The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 29 November 2006

Valuing wetlands - a Ramsar Technical Report. The Ramsar Convention has long recognized the importance of wetland economic valuation in contributing to well-informed planning and decision-making, and in 1997 the Secretariat published Economic valuation of wetlands: A guide for policy makers and planners by Barbier, Acreman, and Knowler. But economic valuation of ecosystems is a rapidly developing discipline, and there are now many different methods available for undertaking different aspects and purposes of wetland valuation. In order to assist Contracting Parties in having economic valuation information better available for decision-making on wetlands, Ramsar's COP8 (Valencia, 2002) requested the STRP to prepare guidance on practical methods for wetland valuation. The resulting report, the preparation of which has been led by Rudolf de Groot and Mishka Stuip of Wageningen University and the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) in the Netherlands, provides this guidance and updates information on available methodologies from those in the 1997 book. Valuing wetlands: Guidance for valuing the benefits derived from wetland ecosystem services is now available in PDF format (1.6MB), published jointly as Ramsar Technical Report No. 3 and as No. 27 in the Convention on Biological Diversity's CBD Technical Series. [28/11/06]

Two new Ramsar sites in Comoros. The Secretariat is delighted to be able to announce that the Direction nationale de l'Environnement et des Forêts (DNEF) of the government of Comoros has designated two volcanic mountain wetlands on the largest and second-largest islands. As described by Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio, based on the Ramsar Information Sheets, Le Karthala (13,000 hectares, 11°46'S 043°21'E), located in the southern part of Grande Comore (Ngazidja), is a well-known active volcano with its 3km-wide caldera. Le Mont Ntringui (3,000 hectares, 12°11'S 044°25'E), located on Anjouan, Comoros' second biggest island, comprises Mt. Ntringui, the island's highest point, and the crater lake Dzialandzé, which is the largest freshwater body on the island. Both sites are extraordinarily important as habitat for endangered and endemic species. Descriptions of both sites, an excellent photograph, and some maps can be seen here. Comoros now has three Wetlands of International Importance, covering a surface area of 16,030 hectares. [24/11/06]

Ramsar and the IOPs. The guest article from the IISD's MEA Bulletin 15 (6 November 2006), "Ramsar's unique 'partners' system keeps pace with the times" by Dave Pritchard of BirdLife International, provides an excellent overview of the Convention's fruitful relationship with its five International Organization Partners, or IOPs -- it's reprinted here with the kind permission of Dave and the IISD Reporting Services team. [24/11/06]

Republic of Korea names mountain lake Ramsar site. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea has designated Mulyeongari-oreum (31 hectares, 33°22'N 126°42'E), a 'Wetland Conservation Area' on the island of Jeju some 100 kilometres south of the Korean Peninsula, as its fifth Wetland of International Importance. As described by Ramsar's Pragati Tuladhar, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet, the site comprises a small crater lake located on top of an "oreum", or secondary volcano, around Halla mountain formed from volcanic eruptions between 100 and 2.5 thousand years ago. The site, with seasonally varying water levels, provides habitat for two endangered species, the giant water bug (Lethocerus deyrollei) and Narrow-mouth frog (Kaloula borealis). It is also known as "Su-ryeong-ak" which means a hill with holy water. All development activities have been prohibited since the site was designated as the country's first wetland conservation area in 2000 and public access will be prohibited through July 2007 to allow building of a visitors' centre and nature trails. A comprehensive wetland conservation plan has been prepared by the Ministry of Environment. A map and some photographs of the new site are available here. [23/11/06]

Ninth Regular Meeting of the Prespa Park Coordination Committee. The Ninth Regular Meeting of the Prespa Park Coordination Commitee took place in Korcha, Albania, on 20-21 November. Established in 2000 under the aegis of the Ramsar Convention, the Coordination Committee is tasked with facilitating the management of the transboundary Ramsar site of Prespa shared between Albania, FYR of Macedonia, and Greece. The participants discussed progress on current projects undertaken in the area, including work on reducing environmental impacts of agriculture in the Albanian and FYR of Macedonia parts of the lakes; solid waste management in FYR of Macedonia; sustaining transborder cooperation and local sustainable development in protected areas of the lake region of Ohrid and Prespa. Side meetings took place during the event among others on transboundary coordination of the forest services of Korcha and Florina for combating illegal logging in the Albania-Greece border and development of national spatial plans in the Prespa Park region. MedWet Secretariat Coordinator Spyros Kouvelis participated in the meeting representing the Ramsar Convention and MedWet. For more information on the Transboundary Park of Prespa you can view the Web site of the Park here. (Source: Vivi Roumeliotou, Prespa Park Coordination Commitee Secretariat - Society for the Protection of Prespa). [23/11/06]

"Wings Over Wetlands" launched, 20 November. A major GEF project on sustainable wetland networks for migratory waterbirds in Africa and Eurasia was launched on 20 November 2006 in Bonn, Germany, by an expert panel which included Tobias Salathé, the Ramsar Secretariat's Senior Advisor for Europe (photo). The US$12 million Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Project is the largest international wetland and waterbird conservation initiative ever undertaken in the African-Eurasian region and is intended to conserve the critical areas needed by waterbirds migrating across these continents. The Project was designed and is being implemented as a collaborative effort between Wetlands International and BirdLife International, with support from the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and UNEP/GEF.

Nick Davidson, Ramsar's Deputy Secretary General, stressed the importance of the project: "WOW is particularly significant as it will help countries to simultaneously deliver their commitments under a number of key Multilateral Environmental Agreements through one set of coordinated actions". These directly include the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), as well as the Convention on Migratory Species and the CBD. He explained that WOW activities will support implementation of the Ramsar Convention in a number of ways, including through wetland sustainable management demonstration projects in a number of designated and candidate Ramsar sites; exchange of knowledge, training and capacity building, with assistance of the Ramsar Secretariat's regional teams; translation of the Ramsar toolkit of guidelines for the wise use of wetlands into Russian and Arabic in order to increase their accessibility for wetland managers and decision-makers in the region; and identification of the key sites network for waterbirds throughout the flyways in the region, which will support Ramsar Contracting Parties in their identification and designation of Ramsar sites. The official press release and fact sheet are here. [22/11/06]

Slovak Republic designates 35-km long cave system. The Ramsar Secretariat is delighted to announce that the Slovak Republic has designated as its 14th Wetland of International Importance, as of 17 November 2006, a remarkable karst cave system that is part of the Low Tatra National Park, near the city of Liptovský Mikulas. The Caves of the Demanova Valley (Jaskyne Demänovskej doliny) (1,448 hectares, 48°59'N, 019°35'E) is part of the longest cave system in the country with a total measured length of 35,044 meters. The system consists of nine speleologically interconnected caves and further associated smaller caves. A description of the site by Ramsar's Dorothea August, with some stunning photographs and a map, is available here. There are presently 153 Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, and 1631 wetlands have been designated as Ramsar sites, covering an area of 145,622,310 hectares. [16/11/06]

Ramsar report to the ICRI meeting.Margarita Astrálaga, Ramsar's Senior Advisor for the Americas and focal point on marine and coastal issues, presented her "member's report on activities" to the general meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) in Cozumel, Mexico, 22-23 October 2006. The six-page document provides a succinct update on Ramsar's work with coral reefs, as well as with mangroves and seagrass beds, and includes table and charts showing the distributions of coral reefs and Ramsar sites with coral reefs throughout the world. The report is available here in PDF format. [14/11/06]

Tropical Marine Symposium in Cozumel, Mexico.Margarita Astrálaga and Adrián Ruiz from the Ramsar Americas team represented the Convention at the III International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium (ITMEMS3), held in Cozumel, Mexico on the 16-20 October 2006. Intended to serve as a forum where marine protected area managers could learn and share their experiences, some of the main events within the Symposium were the regional workshops and caucuses. Together with the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Ramsar co-chaired the Disaster & Restoration workshop. Here is their report. [14/11/06]

Cameroon designates volcanic crater lake. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the government of Cameroon has designated as its second Wetland of International Importance the Barombi Mbo Crater Lake (415 hectares, 04°40'N 009°23'E). According to Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet provided with the site designation, the site forms with three other crater lakes in the Southwest Province of Cameroon the so-called "Afrotropical Cameroon Crater Lakes Ecoregion". It is famous among biologists for the occurrence of 12 endemic fish species, rendering it one of the places with the highest densities of endemic species per area in the world. For evolutionary biologists, the lake represents one of the few examples where new species have evolved within the confines of a small area by "sympatric speciation". Lake Barombi Mbo is also important due to the presence of freshwater sponges, one of which (Corvospongilla thysi) is also endemic. It is an important sacred site to the Barombi tribe: the social and cultural life of the Barombi Mbo People is intimately linked to the use of the resources of the lake through fishing, mythology and transport, and to the surrounding land through farming. It is also a source of clean water for the metropolis of Kumba and its environs. Over-fishing, introduction of foreign fish to the ecosystem, pesticide spraying of cocoa-trees within the catchment area and deforestation on the crater rim are the main (potential and actual) threats to the site. The elaboration and implementation of a management plan needs to occur. Support from WWF Cameroon, the WWF Global Freshwater Programme, and Ramsar's Swiss Grant for Africa was helpful to the authorities in making this important designation. [09/11/06]

Ramsar visit to Australia and China. During the week of 30 October - 3 November 2006, Peter Bridgewater, the Secretary General, paid a visit to the Port Phillip Bay Ramsar site in the state of Victoria in Australia, and here he has provided a brief, illustrated report on the site. Following that, he was able to participated in the 11th Living Lakes Conference in Nanchang, China, and then visited the new Hong Kong Wetland Centre and the Mai Po Ramsar site -- and here is his brief report on that as well, with a number of photographs. [09/11/06]

International synergy for the Pantanal. Recently, a meeting in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) was held seeking a greater synergy among the NGOs that work for the Pantanal, a wetland of international importance shared by Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. A central goal of the meeting was to maximize efforts among these three countries in favour of the conservation of this valuable ecosystem. The meeting allowed updating information on the context and development tendencies from a tri-national perspective. In addition, joint activities were strategically identified for the next four years, which include the construction of local capacities and support for the development of policies and for sustainable development planning in the Pantanal region. The following organizations participated in the meeting: Ecology in Action (ECOA) from Brazil, Sobrevivencia (meaning Survival in English) from Paraguay, Regional Studies Center for Tarija's Development (CERDET) from Bolivia, Friends of the Earth from the Netherlands and WWF, with its programs in Bolivia, Brazil and the Netherlands. For the full article, CREHO's InfoWetland no. 2, page 2. [08/11/06]

Ramsar Small Grants Fund 2006. We are pleased to announce that the Ramsar Standing Committee has approved the following projects submitted to the Secretariat for the 2006 funding cycle of the Small Grants Fund. The Standing Committee has approved six projects for immediate finding (category A1):

Benin & Togo (SGF/06/BJTG/01), Kyrgyz Republic (SG/06/KG/01), Vietnam (SGF/06/VN/01), Republic of Moldova (SGF/06/MD/01), Antigua & Barbuda (SGF/06/AG/1), Kiribati (SGF/06/KI/01)

And a further three projects have been approved as the priority should further funding become available (A2):

Burkina Faso (SGF/06/BF/01), Nepal (SGF/06//NP/01), Ecuador (SGF/06/EC/01)

Project descriptions can be seen on the attached document (PDF), including those proposals approved for funding should further funds become available for this project cycle (A2-rated projects) -- that paper also outlines the assessment and approvals process followed by the Secretariat and Standing Committee. The Standing Committee has also approved one amendment to the Operational Guidelines for the Small Grants Fund, which will apply to proposals for the 2007 funding cycle.

The deadline for the submission of project proposals for the 2007 cycle will be 30 June 2007. Contracting Parties requiring the advice of the Secretariat on the preparation of the project proposal through the SGF Advisory Service should submit a draft no later than 30 April 2007. [31/10/06]

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