The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 5 January 2004

News from the Wetlands for the Future Fund. News from Nueva publicación sobre el pastoreo en humedales altoandinos. La Wildlife Conservation Society - Bolivia, en coordinación con el Grupo para la Conservación de Flamencos Altoandinos y la Dirección General de Biodiversidad del Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible de Bolivia; ha publicado las memorias del taller: "Uso pastoril de humedales altoandinos", que tuvo lugar en Huarina y La Paz - Bolivia, del 28 de octubre al 1 de noviembre de 2002 con auspicio del Fondo Humedales para el Futuro. / Grazing in High Andean Wetlands - New Publication.The Wildlife Conservation Society-Bolivia, in coordination with the High Andean Flamingo Conservation Group and the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Bolivia, has published the proceedings of the workshop: "Grazing use of high Andean wetlands", which took place in Huarina and La Paz, Bolivia, in late 2002 with support from the Wetlands for the Future Fund (WFF/01-2/BOL/1). Read more here in Español and English. [27/12/03]

The Ramsar Convention in Thailand. In late November and early December 2003, Ramsar's Senior Advisor for the Asia/Pacific, Dr Guangchun Lei, attended Thailand's National Workshop on the Ramsar Convention and visited the two Wetlands of International Importance -- Krabi Estuary and the Nong Bong Kai Non-Hunting Area -- that are the subject of the DANIDA-funded 2001-2006 project "Implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Thailand". Here is Guangchun's brief illustrated report on the workshop and the visits and his assessment of Thailand's rapid progress since joining the Convention in 1998. [20/12/03]

Millennium Assessment book now on sale. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is an "international process designed to meet the needs of decision-makers and the public for scientific information concerning the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being," launched by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in June 2001. Parties to the Conventions on Biological Diversity, Desertification, Wetlands (Ramsar), and Migratory Species have been targeted in this 4-year initiative for scientific information to assist in the implementation of these treaties. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: a Framework for Assessment is the MA's first product, the work of scientists from more than 100 countries, a 245-page book that offers an overview of the project, describing the conceptual framework that is being used, defining its scope, and providing a baseline of understanding that all participants need to move forward. Much of the work of the MA is directly informing the present efforts of Ramsar's STRP in providing guidance to the Parties on inventory, assessment, and monitoring and in its review of the "wise use guidelines". Among the MA's future products will be a Ramsar Synthesis Report that will compile all of the MA's findings relative to wetlands and be launched at Ramsar COP9 in late 2005. This useful new book has already been distributed by the MA to Ramsar's "Administrative Authorities" in the Parties, and it is now available in paper- or hardcover from the Island Press ( for US$ 25 (softcover). [16/12/03]

WasSerleben brochure highlights Austria's best wetland projects. On World Wetlands Day 2002, the "WasSerleben" campaign was launched by the Austrian "Lebensministerium" (i.e. the "Life Ministry", the Federal Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water, in charge of Ramsar), the Austrian League for Nature Conservation (Naturschutzbund Oesterreich) and the Austrian Federal Forests Ltd company (Oesterreichische Bundesforste AG), as a major contribution to the implementation of the national CEPA programme. The "WasSerleben" (meaning "water life" and "experience something") campaign focuses upon all sorts of aquatic ecosystems in Austria and has continued to address many fields during the 2003 UN Year of Freshwater, as outlined in a leaflet recently produced by the campaign partners. The leaflet (in German, available from the Ramsar Secretariat on request) highlights a number of the campaign's best-practice projects, and a bit more information is available here. [12/12/03]

Crane Workshop marks Ramsar COP5 anniversary in Kushiro. To help celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ramsar's 5th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Kushiro, 1993), the government of Kushiro City organized a series of activities at the Kushiro Tourism and International Relations Center (the same building where the Ramsar COP5 was convened), one of which was the workshop and symposium organized by the North East Asian Crane Site Network on the crane and stork conservation in Japan. Since its launch in 1997 the North East Asian Crane Site Network (NEACSN) has organized many activities to establish closer links amongst researchers and site workers from Russia, Mongolia, China, Korea (both North and South), and Japan (the headquarters of the coordination of the NEACSN is at the Wild Bird Society of Japan (WBSJ)). Here Simba Chan of the Wild Bird Society of Japan and Flyway Officer of the North East Asian Crane Site Networkreports on this 14-16 November 2003 workshop and seminar and supplies a few evocative photographs. [10/12/03]

Seminar on integrated water management in the Tisza river basin. The Tisza river is one of the large tributaries in the Danube catchment in eastern Europe and the major river in the Carpathian basin, originating in Ukraine, then flowing along the border with Romania and Hungary and touching briefly upon Slovakia before crossing southwards across the Hungarian plain to reach the Vojvodina region of Serbia and entering the Danube between Novi Sad and Belgrade (draining thus a catchment of about 157,000km2). To encourage dialogue, present the individual views concerning the Tisza river basin management of the five basin countries, and achieve as much common ground as possible, the FAO Subregional Office for Central and Eastern Europe organized a seminar on 20-21 November 2003 in Budapest, with the Ramsar Secretariat invited to moderate the discussions, and further supported by Wetlands International in the framework of a Dutch-supported project on transboundary cooperation on Ramsar Site designation in the Upper Tisza river basin. Tobias Salathé describes the results of the meeting and provides ample background on the history and issues involved. [09/12/03]

Ramsar visit to the MedWet Team. MedWet reports: "On 4-5 December 2003, the Deputy Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention Mr Nick Davidson was in Athens, Greece, in order to work with the MW Coordinator Spyros Kouvelis, the staff of the MedWet Coordination Unit and the Senior MedWet Advisor Thymio Papayannis. Nick Davidson, now responsible for Regional Initiatives on behalf of the Convention, visited the Coordination Unit in order to exchange information and views on the work carried out and planned by MedWet and on the associated work of the Ramsar Secretariat (new title of the former Ramsar Bureau), as well as to provide guidance and maximise positive synergy and communication between Ramsar and MedWet. The Coordination Unit wishes to thank Nick Davidson and the Ramsar Secretariat for their interest and involvement. To view photos from meeting and dinner, click here." [09/12/03]

Austria and peatlands. With the slogan "Aktiv für Moore" ("Active for peatbogs"), the Austrian Federal Forest Agency (Oesterreichische Bundesforsten) and WWF Austria launched a programme in 2000 for the restoration of peatbogs. As in many temperate European countries, Austrian peatlands have been degraded to a large extent over the past century through excessive drainage, peat cutting, afforestation policies, tourist infrastructures (cable lifts, ski slopes, etc.), or intensive grazing. The Austrian peatland restoration programme started with a demonstration project in Ueberlingmoos, a bog drained and grazed since the 1920s. Small-scale dams were successfully placed across all crucial drainage ditches to re-wet this valuable bog ecosystem. Since then, the lessons learnt have served for restoration measures applied to rehabilitate another 10 degraded peatbogs, and more activities are now planned to cover another 15 sites. The project partners have now produced a 24-page brochure that illustrates the variety of Austrian peatlands, the concrete works undertaken to rehabilitate their functions, and presents some of the key sites, as well as a map showing the distribution of peatlands in Austria and the 25 project sites. The brochure also makes reference to Ramsar's guidelines for global action on peatlands. Our Standing Committee member Gerhard Sigmund briefly explains the implementation of the Convention in Austria and lists six Austrian peatlands that are foreseen for Ramsar designation in the near future. If you would like to receive a copy of this nicely illustrated brochure (in German) please contact the Ramsar Bureau ( -- reported by Tobias Salathé [08/12/03]

Ramsar Advisory Mission to the Ukrainian Danube Delta. On 27-31 October 2003 a joint mission was carried out by the Man and Biosphere Programme (MaB) of UNESCO and the Ramsar Secretariat to 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 will be available on this Web site as Ramsar Advisory Mission report no. 53. In the meantime we invite you to enjoy some pictures from Vilkovo, also known as the "Venice of the East". Brief report and photos by Tobias Salathé. [05/12/03]

Opening address to the Parliamentarians' meeting. Members of parliaments and representatives of river basin commissions in the West and Central African subregions gathered for two days, 27-28 November 2003, in Cotonou, Benin, as guests of the Government of Benin, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Network for Environment and Sustainable Development in Africa (NESDA), with financial backing from the Government of Sweden, to be briefed on opportunities for cooperation on wetland conservation and wise use and the role of the Convention in assisting countries in the region. A report of the meeting and the declaration agreed by the participants, as well as photographs of the field excursion to a nearby Ramsar site, will be ready soon, but in the meantime, here is the opening address to the meeting by Ramsar's Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, in which he emphasized the ways in which the Convention can be effective in helping policymakers confront the challenges of diminishing water quality and quantity in Africa. [04/12/03]

Oceania Wetlands Help-line gaining fans. In May of this year Bill Phillips (former Ramsar Deputy Secretary General) established the Wetlands Help-line Web site (, created as a service to the community to provide an easy entry point to information about wetlands, their management, the Ramsar Convention's various tools, and Ramsar sites of the Oceania region (i.e., Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island States). is designed to support the Ramsar Web site and the Convention's global program on communication, education and public awareness (CEPA), and based on the statistics on visitors to the site, it seems to be helping. Since May the number of visitors to the site has steadily increased and now averages 2,000-3,000 per week. Although the Web site was established primarily to assist wetland practitioners from the Oceania region, visitors have come from more than 50 countries. The site includes a virtual tour of the Ramsar sites of the Oceania region (still somewhat 'under construction'). A few weeks ago the site had a facelift - see graphic - and (for those in the Oceania region) there are now bookmarks available to raise awareness of the site so that more people can access it and provide further resource materials. [02/12/03]

Paraguay designates its 5th Ramsar site. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Government of Paraguay has designated "Laguna Chaco Lodge" (2,500 hectares, 22º17'S, 059º18'W), a private reserve in the Presidente Hayes department, as its fifth Wetland of International Importance, bringing its total Ramsar surface area to 777,500 hectares. As described by Ramsar's Iván Darío Valencia from the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheet, Chaco Lodge is a saltwater lake, the largest of the water bodies in the lake system of the Central Chaco, surrounded by xerophytic woods and shrubs and halophytic vegetation. The site is one of the few relatively undisturbed natural areas in the Chaco, hosting an impressive biodiversity, including the endangered Chacoan Peccary Catagonus wagneri and the Brazilian Tapir Tapirus terrestris. Several wintering shorebird species are abundant, with up to 25,000 Wilson's Phalaropes Phalaropus tricolor, 4,000 White Rumped Sandpipers Calidris fuscicollis, and 3,000 Pectoral Sandpipers Calidris melanotos, all of them figures above 1% threshold. Chaco Lodge is entirely devoted to conservation and small scale ecotourism, and hunting and cattle ranching pressures from the surrounding area are very limited. The greatest threat, however, comes from the intense drought affecting the region the past few years. The site designation was carried out with the support of the NGO Fundación DeSdelChaco (Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the South American Chaco). More details and photos are available here. [02/12/03] [Español] [Français]

Bangladesh enlarges Sundarbans Ramsar site. The government of Bangladesh has recently provided an updated Ramsar Information Sheet on its Sundarbans Ramsar site, first designated for the Ramsar List in May 1992, enlarging its area from 596,000 to 601,700 hectares. Now to be called "Sundarbans Reserved Forest", this Ramsar and World Heritage site is one of the most important mangrove forests in the world and has been significantly threatened from a number of directions for many years. The nearby Sundarbans mangrove forest across the border in India is not yet a Ramsar site but it is hoped that it will be soon. This extension increase the area of Bangladesh's two Wetlands of International Importance to 611,200 hectares. Ramsar's Liazzat Rabbiosi has distilled from the new RIS a brief summary of the site's main ecological and cultural features, and that's available, with photographs, right here. [26/11/03]

News from the Wetlands for the Future Fund. Reserve Personnel Training in Laguna del Tigre, Ramsar Site in Guatemala [Capacitación de personal de reservas en la Laguna del Tigre]. With funding support of Wetlands for the Future (project WFF/01-2/GTM/1), Fundación Propetén ( carried out in 2002 the "School of Agroforestry promoters and Wetland Park Rangers" in the Las Guacamayas Biological Station in Laguna del Tigre National Park (Ramsar site in the Montreux record). The course was developed by an interdisciplinary group of biologists, agronomists, environmental educators and sociologists. 39 community leaders and park rangers graduated from the course, including personnel from the National Commission of Protected Areas (CONANP). Here is Iván Darío Valencia's brief report in English and in Español. [24/11/03]

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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