The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 11 March 2005

Hope for the Mesopotamian Marshlands. "It was a strange sight - after eight years of bloody war in the 1980s - to have the Iraq and Iran delegations sitting amicably side by side and agreeing on working together to designate the shared Hawr Al Hawizah wetland, one of the major remaining parts of the Mesopotamian Marshlands, as a transboundary Ramsar Site of International Importance. This hopeful event occurred during the 'High-level Conference on the Restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands', held in Manama (Bahrain) on 28 February and 1 March 2005, co-organised by UNEP and ROPME (Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment)." Thymio Papayannis, the Convention's MedWet Senior Advisor, reports on the meeting. [11/03/05]

Ramsar address to UNEP's Governing Council. The Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Program is meeting 21-25 February in Nairobi for its 23rd Session and Global Ministerial Environment Forum, and on 22 February the Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, Peter Bridgewater, addressed the meeting on the present relationship and future cooperation between Ramsar and UNEP. The text is already available right here. [22/02/05]

STRP12 report ready. The Convention's subsidiary body for scientific advice, the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), held its last meeting of this triennium on 1-4 February 2005, the purpose of which was to progress the technical guidance that the members and consultants have been drafting for presentation to the Standing Committee and eventually for consideration by the Conference of the Parties in November; to suggest priorities for the Panel's work in the next triennium, 2006-2008; and to consider suggested changes to the Panel's future modus operandi for consideration by the COP. The report of the meeting is now ready, with a brief list of the participants. [21/02/05]

Madagascar names fourth Ramsar site. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that Madagascar has designated its fourth Wetland of International Importance on the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2005. The "Marais de Torotorofotsy avec leurs bassins versants" (9,993 hectares, 18°52'S 048°22'E) in Toamasina Province is a near-natural permanent marsh and temporary marshes with their catchments of primary rainforest fragmented by agricultural zones and secondary forest. A number of gravely threatened species are present, including the Golden Frog Mantella aurantiaca and the Yellow or Eastern Mantella Mantella crocea, along with at least 40 additional endemic amphibians, and it is one of only two known sites that support the Slender-Billed Flufftail, Sarothrura watersi. The threatened Meller's Duck Anas melleri nests in the site, and both the Serpent Eagle Eutriorchis astur and the Madagascar Grass Owl Tyto soumagnei, both very rare, have been recorded; four endangered species of lemurs are also supported. The site plays an important hydrological role in flood control in the Andasibe region. Artisanal fishing employs customs that protect against overexploitation. A mining project in the vicinity and siltation of the marsh caused by deforestation in the region are seen as the chief threats to the site. The Wildlife Conservation Society - Madagascar and Association MITSINJO, with support from WWF-Madagascar and WWF International's Global Freshwater Programme, have been helpful to the authorities in preparing for this site designation. [16/02/05]

Ramsar regional advice on the World Bank's Mangrove Code of Conduct. Mangrove fans who have been following the progress of the draft Code of Conduct should soon consult Tom Nielsen's project Web site at[link later removed], where they will find, amongst many other wonders, the following: "Mainstreaming Conservation of Coastal Biodiversity through Formulation of a generic Code of Conduct for Sustainable Management of Mangrove Forest Ecosystems (MCB). Funded by the World Bank In Collaboration with ISME & GLOMIS Regional Centres. Latest News: UPDATED English Language Version of the “Principles for a Code of Conduct for the Management and Sustainable Use of Mangrove Ecosystems” has been updated (posted 02 February by T. Nielsen); and Comments for the “Principles for a Code of Conduct for the Management and Sustainable Use of Mangrove Ecosystems” from the III Pan-American Regional Meeting, Ramsar Convention meeting in Merida, Mexico, November 2004 (posted 18 January 2005 by T. Nielsen)." The report of the Merida Ramsar meeting, but without the extremely necessary context, can also be found here in English and Spanish. [12/02/05]

Report of the Ramsar regional meeting in Mexico.The "III Panamerican Regional Meeting of the Convention on Wetlands, 7-12 November 2004, Mérida, Mexico" was an extraordinarily fruitful affair that brought together representatives of Contracting Parties and non-Parties, Ramsar Partner Organizations and other NGOs, and intergovernmental organizations concerned about the region. After thorough consideration of the issues already planned for the Convention's 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties set for November 2005, the meeting agreed a common platform of further issues called "Guidelines for the Americas: Towards COP9", embodied in the "Merida Message" as the key output of the sessions. Now the Report of the meeting is available in both English and Spanish, as well as the Merida Message again in both English and Spanish, and the List of Participants in PDF format into the bargain. [10/02/05]

"Collaboration between CBD and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands". The Convention on Biological Diversity's Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) is holding its 10th meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, this week, and the Ramsar Convention's MedWet Coordinator, Spyros Kouvelis, addressed the meeting with an update on the current work of the Convention, particularly the work of our own Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), on the joint objectives of both bodies. "Collaboration between CBD and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands: progress in the development of ecological assessments and indicators" provides a succinct review of the Convention's advances in addressing the joint development of targets and indicators for assessing the global 2010 biodiversity target, as well as of the preparation of a range of inventory, assessment and monitoring guidance in support of that. Spyros's address can be seen here. [08/02/05]

Results of the Forum on "Natural mitigation of natural disasters". The Forum, held at the Ramsar Secretariat on the occasion of World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2005, included participants from the following organizations: The Ramsar Convention, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, Forests and Landscape, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Health Organization (WHO), World Meteorological Organization/Global Water Partnership (WMO/GWP) Associated Programme on Flood Management, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), International Association of Hydrologists, IUCN - The World Conservation Union, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), BirdLife International, Wetlands International, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and European Space Agency. Following the debate the participants agreed a "declaration of principles" entitled "Beyond the tsunamis: a way forward" which is now available in PDF format only. Press releases on the event in both English and French are also available, also in PDF format. [05/02/05]

World Wetlands Day. The second of February is World Wetlands Day, and around the world activities of all sorts are being sponsored by governments and civil groups at all levels, both today and on nearby dates at their convenience. At the Ramsar Secretariat, where the STRP meetings are going on all this week, a "debate" is being held this afternoon on the ability of ecosystems like mangroves and coral reefs to mitigate the effects of natural disasters such as the recent devastating tsunami in South Asia. In addition to the STRP members themselves, participants include experts for a number of relevant organizations, including the WMO, FAO, UNEP, IUCN, WWF and others, and it is co-chaired by Philippe Roch, environment minister of Switzerland, and Kemi Awoyinka of Wetlands International, with introductory presentations by Douglas Taylor of Wetlands International, Rebecca Tharme of the Integrated Water Management Institute, and Mette Wilkie of FAO. It is expected that by the end of the afternoon the participants will have agreed a recommendation that can be taken forward as a contribution to the lessons learnt from the recent disaster. [02/02/05]

Mexico designates 4 Ramsar sites for World Wetlands Day. Following the high profile events of World Wetlands Day last year with 34 designations, this year Mexico continues to increase its number of Ramsar sites by adding four more to the List of Wetlands of International Importance. The new designations are a dune slack complex in the city of Veracruz, a national park in the island of Cozumel in the Caribbean, and a coastal lagoon and a mountain lakeshore in Michoacán state, where the WWD celebrations will be focused this year. Mexico now has 55 Ramsar sites with a surface are of 5,115,393 hectares. Summaries of the sites have been prepared by Iván Darío Valencia.[01/02/05]

México designa 4 sitios Ramsar para el Día Mundial de los Humedales. Tras haber designado un número récord de 34 nuevos sitios para la misma fecha en 2004, en esta ocasión México ha añadido 4 nuevos sitios a la Lista de Humedales De Importancia Internacional. Los nuevos sitios son un complejo de lagunas interdunarias en la ciudad de Veracruz, un parque nacional en la isla de Cozumel en el Caribe; así como una laguna costera y un sector de un lago de montaña en el estado de Michoacán, en donde las celebraciones se enfocarán este año. Las descripciones resumidas de los sitios han sido preparadas por Iván Darío Valencia.

The United States designates two Wetlands of International Importance in California. To commemorate World Wetlands Day 2005, two sites designated by the United States of America have been added to the List of Wetlands of International Importance, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR) and Grassland Ecological Area, both in the state of California. TRNERR is one of the few unfragmented estuaries in southern part of the state and is located at the very southwestern corner of the country on the border with Mexico. Grassland is the largest remaining freshwater wetland complex in the state and is renowned for its very large congregations of wintering waterfowl and shorebirds. Brief site descriptions have been prepared by Ramsar's Iván Darío Valencia based on the information supplied in the Ramsar Information Sheets accompanying the designations, and they can be seen here. The United States now has 21 Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area totaling 1,258,751 hectares. [01/02/05].

Switzerland names mountain wetlands for World Wetlands Day. The Government of the Secretariat's host country, Switzerland, has designated three valuable as well as very scenic Wetlands of International Importance as part of its celebration of World Wetlands Day, 2 February. Switzerland now has eleven Ramsar sites totaling 8,676 hectares. Laubersmad-Salwidili (1,376 ha) is a subalpine area of transitional and raised bogs on the northern slopes of the Alps, in the north-central canton of Lucerne, and is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve "Entlebuch". The Rhonegletschervorfeld consists of the alpine region around the tongue of the Rhône glacier, the source of the mighty Rhône River, and Vadret da Roseg includes the alpine alluvial zone at the outflow of two glaciers in the far east of the country. The French version of the press release prepared by BUWAL, Switzerland's Bundesamt für Umwelt, Wald und Landschaft (or in French OFEFP, Office fédéral de l'environnement, des forêts et du paysage), can be seen here in PDF or on BUWAL's Web site at [29/01/05]

China names nine new Ramsar sites for World Wetlands Day. The Secretariat is delighted to announce that the Government of the People's Republic of China has designated nine new Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of nearly 400,000 hectares. One of them, Shuangtai Estuary on the Liao River in northeastern China, makes up part of what has been called "the world's largest reed bed". The other eight new Ramsar sites are all in Qinghai and Yunnan Provinces and the Tibet Autonomous Region and are all high-altitude marshes and lakes, one as high as 6,500 meters asl, among the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Yalu Tsangpo / Brahmaputra Rivers. All of these have very important hydrological functions, both locally and downstream, and all are extremely valuable sites for migratory birds, including the endangered Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis. Because of the relative isolation of the sites, some of them have high levels of endemism, particularly with fish species, and they are vital sources of livelihood for the populations nearby. These new mountain designations have been made as part of China's efforts in the "Wetland Conservation and Wise Use in the Himalayan High Mountains" initiative and have been assisted by support from WWF China and WWF's Global Freshwater Programme.[26/01/05]

Ramsar Tsunami Reference Group.As part of the global response to the disaster, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat has asked Wetlands International to work with Ramsar International Organisation Partners (IOPs) to coordinate efforts to bring together scientifically sound advice on wetlands in the region in order to assist governments in choosing the most effective response measures. The Ramsar Tsunami Reference Group has been established involving Wetlands International, WWF, IUCN, BirdLife International and the International Water Management Institute to combine resources, share information and produce timely advice as and when it is needed. The highest and immediate priority of this group is to coordinate rapid assessment of the affected areas with involvement and assistance of all remote sensing specialists, interested agencies and organisations. To provide an opportunity of interaction, debate and cooperation, eight internet-based discussion groups the related subjects are available on [20/01/05]

Back to top
Follow us 
Ramsar Awards 

The Convention today

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

Ramsar Secretariat

Rue Mauverney 28
CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 22 999 0170
Fax: +41 22 999 0169
Map: click here

Ramsar Forum: subscribe