The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 1 March 2007
Transboundary Ramsar Site for Hungary and Slovakia. With a letter dated World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2007, Jozef Kramárik, General Director, Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic, and László Haraszthy, State Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Water, Hungary, have designated two existing Ramsar sites as a Transboundary Ramsar Site, "in order to facilitate harmonising the management of this shared wetland". The Ramsar sites in question are Ipoly Valley (Ipoly-völgy), the Hungarian part, Ramsar site no. 1093, and Poiplie, the Slovak part, Ramsar site no. 930. The writers note: "We hope that this effective and fruitful cooperation between Slovakia and Hungary in the field of nature conservation will be appreciated by the international community." The notification is here in PDF. [28/02/07]
President of Mexico announces ‘Commitments to Conservation’. On the 24 February 2007 the recently elected president Felipe Calderón announced a series of conservation initiatives to extend and strengthen the existing network of Natural Protected Areas in the country, significantly increasing the budget to that end. The announcement included Mexico’s Conservation Strategy 2007-2012; a decree to protect over 4,000 ha of mangroves near Cancún; and another one to restore the hydrology of and prevent the further extraction of groundwater from the Cuatrociénegas Ramsar site (no.734) in Coahuila. Further information is available (in Spanish) here. [27/02/07]
El Presidente de México anuncia ‘Compromisos por la Conservación’. El 24 de febrero de 2007 el recientemente electo presidente Felipe Calderón anunció una serie de iniciativas de conservación para extender y fortalecer la red de Áreas Naturales Protegidas existente en el país, incrementando su presupuesto significativamente. El anuncio coincidió con la puesta en marcha de la Estrategia de Conservación 2007 – 2012, además de incluir un decreto para la protección de más de 4,000 ha de manglares cerca de Cancún, y la aplicación de medidas para restaurar la hidrología (y detener la extracción de agua) del “Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna Cuatrociénegas” en Coahuila, sitio Ramsar no. 734. Más información aquí.
Mali's National Ramsar Committee. By an interministerial decree of 29 December 2006, the government of Mali established its National Ramsar Committee to oversee Ramsar implementation and wetland conservation issues in the country, comprising senior representatives of a number of government ministries as well as university professors, NGOs, and representatives of the Wetlands International and IUCN offices. Ramsar's Abou Bamba provides further details of the make-up and mission of the new NRC, with a link to the text of the decree in French (PDF). [27/02/07]
Benefits of Ramsar designation. One of the most important questions about the Ramsar Convention, and one of the most difficult to answer reliably, is what benefits can be expected to come from designating an eligible wetland as a Wetland of International Importance, or "Ramsar site". There have been case studies and anecdotes, but no recent attempts to answer the question systematically. Now we have an answer, a very positive one, and a great deal of supporting material for it, at least for the 22 Ramsar sites in the United States. A new article by Royal Gardner and Kim Diana Connolly, "The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: Assessment of International Designations Within the United States," presents background on the Convention followed by analysis of the results of a thorough survey of the site managers and related people at all of the USA's Ramsar sites, and concludes with a number of cogent recommendations for strengthening Ramsar within the USA. In brief, the benefits that were found are discussed under the headings 1) Increased Funding Opportunities, 2) Support for Protection of the Site and Surrounding Areas, and 3) Science and Tourism, and virtually no negative effects were reported.
The article, from Environmental Law Reporter (February 2007), has been made available here in PDF format with the gracious permission of the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. Royal C Gardner is Director of the Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy at the Stetson University College of Law in Florida, USA, as well as current Chair of the US National Ramsar Committee and the North American Representative to the Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel. His co-author, Kim Diana Connolly, is Associate Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law and faculty member of the Vermont Law School. [22/02/07]
Report of the 4th meeting of the Himalayan High Altitude Wetlands Forum. The Regional Initiative on High Altitude Wetlands of Himalaya, led by WWF and Ramsar, aims to foster regional cooperation for the long-term conservation of these wetlands. Regional workshops provide opportunities for representatives of the national governments, scientists and NGOs to achieve conservation results at ecoregion scale. There have been three such workshops already, in Urumqi, China, in 2002; in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 2003; and in Sanya, China, in 2004. The fourth meeting of the Forum, "Capacity building for high altitude wetlands conservation and management", was held in New Delhi, India, 27-29 June 2006, with 44 participants from Bangladesh, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan and Tajikistan, as well as the Ramsar Secretariat and the international organizations IUCN, Wetlands International, WWF and ICIMOD. The participants thank the government of India and WWF India for hosting and organizing the workshop, and expressed their gratitude to WWF International and Danone Evian Group for financial support to the workshop. Here are the conclusions and recommendations of the meeting. [22/02/07]
Ramsar and GRASP exchange of letters. The Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) Partnership is an innovative project of UNEP and UNESCO intended to lift the threat of imminent extinction faced by gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans across their ranges in equatorial African and southeast Asia. It is a World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Type II Partnership comprising great ape range states and donor governments, the biodiversity-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements, United Nations institutions, international and national great ape conservation NGOs, the global great ape scientific community, and private sector organizations. The Ramsar Convention, too, is a partner in the project, and at a lunchtime event during the 24th session of the UNEP Governing Council in Nairobi, Kenya, 6 February 2007, Ramsar Secretary General Peter Bridgewater and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, in the presence of GRASP Team Leader Melanie Virtue, signed an exchange of letters charting the way forward towards greater collaboration. Further details and photograph are here. [09/02/07]
WWD message from the CBD. In a special statement for World Wetlands Day, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Mr Ahmed Djoghlaf, notes that "This year's [WWD] theme is especially pertinent - will there indeed be fish for tomorrow? . . . Both the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) and our second Global Biodiversity Outlook report confirm that the rate of loss of biodiversity from inland and coastal wetland ecosystems is one of the fastest of all major biomes - for example, freshwater dependent species are under the most threat amongst fishes. This is not surprising. The usual drivers of biodiversity loss are to blame - but for wetlands these are accelerated by the stresses imposed by the unsustainable and increasing demands we place on water and our activities on the surrounding land. Our mismanagement of land and water is reflected in the decline we see today in the extent and quality of wetlands and the important biodiversity they support. This is an opportunity for us to address these problems effectively and make a significant contribution towards the 2010 Biodiversity Target."
"This year's theme, "Fish for Tomorrow?", will help to raise awareness specifically of the importance of wetland fisheries. Despite the complexities of their problems, wetlands can be managed in such a way as to guarantee the sustainability of inland and coastal fisheries well into the future." Mr Djoghlaf's full statement can be seen here (PDF). [06/02/07]
It's World Wetlands Day today. [02/02/07]
As government and citizens around the world celebrate World Wetlands Day on or around today, 2 February, Ramsar Secretariat staff are helping out in various places:
Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General, is participating in WWD celebrations and workshop on the Wetland Ambassador Action programme, sponsored by the State Forestry Administration and WWF, Beijing, China, 2 February.
Tobias Salathé and Dorothea August, Senior and Assistant Advisors for Europe, are participating in a joint WWD celebration at the Lac du Bourget Ramsar site in France, 1-2 February, sponsored by the Conservatoire du patrimoine naturel de la Savoie and the Groupe d'étude et de gestion de la Grande Cariçaie, with the signing of a formal twinning agreement between the Lac du Bourget Ramsar site and the Rive sud du lac de Neuchâtel Ramsar site at Grande Cariçaie in Switzerland.
Tobias is also participating on the "conférence-débat" on the status of Lake Geneva/Lac Léman fisheries and celebration of the Ramsar anniversary, 3 February, Musée du Léman, Nyon, Switzerland.
Margarita Astrálaga, Senior Advisor for the Americas, is participating in WWD activities on 2 February in the Nickerie District of Suriname, and visiting the Ramsar site and other wetlands on the surrounding days.
Sandra Hails, CEPA Programme Officer, participated in early World Wetlands Day celebrations at the Hong Kong Wetland Park, 27 January 2007.
Abou Bamba, Senior Advisor for Africa, is delivering a talk at WWD celebrations in Mauritius, sponsored by the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Fisheries, 5-6 February 2007.
Lei Guangchun, Senior Advisor for the Asia/Pacific, is attending WWD celebrations in Ramsar, Iran, at the Ramsar Regional Center for Training and Research in Western and Central Asia, as well as a workshop on an institutional strategic plan involving numerous Ramsar Parties from the region.
Valerie Higgins and Ramsar regional assistants Dorothea August, Mila Llorens, Evelyn Moloko, Lucia Scodanibbio, and Pragati Tuladhar are participating in the city of Geneva, Switzerland's WWD celebrations on the Jetée des Pâquis, Sunday, 4 February.
New Ramsar sites named for World Wetlands Day. France has designated the Mares temporaires de Tre Padule de Suartone, a collection of four temporary pools, on the island of Corsica. Gambia has designated the Tanbi Wetland Complex, an outstanding mangrove site at the mouth of the River Gambia. And Gabon has named three new sites: the Parc National Akanda, the Parc National Pongara, and a site called the "Site Ramsar des Monts Birougou". Bosnia and Herzegovina has designated Bardaca Wetland (Bardaca-mocvarni kompleks) on 2 February as well, with a site description to follow soon.
Other WWD activities reported. In the coming weeks we will be posting reports of other WWD activities as we receive them, but here is a good beginning. [02/02/07]
Sweden adopts National Strategy for Thriving Wetlands. The Swedish focal points Ann Wahlström and Torsten Larsson inform the Ramsar Secretariat that the Parliament has established 16 environmental quality objectives to guide Sweden towards a sustainable society. All sectors are involved in the implementation of these objectives, aiming to solve the major environmental problems within one generation. A national strategy for the conservation, restoration, establishment and management of wetlands (corresponding to the interim target 1) has been adopted jointly by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket - the Ramsar Authority) and other government agencies, after wide consultation among stakeholders. The purpose of the strategy is to establish the necessary conditions for achieving the objective of "Thriving Wetlands by the year 2020". It is intended to contribute to the fulfillment of Sweden's obligations under the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biodiversity. Tobias Salathé provides further details. [31/01/07]
Serbia designates two new Ramsar sites. The Ramsar Secretariat is extremely pleased to announce that the Republic of Serbia has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, Labudovo okno (3,733 hectares, 44°48'N 021°18'E) in Vojvodina along the Danube River and Peštersko polje (3,455 hectares, 43°05'N 002°07'E) in the karst region in the southwest of the country. Serbia now has six Ramsar sites, covering a surface area of 28,025 hectares. Ramsar's Dorothea August has prepared brief descriptions of the two site based on the RIS information supplied by the Ministry of Science and Environmental Protection -- these can be seen here, along with links to photographs of both sites. [19/01/07]
Update on wetland progress in Sudan. On the occasion of the approach of World Wetlands Day, Dr. Salwa Mansour Abdelhameed of the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources (HCENR), Ramsar Focal Point and coordinator in Sudan, provides an update on Sudan's progress in implementing the Ramsar Convention in 2006 and its priorities for 2007. Here it is. [22/01/07]
Ramsar agreement with Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit. On 17 January 2007, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat signed an agreement with the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The purpose of the "Interface Procedures" agreement is to identify areas of potential mutual assistance and possible actions related to the notification and reporting, mobilisation of resources, and response to environmental emergencies and natural disasters with major environmental impacts affecting or involving wetlands. The Secretary General's illustrated report of the event is available here, and the text of the agreement can be seen here. [18/01/07]
Tanzania drafts action plan for Ramsar implementation. The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that the government of the United Republic of Tanzania has prepared a draft action plan for implementation of the Convention until 2008. The document includes all of the Ramsar operational objectives from wetland inventories to the development of partnerships for the wise use of wetlands which are prioritized according to national needs. The plan of implementation will involve various stakeholders from governmental departments (Wildlife Division, Prime Minister's Office, Regional Administration and Local Government), research agencies (Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute, and University College of Lands and Architectural Survey), and the energy sector (Tanzania Electricity Supplies Company). Ramsar's Abou Bamba provides more detail here, and the draft action plan can be seen here in PDF format. [18/01/07]
Bluefields Ramsar site added to the Montreux Record. The Sistema de Humedales de la Bahía de Bluefields (86,501 hectares), situated on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, was designated as a Ramsar site in November 2001. In July 2005 the government of Nicaragua informed the Secretariat about potential ecological changes in the site as a possible consequence of a proposed all-weather road from Nueva Guinea to Bluefields. In order to assess the potential impacts of the project, a Ramsar Advisory Mission (RAM) visited the area at the government's request from 29 November to 8 December 2005, consulted with government officials, NGOs and local communities, and reviewed a number of studies. The mission concluded that the construction of the road should be considered feasible only if: i) a number of preventative measures are taken early enough prior to the beginning of construction works; and ii) the road crossing of Lara swamp is designed and built in such a way that all water and wildlife connectivities are maintained, and the mission report provided the government with an extensive list of recommended actions.
In fulfillment of one of the advisory team's key recommendations, the Ministry of Environment has now requested the Secretariat to include the Bahía de Bluefields wetland system in the Montreux Record of Ramsar sites requiring urgent conservation attention, as of 15 January 2007. There are now 59 Ramsar sites on the Record. [15/01/07]
Kazakhstan becomes the 154th Ramsar Contracting Party. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to welcome Kazakhstan as the Convention's 154th Contracting Party. The instrument of accession to the Convention as amended in 1982 and 1987, signed by Kassymzhomart Tokaev, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, was received by the Director-General of UNESCO on 2 January 2007, and so the Convention will enter into force for Kazakhstan on 2 May 2007. Kazakhstan's first Ramsar site, the "Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Lake System" (50°25'N 069°15'E) in Akmola Oblast, was actually added to the List of Wetlands of International Importance by the former Soviet Union in October 1976. As re-defined by Kazakhstan's authorities, the Ramsar site now comprises the Nature Reserve itself around the lake shore area, roughly 259,000 hectares with about the same boundaries as the Soviet-era designation, plus a 2-km buffer zone around it, for a total of 353,341 hectares.
A full description of the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn site, with a map and photographs sent by Til Dieterich of the UNDP office in Astana, can be found here. Work towards this accession, including a Ramsar Small Grants Fund project, has been assisted by BirdLife International, mainly through the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in the UK), and the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan, as well as by the UNDP office. [11/01/07]
"The Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands raise the bar on cooperation between multilateral environment agreements. Montreal - 09 January 2007, Dr. Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), set ground-breaking standards for collaboration between multilateral environment agreements through the new draft joint work plan of the two conventions. Ongoing cooperation between the two conventions is already regarded as a model upon which multilateral agreements can work. The new draft joint work plan seeks to create the framework for both organizations to act on strategic opportunities arising in the years to come." Here is the CBD's press release on the event, with a photo of Drs Djoghlaf and Bridgewater. [11/01/07]