The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 1 March 2004

Coral reefs and the Ramsar Convention. In what one can hope will be the beginning of a new series, on Under-Represented Wetland Types in the Ramsar List, the Secretariat is posting a Web page on one of the most prominent of these, coral reefs. The new index page is meant to provide links toRamsar news items, reports, and Resolutions/Recommendations on coral issues available on this Web site, as well as links to a handful of the most important external Web resources on coral and a more-or-less up-to-date list of Wetlands of International Importance with significant coral components. Here it is. If our luck holds, we'll come along later with similar index pages on other under-represented wetland types, such as mangroves, mountain wetlands, peatlands, seagrass beds, wet grasslands, and maybe even temporary pools! [01/03/04]


Armenia completes 2002 Small Grants Fund project. Armenia has completed its 2002 SGF project "Current issues of conservation and wise use of wetlands and wetland biodiversity in the European new independent states". The project centered upon a seminar that was carried out by the NGO Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union (NGO Orientation) and was additionally supported by LakeNet through U. S. Agency for International Development funding. The seminar's five-day programme was composed of plenary and poster sessions, work groups, excursions and other cultural events. In total, 64 participants from Armenia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, Lithuania, Moldova, Netherlands, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom and USA took part. These participants were representatives of central and regional state environmental bodies, protected areas programmes, research institutes and universities, international organizations, national NGOs and private sector. The outcomes of the seminar are three sets of recommendations on "Conventions and International Cooperation", "Ramsar Sites and Wetland Conservation" and "Wise Use of Wetland Resources" and 43 presentations on many very interesting topics that you can find in the summary report from Simon Papyan, Karen Jenderedjian and Gagik Kirakossian, here. [27/02/04]


Ramsar in Österreich. The Lebensministerium of Austria and the provincial environmental authorities have produced a fine little 40-page brochure on Ramsar Sites in that beautiful country, both the eleven previous sites designated over the years since Austria joined the Convention in 1983 and the five most recent peatland and karst sites designated for the Ramsar List on World Wetlands Day 2004. Edited by Michaela Bodner, Wolfgang Pelikan, Gerhard Sigmund, Gert Michael Steiner and their colleagues, the leaflet discusses Austria's Ramsar and wetland conservation progress in general and then devotes a page-spread to each of the Ramsar Sites, mostly in the German language, naturally, but with a cameo overview in English for each of them. A fold-out map of Ramsar Sites comes at the end, and there's a contacts list showing Austrian addresses for government agencies, BirdLife, WWF Austria, Distelverein, Ramsar OEG Schrems, and other national and local points of wetland interest. The Ramsar Secretariat has been blessed with about 50 copies of this booklet and we'd be pleased to send you one free of charge if you'd like to have it and will promise to show it to your friends as well. [26/02/04]


Seychelles progresses towards Ramsar accession. Just after World Wetlands Day, Abou Bamba, Ramsar Senior Advisor for Africa, visited Mahe, Seychelles, in order to facilitate the Seychelles pre-accession workshop, 2-7 February 2004, hold discussions with officials on the next steps for Seychelles' ratification, and make a series of field visits of the Seychelles wetland sites to be designated. The meeting was jointly organized with WWF-Madagascar, and financial support was provided by the Ramsar Swiss Grant for Africa (Government of Switzerland) and WWF-Madagascar. Here is Abou's brief report on the workshop's encouraging results. [19/02/04]


New RBI guidelines announced. On 14 February the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, Peter Bridgewater, launched a new version of the Guidelines on Integrating Conservation and Wise Use into River Basin Management. These guidelines are unusual in that they contain local examples from Southeast Asia, as well as being available in Malay, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese – as well as English. The guidelines were produced with funding support from the ASEAN regional centre for biodiversity conservation, a joint venture between ASEAN and the EU. "Wise use is ultimately in the hands of local people, so having the guidelines in local languages and with local case studies is an excellent example for other regions to follow,” said Dr Bridgewater. As it was Valentine’s Day, Faizal Parish, Director of Global Environment Centre, who managed the project, urged everyone to “learn to love a river or wetland, today and for the rest of the year!” The guidelines are available in hardcopy and on CD from the Global Environment Centre in Malaysia (http://www.gecnet.info). -- reported by Sebastià Semene. [18/02/04]


CBD COP7 -- Ramsar/Swiss side event on global water issues. "The water issue has become one of the first priority in the international agenda after the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, but two years on, we still lack a global strategy for water, the CBD discussions have hardly started to solve a part of the problem, and no international instrument is really focusing on the issue." To address this question, the Ramsar Convention, the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Lanscape, and the Global Environment Centre hosted a side event to the CBD's COP7 in Kuala Lumpur, 13 February, entitled "Wetlands, Rivers & Water: the Developing Ramsar Convention", during which Ambassador Beat Nobs of Switzerland argued that "the Ramsar Convention is the major global convention on water". Speakers included Peter Bridgewater (Ramsar), Gordana Beltram (Slovenia), Beat Nobs (Switzerland), Tomme Young (IUCN Environmental Law Centre), and Faisal Parish (Global Environment Centre). Here is the invitation, here is the associated media briefing (PDF). [13/02/04]


Ramsar and IWMI sign Memo of Cooperation. The International Water Management Institute (http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/) is a nonprofit scientific research organization focusing on the sustainable use of water and land resources in agriculture and on the water needs of developing countries. IWMI's mission is "Improving water and land resources management for food livelihoods and nature", and it works with partners in the South to develop tools and methods to help these countries eradicate poverty through more effective management of their water and land resources. It has research projects running in 21 countries in Asia and Africa, and its work is coordinated through regional offices located in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, with subregional offices in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nepal, Uzbekistan, China, and Laos. The research team is composed of approximately 100 scientists from 16 different countries. IWMI's staff have already for some time been extraordinarily helpful to the Convention's work - IWMI's Rebecca Tharme is the Co-Lead of the Ramsar STRP's Working Group 3 on "Water Resource Management" and the lead on the cross-cutting issue of agriculture - and have been collaborating closely with the MedWet Coordination Unit on Mediterranean projects. Now this relationship has been formalized in a Memorandum of Cooperation signed by Ramsar's Peter Bridgewater and Prof. Dr Frank Rijsberman, Director General of IWMI based in Sri Lanka, effective 26 January 2004. The text of the new MOC is available here. [13/02/04]


Ramsar intervention on inland waters, CBD's COP7. The Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, made an introductory intervention in Working Group I's discussion on inland waters under the thematic programmes of work, 13 February (as part of the 7th meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), and here is the text. [13/02/04]


Publications on river biodiversity conservation launched on World Wetlands Day. "Conserving Natura 2000 Rivers" is mammoth four-year project, sponsored by seven British conservation agencies led by English Nature, which consisted of field-based trials, original research and the collation of up-to-the minute scientific discoveries. The result is a body of work that conservation organizations around Europe can use to achieve best practice in managing their special rivers and threatened freshwater species. Dr Lynn Parr (L.Parr@ccw.gov.uk), Technical Editor, English Nature, and Countryside Council for Wales, writes that a series of 44 publications have been launched in London on World Wetlands Day which embody these reports on the multifarious aspects of conserving freshwater species of European importance, and they are available free of charge in hard copy or CD-ROM and for downloading. Here is her announcement. [13/02/04]


UNESCO's MAB Programme joins Conservation Finance Alliance. In a rapid follow-on from our item about UNEP last week (see below), Ramsar's Alain Lambert and UNESCO's Peter Dogse report that UNESCO, through its Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), is joining the Conservation Finance Alliance. [12/02/04]


Mangrove publications on Southeast Asia. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Conservation and Wise Use of Mangroves in Southeast Asia, 6th-8th of October 2003, Bander Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, has been published by the Ramsar Center Japan and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, at the beginning of 2004. All presentations at the workshop have been nicely divided into two volumes. The first one is entitled "Mangroves in Southeast Asia, Status, Issues and Challenges" -- the second is entitled "Education for Sustainable Development, Putting Research Knowledge into Action". Copies available from Ms. Reiko Nakamura, Secretary General, Ramsar Center Japan, 2-10-3 Minamikugahara. Ota-Ku, Tokyo 146-0084 Japan, Tel: +81-3-3758-7926, Fax: +81-3-3758-7927, email: reiko.nakamura@nifty.ne.jp. For more information on the symposium, please visit http://www.ramsar.org/mtg/mtg_brunei_oct2003.htm. [12/02/04]


"Sustainable management of wetlands and shallow lakes" workshop. In Palencia, Spain, 27-31 January 2004, Senior Advisor for Europe Tobias Salathé participated in the advisory board meeting of a Life project on two Ramsar Sites in Spain and Greece and a seminar on the management of protected areas, with his costs covered by the Global Nature Fund. He reports that "Sustainable management of wetlands and shallow lakes is the title of a demonstration project carried out by the Living Lakes partnership of the German-based Global Nature Fund, cofinanced (49%) through the European Commission's LIFE-Environment budget line. The project focuses on the restoration and long-term sustainable development of two demonstration wetlands and Ramsar Sites in Spain (Laguna de la Nava de Fuentes and nearby Laguna de Boada) and Greece (Nestos delta and adjoining lagoons), including the improvement of the water quality of the shallow lakes and coastal lagoons, the protection and conservation of the biodiversity and wildlife dependent on the sites and the development of management plans, also in accordance with the requirements of the European Union Water Framework Directive." Here is his brief report on the project and some photos of the associated training workshop. [10/02/04]


Ramsar Advisory Mission report on the Ukrainian Danube Delta. In October 2003 a joint mission was carried out by the Man and Biosphere Programme (MaB) of UNESCO and the Ramsar Secretariatto the Danube Biosphere Reserve and Kyliiske Mouth Ramsar Site. The core zone of this protected area covers the most pristine and dynamic part of the large Danube Delta. The Delta region is internationally recognized as a transboundary Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar Site, covering nearly 700,000 hectares in Ukraine and Romania. The State Agency for Protected Areas (Ramsar's Administrative Authority in Ukraine) of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources invited two experts, Dr Jan Kvet, chairman of the Czech National MaB Committee and member of the MaB Bureau, and Dr Tobias Salathé from the Ramsar Secretariat to advise the Ukrainian authorities about measures to improve the functioning of the protected area, especially in the light of the planned construction of a waterway through the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta. Their recommendations regarding the different alternatives proposed for navigation routes through the delta are now available as Ramsar Advisory Mission report no. 53, and here again are some of Tobias' photos of area at the time, including of course Vilkovo, the "Venice of the East". [09/02/04]


Mangrove rehabilitation Web page launched. Roy R. "Robin" Lewis III, Professional Wetland Scientist (http://www.lewisenv.com), of Salt Springs, USA, writes: "I am pleased to announce the opening of the web site www.mangroverestoration.com and the availability of the paper: Stevenson, N. J., R. R. Lewis and P. R. Burbridge. 1999. Disused shrimp ponds and mangrove rehabilitation. Pages 277-297 in "An International Perspective on Wetland Rehabilitation", W. J. Streever (Ed.). Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands. 338 pp., here. Hard copies may be requested from: SherryCapaz@aol.com. Additional papers are available at this site, and we are soliciting other papers for inclusion on the site for general availability. Please respond to lesrrl3@aol.com." [09/02/04]


Wetlands International announces action plan for Central European peatlands. Saskia Henderikse, Communications Officer at Wetlands International, writes that "Wetlands International is very pleased to announce the report Strategy and Action Plan for Mire and Peatland Conservation in Central Europe. The Central European Peatland Project (CEPP) involved eight countries in the Baltic-Black Sea corridor: Belarus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland, and Ukraine. . . . The Strategy and Action Plan has now been finalised thanks to the work of the focal countries' representatives, managed by the Danish National Museum and Wetlands International. The publication is available for downloading on the Wetlands International website at http://www.wetlands.org/pubs&/CEPP.htm." Here is WI's announcement, with a testimonial by Ramsar's Secretary General. [06/04/04]


CBD database on economics, trade and incentives now online. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has revised its Web site material on economics, trade and incentives, in part by creating a new database on case studies and related information on incentive measures. The new information database on incentive measures allows one to search, locate and retrieve information using different search criteria, including regions, incentive measures, countries, ecosystems, keywords and words in the title. Information is being added to the database on an ongoing basis with the aim of creating an up-to-date unique resource that is freely available to governments, stakeholders, and others. The information database on incentive measures is available on the CBD's Web site at: http://www.biodiv.org/programmes/socio-eco/incentives/case-studies.aspx . [06/02/04]


New Zealand plans symposium on wetland restoration. Dr Philippe Gerbeaux, Senior Technical Support Officer (Freshwater/Wetland Ecology) and New Zealand's Ramsar STRP National Focal Point, based in the West Coast Conservancy, Department of Conservation, in Hokitika, announces the National Wetland Symposium "Restoring Wetlands - a practical forum", set for Wellington, New Zealand, 27-28 February 2004, with an optional field trip to the Nga Manu Reserve on the Kapiti Coast on the 29th. The Symposium "is intended to be a highly practical, participant driven, forum for knowledge exchange, training and networking for landowners, iwi, people committed to wetland biodiversity, local government staff and wetland scientists". Here are more details. [06/02/04]


MedWet celebration event for World Wetlands Day. Maria Anagnostopoulou, MedWet Communications Officer, reports that "The Coordination Unit of the MedWet Initiative, which is hosted in Athens on the initiative and with the support of the Hellenic Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning & Public Works, organised a special event for the celebration of the World Wetlands Day, on Monday, 2nd of February 2004, in the conference hall of Villa Kazouli (its HQ). The event aimed at informing government and non-government bodies, the MedWet countries' embassies in Greece, the Press and representatives from agencies involved in wetland management in Greece, about the activities, the benefits and the perspectives that emerge from the implementation of the international Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the operation of the MedWet Coordination Unit, for the Mediterranean basin, and in Greece in particular." Some 60 VIPs showed up and got quite a show, and lunch as well: the MedWet Coordinator Spyros Kouvelis gave a frankly superb PowerPoint on MedWet's current achievements, and Ramsar's Deputy Secretary General, Nick Davidson (photo left), gave an exciting keynote address on MedWet's role in the Convention and the Convention's path towards the future in a water-scarce world. Here's Maria's brief report and Nick's address, with some nice photos of Villa Kazouli at nearly its best. [05/02/04]


WWF report: $70 billion worth of freshwater resources at risk annually. "According to a new WWF report, US$70 billion worth of goods and services from freshwater resources could be at risk annually if governments fail to manage their wetlands sustainably. The report, The Economic Values of the World's Wetlands, is the first comprehensive overview of the economic values of the world's wetlands. It analyzes the 89 existing valuation studies and uses a database covering a wetland area of 630,000 km², putting the annual value of wetlands at a very conservative US$3.4 billion. But extending this figure using the Ramsar Convention's global wetland area estimate of 12.8 million km², the WWF report concludes that the annual global value of wetlands is US$70 billion. It shows that amenity and recreation, flood control, recreational fishing, and water filtration are the most valued functions of wetlands. . . . However, according to the report billions of dollars are spent each year on the draining of wetlands for irrigation, agriculture, and other land uses for immediate economic benefits. This has led to increased flooding, water contamination, and water shortages worldwide, and costs governments large amounts of time and money to later repair such damage.

"WWF believes that governments must recognize the economic, social, and environmental value of wetlands and include the sustainable management of these ecosystems in their national agenda. They should also list their most valuable wetland sites under the Ramsar Convention, the only international treaty on wetland protection." - from the WWF press release. The report, which was co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Environment, Forests, and Landscape, can be downloaded in PDF format from WWF's Web site here. [03/02/04]


Report of the Standing Committee's 30th meeting. The Ramsar Standing Committee met in Gland, Switzerland, 13-16 January 2004, and the report is now ready. As is Ramsar custom, the full report is presently being transmitted to the Contracting Parties by diplomatic notification in its English version, along with the 21 thoughtful Decisions themselves in English, French, or Spanish as appropriate. Now, those of you who've been waiting with bated breath can exhale -- the English report and the English Decisions are available here and here respectively, and the French and Spanish Decisions won't be too far behind. The heart-melting photographs will be along later, after the rush of World Wetlands Day has subsided. [31/01/04]

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