The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 February 2004

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]

Superb new publication on Eastern European transboundary wetlands. The question of the collaborative international management of transboundary wetlands, and of transboundary Ramsar Sites, has become increasingly prominent over the past few years. A new publication from the Institute of Ecology of Vilnius University and OMPO Vilnius provides an excellent model for further development of this promising concept -- Important Transboundary Belarusian-Lithuanian and Lithuanian-Russian Wetlands, by Saulius Svazas (et al), with financial support from the NGO OMPO (Migratory Birds of the Western Palearctic) and the Ramsar Convention is an extremely well-produced and well-illustrated 96-page softcover book, which can be obtained from OMPO Vilnius ( and for which Ramsar's Tobias Salathé has provided this following insightful foreword. [29/01/04]

Call for SGF project proposals for the 2004 cycle. The Ramsar Small Grants Fund was established by Ramsar COP4 in 1990 as a mechanism to assist developing countries and those with economies in transition in implementing the Convention and to enable the conservation and wise use of wetland resources - since that time, it has provided funding and co-funding, up to 40,000 Swiss francs (about US$ 32,000) per project, for something like 165 projects totaling about 6 million francs. Suitable project proposals are those which contribute to the implementation of the Convention's Strategic Plan 2003-2008 for the conservation and wise use of wetlands; provide emergency assistance for Ramsar sites; or provide 'preparatory assistance' to allow non-Contracting Parties to progress toward accession. The call for proposals is now being made for the 2004 cycle, and here is the announcement. [29/01/04]

World Wetlands Day - China. Ms. Yin Hong, Ramsar National Focal Point, China State Forestry Administration, and Mr. Bao Damin, Ramsar National STRP Focal Point, have informed the Bureau that the Chinese translation of the WWD 2004poster has been printed in 10,000 copies for distribution to governmental offices, Ramsar sites, NGOs, schools, etc. Here's a look at it.

Niger Basin Ramsar workshop begins in Mali. The workshop "A Ramsar network for the Niger Basin -- Subregional Networking for Ramsar Sites in the Niger Basin", supported by the Danone Groupe through WWF's Living Waters Programme and by Ramsar's Swiss Grant for Africa, is presently underway in Mopti, Mali, 27-31 January 2004. A considerable number of government and NGO experts are speaking on technical and policy issues in the sustainable development and integrated management of watershed catchment basins and, in particular, the Niger River Basin, and a final report and recommendations will be expected at the end of it. Ramsar-related participants include Abou Bamba, the Secretariat's Senior Advisor for Africa, Thymio Papayannis, the MedWet adviser, and Christophe Lefèbvre, the contact person for the Danone/Evian-Ramsar Fund, as well as Denis Landenbergue of WWF's Living Waters Programme, Anada Tiéga, former Ramsar Coordinator now head of a GEF project in Chad, and Aboubacar Awaïss, a former STRP member from Niger. A report and photos will follow in due course, but in the meantime, here is the programme.

Following the workshop, on 1 February, the President of WWF and Amadou Toumani Toure, the President of Mali, will preside over World Wetlands Day ceremonies celebrating the designation of the Inner Niger Delta as Ramsar's third largest Wetland of International Importance. More on that later. [28/01/04]

News from the SGF. Syria completes community participation project for Al Jaboul Lake. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to report that the Syrian Arab Republic has completed the SGF 2001 project dedicated to 'Strengthening the participation of local community in the management of Al-Jaboul Lake'. As Atef Deib, the Ramsar National Coordinator and coordinator of the project, reports, the principal objective of this project was to encourage the active and informed participation of local communities in the conservation and wise use of this wetland. The outputs achieved are twofold. First, the personnel of the Ministry of Irrigation have been trained in areas related to wetland management and particularly the participatory practices; and second, the local communities (including women and children) have increased the level of understanding of the impacts from existing activities on the lake's environment, activities that are carried out by stakeholders whose livelihood depends on the resources provided by the wetland, including the local industry, agriculture, hunters and fishermen. Liazzat Rabbiosi, Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Asia, has prepared this illustrated report on the project. [28/01/04]

New low tide bird counts published in the UK. On 25 January 2004, Elliot Morley MP, Minister for the Environment in the UK, launched a new book called Estuarine Waterbirds at Low Tide, the distillation of seven years of observations by 600 volunteer birdwatchers. Estuarine Waterbirds at Low Tide is published by the International Wader Study Group, on behalf of the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), a partnership of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), RSPB, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). Here's a BTO press release with a comment from Ramsar's Nick Davidson, with photos of Louise Vall and Colin McLeod making a pre-launch presentation of the book to the Ramsar Secretariat. [27/01/04]

Flamingo Conservation and Ramsar Site Management at Lake Bogoria National Reserve, Kenya. The University of Leicester, in association with Earthwatch Institute (Europe), has received Darwin Initiative funding from the British Government for three years from July 2003 to further the conservation of lesser flamingo and the Lake Bogoria National Reserve Ramsar site. In 2000, Lake Bogoria(0° 11'-20' N, 36° 06' E) was designated as a Ramsar wetland of international importance. One of the requirements of this status is the development of a conservation management plan, but there is almost no scientific information concerning the lake's ecology to aid this process. Here is the project leader David Harper's description of the new project. [26/01/04]

Ramsar signs two MOUs with the USA -- USA makes continued funding available for two key Ramsar small project assistance programmes. The Ramsar Convention Bureau and delegates from the United States State Department and Fish and Wildlife Service took the occasion of the 30th meeting of the Standing Committee, in Gland, Switzerland, to sign two memoranda of understanding that open an area of even greater cooperation in the funding of small projects in pursuit of the Convention's principles of wetland conservation and wise use. The Wetlands for the Future Fund, which has been disbursing US$ 250,000 a year through the Ramsar Bureau since 1995 for capacity-building wetland projects in Latin America has now been continued to 2008 in a new agreement. And in an innovative programme, the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP), a public-private partnership between the United States federal government, U.S. state governments and private corporations to restore wetlands and other aquatic habitats, has decided to expand its activities to fund international projects, and has elected to fund Ramsar's WFF and SGF programs as one means of accomplishing this goal. The mechanism for disbursing CWRP funds will be through the Coastal America Foundation (CAF), and project proposals evaluated and recommended by the Ramsar Bureau will be circulated for donations for potential support by CWRP partners. WFF projects are restricted to Latin American proposals but the Ramsar Small Grants Fund is open to proposals from all OECD DAC-list countries in the developing countries and those with economies in transition. Here's the news item and signing photos, leading to the texts of the two new MOUs. [21/01/04]

ICRI CPC meeting, Turks & Caicos Islands, November 2003. On 17-19 November, in the Turks & Caicos Islands, the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) held the Coordination and Planning Committee's first meeting of the two-year tenure of the UK/Seychelles Secretariat. Thanks to the generous support of the UK Government, the Ramsar Secretariat was able to attend, joining 52 experts representing governments, NGOs and IGOs. The full report of the meeting can be found on the ICRI Web site ( - About ICRI), but Margarita Astrálaga reports briefly on the proceedings from a Ramsar perspective, and includes a few photographs. [14/01/04]

New Zealand wetland inventory now on line. From the Science Publishing team, Science & Research Unit, Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand: "In 1996, the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) published A DIRECTORY OF WETLANDS IN NEW ZEALAND. It was compiled by Pam Cromarty and edited by Derek A. Scott for DOC, the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB), and the Ramsar Convention Bureau. The Directory describes 73 wetlands and wetland complexes that meet the criteria for international importance (it is not a comprehensive listing of ALL wetlands in New Zealand). The wetlands have been selected on the basis of criteria developed in relation to the Ramsar Convention. Although special attention is paid to the importance of the wetlands for wildlife, all wetland values including water storage, flood control, coastal protection and fisheries production have been taken into consideration. The contents of this book (394 p.) are now available on the DOC website, organised by the 13 Conservancies from North to South. Note that the pdf files are an accurate representation of the text as first published, except for some minor formatting changes (e.g. line and page breaks may be slightly different). This is effectively a reprint, not a revision of the 1996 publication. Some hardcopies are still available for purchase: (NZ$40.00)." The list of URLs, or Web addresses, for these 13 PDF files can be seen here. [12/01/04]

Report of the seminar in Armenia for New Independent States. The international seminar "Current Issues of Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands and Wetland Biodiversity in the European New Independent States" was held in Sevan, Armenia, 15-19 September 2003, with financial support from the Ramsar Small Grants Fund and from LakeNet. The newly released report of the meeting provides a detailed look at the process of organizing the event, a summary of the proceedings, the list of 64 participants (from Armenia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine in the region), the Recommendations that emerged from the deliberations, and some photographs (including Mr Pritchard's "Swan Dance", left), all of which have been reprinted here, as well as budgetary and Armenian-language materials, which have not. Armenians and others planning similar meetings in the future might do well to weigh this report as a model for their own preparations. [09/01/04]

Ramsar Advisory Mission report for Spain's Doñana. The well-known Doñana National Park became Spain's first Ramsar Site in 1982 and its core area is also listed under UNESCO's World Heritage Convention and Man and Biosphere Programme. In 1990, the site was included on the Montreux Record because of fears that excessive water abstractions, mainly for intensive tourist developments along the coast and irrigated cultures in the immediate vicinity of the Park, would irrevocably degrade the ecological character of the site. The Spanish and Andalusian governments have since undertaken many efforts to relieve pressure from the site, but in 1998 a great setback occurred when the wall of a waste holding pool of the Boliden Apirsa pyrite mine, some 60 km upstream, broke and released some 5 million m3 of toxic sludge and acid waters along the Guadiamar river basin, downstream to the very edge of the National Park, and into the core zone of the wetland area. During the first of two Ramsar Advisory Missions, 1-4 October 2002, Ramsar experts Francesc Giró from Barcelona and Luis Costa from Lisbon, together with Tobias Salathéof the Secretariat, focused on the concrete results of the two programmes "Corredor verde del Guadiamar" and "Doñana 2005" in the field, but due to the extent and complexity of the issues at stake, a second mission is planned for the not too distant future. The report of this first RAM mission (in Spanish) is now available here and the news story from the time of the mission is available in English here. [07/01/04]

Ecuador crea Comité Nacional Ramsar. Nos complace anunciar que el Gobierno del Ecuador ha constituido oficialmente el Comité Nacional Ramsar por decreto presidencial 1152, publicado el 23 de diciembre de 2003. El Comité trabajará estrechamente con el Ministerio del Ambiente y será la instancia política máxima de asesoramiento en materia de planificación y coordinación de las actividades relacionadas con la aplicación de la Convención de Ramsar en el Ecuador. Esta buena noticia se suma a la reciente creación del Comité Nacional de Humedales en Brasil en octubre de 2003. Más detalles aquí. [06/01/04]

Ecuador establishes National Ramsar Committee. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Government of Ecuador has officially established its National Ramsar Committee by presidential decree No 1152 published on December 23, 2003. The Committee will work closely with the Environment Ministry and will be the highest political body assisting the planning and coordination of activities related to the application of the Ramsar Convention in Ecuador. This good news adds to the recent creation of the National Wetlands Committee in Brazil in October 2003. Read more here. [06/01/04]

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