The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 14 November 2007

Guinea names two Bafing River Ramsar sites. The government of Guinea has added two further sites to the Ramsar List and now has 16, covering an area of 6,422,361 hectares. Bafing-Falémé (517,300 hectares, 12°00'N 011°30'W) is an extensive area of rolling terrain in Labé region, 800m-1000m altitude, including gallery forest, shrub and wooded savannah, and floodplains, near where the Bafing River descends from the Fouta Djallon massif northward to become the Senegal River in northwestern Mali. The area has an important influence on the hydrology of the Senegal River basin, and it also supports an array of threatened species such as chimpanzees, lions, and vultures. Human uses include agriculture and pastoral pursuits in the floodplain areas. There is presently no management plan for the whole site, but steps are being taken to alleviate threats from unmanaged forestry, brush fires, poaching of protected species and out of season hunting.

Bafing-Source (317,200 hectares, 10°36'N 11°50'W), just north of Mamou, comprises an extended highland area, 800m-1500m altitude, of varied hilly terrain with shrub and wooded savannah, gallery forest, and wet meadow. The site supports a number of threatened species, including the Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and the West African Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus). The region is semi-arid, especially during the dry season November to May, and several large and small ponds provide refuge that is vital as the fragmentation of habitats due to demographic pressures has made free movement difficult for many species. Small-scale agriculture and pasturage, as well as fishing and working with wood products, are the chief uses of the site's resources, but unplanned land uses such as deforestation of steep slopes and river banks have had damaging effects, including increased flooding. Increasingly weak and irregular precipitation is seen as one of the principal threats to the character of the site, as well as growing population pressure.

A project of WWF International's Global Freshwater Programme was very helpful to the authorities in preparing the data for these designations.

Togo names two more Ramsar sites. The government of Togo has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, the large catchment of the Oti-Mandouri River in the north of the country and the entire coastal area in the south. Togo, which joined the Convention in 1995, now has 4 Ramsar sites covering 1,210,400 hectares. According to Ramsar's Evelyn Parh Moloko, based on the data sheets provided by the government, the Bassin versant Oti-Mandouri (425,000 hectares, 10°37'N 000°38'E), a Réserve de Faune in Savanes region, is a complex of several permanent and temporary rivers (including River Oti Mandouri and its tributaries), marshes, gallery forests, tree and shrub savannahs and undergrowth, which confer a habitat for 27 mammal species, 37 known fish species, crustacean, mollusks, birds and reptiles amongst others. Vulnerable species like the Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) and African Elephant (Loxodonta africana), in addition to their conservation value, play an important role in the culture of the people. Plant species such as the Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) and a sacred wood species called Togobegue are worshiped by the surrounding populations. The main products presently exploited by the inhabitants include fuel and work wood, bush meat, fish, mollusks and crustaceans, mainly for subsistence but also for sale in neighboring villages. The permanent presence of guards at this site contributes to combating deforestation, illegal hunting and unsustainable exploitation of fish resources. In addition to this, there are sacred forests where the local population carries out community rituals.

The Zones Humides du Littoral du Togo site (591,000 ha, 06°34'N 001°25'E) comprises the entire coastline of Togo and is characterized by natural and artificial mangroves dominated by Rhizophora racemosa and Avicennia germinans species, rivers, lakes, lagoons, marshes, ponds, and a long sandy beach. These different ecosystems of the littoral zone are of great natural biological, ecological and economic value and host a wide variety of bird, mammal, reptile, fish, mollusk and crustacean species. Endangered species found here include marine turtles (Chelonia mydas, Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys olivacea and Dermochelys coriacea), the African Manatee (Trichechus senegalensis), hippopotamus, etc. This zone contributes over 85 % of the total annual fish production in Togo and is also important for transportation of people and goods. The site is also exploited for fuel wood, construction wood, mollusks, crustaceans, bush meat and medicinal plants, both for subsistence and commercial purposes. There is presently no management plan for the site, but personnel from the Ministère de l'Environnement et des Ressources Forestières combat unsustainable logging and fishing and illegal hunting. The Ministry has also produced a strategy for wetland management, with an emphasis on mangroves, which should lead to the preparation of an action plan.

The collection of data for the preparation of these designations was materially aided by a project of WWF International's Global Freshwater Programme in 2005. [12/11/07]

Annulment of decisions for building near Ramsar site on Bonaire was justified. On 11 September 2007 Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands signed a royal decree rejecting the appeal by the Government of Bonaire against the annulment by the Governor-General of the Netherlands Antilles of the decisions by the Government of Bonaire to approve a resort to be built immediately adjacent to the mangroves of "Het Lac", a Ramsar site since 1980 (nr 199). Eric C. Newton of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Development describes the case and notes that "one interesting position of the [Netherlands] Council of State was that resolutions, decisions and guidelines accepted unanimously by the Conference of Parties to the Convention, a body established by the Convention and which includes representation by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, should be considered part of the obligations under the Convention." Read his brief report here. [12/11/07]

Wetland conservation network for the Yangtze River. The first Wetland Conservation Network along the Central and Lower Yangtze River was established on November 3 2007 with a memorandum of cooperation endorsed by 20 wetland reserves to tackle the climate change across the region. The Secretary General of Ramsar Convention, Mr Anada Tiega, and more than 100 delegates from forestry bureaus at different levels as well as twenty nature reserves of the region attended this significant event in Chongming, Shanghai. Here is a press release, with two photos, from the WWF Wuhan office. [09/11/07].

Two Polish sites removed from Montreux Record. Poland has completed the formalities for the removal of its two Ramsar sites that have been on the Montreux Record of sites "where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur" for quite a few years. According to documentation provided by the Administrative Authority in the Ministry of Environment, managers at Lake of Seven Islands Nature Reserve (Rezerwat przyrody "Jezioro Siedmiu Wysp") and Warta River Mouth National Park (Park Narodowy "Ujscie Warty") have made substantial progress in resolving the problems for which the sites were added to the Record in 1990 and 1993 respectively, and after consultations with the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) they have been removed from the Record as of 5 November 2007. Ramsar's Monica Zavagli provides the details and background. [07/11/07]

News from Wetlands for the Future.Wetlands for the Future Project enhances the importance of coastal Patagonian wetlands for migratory birds. The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to present the results of the project “Importance of coastal Patagonian wetlands as critical areas for the survival of coastal birds. Towards a strong awareness raising action for communities, governmental and intermediate entities” (WFF/04/AR/4), coordinated by Dr. Luis Bala from the National Patagonian Center. The project has stressed the critical roll that coastal Patagonian wetlands play for the survival of coastal migratory birds and has achieved a significant raise in the awareness of functionaries, professionals, NGOs and public in general about the importance of the conservation and wise use of this ecosystems. If you would like to read more about it, we invite you to visit the Web page of the project: Information available in Spanish only. [08/11/07]

Proyecto del Fondo de Humedales para el Futuro destaca la importancia de los humedales patagónicos para las aves migratorias. La Secretaría de Ramsar se complace en dar a conocer los resultados del proyecto “Importancia de los humedales costeros patagónicos como sitios críticos para la supervivencia de aves playeras. Hacia una fuerte acción concientizadora dirigida a la comunidad y entidades gubernamentales e intermedias” (WFF/04/AR/4) a cargo del Dr. Luis Bala del Centro Nacional Patagónico. El proyecto ha destacado el papel crítico que desempeñan los humedales costeros patagónicos para la supervivencia de aves playeras migratorias y ha logrado elevar significativamente la conciencia de funcionarios, profesionales, ONG y público en general sobre la importancia de conservar y manejar racionalmente estos ecosistemas. Si desea obtener mayor información, le invitamos a visitar la página de Internet de este proyecto

Progress with the 2006-2008 work of the Convention's Scientific & Technical Review Panel. The Secretariat and STRP have recently compiled a summary of the progress and anticipated products during this triennium being pursued under the Panel's 2006-2008 Work Plan. This indicates the substantive amount of work currently being undertaken by the Panel, and also provides a list of anticipated products and documents that will be produced by the Panel for COP10 consideration and through other processes. The Panel will meet for its 14th session between 28 January and 1 February 2008 at the Secretariat headquarters in Gland to further review and finalise the drafting of its outputs. The provisional Agenda for this meeting has now been issued. Progress will be further reported by the STRP Chair to the 36th meeting of the Standing Committee in February 2008. STRP progress report, September 2007 (PDF). -- Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General. [08/11/07]

Tunisia names 19 new Ramsar sites. The government of Tunisia, which joined the Ramsar Convention in 1981, has designated 19 new Wetlands of International Importance, which will be celebrated tomorrow, 7 November 2007, as part of national commemorations of the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of the present government. Tunisia now has 20 Ramsar sites, covering an area of 726,541 hectares. Michael Smart, who assisted the authorities of the Direction Générale des Forêts in compiling the requisite data for the new sites, emphasizes that "there is a very wide spread of sites all over the territory of the country, and the regional authorities have been much involved in site selection and the preparation of documentation". He notes: "There is also a very wide variety of wetland types, from peatbogs in the north like Dar Fatma and Mejen Ech Chitan (how many people knew there were peat bogs in North Africa?); to a major delta, the Mejerdah; to coastal lagoons like Korba; to typical North African salt depressions on the desert edge like Kelbia, Noual and Sidi Mansour, not forgetting the biggest one of them all, Chott El Jerid; to karstic wetlands like Ain Dahab; to oasis wetlands, the Kebili group; artificial wetlands like the Thyna saltpans and the Lebna water reservoir; and finally a major group of tidal sites. I would give a special word to the tidal sites, which are extremely rare in the Mediterranean and very important for their birds, fish and shellfish: they include Kneiss Islands (probably the most important tidal site in the whole of the Mediterranean), the three Djerba sites, and Bahiret el Bibane." Brief site descriptions and some photographs can be seen here.

The preparations for the new designations have been materially assisted by WWF International's Global Freshwater Programme and WWF's Mediterranean Programme Office (MedPO), with generous support from the MAVA Foundation. The Ramsar Secretariat warmly congratulates the government of Tunisia and all involved in this significant step forward. [06/11/07]

News from Wetlands for the Future. Participatory Management in the Caribbean.Participatory Wetlands Management in the Caribbean is a key output of a Ramsar Wetlands for the Future project carried out by CANARI, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute. Published as Policy Brief No 9, this attractive document summarises the key findings of a project that looked at the policies and institutions for wetlands management in Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad & Tobago. Through desk studies and a number of workshops, the project assessed the actual and potential contribution of the Ramsar Convention in facilitating participatory approaches to an integrated management of wetlands in the three countries. The project concluded with a regional workshop for natural resource managers from the three project countries as well as from Dominica, St Kitts & Nevis, and St Vincent & the Grenadines on Polices and Institutions for Participatory Wetlands Management: Lessons from implementation of the Ramsar Convention in the insular Caribbean. The policy brief can be downloaded in PDF format from [05/11/07]

La obra La gestión participativa de los humedales del Caribe es un producto de gran importancia del proyecto Humedales para el Futuro que ejecutó CANARI, el Instituto de Recursos Naturales del Caribe. Publicado en forma de Nota Informativa sobre Políticas Nº 9, este documento resume las principales conclusiones de un proyecto que sometió a análisis las políticas y las instituciones que guardan relación con la ordenación de los humedales en Jamaica, Santa Lucía y Trinidad y Tobago. Mediante estudios teóricos y varios talleres prácticos, en el proyecto se evaluó la contribución, real y en potencia, de la Convención  de Ramsar en lo referente a facilitar enfoques participativos de una ordenación integrada de los humedales en esos tres países.  El proyecto concluyó con un taller regional de creación de capacidades destinado a administradores de recursos naturales de los tres países abarcados por el proyecto y de Dominica, San Kitts y Nevis y San Vicente y las Granadinas, cuyo tema fue Políticas e instituciones en materia de ordenación en participación de los humedales: Enseñanzas de la aplicación de la Convención  de Ramsar en el Caribe insular. Pueden descargar la nota Informativa en formato PDF en:

Our waters: joining hands across borders. During the 6th Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” in Belgrade, Serbia, on 10 October 2007, the Water Convention launched the first ever in-depth report on transboundary rivers, lakes and groundwaters, Our waters: joining hands across borders, covering 140 transboundary rivers and 30 transboundary lakes in the European and Asian parts of the UNECE region, as well as 70 transboundary aquifers located in Southeastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. This Assessment provides a clear overview of transboundary water resources. It highlights the achievements and challenges that countries still face in operating adequate monitoring systems, examines existing pressure factors on transboundary water bodies, and provides information on trends in their ecological and chemical status. Tobias Salathé provides this review, with links for further information. [02/11/07]

Brief notes on the Pan-American Ramsar regional meeting. The IV Regional Pan-American Meeting of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) was held in Merida, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, 18-21 of September 2007. And just before that the IV Workshop of the Strategy for the Conservation and Wise Use of High Andean Wetlands was held in the same place, 15-18 September. Here are some brief notes and a few group photos. Full reports of both meetings will follow shortly.

Algunas noticias sobre la Reunión Regional Panamericana de Ramsar. La IV Reunión Panamericana de la Convención sobre los Humedales (Ramsar, Irán, 1971) se llevó a cabo del 18 al 21 de septiembre de 2007 en la ciudad de Mérida, República Bolivariana de Venezuela, en donde previamente se realizó el IV Taller sobre la Estrategia para la Conservación y Uso sostenible de Humedales del 15 al 18 de septiembre. Acá encontrará algunas notas. Próximamente estarán disponibles los informes finales de ambas reuniones. [31/10/07]

Iraq joins the Ramsar Convention. The Secretariat is delighted to welcome the Republic of Iraq to the Convention as our 157th Contracting Party. In its formal communication UNESCO, the depositary of the Convention, confirmed that on 17 October 2007 Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs completed the necessary formalities for its accession to the Convention as amended in 1982 and 1987, and thus the Convention will come into force for Iraq on 17 February 2008. Iraq's obligatory first Wetland of International Importance, Hawizeh Marsh (Haur Al-Hawizeh) (137,700 hectares, 31°25'N 047°38'E), in the southern Governorates of Basra and Amara, is an integral part of the Mesopotamian marshlands complex centered at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. A transboundary wetland, the marshes are ca.75-80% located in Iraq and extend partly into the Islamic Republic of Iran, where they are known as Hawr Al-Azim. Representing the only significant area to have survived recent drainage actions and the most intact part of the original Mesopotamian system, they are a biodiversity reservoir of priority importance for conservation. The results of recent reflooding have been promising so far, and many displaced Ma'dan or Marsh Arabs have returned to resume their traditional ancient ways of life. The site is of international importance as a staging and wintering area for at least 79 species of waterfowl and 9 species of birds of prey on their way between Western Siberia/Central Asia and eastern and southern Africa. The northern half of the marsh was never completely dried and is being used as a reference for monitoring the flora and fauna of the newly re-inundated southern sector. The effects of extensive drainage in the 1990s and warfare destruction, as well as dam-building activities upstream in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, are seen as the chief potential threats to the site.

An extraordinary number of national and international government agencies and non-governmental organizations have played important roles in achieving this very promising milestone, but the assistance to the Ministry of Water Resources by the government of Canada and the United Nations Environment Programme deserve special mention. [Photos of Hawizeh Marsh by Ekram Kaissm, World Wetlands Day 2006] [29/10/07]

UK extends Humber Estuary Ramsar site. The government of the United Kingdom has renamed and significantly extended the area of the Ramsar site designated in 1994 as "Humber Flats, Marshes & Coast (Phase 1)". Now named "Humber Estuary", the area included within the Ramsar site has been extended from 15,203 hectares to 37,988 hectares. [29/10/07]

Croatia's Kopacki rit extended. The government of Croatia has extended the area of the Kopacki rit Ramsar site, at the confluence of the Danube and Drava rivers, which was designated in 1993 with 17,770 hectares. Renamed "Nature Park Kopacki rit", the area within the site has been extended to 23,894 hectares. [29/10/07]

Australia's Murray River "commence-to-flow atlas".Bruce Gray, Assistant Director, Wetlands Section, Department of the Environment and Water Resources in Australia, writes: "The NSW Murray Wetlands Working Group (one of our NGO groups) recently released an atlas of River Murray Wetland Commence-to-Flow levels. See and for details. Commence-to-Flow levels indicate the level of flow required to begin inundating a given area of wetland, and are often mapped using GIS products such as satellite imagery, topographic mapping, and Digital Elevation Models. The Atlas is an A3 size publication with a protective glaze on all pages, making it weather and dustproof, durable and practical for use in the field. If you would like a copy, the Atlas can be purchased from the Wetlands Working Group. Please contact either Deb Nias on + 61 2 6051 223 / or Jessica MacGregor at" [26/10/07]

Complex of Northern Ireland lakes for Ramsar List. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the government of the United Kingdom has designated its 166th Wetland of International Importance. Magheraveely Marl Loughs (59 hectares, 54°11'N 007°16'W) is a complex of six loughs in Northern Ireland, of which three are intersected by the border with the Republic of Ireland - they represent the best remaining examples of a relatively rare lake type in Northern Ireland characterised by the presence of calcium carbonate deposits, or marl, which, precipitated out of the calcium-rich water, produces marl loughs. Biological interest is related to the presence of vegetation which reflects these calcareous conditions, including rich and extensive stonewort (charophyte) communities. The loughs are surrounded by an inundation zone containing significant stands of alkaline fen vegetation. The clean unpolluted waters of the loughs support populations of White-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes, a species which is becoming increasingly rare throughout its geographical range.

The UK presently has 166 Ramsar sites, covering 917,988 hectares, and the global number of sites in the 156 Contracting Parties is presently 1,677, totaling 150,273,592 hectares. [24/10/07]

Search tool for convention decisions. Alex de Sherbinin reports that the "Environmental Treaties and Resource Indicators" branch of the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) of Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) has developed a useful searchable database of the COP decisions of a number of global environmental conventions. The "Conference of Party (COP) Decision Search Tool" allows the searching by term or phrase of all of the COP decisions of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal; the CBD; CITES; the CMS; the Kyoto Protocol; the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands; the UNCCD to combat desertification; the UNFCCC on climate change; and the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. You can find the search tool at [24/10/07]

Survey of Ramsar sites in Africa. The Ramsar Convention and the US National Ramsar Committee launch a survey of selected African sites listed as Wetlands of International Importance.The survey seeks to identify the effects of the designation on these sites, and the Africa unit of the Secretariat of the Convention would greatly appreciate your participation in this study. Further information.

Enquête sur certains sites Ramsar en Afrique. La Convention sur les Zones Humides et le Comité National Ramsar des USA lancent une enquête sur certains sites Ramsar d’importance internationale en Afrique.L’enquête vise à identifier les effets de ces désignations sur les sites et le l’Unité Afrique de la Convention vous remercie par avance de votre participation à cette étude. Plus d'informations. [19/10/07]

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