The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 10 January 2007

Signing of MoC with the Carpathian Convention. On 13 December, at the occasion of the high-level segment of the First meeting of the Carpathians Convention (, Kyiv, Ukraine, the Secretary General and the Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Europe, Frits Schlingemann, signed a memorandum of co-operation between the Convention and the Ramsar convention. The secretary general was also able to make a short Intervention to the High level segment, reproduced here. The text of the MOC is available here, and the photographs show the signature by the SG and Frits Schlingemann. The moC is a direct follow-on from the Evian Encounter held in November to establish a regional wetlands network of the Carpathians. [03/01/07]

SGF. Slovenian project for awareness-raising in young people. The project "Young people acting for the wise use of wetlands" focused on building public awareness about the importance of water in Slovenian karst wetlands. It was implemented by the Škocjan Caves Park in cooperation with the Notranjska Regional Park (comprising the Ramsar site Lake Cerknica), which are both Ramsar site management authorities. The educational programme that was developed, and which has been included in regular activities by both Parks, is unique at the Slovenian level and offers an example both to schools and other institutions. Active cooperation involved eight primary schools on the issues of biodiversity and sustainable development, including extensive meetings with the project team and teachers as well as local excursions to the Cerknica lake. This brief report prepared by Dorothea August provides further details about the project, photographs of the various stages in the work, and some of the key outcome materials. [20/12/06]

Paraguayan Wetland and Important Bird Area Receives Protection. Guyra Paraguay (BirdLife in Paraguay) is celebrating news of the complete protection of over 9,500 hectares of seasonal wetland in the Paraguayan Pantanal, an area which forms part of one of the country’s 57 Important Bird Areas (IBAs). The declaration represents years of hard work by Guyra Paraguay and the World Land Trust, which contributed most of the funds required for the purchase of the land through the negotiation of a number of donations from private trusts, as well as the IUCN National Committee for the Netherlands. Five key areas have been purchased and set aside for the Nature Reserve, equating in all to a US $250,000 investment. The Pantanal is one of South America’s key ecosystems, being flooded seasonally by freshwater from the central Brazilian highlands. Situated in the upper watershed of the Paraguay river, to the south of the Amazon basin and east of the Andes, the area represents the most extensive freshwater wetland in the world. As well as being important for birds, the Pantanal IBA also represents crucial habitat for a number of other species. Over 300 species of fish, 40 amphibians, 55 reptiles, 120 mammals and 2,000 species of plant are known to exist there. All will be protected within the boundaries of the site. More information at [11/12/06]

News from the SGF. Culmina Exitosamente Proyecto del FPS de Ramsar en Chile. El Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo (CED) de Chile ha finalizado recientemente el proyecto "Conservación de la Biodiversidad y Manejo Sustentable del Salar del Huasco", financiado por el Fondo para el Medio Ambiente Mundial (FMAM) e implementado por el Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD). Un componente clave de este proyecto fue la realización de un sub-proyecto financiado por el Fondo de Pequeñas Subvenciones de Ramsar titulado "Difusión y promoción de la conservación y uso racional del Salar del Huasco" (SGF/02/CHL/1), el cual tuvo como finalidad promover la difusión y sensibilización de los resultados entre los actores locales, y producir materiales que apoyaran dicha difusión. Más. [07/1206]

News from the SGF. Workshop on the Bardaca Wetlands. In the framework of the Ramsar 2005 Small Grants Fund project "restoration and rehabilitation of the Wetland Region Bardaca", in Bosnia & Herzegovina, a workshop was held on 24-25 November 2006 in the middle of the Bardaca area, where the Sava river forms the border between Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia. About 35 representatives from ministries and the University of the Serb Republic in Banja Luka, natural museums, agencies, local authorities, NGOs and individual land-owners participated in the two-day event. The main target of the SGF project is the designation of the area as a Ramsar site and to elaborate a draft management plan, but it was also intended to develop materials for public awareness work and local education. Dorothea August's brief illustrated report of the workshop can be found here. [06/12/06]

Swiss Grant for Africa approved for 2006. The Secretariat's Africa team is pleased to announce that the Federal Government of Switzerland (the Federal Office for the Environment - FOEN) has agreed to fund the Convention's activities in Africa for another year through the Swiss Grant for Africa. The 2006 Swiss Grant for Africa will allow the Secretariat to support five projects on the continent and address the implementation of COP9 Resolution IX.14 on Wetlands and Poverty Reduction - this will make an important contribution to the team's strategic objectives for Africa. Abou Bamba describes the selected projects in this brief report. [01/12/06]

Evian Encounter on the Carpathian Wetland Initiative. Evian Encounters are an important component of the Ramsar Convention project financed by the Danone group, owner of the Evian mineral waters company. The Encounters, of which this was the sixth since 1998, are designed to bring together senior officials of the Ramsar Contracting Parties and other relevant organizations in order to discuss in an informal atmosphere current approaches to and challenges of the implementation of the Ramsar Convention. The Evian Encounter 2006 focused on the Carpathian Wetland Initiative, building on the outcomes of the project "Network of Carpathian Protected Areas and Ramsar Sites" coordinated by the Slovak State Nature Conservancy with support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 15-17 November 2006, nineteen wetland and water experts gathered in Evian, France, including ministerial focal points of all seven Carpathian countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Ukraine) to define the fields of activities for 2007-2008 to be addressed by the Carpathian Wetland Initiative. Here is a brief report from Tobias Salathé, with photographs, and with the formal conclusions (PDF). [01/12/06]

Preserving World Heritage in Southeastern Europe. An occasion to further substantiate Ramsar cooperation with the World Heritage Convention was a recent expert symposium, held in Osnabrück, Germany, 16-18 October 2006, focusing on establishing and improving management capacities for natural World Heritage sites and cultural landscapes in Southeast Europe, organized by the World Heritage Centre, the Bellagio Forum and the Italian SiTi Institute. Through a series of presentations and discussions the 30 expert participants tackled key questions on how management needs of SE European World Heritage sites can best be addressed. Ramsar's input to this symposium was provided by Thymio Papayannis, secretary of the Culture Working Group, and Tobias Salathé, who stressed that Ramsar's toolkit (2006 edition), consisting of 17 Handbooks on Wise Use of Wetlands, can contribute many solutions to the seminar's theme. Tobias' brief report of the meeting can be found here. [01/12/06]

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]

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