The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 11 May 2006

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 (1,581 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]

Guide to Czech wetlands. An English version of an attractive 36-page booklet on the Ramsar sites and other wetlands in the Czech Republic has been published by the Czech Ramsar Committee. Edited by Josef Chytil, Pavlína Hakrová, and Libuše Vlasáková, and translated by Marina Eiseltová and Steve Ridgill, Wetlands of the Czech Republic: The list of wetland sites of the Czech Republic presents the methodology and results of the thorough nationwide inventory of wetlands completed in 1999 and provides detailed descriptions of the country's 12 Ramsar sites (one of which is still in the designation pipeline), with a number of superb photographs to illustrate them.

A copy of the brochure can be obtained from Ms Libuše Vlasáková, Head, International Conservation of Biodiversity Unit, Ministry of Environment, Department of Nature Protection, Vrsovická 65, 100 10 Prague 10 (libuse_vlasakova@env.cz). [09/05/06]


Ramsar sites news. 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]


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]


Ramsar legal workshop for Africa. Yaounde, Cameroon, was the venue for a 27-28 March 2006 workshop on "legal support for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in West and Central Africa". The Secretariat was represented by Abou Bamba, the Senior Advisor for Africa, who reports that the workshop, officially the "Seminaire d'Appui Juridique à la mise en oeuvre de la Convention Ramsar en Afrique Francophone de l'Ouest et Centrale", was sponsored by the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law (CEL), the International Center for Comparative Environmental Law, and the Centre pour l'Environnement et le Développement and funded by the Agence International de la Francophonie through the Québec-based Institut de l'énergie et de l'environnement de la Francophonie (IEPF), with the participation of the Ramsar Secretariat, the IUCN Central Africa Office, and UNEP. Here is Abou's report on the meeting and the discussions that took place there, as well as the Declaration agreed by the participants. [06/04/06]


MedWet Regions DVD. Sofia Spirou, Communications officer, MedWet Coordination Unit, writes: "A DVD containing results of the project entitled Action program for wetlands in the Mediterranean region, also known as MedWet Regions, was recently released. Produced by the Junta de Andalucia, Consejeria de Medio Ambiente, the Spanish-language DVD contains information and inventory data presented in an interactive format. Also included on the DVD are interactive maps allowing users to navigate through layers of data on wetlands and their surrounding areas. Presence and size of settlements, vegetation, hydrographic network and location of wetlands are among the data mapped and available for browsing. More information on the DVD is available here." [06/04/06]


Ramsar signs MOC with Congo Basin Commission. On 20 March 2006, on the peripheries of the IV World Water Forum in Mexico, Secretaries General Peter Bridgewater and Benjamin Ndala signed a memorandum of cooperation between the Ramsar Secretariat and the International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin. The Commission Internationale du Bassin Congo-Oubangui-Sangha (CICOS) was created in November 1999 in an accord signed by the heads of state of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It's an intergovernmental organization charged with managing the navigable waterways of the region sustainably and promoting integrated water resources management for the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin. Its objectives are to support sustainable development, reduce poverty, and reinforce regional integration in the countries of the basin. The MOC provides for increased exchange of information about activities and work programmes and for the possibility of joint activities between CICOS and the Convention and its International Organization Partners; it will also help to keep wetland values high on the very full CICOS agenda of concerns. The text of the MOC and photos of the signing can be seen here. [05/04/06]

Cameroon joins the Convention on Wetlands. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that Cameroon has joined the Ramsar family as the 151st Party to the Convention, as amended in 1982 and 1987 - the treaty will come into force for Cameroon four months after the deposit of its instrument of accession with UNESCO, i.e., on 20 July 2006. The new Party's obligatory first Wetland of International Importance is the well-known Waza Logone Floodplain (600,000 hectares, 11°38'N 014°37'E), which includes two National Parks and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The site comprises the whole of the floodplain of the lower Logone River in the extreme north of the country, between Nigeria and Chad, within the Lake Chad basin between Lake Maga and Lake Chad. Said to represent 10% of the surface area of major inland wetlands in the West African Sahel, the area is home to more than 100,000 people who depend upon wetland products for fishing, seasonal grazing, and agriculture. A 2001 census counted more than 320,000 waterbirds from 104 species, and there is a huge concentration of wildlife, particularly in the parks, including large mammals such as elephant, ostrich, giraffe, lion, and many others. Two decades of poor rainfall and the construction of the Maga Dam in 1981 for rice irrigation caused severe disruption to the ecological character of the floodplain, but an important rehabilitation project, begun in 1988 and a collaboration among IUCN, the governments of Cameroon and the Netherlands, and the CML of Leiden University, with contributions from other institutions such as WWF and the EC, has shown good results in demonstrating the feasibility of the partial rehabilitation of the floodplain.

WWF's Global Freshwater Programme and a grant from the Ramsar Swiss Grant for Africa have been of great assistance to the government of Cameroon in preparing the site data required for accession. On the restoration project, see also Paul Loth, ed., The return of the water: restoring the Waza Logone floodplain in Cameroon. IUCN Wetlands and Water Resources Programme, Blue Series. IUCN, 2004. [04/04/06]


Ramsar presentation on wetlands and livelihoods. At a CBD COP8 side event on “Wetlands, Water and Livelihoods” organized by Wetlands International on 23 March, the Deputy Secretary General made a presentation on The Ramsar Convention: wetlands and livelihoods. The text of his presentation is available here. Other presentations were made by David Coates (CBD Secretariat) on CBD’s approach to sustainable use of inland water biodiversity and human well-being, Kemi Awoyinka (Wetlands International) on WI’s Wetlands and Poverty Reduction project, and Henk Simons (IUCN-Netherlands) on the Green Coast project, which concerns Indian Ocean post-tsunami work responding to the needs of people and biodiversity. A full report of the event will appear soon on Wetlands International’s Web site (www.wetlands.org). [31/03/06]


United Kingdom's 164th Ramsar site. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the UK has designated a new Wetland of International Importance, effective 1 March 2006. Lihou Island and L'Erée Headland, Guernsey (427 hectares, 49°28'N 002°40'W) comprises several coastal areas on the west coast of the Channel island of Guernsey, including the shingle bank Les Anguillieres and the western end of L'Erée Headland as well as the small northwestern Lihou Island and surrounding marine coastal areas. Within a relatively small area there is an amazing variety of interesting habitat types including rocky, gravelly and sandy shoreline, the sublittoral zone, coastal grassland, saltmarsh, reedbed and saline lagoon, as well as vegetated shingle banks, seagrass Zostera beds, and wet grassland, altogether supporting a rich diversity of animals and plants such as 214 different species of seaweed on the tiny shore around Lihou Island. The area also has a rich cultural heritage, with many important archaeological and historical remains. In summer the site offers very popular beaches for sunbathing and bathing at high tide as well as surfing and rockpooling at some places. Birdwatching is another well-liked activity which is supported by two bird hides at La Claire Mare. Integrated management plans are under development for different areas of the site. [30/03/06]


IWMI publication on water productivity and security. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI), one of the Ramsar Convention's partner organizations, took the occasion of the IV World Water Forum earlier this month to launch a very useful 20-page brochure entitled "Beyond more crop per drop: water management for food and the environment". Written by IWMI Director General Frank Rijsberman and Nadia Manning, with input from a number of others and based on information from the Ramsar Convention, SEI, IUCN, SIWI, and others, the pamphlet draws on the emerging results of IWMI's Comprehensive Assessment of Water in Agriculture (CA) sponsored by CGIAR, FAO, Ramsar, and the CBD. The publication "highlights various key areas for action including: increasing blue and green water productivity and access to water resources; balancing water for food and other ecosystem services; and investing in water security to aid poverty alleviation. It also identifies cross-cutting actions such as integrated water resources management, capacity building and continued research" (quoted from the IISD's MEA Bulletin no. 3). The brochure can be downloaded in PDF format from the IWMI Web site:[30/03/06]


Now available. Proceedings of Ramsar COP9 on CD-ROM. The outcomes from the Convention's 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held in Kampala in November 2005, have been available on the Ramsar Web site for some time, but now the full COP9 Proceedings can also be seen on CD-ROM. The CDs, which cover English, French, and Spanish versions of all documents, include the Conference Report, the Resolutions adopted by the COP, the list of participants, the National Reports submitted by the Parties prior to the COP, the Wetland Conservation Award winners, results of the pre-COP regional meetings, and the background information documents provided in advance of the COP itself. Readers are encouraged to use the same materials as found on the Ramsar Web site, but those who require the CD-ROM, which is free of charge, can contact Montse Riera in the Secretariat, riera@ramsar.org. [28/03/06]


News from the SGF. Exploring ecotourism potential for Lake Nakuru. The Secretariat is pleased to report on the results of a Ramsar Small Grants Fund (SGF) project that was carried out by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and co-funded by Australia's Banrock Station, which donated its Evian Special Prize of $10,000 from the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award in 2002. The purpose of the project was to study the ecotourism potential for Lake Nakuru, a Ramsar site inKenya, within the framework of the Lake Nakuru Integrated Management Plan and the Nakuru Strategic Structure Plan developed under Agenda 21. As the final report on the SGF report explains, the area covered by the project consists of the catchment of Lake Nakuru National Park (LNNP) (approx. 1,800 km2), a region rich in culture and important for biodiversity conservation, both at a national and international level, located in Kenya's Rift Valley Province. It includes a gazetted wildlife protected area, gazetted government forests (Mau, Eburru, Dondori), and private and public land. Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio provides a description of the project and its outcomes, based upon the project final report, with photographs. [28/03/06]

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