The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 9 February 2006
Report of Panama Bay Ramsar site Workshop now available. Recognizing the importance that the Higher Panama Bay holds for the local and regional biodiversity, at the end of 2005 the “Grupo para la Investigación Tecnoecológica y la Conservación” – GITEC- organized a workshop to familiarize the local Chinina and Aquendo communities with various tools to understand and use their wetland wisely. By applying a participative approach, the workshop covered such topics as the sustainable use of the mangroves, the environmental problems of wetlands, and options for their management. The theoretical sessions were complemented by field visits. The report can be seen here [in Spanish]. [09/02/06]
El Informe del Taller sobre el sitio Ramsar de Bahía de Panamá ya está disponible. Reconociendo la gran importancia de la Parte Alta de la Bahía de Panamá para la diversidad de especies de flora y fauna locales y regionales, a finales de 2005 el Grupo para la Investigación Tecnoecológica y la Conservación – GITEC- organizó un taller para proveer a las comunidades locales Chinina y Oquendo las herramientas necesarias para comprender y hacer un uso racional de su humedal. Aplicando un enfoque participativo, el taller abordó problemáticas como el uso sostenible del manglar, los problemas ambientales de los humedales, y opciones para su manejo. Las sesiones teóricas fueron complementadas con visitas de campo. Aquí.
New MOC between Ramsar and Barcelona Conventions. On 7 February in Nairobi, the Ramsar Secretary General and the Coordinator of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) signed a new Memorandum of Cooperation between the two secretariats, which supersedes the MOC of February 2001. Peter Bridgewater's brief illustrated report is here. [08/02/06]
Slovenia's World Wetlands Day celebrations. The Slovenian Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, together with the NGO "Danube Environmental Forum" represented in Slovenia by the "Society for Bird Studies and Nature Conservation", organized on World Wetlands Day 2006, in the freshly renovated City Museum of Ljubljana, a seminar on the functions provided by wetlands for life and development. Activities continued in Cerknica, home of the newly-designated Ramsar site, and then near the Skocjan caves Ramsar site. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé provides this brief illustrated report. [08/02/06]
Albania fêtes designation of new Ramsar site. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé was present at two-day World Wetlands Day ceremonies in the town of Shkoder and provides this brief illustrated report of what happened. [07/02/06]
Slovenia names intermittent karst lake to the Ramsar List. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that on World Wetlands Day the government of Slovenia designated its third Wetland of International Importance, another one in which the distinctive karst landscape of the region has played an essential role. Cerkniško jezero z okolico (Lake Cerknica and its environs)(7,250 hectares, 45º45'N 014º23'E), already a Natura 2000 site, and Ecologically Important Area, and a Regional Park, is the largest and most typical intermittent karst lake in its region. Here is Dorothea August's description of the new site, with a number of photographs courtesy of the Notranjski Regional Park. [06/02/06]
World Wetlands Day today. Today, 2 February, is World Wetlands Day, a day (or in some cases, a week) when governments at all levels, nongovernmental organizations, wetland site managers, and citizens carry out celebrations to raise the public's awareness about the values of wetlands in general and about the Convention on Wetlands in particular. 2 February is the anniversary of the signing of the Convention in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, an appropriate date for WWD but not always a convenient one, especially in the northern countries. Nonetheless, in the coming weeks you'll be able to see reports of the imaginative activities that have been reported to us from all over the world.
The Secretary General, Dr Peter Bridgewater, is sending a special message on this day to everyone involved in WWD activities, one which relates this year's theme of 'wetlands and poverty alleviation' to the experience of people everywhere. In addition, readers will be interested to find additional insights in today's messages on the Convention's CEPA e-mail list. And we are very pleased to be able to announce that a number of new Ramsar sites have been designated for addition to the List of Wetlands of International Importance as of 2 February 2006 and will be announced today at ceremonies and presentations of site certificates in those countries. Details on these new sites can be found on the following pages:
Albania: Lake Shkodra and River Buna
France: Les étangs littoraux de la Narbonnaise
Guatemala: Parque Nacional Yaxhá-Nakum-Naranjo
Jamaica: Portland Bight Wetlands and Cays
Mexico: Cascadas de Texolo y su entorno; Estero de Punta Banda; Isla Rasa; and Manglares y Humedales de Tuxpan
Republic of Korea: Suncheon Bay
Romania: Dumbravita Fishpond Complex; and Mures Floodplain
Slovenia: Cerknisko jezero z okolico
Ramsar Secretariat staff are also participating personally in WWD celebrations today in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Slovenia, and Switzerland, and reports on these events will appear here soon. [02/02/06]
Republic of Korea announces new Ramsar site on WWD. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Ministry of Environment, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and the authorities of Suncheon City, has designated the Suncheon Bay as a Wetland of International Importance, as of 20 January 2006. This is the fourth Ramsar Site in the Republic of Korea, with a combined surface area of 4,519 hectares. On the occasion of World Wetlands Day, 2nd February 2006, the site management authorities are organising a designation ceremony to announce the Ramsar listing - the event, followed by the Korean Wetland Symposium, will be attended by the Senior Advisor for Asia-Pacific, Dr. Guangchun Lei of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat. HERE. [01/02/06]
In the front line: Shoreline protection and other ecosystem services from mangroves and coral reefs. The economic value and life saving function of coral reefs and mangroves is brought into sharp focus in a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), one which underlines the vital role that these natural features play in tourism, stemming coastal erosion, and acting as nurseries for fish, including those in the multi-million dollar aquaria trade. The study gives a stark reminder of how coral reefs and mangroves are fast disappearing. Produced by UNEP's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) in collaboration with the International Coral Reef Action Network and IUCN-the World Conservation Union, the report can be downloaded in PDF format. Here are further details and a link to the download. [31/01/06]
Albania designates its share of Lake Shkodra. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that Albania's Ministry of Environment has placed the Albanian portion of a valuable transboundary wetland system onto the List of Wetlands of International Importance. As described by Ramsar's Dorothea August, Lake Shkodra and River Buna site (49,562 hectares, centered at 40°52'N 019°22'E) comprises the eastern side of the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula, shared with Serbia and Montenegro (Skadarsko Jezero Ramsar site), as well as the River Buna with its near natural delta on the East Adriatic coast. The area includes a variety of habitats: freshwater, brackish water, woodland, freshwater marshes, wet pastures, sandy shore and rocky habitats supporting about 900-1000 plant species. Connection with the River Drin ensures the migration of mainly fish species from the Adriatic via Shkodra Lake to and from Ohrid and Prespa Lakes, such as the endangered Acipenser stellatus and Salmothymus obtusirostris as well as the critically endangered species Acipenser studio and Chondrostoma scodrensis. The site hosts about 25,000 wintering waterbirds, amongst them the endangered Oxyura leucocephala and the critically endangered Numenius tenuirostris. Threats arise from past and present practices of drainage for agriculture, uncontrolled development, changes in water regime, deforestation, illegal hunting and fishing, and introduced species. Shkodra (Skadar, Scutari) is known for its cultural heritage of more than 2000 years, e.g. the Illyrian walls and the ruins of a 600-year-old catholic church. Today the main activities are agriculture, stock raising, fishing and tourism.
Albania now has three Ramsar sites, with Butrint and Karavasta Lagoon, covering a surface area of 83,062 hectares. [30/01/06]
Algeria adds 16 additional Ramsar sites. Although the Republic of Algeria joined the Ramsar Convention in 1983, prior to the year 2000 there were only three Wetlands of International Importance in the country. Between 2001 and 2003, however, a greatly renewed interest in the Convention within the Direction Générale des Forêts and the active support of WWF's Global Freshwater Programme brought about the designation of an additional 23 Ramsar sites and the production of atlases of Algerian wetlands and Ramsar sites. In late 2004, an additional 16 new sites were designated and are now ready for adding to the Ramsar List, bringing Algeria's total number of Ramsar sites to 42, covering a surface area of 2,959,615 hectares. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Africa, Lucia Scodannibio, has provided a summary article and brief descriptions of all 16 new sites, based on the Ramsar Information Sheets that accompanied the designations. [26/01/06]
Chad's newest Wetlands of International Importance. The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that during a side event organized by DCFAP (Directorate for Fauna Conservation and Protected Areas, Ramsar's administrative authority in Chad) on the 14th of November 2005, which took place at Ramsar's 9th Conference of the Parties, Chad formally received the site certificates for two new Ramsar sites. The two large sites, situated in Chad's southwest, are the Plaines d'inondation du Logone et les dépressions Toupouri and the Réserve de faune de Binder-Léré. WWF's Global Freshwater Program provided valuable assistance to the government of Chad in the preparations for the designations. Chad now has four Ramsar sites with a surface area covering 4,957,068 hectares. Brief descriptions of the sites, prepared by Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio from the Ramsar Information Sheets that accompanied the designation letters, can be found here. [24/01/06]
National Inventory for Sierra Leone. The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to report that Sierra Leone has recently brought to completion its National Wetland Inventory thanks to funds provided in the scheme of the Small Grants Fund 2002 cycle. The project led to the identification of a subgroup of wetlands including seven inland and coastal water-bodies comprising swamps, freshwater and brackish lakes, mangroves and mudflats; and the mapping out of key sites for conservation objectives. The methodology included several stages, starting from field observations to data analysis from publications and research reports to interviews and questionnaires with local communities. The inventory concluded that wetlands in Sierra Leone are substantially large and widely distributed, although threats do exist. Some of these include unregulated harvesting of turtles, tortoises, sharks and manatees, which were largely the result of the ten-year civil war. But solutions are being put forward, such as legislation review, community approaches, awareness programmes, the application of local bylaws and the integration of conservation issues in school curricula. The government intends involving local authorities, NGOs, communities and the private sector in developing and conserving wetlands for ecotourism and biodiversity protection. Consequently, the proposed follow-up activities are the organization of four workshops to review the inventory and ensure that it takes stakeholders' views into account, sensitization of local users around wetlands, organization of wetland site support groups for species conservation, weekly radio and TV shows. Three of the identified wetlands - Lake Sonfon, Rhombe Swamps, and Mamunta-Mayoso Wildlife Sanctuary - are also being considered for designation as Ramsar sites. This should be regarded as a high priority especially considering the fact that wetlands in Sierra Leone cover an area of 1.06 million hectares - 20% of the country - but currently the country has only designated one Ramsar site. While we wait for more news from the Administrative Authority, we again congratulate Sierra Leone for undertaking such a project under very difficult circumstances.
This SGF project dovetails nicely with a Ramsar/Switzerland Swiss Grant for Africa initiative on post-conflict assessment of wetlands in selected West and Central African countries. [24/01/06]
Mexico names two coastal Ramsar sites. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the government of Mexico has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, two coastal sites on opposite sides of the country, bringing Mexico's total to 60 Ramsar sites covering a surface area of 5,251,208 hectares. Ramsar's Adrián Ruiz-Carvajal has prepared brief descriptions in English and Spanish, and some photos provided by the authorities of one of the sites are appended at the bottom of the page. [23/01/06]
Ramsar mission report on Bluefields, Nicaragua. In July 2005 the government of Nicaragua informed the Ramsar Secretariat about potential ecological changes in the "Bluefields Bay Wetland System" (Sistema de Humedales de la Bahía de Bluefields) Ramsar site as a possible consequence of a proposed all-weather road from Nueva Guinea to Bluefields. In order to assess the potential impacts of the project on the ecological character of the wetlands and its ecosystem benefits/services, a Ramsar Advisory Mission (RAM) visited the area between 29 November and 8 December 2005, consulted with government officials, NGOs and local communities, and reviewed a number of studies. Bluefields has no road link and is currently accessible only by river and maritime transportation. Part of the proposed route is a rural road that can be used all year round, but other parts allow only seasonal traffic and the easternmost part is only a dirt track. Currently, the Ramsar site faces pressures from the expansion of the agricultural activities and associated deforestation; settlers are progressively encroaching over the Cerro Silva protected area, which will be crossed by the road, and the proposed road would have both direct and indirect impacts on the wetlands. The RAM mission report by Ramsar's Margarita Astrálaga and experts Manuel Felipe Olivera and Luis Enrique Sánchez covers the background and the present situation and offers a number of recommendations for the way forward. It can be read here[Spanish with English summary].Photos, too. [19/01/06]
Guinea names two Ramsar sites in the Gambia catchment. The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that during a side event organized by DCFAP (Directorate for Fauna Conservation and Protected Areas, Ramsar's Administrative Authority in Chad) at Ramsar's 9th Conference of the Parties, 14 November 2005, Senior Ramsar Advisor for Africa Abou Bamba presented Guinea's Namory Keita, Directeur national, Direction nationale de la Protection de la nature, with the certificates for two new Ramsar sites, bringing Guinea's total to 14 Wetlands of International Importance covering 5,587,861 hectares. Preparations for the designations of the new sites, Gambie-Koulountou (a National Park and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) and Gambie-Oundou-Liti in the northwest of the country, were greatly assisted by WWF's Global Freshwater Programme. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Africa, Lucia Scodanibbio, has prepared brief descriptions of the two sites based on the Ramsar Information Sheets submitted with their nomination. [18/01/06]
Second Ramsar site for Kyrgyz Republic. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Kyrgyz Republic has designated its second Ramsar site. Ramsar's Shahzia Khan points out that the designation, effective from the first day of the 9th meeting of the Conference of Parties (8 November), is part of a conservation initiative by the Kyrgyz State Forestry Service carried out under the Ramsar Small Grant Fund on 'Ecological Assessment of Son-Kul and Chatyr Kul Lakes to Develop Management Guidelines and Support Proposed Listing as Ramsar Sites'. Chatyr Kul (16,100 hectares, 40°37'N 075°18'E), a State Reserve in Naryn Oblast, is a saline high altitude lake (3,530m asl.) in the Tien Shan Mountains with pristine ecosystem. The main inflow runs from the Ak-say river and the lake plateau is bound between the edges of At-Bashi (4,700m) and Kakshalto ridges (5,500m) with permanent snowfields and glaciers, forming the border between Kyrgyzstan and China. It is one of the few habitats for Pamir Brown-headed Gulls, a breeding area for Bar-headed geese, and crucial for nine species of moulting ducks, especially Tadorna ferruginea, representing about 40% of the global population. A significant population of IUCN Redlisted Argali Sheep (Ovis ammon) is also found grazing at the plateau. The absence of ichthyofauna, high transparency and shallowness of the lake support luxuriant growth of submerged macrophytes like Potamogeton and high population of rare invertebrates like Gammarus krevetki. Located near the Torugart Pass, the lake basin was once a part of the Silk Route, and remnants of a 10th century caravanserai can still be seen. Over hundreds of years, local nomads have been using the lake area for grazing horses in summer. [12/01/06]
India names six new Ramsar sites. The Secretariat is delighted to announce that the government of India has designated six new Wetlands of International Importance for the Ramsar List, effective 8 November 2005. Two of them, Hokera Wetland and Surinsar-Mansur Lakes, lie in Jammu & Kashmir state in the northwest and the latter is a site of significant religious importance. Another two, Chandertal Wetland and Renuka Wetland, are high- and lower-altitude sites in the nearby northern state of Himachal Pradesh. The Upper Ganga River site delimits an 85-kilometre stretch of the great river as it winds gently down from 204 to 183m in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and the Rudrasagar Lake site is a lowland reservoir in the northeastern hills of Tripura state. Ramsar's Shahzia Khan has written brief descriptions of the new sites, based on the Ramsar Information Sheets compiled by the Indian authorities with the valuable assistance of WWF-India, and provided a bit more background to the new designations as well. Click here. [11/01/06]
El Salvador's third Ramsar site. The government of El Salvador has designated its third Wetland of International Importance, as of 22 November 2005: Embalse Cerrón Grande (60,698 hectares, 14° 03' N 89° 04' W) in Chalatenango, San Salvador, Cuscatlán and Cabañas departments is an artificial water reservoir that constitutes the largest freshwater body in the country. According to the summary by Ramsar's Adrián Ruiz-Carvajal (and his Spanish translation below), the reservoir provides relevant environmental products and services such as fisheries production and hydropower generation, water filtration and flood control. The site serves as a place of refuge, breeding and resting ground for several thousand waterbirds, both resident and migratory, and hosts the largest duck populations in the country. Apart from having the largest freshwater fish diversity in El Salvador, it hosts 12 of the 14 native fish species known in the country. Other threatened species in the site include paca (Agouti paca), cougar (Puma concolor), ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and the Red Brocket Deer (Mazama americana). Water pollution and eutrophication, deforestation, erosion, and the presence of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) constitute the greatest threats to the wetland. Ramsar site no. 1592. [10/01/06]
Embalse Cerrón Grande.22/11/05; Chalatenango, San Salvador, Cuscatlán y Cabañas; 13,500 ha; 14° 03' N 89° 04' W. Embalse artificial que representa el mayor cuerpo de agua dulce del país. El embalse provee bienes y servicios ambientales de importancia como la producción pesquera e hidroeléctrica, la depuración de aguas y el control de inundaciones. El sitio sirve anualmente como lugar de alimentación, cría y descanso de varios miles de aves acuáticas, tanto residentes como migratorias, y alberga las mayores poblaciones de anátidas del país. Además de ser el cuerpo de agua dulce con mayor diversidad ictiológica de El Salvador, alberga 12 de las 14 especies de peces nativos del país. Entre las especies amenazadas presentes en el sitio se encuentran el tepezcuintle (Agouti paca), puma (Puma concolor), ocelote (Leopardus pardalis) y el venado colorado (Mazama americana). La contaminación y eutrofización de las aguas, deforestación y erosión, y la presencia del jacinto de agua (Eichhornia crassipes) son las mayores amenazas a este cuerpo de agua.
Now available.Ramsar Advisory Mission report on Kopacki Rit, Croatia. Croatia's Kopacki Rit Ramsar site was placed on the Montreux Record in 1994, in a time of great political and military uncertainty, but in recent years a great deal of progress has been made in the wise use management of the Nature Park there, and Ramsar's Tobias Salathé visited the site in September 2004 to learn more about the present situation. His RAM report covers the background, the present management issues, and the considerable potential for transboundary cooperation with actual and potential Hungarian and Serb Ramsar sites in the Drava-Danube confluence floodplain. His brief report, illustrated with photographs, can be seen here. [10/01/06]
Japan adds 20 wetlands to the Ramsar List. During Ramsar COP9, on 10 November 2005 in Kampala, Uganda, the Ministry of Environment of Japan hosted a well-attended side event to announce the designation of 20 new Ramsar sites of very diverse character. Convened by Ms. Noriko Moriwake, the event included an opening speech and congratulatory remarks by Mr. Yoshihiro Natori, Director of Wildlife Division, and Mr. Takahiro Kuroiwa, Member of the House of Councillors of the Japanese Parliamentary League for increasing Ramsar Sites, expressed his pleasure in announcing the unique and underrepresented wetlands in Japan. Ramsar site certificates or diplomas were distributed by the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, Dr. Peter Bridgewater, to the representatives of local authorities of the new Ramsar sites. Here Ramsar's Shahzia Khan provides a brief report on the COP9 side event, including an overview of the new sites and the progress of wetland wise use in Japan, as well as brief descriptions of all the new sites for the Annotated Ramsar List. Go here now. [06/01/05]
Two new Parties bring Convention to 150. UNESCO has informed the Ramsar Secretariat that the Central African Republic and Barbados have deposited their instruments of accession on 5 and 12 December 2005, respectively, and thus the Convention will come into force for those states on 5 and 12 April 2006. The Central African Republic, which joined the treaty as amended in 1982 and 1987, named as its first Wetland of International Importance "Les rivières de Mbaéré-Bodingué" (101,300 hectares, 03°50'N 017°50'E) in an area of dense humid forest, the Forêt de Ngotto, in the southwest of the country near the frontier with Congo. WWF's Global Freshwater Programme provided the authorities with valuable assistance in preparing the site data for designation. Barbados, which joined the treaty as amended in 1982, designated the "Graeme Hall Swamp" (33 hectares, 13°04'N 059°35'W), a naturally created coastal wetland area with mangrove forests, a seagrass bed, and a shallow nearshore coral reef, which includes a 12-acre artificially-created lake that constitutes the largest body of inland water on the island.
At the turn of the new year, the Ramsar Convention now has 150 Contracting Parties, which have designated 1528 wetlands as Ramsar sites, covering a surface area of 129,557,675 hectares. [05/01/06]
Rwanda joins the Convention. The Secretariat is delighted to announce that Rwanda has become the 148th Party to the Ramsar Convention, and the treaty as amended by the Paris Protocol of 1982 will come into force for Rwanda on 1 April 2006. The new Party's first Wetland of International Importance has been named as Rugezi-Bulera-Ruhondo, about which the Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS) has not yet been received. The Secretariat welcomes Rwanda to the Ramsar family and is pleased to note the expanding coverage of the Convention in the region. [23/12/05]
Ramsar mission report for Serbia and Montenegro. Following substantial declines in waterbird counts at Montenegro's Lake Skadar Ramsar site, and questions about illegal building, poaching, and industrial pollution within the national park and the effects of planned peat extraction, the government authorities invited a Ramsar expert to assess the situation and offer advice. Here is Ramsar's Tobias Salathé's report on his October mission to the site, with its thorough description of the issues, praise for the authorities' efforts so far, and suggestions for the best way forward. This is Ramsar Advisory Mission no. 56. [20/12/05]
Zambia names Lukanga Swamps as third Ramsar site. At a side event organized by WWF International and the Centre for African Wetlands during Ramsar's 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties near Kampala, 8 November 2005, the Ramsar Secretariat was pleased to award Zambia's Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, the Honourable Kabinga Pande, a site certificate for the designation of the Lukanga Swamps, Zambia's third Wetland of International Importance. These swamps, very important from both an ecological and a socio-economic point of view, mark the first of five new site designations that Zambia and the Secretariat are in the process of working through. More details and photos are available here. [16/12/05]
Venice workshop on international conventions. What difference do international designations make? What are their practical implications on wetland management? Such are the questions that brought the Province of Venice and the UNESCO Office in Venice, supported by the Italian Ministry of the Environment and Territorial Planning and the Veneto Region, in collaboration with the Ramsar Secretariat, to organize an international workshop on 21-23 November 2005 focusing on practical implications of international conventions on wetland management. Besides experts on the Venice Lagoon (from the CORILA research consortium and from local authorities), managers of Ramsar sites in the Italian Po Delta, in Spain (Doñana, Odiel marshes), Croatia (Kopacki Rit), Romania (Danube Delta), Tunisia (lake Ichkeul), Austria and Hungary (lake Neusiedl/Fertö), and a number of scientific experts from across Europe participated actively in the workshop's deliberations. Here is Tobias Salathé's report of the meeting and its conclusions. [09/12/05]
Advisory Mission report for Georgia. The Georgian Ministry of Environment asked the Ramsar Secretariat to provide advice to the experts who are preparing a compensation package (in accordance with Article 4.2 of the Convention) for the construction of Kulevi oil terminal inside the "Wetlands of Central Kolkheti" Ramsar Site. Accordingly, in August 2005 Ramsar's Tobias Salathé led a Ramsar Advisory Mission to evaluate the situation, and the resulting report covers the background and weighs the issues raised by the Convention's Article 2.5 on restricting Ramsar site boundaries in the "urgent national interest" and Article 4.2 on the consequent need for compensation. Here is his report. [06/12/05]