World Wetlands Day 2004 -- Canada -- British Columbia


For immediate release
Columbia Valley, BC January 26, 2004

EKES and Festivals Celebrate World Wetlands Day with Ramsar Announcement

Worldwide, February 2 is World Wetlands Day, established to mark the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, Feb. 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran. This years' theme, "From the Mountains to the Sea, Wetlands at Work for Us", provides an especially fitting occasion to announce that the Columbia Wetlands will soon be nominated to be Canada's newest addition to the Ramsar list.

East Kootenay Environmental Society (EKES) spokesperson, Ellen Zimmerman, compares the formal acknowledgement of the Columbia Wetlands as a wetland of international significance to "being knighted by the queen."

"Canada has 36 existing Ramsar wetlands. The contiguous size and ecological importance, especially to migratory birds, make the Columbia Wetlands a primary candidate to join sites like Creston Valley and Delta marsh." comments Zimmerman.

"Ramsar status is just one more acknowledgement of the international status of the important ecological treasure right here in the Columbia Valley." she says.

Wings over the Rockies Festival organizer, Darrell Smith, notes that the eyes of the world are focused more and more on our local stewardship role, explaining, "We must insure that we educate the public and do everything we can to oversee the ongoing protection of the Columbia Wetlands."

Golden's newly named "Spring-to-Life" Celebration Festival organizer, Mandy Cantle, observes that World Wetlands Day is an appropriate time to launch the Ramsar application. She points out that the "from the mountains to the sea" theme aptly describes the Columbia Wetlands.

"The Columbia Wetlands are the headwaters of the great Columbia River system, leading the famous river from its birthplace, Columbia Lake, at the base of two great mountain ranges, the Rockies and the Purcells, to its union with the Pacific Ocean." says Cantle.

Anne Levesque, Manager of the Living Lakes Conference 2004, is pleased to hear that the community is working towards an international designation for the Columbia Wetlands.

"This Ramsar application initiative is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to the world that the people of the Columbia Valley are committed to the protection of one of Canada's most important natural legacies" she says. The 9th annual Living Lakes conference, to take place in September 2004 in the upper Columbia valley, will bring together community and business leaders, decision makers, and media representatives from around the globe.

Zimmerman hopes to consult with First Nations, along with the Federal and Provincial governments, as well as local stakeholders. She is working with a number of local, provincial, and national agencies, including Ducks Unlimited, the provincial Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, and the Canadian Wildlife Service to bring the application to completion.

For more information:
Contact: Ellen Zimmerman, East Kootenay Environmental Society, Box 1496, Golden, BC V0A 1H0, Ph/Fax: 250-348-2225 Email: <>


The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 138 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1328 wetland sites, totaling 111.9 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. ...

The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Canada on 15 May 1981. Canada presently has 36 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 13,051,501 hectares. ...

In November 2000, the Columbia Wetlands, located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, were designated as Canada's Living Lake. As the backdrop of the Living Lakes Conference 2004, the Columbia Wetlands, are one of the longest intact wetlands in North America and are home to thousands of species of animals, birds and plants, some of which are now endangered.

The East Kootenay Environmental Society (EKES) was selected to be the NGO partner of the Living Lakes Network for their work on the Columbia Wetlands. The Columbia Wetlands, one of the longest intact wetlands in North America, are now recognized internationally. The Columbia Wetlands are one of the richest ecological systems of the North American continent and provides a critical habitat for migrating birds. The Upper Columbia River system is the headwaters of the trans-boundary Columbia River, the fourth largest river in North America by volume, and critical fresh water supply for the Pacific Northwest.

Living Lakes is a global network of environmental organizations striving for the protection, restoration and rehabilitation of lakes, wetlands and other freshwater bodies of the world and their watersheds. The Living Lakes partnership promotes voluntary international collaboration among organizations that carry out projects benefiting lakes, wildlife, and people.

Conservationists from 26 member lakes from five continents are committed to the protection of the lakes and wetlands in their respective countries. Together with decision makers and businesses, they strive for the conservation of water quality, habitat or rare animals, migratory birds and plants.

Every year, the annual Living Lakes conference draws together community and business leaders, decision makers, environmentalists, and media representatives from around the world to profile one of the lakes of the network and explore sustainable development strategies for lake regions. With the support of Unilever Canada, EKES successfully promoted the selection of Canada as the host country for the 9th annual Living Lakes Conference in September 2004.

The Living Lakes Conference 2004, September 26-October 2, will bring together regional, national, and international community leaders to discuss the trends, challenges and best practices of recreational and tourism developments around lakes and wetlands. The conference will also look at the role of business in developing socially responsible land and water use strategies. Media representatives from around the globe will observe, learn, and report on the steps British Columbia and Canada are taking to preserve the natural legacy of the Columbia Wetlands now and for future generations.

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

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