros.

Adicionalmente, se están concretando alianzas estratégicas en diversos sectores tanto a nivel de organizaciones no gubernamentales nacionales e internacionales, como de organismos internacionales. Un ejemplo de ello ha sido su participación como miembro fundador del Centro Internacional para el Desarrollo Sostenible (CIDES). Igualmente, está organizando su primer taller regional sobre manejo de humedales, a realizarse en noviembre del presente año. Con esta base de trabajo durante sus primeros meses de existencia, el Centro Regional Ramsar, está delineando sus áreas de acción que continuará desarrollando durante el próximo año en cuatro pilares estratégicos: capacitación, investigación, política y operatividad. [09/08/04]


Lesotho becomes the Convention's 139th Party. The Ramsar Secretariat is delighted to report that UNESCO, the Convention depositary, has notified us that on 1 July 2004 Lesotho deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention on Wetlands, as amended by the Paris Protocol (1982) and Regina Amendments (1987), and the Convention will therefore enter into force for Lesotho on 1 November 2004. The new Party's obligatory first Wetland of International Importance is "Lets'eng-la-Letsie", a human-made lake and associated marshes covering 434 hectares along the Mohlakeng River, a far-upstream tributary of the Orange River which descends through South Africa and Namibia to the Atlantic Ocean. The area is a "biodiversity hotspot" in the Drakensberg Mountains area. A more substantial description of the fascinating new Ramsar Site, with some stunning photographs, will follow after the site data has been studied by the Africa team in the Secretariat, but in the meantime we welcome Lesotho to the Ramsar family as our 139th Contracting Party. IUCN's Southern Africa regional office has been extremely helpful in moving the accession process forward. [05/08/04]


Lake Chad Basin Commission and the CHADWET Initiative. The 51st Session of the Lake Chad Basin Commission was held 21 to 22 June 2004, amongst other business, the Commissioners expressed satisfaction with the take-off of the Lake Chad Basin Initiative and decided that the five pilot projects undertaken within the framework of the LCBC/GEF project (all coinciding with existing or planned Ramsar sites in the Lake Chad Basin) be considered as concrete contribution to the CHADWET Initiative launched in June 2003 at Izmir (Turkey). [05/08/04]

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,342

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