What do we know about Wetlands of International Importance?
Keeping Ramsar site information up to date
The "Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands" (RIS) is the basic datasheet for Ramsar sites which was adopted by the 4th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP4) in 1990. It contains the justification for the inclusion of the wetland in the Ramsar List by assessing its international importance against agreed Criteria; it supplies additional data about ecological character, values, and threats that will be needed to manage the site effectively; and it provides a "snapshot" of the site to inform the public.
Recognizing the importance of keeping that RIS information up-to-date, the Parties committed themselves in 1996 to preparing new information sheets for their Ramsar sites at least every six years, and many Parties have done so. Nonetheless, there are still many Wetlands of International Importance for which the Secretariat and the public have only very old data -- some dating back as many as thirty years!
In order to support the efforts of Contracting Parties in providing and regularly updating Ramsar site information, the Ramsar Secretariat (following up on suggestions made during COP9) has prepared a progress chart on the provision of Ramsar site information. The chart will be updated each time new Ramsar site information is added to the List by the Secretariat; it will always show, therefore, the current state of Ramsar site information available.
The latest Ramsar Information Sheet for every Ramsar site is available on Wetlands International's Ramsar Sites Information Service, here.
The 6th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (1996) requested, in Resolution VI.13, that all RISs be updated by the Parties at least every six years and additionally with every significant change in the ecological status of the site. The latest RIS versions are accessible on the Ramsar Sites Information Service: http://www.wetlands.org/RSDB/default.htm.
At their 9th meeting (2005), the Parties expressed concern "that for 619 Ramsar sites (41% of sites included in the List) in 104 countries [listed in the Annex], Ramsar Information Sheets (RISs) or adequate maps have not been provided or updated RISs and maps have not been supplied to the Secretariat for more than six years, so that information on the current status of theses sites is not available" (Resolution IX.15, paragraph 6).
COP9 therefore strongly urged "those Parties within whose territories lie Ramsar sites for which official descriptions have not been provided in one of the three working languages of the Convention, and/or for which suitable maps have not yet been submitted, to submit those materials to the Secretariat as a matter of the highest priority" (paragraph 29).
COP9 furthermore instructed "the Ramsar Secretariat to contact the Contracting Parties listed in the Annex to this Resolution and request them to provide or update, as a matter of high priority, Ramsar site descriptions (Ramsar Information Sheets and/or maps), using the Ramsar Information Sheet as revised to incorporate the amendments introduced by Resolution IX.1 Annex B, in one of the Convention's official working languages" (paragraph 30).