The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 14 June 2006
Instrumento legal para el pago por servicios ambientales en Costa Rica. El 30 de enero de 2006 entró en vigor el Canon por Concepto de Aprovechamiento de Aguas para todo usuario de este recurso en Costa Rica. El Canon es un instrumento económico innovador que tiene como finalidad internalizar la totalidad de los costos ambientales derivados de la explotación y suministro del recurso hídrico a través del pago por este servicio ambiental. Ajustando los costos del suministro en función de la fuente del agua (superficial o subterránea) y de 8 tipos de usuarios finales, este esquema será instrumentado gradualmente durante un período de 7 años, introduciéndose un ajuste por inflación a partir del octavo año. Los ingresos generados por este concepto se destinarán en un 50% a la gestión nacional del agua (incluyendo infraestructura e investigación, entre otros), siendo el 50% restante invertido directamente en la conservación, mantenimiento y recuperación de la cuenca hidrográfica y ecosistemas que proveen dicho recurso, tanto en áreas protegidas del estado como privadas. El Canon contempla adicionalmente subsidios para el manejo de las Áreas Silvestres Protegidas, para los propietarios de tierras privadas, y otros incentivos para facilitar su implementación. (PDF). [29/05/06]
Guatemala’s National Wetland Policy was published in January 2006 by the National Protected Areas Council (Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas -CONAP) with the support of the Ramsar Convention’s Small Grant Fund project SGF/03/GT/1. This Policy, applicable to all wetlands in the country, including groundwater, beaches and seas, defines the general guidelines, vision, objectives and lines of action that will be followed to achieve the conservation and wise use of these ecosystems in the present and future. The National Policy also lays out arrangements regarding its implementation, the National Wetlands Committe and the recognition of the important role played by social actors in this process. A PDF copy of the National Wetlands Policy can be downloaded here (Spanish only).
Indonesia names Wasur National Park. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Ministry of Forestry of Indonesia has designated the large Wasur National Park (413,810 hectares; 08°38'S 140°23'E) in Irian Jaya for the List of Wetlands of International Importance, effective 16 March 2006. The park is a low-lying wetland in the monsoon climate zone of southern New Guinea, with intertidal mudflats and coastal mangroves with extensive seasonally inundated grasslands, reed swamps, savannahs, and monsoon forest. The site is the habitat for a number of rare and endemic species, including the Fly River Grassbird (Megalurus albolimbatus) and Grey-crowned Munia (Lonchura nevermanni).Tens of thousands of waterbirds visit the region during migration between eastern Siberia and northern Australia. The topography is exceptionally flat, with little natural drainage in large parts of the reserve. Land use is chiefly subsistence farming by small local communities of four groups of autochthonous peoples, and the area contains many sites of spiritual significance and archaeological importance. Poaching and alien invasive species like water hyacinth and mimosa pigra, as well as population pressures from the nearby town of Merauke, are seen as the greatest threats. Ecotourism infrastructure is being developed to accommodate international as well as local tourists, to benefit local communities. The site is contiguous with the Tonda Wildlife Management Area Ramsar site in Papua New Guinea.
Indonesia, which joined the Convention in 1992, now has three Ramsar sites (with Berbak and Danau Sentarum), covering a surface area of 656,510 hectares. [26/05/06]
Preserving wetland archaeological heritage in Germany. Watercourses, floodplains, coastal areas, lagoons or peatlands are places of early human civilisation. They hold a range of information about historical periods and ancient techniques of use of natural resources, thereby forming a crucial component of our cultural heritage. From 15 to 17 May 2006, the German State ArchaeologistsCommittee met in Merseburg (Saxony-Anhalt) for their annual meeting, and this year they dedicated their scientific colloquium to the preservation and management of river basins, floodplains and lake landscapes. Dorothea August represented the Ramsar Secretariat there and contributes this illustrated report. [26/05/06]
Ramsar visit to Samoa, May 2006. The Secretary General visited Samoa in early May in order to conclude a new MOC with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and meet with Samoan officials. In this brief illustrated report, Peter Bridgewater describes his talks there and his muddy visit to Samoa's first Ramsar site, Lake Lanoto'o. [24/05/06]
Chad designates huge southeastern floodplain complex. Chad's Ramsar Administrative Authority, the Direction de Conservation de la Faune et des Aires Protegées has designated that country's fifth Wetland of International Importance, thereby effectively doubling Chad's surface area under the Ramsar umbrella. As described by Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet, the Plaines d'inondation des Bahr Aouk et Salamat (4,922,000 hectares, 10°45'N 020°33'E) is now the world's third-largest Ramsar site, a complex of floodplains, hills, a lake, rivers and ponds located in a natural depression at the border with the Central Africa Republic. The site plays a very important role for the surrounding wildlife, providing breeding grounds for several migratory waterbirds and supporting hippos, leopards, elephants and different antelope species. It also is a spawning and nursery ground for several fish families, and plays a role in flood control, groundwater recharge, sediment trapping and chemical regulation of the waters. Fishing is an important socio-economic activity, with annual catches amounting to 15,000 tonnes; the area is also a renowned grazing ground, and different crops are grown according to the habitat type. Local trees are used for medicinal purposes, firewood and fruit. Tourism in the Zakouma National Park and hunting concessions can potentially be further exploited. The main threats to the site arise from poaching, oil exploration, over-grazing, illegal fires and contamination by pesticides. An environmental education project is taking place in the schools, while awareness-raising and training in participatory management is being carried out with the local communities.
The new designation is part of Chad's contribution to the ChadWet regional initiative that was launched at COP9 as part of Resolution IX.7, and the site includes one of the pilot projects in the framework of the GEF Lake Chad Basin project (which is coordinated by our former Ramsar colleague, Anada Tièga). As with earlier Ramsar sites in Chad, WWF's Global Freshwater Programme was very helpful to the government in supporting the preparation of the site designation data. [23/05/06]
Chile's Salar del Huasco, a High Andean Ramsar site. Since 2002, the Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo (CED) has been executing the project "Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of the Salar del Huasco (Región de Tarapacá, Chile)". Its objective is to create the conditions and execute the necessary actions for the conservation and sustainable management of one of the more emblematic High Andean wetlands in Chile for its biological and cultural diversity. This initiative, a follow-up to a 2002 Ramsar Small Grants Fund project, is financed by GEF and implemented by UNDP. HERE [23/05/06]
Desde el año 2002 el CED está ejecutando el proyecto "Conservación de la Biodiversidad y Manejo Sustentable del Salar del Huasco (Región de Tarapacá, Chile)". Su objetivo es crear las condiciones y ejecutar las acciones necesarias para la conservación y gestión sustentable de uno de los humedales altoandinos más emblemáticos de Chile por su diversidad biológica y cultural. La iniciativa es financiada por el GEF e implementada por el PNUD.
Nicaragua's Bluefields site signs. The Sistema de Humedales de la Bahía de Bluefields in Nicaragua has got new Ramsar site signs, and here are some photographs. [23/05/06]
Turkey adds one coastal and two inland sites to the Ramsar List. The Secretariat is extremely pleased to announce that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, on behalf of the government of the Turkish Republic, has designated three new Wetlands of International Importance. Of two new sites on the Central Anatolian plateau, Kizören Obrouk (127 hectares, 38°20'N 033°20'E), an archaeological restricted area, is a good example of an Anatolian "obrouk", a deep freshwater (groundwater) lake formed in a karstic depression. Also in the Konya district of Central Anatolia, Meke Maar (202 hectares, 37°41'N 033°38'E) comprises a caldera and crater lake in a volcanic mass with typically acidic water that permits no aquatic life in or near it. On the southern coast, Yumurtalik Lagoons (19,853 hectares, 36°42'N 035°38'E) comprises the whole of the alluvial delta formed by several rivers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, with a broad array of freshwater and coastal habitat types. Further details on all three of these interesting new Ramsar sites can be seen here. Turkey now has 12 Wetlands of International Importance, covering an area of 179,482 hectaries. [16/05/06]
Photos of Meke Maar. Four excellent photos taken on 9 May 2006 of the new Ramsar site Meke Maar can be seen here, courtesy of Mr Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF's Global Freshwater Programme. HERE. [19/05/06]
Portugal designates five varied new Ramsar sites. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the government of Portugal has designated five new Wetlands of International Importance, effective 2 December 2005. They are: Bertiandos and S. Pedro of Arcos Lagoons (346 hectares, 41°45'N 008°39'W), a complex of permanent and temporary freshwater lakes on the right bank of the Lima River in the north of the country; Estrela Mountain upper Plateau and upper Zêzere River(5,075 ha, 40°21'N 007°37'W), the upper reaches and plateau region of Portugal's highest mountain (1993m); 'Fajãs' of Caldeira and Cubres Lagoons(87 ha, 38º38'N 027º57'W), two small coastal lagoon systems formed by landslide processes off steep coastal cliffs on S. Jorge Island in the Azores Autonomic Region; Mira Minde Polje and related Springs (662 ha, 39°29'N 008°38'W), an important, flat karstic depression and associated subterranean hydrological system, springs, and caves; and Mondego Estuary (1,518 ha, 40º08'N 008º50'W), the estuary of the largest river that is wholly within Portugal. Portugal now has 17 Ramsar sites covering a surface area of 73,784 hectares, and the Convention as a whole has 1,601 Ramsar sites, covering 134,701,820 hectares.
Brief site descriptions, prepared from the Ramsar Information Sheets with the help of Dorothea August, and a number of photographs of the new sites, can be found here. [11/05/06].
New Ramsar MOC signed with SPREP. The Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, is visiting Samoa on 10 and 11 May 2006 and has participated in the signing of the new Memorandum of Cooperation between the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia and the Ramsar Secretariat. The Memorandum of Cooperation, following on from the first MOC signed in 2002, covers a three-year period from 2006 to 2008 and agrees to a number of joint collaborative activities: these aim to promote and strengthen the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources in the Pacific Islands region. Peter is also meeting with Samoa's new environment minister, the Honourable Faumuina Tiatia Liuga, consulting with SPREP's Assistant Ramsar Officer, Vai Jungblut, and visiting Samoa's first Ramsar site, Lake Lanoto'o. Here is SPREP's press release on the signing ceremony, with a photo. [11/05/06
Guatemala teachers' workshop on mangrove ecology. Educators from five countries came together in Tilapa from 18 to 21 April 2006 in a three-day workshop for Guatemala teachers on the importance of mangrove wetlands.Co-sponsored by the international non-profit organization the Mangrove Action Project (MAP), Guatemala's Amigos del Bosque, Colombia's San Andres-based CORALINA, The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and New England Biolabs, the workshop attracted more than 20 teachers from across the country and abroad. The workshop was held in Tilapa, a small island on the southwest Pacific coast of Guatemala. Martin Keeley, MAP's education director, provides this brief illustrated report on the workshop's aims and results. [11/05/06]
Latvia extends boundaries of Lake Kanieris. Following a boundary extension, the Lake Kaneiris RS now covers not only the shallow lagoon, but also the unique Slocene River delta swamps with several islands, large reed beds and surrounding floodplain forests at the adjacent areas to the west of the lake. Besides the floating vegetation of the lake, there is a broad mosaic of large reed beds of Phragmitetum, Typhetum angustifoliae and Cladietum marisci as well as different habitats at the surrounding meadows, fens and floodplain forests. The total area covered is now 1,995 hectares instead of 1,200 ha., and Latvia's six Ramsar sites now cover 149,158 ha. See the site description in The Annotated List. [09/05/06]
Fiji becomes the 152nd Party to Ramsar. The Secretariat is extremely pleased to welcome the Pacific state of Fiji to the Ramsar community. The instrument of accession to the Convention on Wetlands, as amended in 1982 and 1987, was received by the Director-General of UNESCO on 11 April, and thus the treaty comes into force for Fiji on 11 August 2006. The accession process has been facilitated over several years by a number of the Convention's partner organizations - BirdLife International, Wetlands International - Oceania, and WWF South Pacific - with the benefit of grants from the Wetlands International / Netherlands DGIS Partners for Wetlands Programme and the Ramsar SGF. The new Party has named the "Upper Navua Conservation Area" (615 hectares, 18°07'S 177°55'E) as its first Wetlands of International Importance - for a description, photo, and map of the new site, click here. [02/05/06]
Ramsar Visitors Centre opened in Schrems, Austria. "Arguably, one of the most innovative wetland centres - and certainly one of the very few providing the link to the Ramsar Convention in their name - is the new "UnderWaterWorld" Ramsar Centre in Schrems Nature Park which opened its doors on 28 April 2006. Schrems is a small town in Austria's most northern corner, in the "Waldviertel" (forest quarter), or the silent land of dark waters, as the tourist leaflet puts it." Ramsar's Tobias Salathédescribes the new Centre and the launch ceremony, and illustrates the story with a number of interesting photographs. HERE. [02/05/06]
Belarus designates part of transboundary wetlands. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Republic of Belarus has designated its eighth Wetland of International Importance, effective 18 October 2005. As summarized by Ramsar's Dorothea August from the Ramsar Information Sheet that accompanied the designation, Prostyr (6,800 hectares, 51°56 N 026°03 E), a National Landscape Reserve and Important Bird Area, is a complex of near-natural sedge and reed fen mires together with black alder groves and scrub formations along the banks and floodplain meadows between the rivers Pripyat, Prostyr and Styr, continuing as a transboundary wetland across the Ukrainian border. It is a breeding ground of the globally endangered Aquatic Warbler and generally one of the most important nesting sites during the migration season. Such eutrophic floodplain mires are typical of the Belarusian Polesie area, but they have become rare as a result of heavy drainage activities since the 1960s and have practically disappeared in Central Europe. Presently a system of old drainage canals is still draining fen mires, which has negative impacts particularly in the summer, when it causes the groundwater table to drop significantly. In general there are only small scale economic activities on the site, chiefly occasional haymaking and cattle grazing, with some hunting and non-commercial fishing. As there are no roads, boats are the only means of accessing the Prostyr Reserve.
Discussions with Ukrainian authorities are continuing towards uniting Prostyr in a Belarusian-Ukrainian transboundary Ramsar site, including Ukraine's Prypiat River Floodplains and Stokhid River Floodplains Ramsar sites, with development of a joint management plan. This project opens the potential for increasing international tourism in this region.[01/05/06]
Romania names fifth Ramsar site. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Romanian Ministry of Environment and Waters Management has designated Lake Techirghiol (1,462 hectares, 44°03'N 028°38'E) as that Party's fifth Ramsar site, effective 23 March 2006. The new site is a lake situated near the Black Sea coast, divided into three parts by two dams constructed in the 1980s: the eastern part remained salty, between the dams the water became brackish, and the western end of the lake contains fresh water. In such diverse conditions the population of plants, such as Suaeda maritima and Puccinellia distans, as well as animals, e.g. the Danube Crested Newt Triturus dobrogicus and the Fire-bellied Toad Bombina bombina and several threatened bat species such as Miniopterus schreibersi, have developed continuously, and the coastal habitats and wetlands provide good conditions for a high variety of species. The site provides a very important roosting place for waterfowl, especially geese and ducks, and at the same time the reed beds offer ideal breeding grounds for many bird species. The marine salt characteristics of the lake support Artemia salina, a small crustacean which produces the biogenic silt sapropel that is used for medical therapeutic activities. Potential threats are perceived from disturbances by tourists and local people accessing the area with motor vehicles, as well as a garbage dump near Techirghiol village. A management plan is expected to be completed in 2006.
The Romanian Ornithological Society / BirdLife Romania provided valuable assistance to the government in the preparation of the designation data. [26/04/06]