Canada names new Ramsar site in British Columbia

06/06/2005

The Secretariat is delighted to announce that the Canada has designated its thirty-seventh Wetland of International Importance, effective as of World Environment Day, 5 June. The Columbia Wetlands (15,070 hectares, 50°41'N 115°13'W) is a Wildlife Management Area. The largest wetland of its kind in British Columbia, it qualifies under all eight Criteria and comprises a regionally unparalleled diversity of 16 habitats and shelters around 216 species, of which the bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) and badger (Taxidea taxus) are endangered. A nesting and rearing habitat for over 180 species of birds, total counts in excess of 10,000 swans, geese and ducks have been recorded in spring, 15,000 ducks in autumn, and up to 1200 tundra swans (Cygnus colombianus) in single day counts (1977). Several indigenous and introduced fish species spawn and feed in the area, 31% of which is composed of standing and flowing water. Despite having a management plan in place, human intervention has been on the rise in the past few years. Ramsar site no. 1463.

Columbia Wetlands. 05/06/05; Colombia Británica; 15,070 ha; 50°41'N 115°13'W. Área de Manejo de Vida Silvestre. Un humedal que califica para los 8 Criterios de Ramsar. El más extenso de su tipo en la provincia de Colombia Británica, este humedal alberga una colección única de 16 hábitats y proporciona refugio a alrededor de 216 especies, dentro de las que se encuentran la trucha toro (Salvelinus confluentus), el halcón peregrino (Falco peregrinus) y el tejón (Taxidea taxus), todas ellas especies en peligro. Este humedal proporciona un ambiente propicio para la anidación y crianza de 180 especies de aves donde poblaciones de más de 10,000 cisnes, gansos y patos han sido registradas en primavera; 15,000 en otoño; y hasta 1,200 cisnes silbadores (Cygnus colombianus) en conteos diarios (1977). Diversas especies de peces nativos e introducidos desovan y se alimentan en esta área, que está compuesta por cuerpos de agua lénticos y lóticos en un 31%. A pesar de contar con un plan de manejo en operación, la intervención humana ha ido en aumento en los últimos años. Sitio Ramsar no. 1463.

For immediate release

Columbia Valley, BC June 5, 2005

June 5, Columbia Wetlands Ramsar Status is Official - over seven years have passed since last Canadian Site

June 5 is World Environment Day and the start of Canadian Environment Week. June 5 is also the official date on the certificate of designation that includes the Columbia Wetlands with other globally significant wetlands as a Ramsar Site.

Wildsight Columbia Wetlands project manager, Ellen Zimmerman, compares the formal acknowledgement of the Columbia Wetlands as a wetland of international significance to "being knighted by the queen."

"The contiguous size and ecological importance, especially to migratory birds, make the Columbia Wetlands a perfect choice to join sites like Creston Valley and Delta marsh." comments Zimmerman, adding "Ramsar status is just one more acknowledgement of the international status of the important ecological treasure right here in the Columbia Valley."

Zimmerman explains that her organization submitted the formal application to Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) to designate the Columbia Valley Wetlands as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. She notes that this international forum provides both local stakeholders and Canada with an ideal opportunity to demonstrate to the world that they are committed to the protection of one of our country's most important natural legacies.

"Official Ramsar status emphasizes to both our national government and local residents that we have one of the premier wetland treasures right here in the heart of our valley, a still healthy vast wetland with the greatest biological diversity of any ecosystem in our region." Zimmerman says, adding, "The Columbia Wetlands have now been recognized for their international significance. The 180-kilometer Columbia Wetlands represent a remnant ecosystem of once vast interior wetlands, a primary source of fresh water for the Pacific Northwest and critical nesting and breeding habitat for migratory birds whose travels span two continents."

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.

The date of designation, June 5, 2005 is also significant because wildsight has been chosen as one of the finalists for the June 6 ceremonies of the Canadian Environment Awards, a national program that recognizes dedicated Canadians who are acting locally to help protect, preserve and restore Canada's environment.

As well as being designated a Protected Area under provincial law, represented by wildsight, the Columbia Wetlands have achieved international recognition as a partner of the Living Lakes Network of the Global Nature Fund. The Living Lakes Network promotes the protection and sustainable development of internationally significant lake regions and wetlands around the world.

For more information:
Contact: Ellen Zimmerman, wildsight Box 1496, Golden, BC V0A 1H0, Ph/Fax: 250-348-2225 Email: ellem@wildsight.ca
http:// www.wildsight.ca
www.globalnature.org; www.livinglakes.org.


Backgrounder

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 145 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1430 wetland sites, totaling 125 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
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The Ramsar Mission Statement: "The Convention's mission is the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world" (Ramsar COP8, 2002).

The Convention on Wetlands has adopted the following vision for the List of Wetlands of International Importance: To develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the ecological and hydrological functions they perform.

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.

Wildsight has championed protection for the Columbia Wetlands for two decades and, along with local communities and other conservation groups, works to raise awareness about the unique international treasure of the Columbia Wetlands.

Represented by wildsight, the Columbia Wetlands have achieved international recognition as a partner of the Living Lakes Network of the Global Nature Fund. The Living Lakes Network promotes the protection and sustainable development of internationally significant lake regions and wetlands around the world.

Wildsight is dedicated to protecting species at risk, water quality, and the fragile and diverse habitats of the Columbia Wetlands
http:// www.wildsight.ca

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,187 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,608,257

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