The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 25 June 2007

Austrian National Ramsar Committee. The Austrian Administrative Authority for the Ramsar Convention has had 19 years of experience in running its National Ramsar Committee -- they have good cross-sectoral representation, as well as representation from their semi-autonomous states and their key NGOs, and they meet face-to-face on a regular basis, usually once or twice per year. They hold the meeting in different states/provinces on a rotational basis and take ‘time out’ from the meeting room, papers and powerpoint presentations, to visit Ramsar sites, to talk to each other more informally and share their many experiences that have importance for implementing the Convention. Here is Ramsar's Sandra Hails' report on the most recent Ramsar Committee meeting, 13-14 June 2007. [25/06/07]


Ramsar-related activities in the Oceania region - an update. Ramsar staff members provide weekly updates on their activities for internal use within the Secretariat, but this condensed summary from Vainuupo Jungblut, Associate Ramsar Officer based in the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) in Apia, Samoa, offers a useful summary of recent Ramsar-related activities in the Oceania region. Among his activities in late May and early June 2007, Vai lists: Circulating to partners for comments a draft mangrove monitoring protocol (in the form of a generic manual) for the Pacific Islands region; drafting terms of reference for a consultancy to coordinate the update of the Oceania Wetlands Directory; developing a draft agenda for an Oceania Ramsar Site/Wetland Managers Workshop (now tentatively scheduled for 12-16 November); assisting with the Kiribati Ramsar Small Grants Fund project - work plan fine-tuning and other implementation issues; developing a briefing paper on Ramsar issues for the Cook Islands environment minister to facilitate moves towards accession to the Convention; developing a concept paper for a Pacific Islands regional mangrove initiative to be discussed further with IUCN Oceania and other partners; participating in a regional workshop for Pacific Island LDCs on CBD implementation organized by SPREP and UNEP (Nairobi); assisting Marshall Islands in planning a community-based wetlands management workshop to be held at Jaluit Atoll Ramsar site from 9-13 August; assisting Fiji to submit a Small Grants Fund proposal for improved management of their first Ramsar site, Upper Navua CA; organizing a mangrove clean up and replanting in partnership with the Samoan environment ministry and UNDP to celebrate World Environment day (5th June). [18/06/07]


Secretary General's visit to Uganda. From 30 May to 3 June 2007, the Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, visited Uganda for discussions with the authorities there about the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in that country. In this brief report (PDF), Paul Mafabi describes the programme of the events, including a meeting with the Minister of State for Environment, the Hon. Jesicca Eriyo, and a visit to the newly-designated Mabamba Bay Ramsar site. [08/06/07]

Report on stakeholder training in Republic of Korea. An illustrated report from Ramsar's CEPA Programme Officer, Sandra Hails, on a training course for local stakeholders at the Ganghwa Tidal Flat Centre, Gangwha Island, 25-27 May 2007, sponsored by the Korean Federation of Environmental Movement (KFEM) -- here it is. [06/06/07]


Argentina extends Guanacache site. The government of Argentina has significantly expanded the Lagunas de Guanacache Ramsar site, first designated for the List in December 1999 at 580,000 hectares. Now covering additional areas in San Luis as well as in Mendoza and San Juan provinces, the Ramsar site now covers 962,370 hectares and has been renamed Lagunas de Guanacache, Desaguadero y del Bebedero. [04/06/07]


Ecuador: Humedal Isla Santay, "capacitación de las mujeres en actividades económicas alternativas". La Fundación Malecón 2000, a través del proyecto WFF/03/EC/1 "Contribución al mejoramiento de la calidad de vida de la población del humedal Isla Santay a través de capacitación de las mujeres en actividades económicas alternativas" ha logrado capacitar al 31% de la población femenina y a 9 % de la población masculina de la isla ecuatoriana Santay en actividades productivas sustentables, tales como tejido, costura, artesanías y microempresa. Estas actividades han aumentado los ingresos de las familias en la comunidad. Los resultados del proyecto se dieron a conocer en una Feria Artesanal, en la que se dio inicio al proceso de promoción y comercialización de sus productos. Estas actividades poco a poco han logrado disminuir la crianza de cerdos en la isla, actividad que ha causado impactos negativos en los recursos naturales del humedal. Gracias al apoyo de diversas instituciones, y al programa de capacitación del Municipio de Guayaquil "Aprendamos" se le ha dado continuidad al proyecto.


International Day of Biodiversity in Montréal. The Ramsar Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, reports on the International Day of Biodiversity from Montréal, Canada, home of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity: "International Biodiversity day 2007 was celebrated today in Montréal, at its Botanical Garden, on the theme of Biodiversity and Climate Change. An array of speakers talked to the issues Including the Canadian Minister for the Environment,, The Executive Secretaries of the UNFCCC and CBD. Video messages came from the President of CBD CoP8 and for the forthcoming CoP9. A group of students who participated in a Canadian effort called HabitatNet, which had the students investigate a series of issues. Elisabeth Dowdswell (former executive secretary of UNEP, Len Good, former GEF CEO and Hon Clifford Lincoln, former Minister for environment of Quebec, offered reflections on the relationship between Biodiversity, Climate change and MDG's.Other partner organisations speaking included Ramsar Convention, UNESCO, CMS (via video), GEF (via video), IUCN (Canada office) and UNEP/GRID Arendal. A copy of the SG's presentation is attached."

The Ramsar Secretary General and the Executive Secretary of the CBD, Ahmed Djoghlaf, took the opportunity to issue a joint press release announcing the launch of the draft of a major new report, "Water, Wetlands, Biodiversity, and Climate Change", the provisional outcomes of an expert meeting held at the Ramsar Secretariat facilities on 23-24 March 2007. The press release is available here (PDF), and the provisional report can be found on the CBD Web site (http://www.biodiv.org/doc/case-studies/wtr/cs-wtr-ramsar-en.pdf). [23/05/07]


South Africa celebrates International Day of Biodiversity with two new Ramsar sites. In celebrations to mark the International Day of Biodiversity, 22 May 2007, the Republic of South Africa announced the Ramsar listing of two new Wetlands of International Importance, the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands and the Makuleke Wetlands in the far northeast of the country, part of the Kruger National Park on the border with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Ramsar's Africa regional team, Abou Bamba and Evelyn Parh, has provided details of the two new sites, with some photographs, and they draw attention to the particular importance of the sub-Antarctic site as an example for other Parties with island territories at that latitude. South Africa has now designated a total of 19 Ramsar sites, covering a surface area of 543,978 hectares. [22/05/07]


Mexico designates 67th Ramsar site. The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that, just a week after Mexico's 66th Ramsar site was added to the List of Wetlands of International Importance, the paperwork has been completed for the designation of its 67th, also effective World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2007. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for the Americas, Ms Mila Llorens, summarizes the new site thus: Parque Estatal Lagunas de Yalahau (5,683 hectares, 20º38'N 089º13'W) in Yucatán state, comprises a series of continental wetlands, with lagoons and deep underground water reservoirs being the most representative. The underground reservoirs are typical of the karstic systems of the Yucatan Peninsula. This, combined with the topography of the region, allows a diversity of habitats which host a variety of animal and plant species, many of which are migratory, endemic and/or in danger of extinction; among the latter are the Northern Tamandua (Tamandua mexicana), the Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), the Tayra (Eira barbara), the Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), the Margay (Leopardus wiedii) and the Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). During winter, the park gives shelter to migratory birds, and during the dry season, the lagoons and the deep underground water reservoirs provide a source of water for species like the Crocodile (Crocodylus moreletti), the White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and the Jaguar (Panthera onca). The dominant vegetation type is tropical deciduous forest with more than 200 plant species, a high number given the small size of the area. The low inundated forests, found in small portions adjacent to the lagoons, are dominated by tree species such as Dalbergia glabra, Haematoxylum campechianum, and Mimosa bahamensi). Land and cattle activities are common in the site. Illegal hunting is the main activity negatively affecting the site. Areas previously affected by anthropogenic activity are already under restoration. [21/05/07]


Mexico designates 66th Ramsar site. Mexico, which already had the second highest number of Wetlands of International Importance (after the UK), has designated still another one as of this past World Wetlands Day. As summarized by Ramsar's Mila Llorens, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet, Laguna Huizache-Caimanero (48,283 hectares, 22°50'N 105°55'W) is located in the southeastern part of the Gulf of California in Sinaloa state. The site consists of a series of wetlands, ranging from coastal and continental to artificial. Due to its location along the Migratory Corridor of the Pacific, it is a site of high importance for migratory birds in Mexico, including the American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchus) and the Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaia). It is also the habitat of a wide range of fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, including species in danger of extinction or vulnerable, such as the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), the Mexican Beaded Lizard (Heloderma horridum), the Boa (Boa constrictor), the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea). The riverside of the lagoon is mainly constituted by mangrove forest, including red (Rhizophora mangle), black (Avicennia germinans) and white (Laguncularia racemosa) mangroves. The fishing resources of the lagoon are the main protein source for the surrounding communities and shrimp fishing is the main economic activity of the area. Among the negative factors affecting the site are: the sedimentation of rivers Presidio and Baluarte, deforestation, overfishing, and wastewaters discharge into the lagoon. According to the IUCN Protected Area Categories, the site belongs to Category IV and is under the federal jurisdiction of the National Water Commission of Mexico. [15/05/07]

Star Alliance airline group launches "Biosphere Connections". On 14 May in Copenhagen, amid the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Star Alliance Group of Airlines, a new way of working between Airlines and the Ramsar Convention, UNESCO-MAB, and IUCN was announced. The attached press release (PDF) describes the new “Biosphere Connections” programme, and the Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, was chosen to make a short speech at the anniversary celebrations, and signed an MoU with Star Alliance CEO Jan Albrecht, on behalf of all three organisations. This initiative will develop over the next years as a key means to communicate what the three organisations are doing to the wider public in a much more effective way than we have so far been able to achieve. A Web site (www.biosphereconnections.com) has been established to promote this initiative. The Secretary General's address can be seen here. (15/05/07)


Ramsar regional meeting for Europe announced. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, in cooperation with the Ramsar Secretariat, invites participation in the 6th European Ramsar Regional Meeting, to take place in Stockholm, 3-7 May 2008. The meeting is intended to bring together all 45 Contracting Parties in the European region, as well as three countries that have not yet joined (Andorra, Holy See, and San Marino), and it will focus on implementation of the Convention in the region; progress with regional initiatives; the need to improve implementation capacities through CEPA, as well as project and financial support. It will also serve to coordinate European positions on the issues to be discussed at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in the Republic of Korea in October-November 2008. More details are available from the letter of invitation (PDF) here. [15/05/07]

Other pre-COP10 regional meetings are set for Africa, 16-19 October 2007 (tbc) in Yaoundé, Cameroon; for the Americas, 19-21 September 2007 in Mérida, Venezuela; and for Asia, 19-23 November 2007 (tbc) in Bangkok, Thailand.


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. HERE. [01/05/07]

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