The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 14 May 2007

Madagascar adds sixth Wetland of International Importance. In ceremonies on 12 May 2007, the government of Madagascar is celebrating World Migratory Birds Day by placing Lake Bedo and its surround marshes on the List of Wetlands of International Importance and dedicating the site as a WWF Gift to the Earth. As summarized by Ramsar's Evelyn Parh Moloko, the Zones humides de Bedo(1,962 hectares, 19º57'S 044º36'E) in Toliary Province near the western coast is a wetland complex consisting of the shallow, open Lake Bedo; its surrounding marshes, which are rich in aquatic vegetation; and a permanent river flowing across the forests and feeding the lake and marshes. The Lake Bedo watershed supplies water as runoff during the rainy season and as seepage from hills forming springs, ponds and marshes during the dry season. Further details and a number of photographs by Glyn Young, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, can be seen here.

WWF Madagascar and the WWF Global Freshwater Programme were helpful to the authorities in preparing for this important designation. [12/05/07]

U.N. Campaign highlights "Migratory Birds in a changing climate". Bonn, 12-13 May 2007 -- A series of events will take place around the world this weekend to highlight the impacts of climate change on migratory birds. Over one hundred separate events in more than 48 countries will transmit the message of the 2007 World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) to local communities and across the globe. ( "The message of World Migratory Bird Day is that we need to act faster to mitigate the effects of climate change on birds and our ecosystems!" said Mr. Robert Hepworth, the Executive Secretary of the global Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). See the rest of the AEWA press release. [14/05/07]

Swiss Grant for Africa. The Ramsar Convention in Congo. A technical workshop organised under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Environment took place in the Republic of Congo on the 30th of March 2007, under the coordination of Mr. Grégoire Moua-Likibi, Permanent Secretary of this Ministry. This workshop aimed at presenting the outcomes of the project entitled "Identification and designation of at least 2 million hectares of new Ramsar sites in Congo" accomplishing the update of the only existing Ramsar site in Congo, 'Lac Tele/Likouala aux herbes'. The above project was jointly financed by the Swiss Grant for Africa (SGA), through the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) through the Global Freshwater Program. Evelyn Parh Moloko provides further details here. [09/05/07]

Ramsar chooses next Secretary General. Mr Paul Mafabi (left), Assistant Commissioner, Wetlands Inspection Division of Uganda and Chair of the Ramsar Standing Committee, announces that the Standing Committee has unanimously and enthusiastically chosen a new Secretary General for the Convention, to succeed Peter Bridgewater. Here is his announcement. [07/05/07]

Swiss Grant for Africa. Ghana's Wetlands Strategy and Action Plan. Ghana completed and adopted a National Wetlands Conservation Strategy in 1999 as one of the outputs of the GEF/World Bank-funded Coastal Wetlands Management Project. The actions prescribed in the 1999 Strategy document were vague, lacking detailed directions and actions for effective implementation of the Strategy. This led to the approval of the Swiss Grant project in 2005, provided by the Swiss Government through the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, for a review of the 1999 Strategy alongside the development of a corresponding Action Plan that corresponds with the principles, objectives and expectations of the revised National Wetlands Conservation Strategy, with the aim of enhancing its implementation. This project was implemented by the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Ghana (the Wildlife Division Forestry Commission) through a very consultative and participatory process which involved resource persons, strategically selected multi-stakeholders, three workshops (+ 1 validation workshop) and technical assistance from the Dutch Government. The outcome of this process is the production of a single document entitled "A National Wetlands Conservation Strategy and Action Plan", to be implemented over a period of ten years (2007-2016), which now awaits endorsement by the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines. Evelyn Parh Moloko provides more detail here. [04/05/07]

Danube Regional Project's last workshop. The closing workshop of the UNDP/GEF Danube Regional Project (DRP), which took place from the 18th-20th April 2007 in Tulcea, in the Romanian section of the Danube Delta, was the occasion for some 50 participants to discuss their achievements over the course of this five-year project. Since 2002, the DRP has engaged in several activities, some of which were presented during the workshop, including the final stages of a guidance document on the role of wetlands in nutrient retention; activities related to the development and implementation of wetland-friendly policies on land-use; and a small grants programme, which funded numerous pilot projects. . . . Also during the meeting, participants discussed and finalized the development of a Network of Protected Areas (most of them Ramsar sites) along the Danube River. Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio provides the details on the meeting and the proposed network, as well as photographs of the boat trip in the delta. [04/05/07]

Cameroon creates National Ramsar Committee. Following Honourable Inoni Ephraim's Prime Ministerial decree No. 63 of the 8th of March 2007, the government of Cameroon officially announced the creation of the 'National Ramsar Committee on Wetlands' within the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection (the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Cameroon). This major step is in accordance with Recommendation 5.7 of the 5th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in June 1993, in Kushiro, Japan, which encourages the creation of National Committees, and it follows up on Cameroon's accession to the Ramsar Convention, its ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other national and ministerial policies, laws and decrees. [01/05/07]

El Humedal el Jaboque, Colombia. Conformar clubes infantiles y juveniles que propendan por el cuidado del Humedal Jaboque a través de la investigación -conocimiento (WFF/03/CO/3). Este proyecto, desarrollado por la Asociación para el Desarrollo Social y Ambiental (ADESA), tuvo como finalidad la conformación de varios clubes juveniles e infantiles para la protección y recuperación del humedal el Jaboque, ubicado al noroeste de la ciudad de Bogotá, Colombia. Para alcanzar dicho objetivo, realizaron diversas actividades tales como: 1. Talleres teórico-prácticos con sesiones activas-recreativas y ejercicios de grupo. 2. Salidas eco-pedagógicas que permitieron a los jóvenes conocer de cerca diversos ecosistemas, generando en los mismos una mayor apropiación y responsabilidad frente al humedal. 3. Talleres de conformación y consolidación del grupo, estableciendo pautas y compromisos. Se desarrollaron además procesos formativos y de investigación, generando un afianzamiento de conocimientos y valores, una mayor comprensión de las acciones cotidianas y la generación de actitudes que resaltaron la importancia de la acción comprometida para la recuperación del Humedal. Entre los productos finales del proyecto se puede mencionar una compilación de 21 guías para los talleres que incluyen prácticas relacionadas al humedal, identificación de flora y fauna, observación de aves, trazo de mapas del humedal y experimentos para ilustrar el ciclo del agua y su importancia vital. [30/04/07]

The Asociación para el Desarrollo Social y Ambiental (ADESA) developed the project "WFF/03/CO/3 Creation of clubs to enage children and teenagers in the protection and recovery of the Jaboque wetland in the Northwest of Bogotá, Colombia". To reach their main objective, they carried out several theoretical-practical workshops and field trips to the ecosystems in or around Bogotá, including activities such as cleaning and painting, giving the young participants a sense of respect and responsibility for the wetland. Among the final products of the project is a guide that compiles 21 activities related to the wetland, including flora and fauna identification, bird watching, mapping of the wetland, the water cycle and its vital importance, among others.

Wetlands for the Future's first ten years -- performance review. Since 1996 the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971), the United States Department of State, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service have operated the Wetlands for the Future Fund (WFF), which was created to build capacities in the areas of conservation and wise use of wetlands in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ten years after its inception, and 225 projects later, the Ramsar Secretariat and the Fund's sponsors considered it necessary to carry out an overall assessment of this initiative in order to better understand its performance and general effectiveness in the achievement of its objectives. This assessment was prepared in 2006 by the Americas team at the Ramsar Secretariat, and constitutes the first effort of its kind. Performance review of the WFF [sólo en inglés]. [24/04/07]

Spain names 14 new Ramsar sites. The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Government of Spain has designated 14 new Wetlands of International Importance covering a total area of 47,946 hectares, of which one mountain site of 39,979 hectares is in Cataluña, another site of 487 ha is in the Madrid region, another of 86 ha is in La Rioja, and the remaining11 sites, mostly complexes of small ponds covering 7,394 ha in total, are in Andalucía. These new additions (officially designated on 27/01/2006) add to the previous 49 existing Ramsar sites in the country, and significantly enhance the network of critical wetlands that support migratory avian species, endangered species and important habitat types in the country.

Spain now has 63 Ramsar sites, more than any other Party except the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Australia. Ramsar's former European Assistant Advisor, Dorothea August, assisted by Adrián Ruiz Carvajal, has prepared brief summaries of the new sites, and some excellent photos have been supplied by the Spanish authorities. [23/04/07]

Zambia designates portion of Lake Tanganyika. The new "Tanganyika" Ramsar site (230,000 hectares, 08°31'S 030°53'E), effective World Wetlands Day 2007, includes the Zambian part of Lake Tanganyika, Africa's deepest and longest lake, shared by Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as shoreline areas of Nsumbu National Park and Kaputa GMA. As described by Evelyn Parh Moloko based on the Ramsar Information Sheet, the Zambian shoreline (about 238km) is steep and rocky, with some areas of shallow swampy land and limited stretches of sandy beaches. The site has a rich diversity of vegetation including riverine forest, woodland, thickets, shrub and grassland and hosts the African elephant, lion, wild dog, and endemic reptiles like the Lake Tanganyika Water Snake (Lycodonomorphus bicolor) and Water Cobra (Boulengerina annulata). The Zambian part of the lake hosts over 252 fish species, 82 of which are endemic (e.g., Neolamprologus brichardi and Altolamprologus compressicep). The main inhabitants (Tabwa and Lungu peoples) practice artisanal fishing for a living but also trade forest products (grass, fuel wood and timber wood). The lake holds historical landmarks such as ruins of early missionary churches and some early Stone Age sites near the Kalambo Falls. A management plan has been finalized for the NP with UNDP assistance, aimed at decreasing poaching levels, ensuring proper waste disposal, restorating degraded habitats, and ensuring implementation of EIAs and land use plans for all development projects in the park, and will soon be implemented. There are plans to formulate a transnational fisheries management plan.

As with the four Zambian designations previously announced, the WWF Global Freshwater Programme and WWF-Zambia were extremely helpful to the government of Zambia in the preparation of the data for these new designations and site extensions. [20/04/07]

Czech Republic adds mountain mires site. The Deputy Minister of the Czech Republic's Ministry of the Environment, Section of Nature and Landscape Protection, František Pojer, has informed the Secretariat that his country is adding Krušnohorská rašelinište (Krušnohorska mountains mires) (11,224 hectares, 50°31'N 013°10'E) to the Ramsar List, effective 22/12/06. As summarized by Dorothea August, our former Assistant Advisor for Europe, based upon the accompanying site data, the new site comprises about 30 mire islands of representative patterned mires and raised bogs, with neighbouring natural and artificial watercourses, fishponds and reservoir shores in the northwest of the country near the border with Germany. The biological diversity comprises huge mosaics of highly alkaline fens with scattered tree patches, preferred by grouse birds - Tetrao tetrix, Tetrao urogallus, Tetrastes bonasia - and of bog expanses occupied by krummholz stands of Pinus x pseudopumilio and Central European endemic tree Pinus rotundata, supporting high numbers of endangered plant species, such as Hamatocaulis vernicosus, Carex chordorrhiza and Drosera anglica. Ore mining had a long tradition in the mountain area, which affected the disappearance of alluvial fens since the 16th century. In subsequent centuries, as mining activities retreated, many bogs were affected by peat extraction and agricultural overexploitation. Presently the site is mainly used for game keeping and forestry - in a few localities, peat mining is being brought to an end and remains a critical conservation issue. A direct impact on the biota within mires is also caused by the high concentration of deer, which cause eutrophication of ombrotrophic sites and trampling disturbance of mire surface. The site provides various facilities for tourism, such as marked hiking and biking trails and cross-country skiing routes. Ramsar site no. 1670. Most recent RIS information: 2007. [20/04/07]

Benin brings Ramsar's total coverage over 150 million hectares. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Agence Béninoise pour l'Environnement, on behalf of the government of Benin, has designated two new Ramsar sites, effective as of World Wetlands Day 2007. The Site Ramsar du Complexe W (895,480 hectares, 11°50'N 002°30'E) is a very large wetland complex comprising the W du Benin National Park and related protected areas along the national borders with Burkina Faso and Niger, much of which is part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Transboundary Biosphere Reserve called "'W' Region". The Zone humide de la rivière Pendjari (144,774 ha; 11°37'N 001°40'E), also a National Park and also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is one of the most important humid ecosystems in the sub-sahelian zone of West Africa, characterized by gallery forests, savannah and swampy meadows, alluvial plains, ponds, rivers, and dense dry forests within floodplains.

Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Africa, Evelyn Parh Moloko, has prepared brief descriptions of the two new sites (with photographs) based on the data provided by the authorities in Benin. Benin now has four Ramsar sites covering a total of 1,179,354 hectares, and that country's two new sites have pushed the Convention's global total area covered to over 150 million hectares -- there are now 1653 Wetlands of International Importance covering 150,782,100 hectares. [19/04/07]

Major extension of Doñana Ramsar site. The Ramsar site Parque Nacional de Doñana, first designated in 1982, has been significantly extended by the government of Spain by the addition to the National Park (50,720 hectares) of the surrounding Natural Park, for a new area of 111,646 ha with the new name "Doñana". Spain's 49 Wetlands of International Importance now cover 234,052 hectares. [18/04/07]

Central Posavina Stakeholder Committee for River Basin Management. The 17th anniversary of the publication of the decree which created Croatia's Lonjkso Polje Nature Park and Ramsar site, on 20 March 2007, was the occasion to launch the Ramsar Handbook on "River basin management" in a bilingual Croatian-English version. Assistant Minister Zoran Šikic presented this tool to the 46 participants in the meeting of the Central Posavina Stakeholder Committee for River Basin Management, underlining that "this was an important step in nature conservation policy". They gathered in the newly restored seminar house of the Nature Park in the traditional village Krapje along the flood banks of the Sava river. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé explains the background and demonstrates why "this participatory process, started in the Central Posavina region, should become a model for the entire Sava river basin". [02/04/07]

Announcement. Management plans for Ramsar sites in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) - a contribution to the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas,18-22 October 2007. Organisers: German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Ramsar Secretariat. Target group: Ramsar site managers and staff as well as Ramsar national focal points of CEE and CIS countries. "In many countries of CEE and the CIS, the inscription of wetlands under the Ramsar Convention is an important contribution to nature conservation. At the same time, a high responsibility for the state party is implied by the increased international reputation gained by the designation as Ramsar site. State parties become responsible for the effective management of these sites. The development and application of management plans are an important means to ensure the protection of sites for present and future generations. This seminar aims at: - assisting Ramsar sites with the preparation of management plans by creating skills and understanding of the preparation of management plans for Ramsar sites - training Ramsar sites with the implementation of management plans in practice (e.g. how to deal with participation). Information and registration:" [from IUCN South-Eastern European e-Bulletin, no.12, March 2007]. [02/04/07]

International Conference on Implementation of Integrated Management in the Ili-Balkhash Basin. At the invitation of the European Commission and Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Ramsar's Senior Advisor for the Asia/Pacific, Dr Lei Guangchun, participated in a transboundary river management meeting from 6 to 7 March 2007 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. More than 70 participants discussed issues and perspectives of development of the Ili-Balkhash Basin. Here is a brief report of the meeting. [02/04/07]

Headline story. Transboundary Workshop in Djerdap NP. Djerdap/Donji Milanovac, Serbia, 22 February 2007: A joint workshop was carried out on 22 February 2007 for the preparation of a project proposal "Capacity Building for Managing Irongate Gorge as Future Cross-border Ramsar Site" by Romanian and Serbian representatives held in the head office of "National Park Djerdap". The workshop was attended by representatives from Romania, such as the Nature Park "Portile de Fier", Axxa International Tour Operator and the Romanian part of the Hydroelectric Power Station "Djerdap I", as well as by representatives from Serbia, such as the Ministry of Science and Environmental Protection, Ecolibri Bionet - Agency for Biodiversity Conservation, "TOOM" - Touristic Organization of Majdanpek Municipality, Meta MC Agency for Consulting and Management and not least the representatives of the "National Park Djerdap". During the workshop, the following themes were elaborated: analysis of project participants, analysis of problems, analysis of aims, project implementation, analysis of risks and presumptions. The workshop was very successful and both sides have made conclusions implemented in the project proposal. For more information, please contact Dejan Pavlovic, M.Sc.El. [from IUCN South-Eastern European e-Bulletin, no.12, March 2007]. [30/03/07]

Guatemala names 7th Ramsar site. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the government of Guatemala has designated its seventh Wetland of International Importance, as of World Water Day, 22 March 2007. According to the summary of the Ramsar Information Sheet data prepared by Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for the Americas, Ms Mila Llorens, the Reserva de Usos Múltiples Río Sarstún (35,202 hectares, 15°51'N 088°58'W) is part of the Guatemalan System of Protected Areas and is located along the southern border with Belize, adjacent to the Amatique Bay. The reserve is formed by a series of wetlands, ranging from continental and coastal to artificial. It has a transboundary character, since it acts as a buffer zone for the wetland of the Sarstoon-Temash Ramsar site in Belize. It is an important stop-over and breeding site for migratory waterbirds, including several flagship species. It also assists in the regulation of the local microclimate and promotes other hydrological processes, including aquifer recharge. It possesses the remains of the Caribbean Biological Corridor ecosystems and karstic wetlands that have unique characteristics. Endangered species such as the manatee (Trichechus manatus), the river turtle (Dermatemys mawii), the tapir (Tapirus bairdii) and the howler monkey (Allouata pigra) are present in the site. The main habitat type is predominantly mangrove forests, including white, red, and black mangrove, forming the second largest system of mangroves in the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. Negative factors affecting the site are the exploitation of precious woods, hunting, agriculture and livestock grazing.

Guatemala now has seven Ramsar sites covering a surface area of 628,592 hectares - the Convention's 154 Parties now have 1,651 sites covering 149,681,555 hectares. [27/03/07]

How much is your Ramsar site changing? "This is the question that the Tour du Valat Biological Station investigated in 2006 for the Camargue (Rhône delta), the first Ramsar site to be designated in France. . . . A collective endeavour, the " Camargue Observatory ", was launched in 2001 by six key technical and land-managing bodies located in the delta. Within this framework, the compilation of this data was launched in 2006. The first thematic synthesis has just been put online." Christian Perennou, Project Leader at the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, provides further details and a link. [27/03/07]

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