The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 January 2005

Evian Encounter 2004 reaffirms developing an Himalayan Regional Initiative. The Evian Encounters are an important component of the Ramsar Evian project financed by the Groupe Danone, owner of the Evian Mineral Waters Society. They are designed to bring together high-level officials of the Convention's Contracting Parties, along with the Convention's NGO International Organization Partners and other relevant international organizations, in order to discuss in an informal atmosphere the current approaches and challenges in the implementation of the Ramsar Convention. The Evian Encounter for the Himalaya-Hindu Kush-Pamir-Allay region and the Mekong River basin countries, the fifth in the series since 1998, was held in Evian, France, 1-6 November 2004, and after fruitful exchanges, the consensus amongst the countries of the region on the need for a regional Himalayan wetlands initiative was re-affirmed. The participants agreed that further development of the Initiative should be focused on developing a regional strategy for delivery of the common vision; the geographical and altitudinal (high altitude and downstream) scope and focus; identification of additional key objectives to those developed by the Sanya workshop; development of a "Himalayan Initiative Framework Agreement", simplifying coordination and governance structures, and the next steps towards Ramsar COP9, including priorities for project development for initiating implementation. The participants of the Evian Encounter 2004 wish to express their gratitude to the Danone Group and the Evian Water Company and their staff for their support through the Danone/Ramsar project which permitted the holding of the Encounter. The detailed report of the meeting, with a lot of photographs, can be seen here. [21/12/04]

Uruguay designates its second Ramsar site along the Uruguay river. Twenty years after acceding to the Convention and designating the Bañados del Este and Franja Costera as its first Ramsar Site, Uruguay has renewed its commitment to the Convention and made a big step by adding a second site to the List of Wetlands of International Importance: the Esteros de Farrapos e Islas del Río Uruguay. The site is due to be incorporated soon in the National Protected Area System. Currently, the Ministry of Housing, Land Development and Environment is elaborating a management plan for the site. The Information Sheet was compiled by the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries. Iván Darío Valencia of the Secretariat has prepared this description of the site in both English and Spanish, festooned with maps and exemplary illustrations as well. [19/12/04]

Uruguay designa su segundo sitio Ramsar en el Río Uruguay. 20 años después de acceder a la Convención y designar a los humedales Bañados del Este y Franja Costera como sitio Ramsar, Uruguay ha renovado su compromiso con la Convención y dado un gran paso al incorporar su segundo humedal a la Lista de Humedales de Importancia Internacional: los Esteros de Farrapos e Islas del Río Uruguay. Se espera que el sitio se incorpore pronto al Sistema Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas. Actualmente, el Ministerio de Vivienda y Ordenamiento Territorial y Medio Ambiente se encuentra elaborando un plan de manejo para el sitio. La Ficha fue compilada por el Ministerio de Ganadería, Agricultura y Pesca.

Seychelles becomes 144th Ramsar Party. On 22 November 2004 Seychelles deposited with the Director-General of UNESCO its instrument of accession to the Convention on Wetlands, as amended by the Paris Protocol (1982) and Regina Amendments (1987), and the Convention will enter into force for this small group of islands off the eastern coast of Africa on 22 March 2005. Seychelles' first Ramsar site is the "Port Launay Coastal Wetlands" (Port Glaud Wetlands), 29 hectares in Port Glaud District, one of the best mangrove wetlands on Mahé, the main island, supporting all seven species of mangrove in the region. The Convention's Senior Advisor for Africa, Mr Abou Bamba, says that "the coastal areas of Seychelles are among the most beautiful and productive in the world" and he pointed to Seychelles' process towards accession as "one of the best examples of Ramsar cooperation among the Secretariat, the national authorities, and international and local NGOs" -- the WWF Global Freshwater Programme, WWF Madagascar, and Switzerland through the Ramsar Swiss Grant for Africa have been instrumental in helping Seychelles to prepare for accession and to compile the necessary data for this and other potential Ramsar sites. Here is Abou Bamba's brief illustrated report on the new site. [17/12/04]

Myanmar joins the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that Myanmar has deposited its instrument of accession with the Director-General of UNESCO as of 17 November 2004, and thus the Convention, as amended in 1982 and 1987, will enter into force for Myanmar on 17 March 2005. The new Party's first Wetland of International Importance is "Moyingyi Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary" (256 ha, 17°33'N 096°37'E), a state-owned area in Southern Bago comprising floodplain and a storage reservoir that is important for flood control. Some 15 villages with about 14,000 inhabitants are located in the surrounding area and depend upon the wetland for traditional fishing and water supply for paddy fields. A number of vulnerable and near-threatened bird species are supported. The Wild Bird Society of Japan has been assisting Myanmar's Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division with capacity building and research studies, and Japan's Ministry of Environment has worked with the Forest Department in inventorying the country's wetlands and preparing management plans.

The Secretariat warmly welcomes Myanmar to the community of Ramsar nations. As of today, the Convention's 143 Contracting Parties have designated 1399 wetlands for the Ramsar List, covering 122,828,174 hectares. [16/12/04]

Wetland Training Seminars in the Czech Republic. The Wetland Training Centre, operating as part of the non-governmental organisation ENKI in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic, has launched a new programme of training seminars dealing with wetland conservation and managment. The first of a series of training seminars aimed at national, regional and local administration offices responsible for nature conservation in the Czech Republic, "Wetlands and Their Role in Landscape Functioning", took place 5-7 October 2004 in the Trebon Basin Protected Landscape Area and Biosphere Reserve. The second seminar of the programme will take place in May 2005, and the seminars are structured so as to enhance the implementation of Ramsar Convention in the Czech Republic as well as ensure wetland conservation according to Czech legislation. Martina Eiseltová, ENKI, and Libuse Vlasakova, Ministry of Environment, have contributed this brief illustrated report. [15/12/04]

Chile designates large tidal flat in Tierra del Fuego. Bahía Lomas (58,946 hectares, 52º38'S 069º10'W) becomes the next to southernmost site in the world after the neighbouring Reserva Costa Atlantica de Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. The designation is the first legal measure of protection granted to the site, which is expected to be nominated as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve shortly. The site features the largest intertidal flats in Chile, fronting a 69 km long beach and several salt marshes. The bay is renowned for its high concentrations of migratory shorebirds from October to March. Here is further detail, prepared by Ramsar's Iván Darío Valencia, and some photos. [13/12/04]

Chile designa extensa planicie intermareal en Tierra del Fuego. Bahía Lomas se convierte en el segundo sitio Ramsar más meridional del mundo después de la vecina Reserva Costa Atlántica de Tierra del Fuego en Argentina. La designación es la primera medida legal de protección otorgada al sitio, el cual espera ser nominado como Reserva Hemisférica de Aves Playeras en el futuro cercano. El sitio tiene las planicies intermareales más amplias de Chile, extendiéndose frente a una playa de 69 km de largo y varios pantanos salinos. La bahía es reputada por sus altas concentraciones de aves playeras migratorias de octubre a marzo. Aquí.

Asian Wetlands Week to start early in China, December 2004. Ramsar Center Japan is pleased to announce that 2005 Asian Wetlands Week (AWW) campaign will inaugurate on 24 December 2004 taking an opportunity of the "Children and Teacher Wetland Exchange Program of China/Korea/Japan" on 24-28 December 2004 in Dafeng, a Ramsar site in the lower basin of Yantze River in China. A total of 22 school children and teachers from Korea and Japan will visit China, exchange experiences and ideas on wetland conservation with Chinese children and teachers, and discuss future opportunities of international cooperation in wetland conservation. The Children and Teacher Wetland Exchange Program of China/Korea/Japan in Dafeng is the third meeting of this kind, as the first occasion was held in Yatsu-higata Ramsar site in Japan in 2003, and the second one was held in Woopo Wetlands Ramsar site in Korea in 2004. AWW is a campaign activity initiated by Ramsar Center Japan with support of the Japan Fund for Global Environment since 2002 to enhance awareness of wetlands especially targeting children to pay more attention and get knowledge about the value and importance of wetland and its ecosystems. The actual AWW starts from the World Wetlands Day (2nd February) which is observed from 2nd to 8th February. Ms Reiko Nakamura, Secretary General of the RCJ, has contributed this report and further details, some photos of last year's events, and images of the new handout. [08/12/04]

Czech Republic designates cave complex for the Ramsar List. The Secretariat is pleased to report that the Administrative Authority in the Czech Republic, the Ministry of the Environment, has nominated "Punkva subterranean stream (Podzemní Punkva)" (1,571 hectares, 49°25´N 016°44'E) for the List of Wetlands of International Importance, as of 18 March 2004. The site is already a Protected Landscape Area and Nature Reserve, as well as a well-known tourist wonder in South Moravian region. The Czech Republic now has added 11 Ramsar sites since the country joined the Convention in 1990 as part of Czechoslovakia, and then succeeded to Czechoslovakia as the Czech Republic on the first of January 1993. Ramsar's Estelle Gironnet has prepared this brief site description of the site, based upon the Ramsar Information Sheet submitted with the designation instrument.[07/12/04]

Hungary and Slovak Republic list transboundary Ramsar site on Tisza River. At the opening session of the 5th Ramsar European Meeting in Yerevan, 4 December 2004, representatives of Hungary and the Slovak Republic will announce their joint designation of portions of the Tisza (Tisa) River as a transboundary Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The Tisza is the largest tributary of the Danube, with a catchment area 1.5 times bigger than the area of Hungary, and the upper reaches of the river are 400 kilometers long and pass through four countries. Hungarian Deputy State Secretary László Haraszthy wrote "The nomination of Felsö-Tisza as a new transboundary wetland of international importance is in the framework of joint action in the Upper Tisza region. It is a bilateral Ramsar Site proposal prepared together with Slovakia. We hope that this effective and fruitful cooperation between Slovakia and Hungary in the field of nature conservation will be appreciated by the international community". Hungary's Felsö-Tisza (Upper Tisza) and the Slovak Republic's Tisa River join the Ramsar List as of 4 December, and site descriptions and photographs can be seen here. A second new Hungarian designation, Csongrád-Bokrosi Sós-tó, is described separately. [04/12/04]

5th Ramsar European regional meeting gets underway. As of press time, significant numbers of prospective participants and Ramsar staff are fogbound in London Heathrow, but anyway others have evidently got through to Yerevan, Armenia, and the 5th European Regional Meeting on the implementation and effectiveness of the Ramsar Convention should be getting underway on schedule on 4 December, running through to the 8th. The Secretariat is being represented by Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General, Tobias Salathé, Senior Advisor for Europe, and his assistant, Estelle Gironnet, and Sandra Hails, Ramsar CEPA Programme Officer. "How best to implement the Convention? Are we doing enough? Are our approaches still adapted to new pressures of an evolving situation in Europe and the World? Where can we do better? What are our constraints? How to overcome them? Where does the Ramsar Convention stand at the beginning of the 21st century? How to interact with our partners and other stakeholders?" -- these are some of the Aims of the Meeting, and many of the papers and presentations that will be read and discussed during the sessions can be previewed here in PDF format. [04/12/04]

Belgium and Luxembourg designate a common transboundary Ramsar site. The Sûre is a transboundary river that originates in Belgium and, after a 31 kilometer course, forms a natural border of 12km with Luxembourg before crossing that country and joining the Moselle in Germany. As is frequently true in similar situations, the effective management of this wetland requires a regular dialogue between national and regional authorities to reconcile the objectives of nature conservation, water quality improvement, and economic and social development. Most of the Sûre valley site lies within Nature Parks that were created by Luxembourg in 1999 and Belgium in 2001, and a joint management committee is composed of local representatives and staff from the government ministries directly involved. Now the Ramsar Administrative Authorities in both Parties have jointly submitted the Vallée de la Haute-Sûre site as a transboundary Wetland of International Importance. In addition, Belgium has also designated, as of the same submission date of 24 March 2003, a further two Ramsar sites in the Province of Liège, namely the Grotte des Émotions, a newly-discovered subterranean karst system, and the Hautes Fagnes, a site rich in peatlands. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Europe, Ms Estelle Gironnet, has distilled brief descriptions from the Ramsar Information Sheet data submitted by the Parties, well-illustrated by some very interesting photographs. Vallée de la Haute-Sûre and Grotte des Émotions and Haute Fagnes [03/12/04].

Secretary General pays visits to Lao PDR, Australia. In the course of his late November travels, which have included the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Thailand and a visit to a Ramsar/Evian project in Cambodia, the Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, has also been able to stop in to discuss accession progress in the Lao People's Democratic Republic and to discuss scenarios of the Convention's future development with the members of Australia's Wetlands and Waterbirds Taskforce. Here are very brief illustrated reports on both of those events: Lao PDR, Australia. [02/12/04]

Montpellier workshop on francophone African wetlands. On behalf of the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, ATEN (the Atelier Technique des Espaces Naturelles) is organizing a "Journées de rencontres" workshop on wetland management for Montpellier, France, 29 November to 4 December 2004. Partners in developing the meeting are the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Wetlands International, the Office national de la chasse et de la faune sauvage, La Station Biologique du Tour du Valat, and the Centre de Recherche des etudes Agronomiques des Régions Chaudes, and the subject will be "Préparation des dispositifs de formation des gestionnaires de zones humides de 5 pays d'Afrique francophone". Representatives of five African French-speaking countries, Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Madagascar, will participate in the sessions, which are intended to strengthen institutional cooperation among actors; update the diagnosis of needs and resources; establish a work plan for the construction of training mechanisms; and define a strategy of financing of conservation actions. The Ramsar Senior Advisor, Abou Bamba, will make a presentation on Ramsar recommendations and Strategic Plan 2003-2008 related to training and capacity building, and his assistant, Ahmed El-Sabban, will present the Ramsar Handbooks series. More information at [25/11/04]

3rd Pan-American Ramsar meeting's "Merida message". The pre-COP9 regional meeting for North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean area took place 7-12 November 2004 in Mérida, Mexico, and one of the tangible results of the sessions was agreement upon a regional workplan for the period leading up to the COP in 2005, embodied in a resolution called the "Merida Message" (Mensaje de Mérida). The draft versions, not for citation, are now available in both English and Español. [23/11/04]

Ramsar and Danone promote safe access to water in Cambodia. For more than 10 years, hydrogeologist Pierre Gubri has been digging wells in the villages of the Banteay Srei province, first from his own efforts and then with the help of the Ramsar Convention and the DANONE/Evian Fund, and a total of 34 wells and water pumps have been built in three communes and eight villages. The project has been funded by the Ramsar Convention, through the DANONE/Evian Fund for the year 2004, with the aim of raising local communities' awareness of the wise use of water and the conservation of wetlands - through the establishment of a "safe" water system. It reflects the broader water vision the Ramsar Convention is now developing. In the next few years, with the continuation of the DANONE/Evian Fund, Ramsar will maintain its support to this project and almost certainly develop similar projects. On 17 November 2004, a delegation from the Ramsar Convention and the DANONE Group went to the villages of Banteay Srei for the official ceremony celebrating the end of the first phase of the project and the finalization of the first 34 wells - Sebastià Semene Guitart provides the story. [22/11/04]

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