The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 18 October 2008

Fifteen new sites in Mexico complete WWD pledge. On World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2008, the government of Mexico announced the designation of 45 new Wetlands of International Importance, and the required bureaucratic process for getting those sites added to the Ramsar List was begun at that time. The Secretariat is extremely pleased to report now that the last 15 of those 45 new Ramsar sites have been listed, bringing Mexico’s total number of sites to 112 and surface area to 8,118,927 hectares, second only to the United Kingdom in number of sites and just after Canada and the Russian Federation in total Ramsar area. The 15 new sites are chiefly coastal lagoons, estuaries, and beaches, but there are a few interesting inland and highland riparian and oasis sites as well. The completion of this project for 45 new Ramsar sites is a tribute not only to the commitment of the government of Mexico, but also to the dedication of our Assistant Advisor for the Americas, Ms Mila Llorens, who has worked long hours with Mexico over the past nine months to bring this valuable work to fruition.


Italy designates its 51st Ramsar site. The government of Italy has named “Lagustelli di Percile” (256 hectares, 42°06’N 012°55’E) as its next Wetland of International Importance. As summarized by Ramsar’s Monica Zavagli, this Natura 2000 SPA and Regional Natural Park in the hills of the province of Roma consists of two closed Apennine lakes, “Marraone” (the smaller with only 40 m diameter) and the wider “Marrone” also called “Fraturno” (118 m diam, depth 14 m), and their surroundings. The two basins constitute one of the most interesting areas of karstic origin of central Italy and their circular morphology witness their origin as dolines. The main habitats are large reed beds, built up by Phragmites australis associated with Scirpus spp. and Alisma plantago-aquatica, riparian vegetation with Salix spp., Populus spp., typical aquatic vegetation river-side, such as Potamogeton spp. and Myriophyllum sp., and important population of orchids growing on the calcareous grasslands around the lakes. The site also supports several species protected at European level such as:Salamandra terdigidata, Triturus carnifex, Bombina variegate, Euplagia quadripunctata, Euphydryas (aurinia) provincialis and Lanius collurio. Cow grazing and tourism are the main threats in the area. [16/10/08] 


Peru names important mangrove habitat. The government of Peru has designated its 13th Wetland of International Importance with the “Manglares de San Pedro de Vice” (3,399 hectares, 05°31’S 080°53’W). According to Ramsar’s Mila Llorens, based on the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheet, this wetland in northern Peru is the last mangrove relict of the southern Pacific coast of South America and is composed of two mangrove species Avicennia germinans and Laguncularia racemosa, as well as 43 species of Phanerogamous plants. The site is part of the coastal wetland corridor for migratory birds, registering 98 species of resident and migratory waterfowl. The mangrove is habitat to many fish species, reptiles, invertebrates and micro fauna, and some mammal species such as Pseudalopex sechurae, Didelphys marsupialis and Conepatus semistriatus can also be spotted in the site. It is also of great social and economic importance for the inhabitants of the area, undertaking activities such as subsistence fishing and extraction of crustaceans and mollusks. The wetland is currently threatened due to inadequate management and lack of planning. Every year thousands of tourists visit the site, leaving trash behind, which accumulates and creates not only a visual impact but affects the wildlife living in it. There is a strong relation between the dry forest, the mangroves and the coastal desert, which are important for mammals and birds. [16/10/08]


France and Germany collaborate on new Ramsar sites. The Ramsar Secretariat is extremely pleased to announce that the governments of France and Germany have jointly designated two new Wetlands of International Importance and inscribed them as the ninth Transboundary Ramsar Site (see joint instrument here, PDF). The TRS covers both sides of the upper river Rhine between the two countries, roughly from the Karlsruhe area southward past Strasbourg and Freiburg nearly to Basel, some 170-190 km. The French Ramsar site, “Rhin supérieur / Oberrhein”, includes 22,413 hectares in the Alsace region, and the German one, “Oberrhein / Rhin supérieur”, covers 25,117 hectares in Baden-Württemberg, with a joint TRS centre point of 48°25’N 007°45’E. Both Ramsar sites are Natura 2000 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and both share great importance for any number of reasons, not least of which is their support for internationally significant numbers of migratory birds. It’s worth mentioning that this is a fitting reward for Dr Edith Wenger, who has been advocating for and working towards just this result for many years.

Brief site descriptions for the Annotated Ramsar List have been prepared from the respective Ramsar Information Sheets by Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Europe, Monica Zavagli. [15/10/08]


Portugal names eleven Ramsar sites in the Azores -- Volcanic-based wetlands of great beauty and importance. The government of Portugal has brought its total number of Wetlands of International Importance to 28 by designating eleven new sites in its mid-Atlantic autonomous region of the Azores Archipelago. They include caldera lakes, geothermal springs and pools, mountain peatlands, and other wetland types on many of the nine islands of the group, as well as one of its famous reefs. Brief Annotated Ramsar List descriptions have been prepared by Ramsar's Monica Zavagli, João Mora Porteiro of the Universidade dos Açores, and Luis Costa, Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (BirdLife Portugal), with links to photos of all of the new sites. [07/10/08]


Living Lakes conference results. “The consideration of culture and tradition in lake regions can contribute to the rescue of threatened lakes and their catchment areas.” The 12th Living Lakes conference, recently concluded at Lake Trasimeno, came to that conclusion in the “Trasimeno Statement” agreed by more than 100 participants from 30 nations. “The continuing worldwide destruction of lakes and wetlands can only be stopped through the combined efforts of politics, science and society. Here, cultural values and the importance of water bodies play a crucial role. Due to their historical, spiritual and aesthetic characteristics, lakes and their catchment areas are extremely important for the culture and future of mankind.” Following their discussions of the cultural and spiritual relevance of lakes and wetlands and how these values can be incorporated in the protection of lakes, the Global Nature Fund, which sponsors the Living Lakes network, has summed up the proceedings in this press release and included the Trasimeno Statement as well (both PDF). [07/10/08]


Seabirds now internationally protected across Africa and Eurasia. “A total of twenty migratory waterbird species, including several species of auks, frigate birds, gannets and tropic birds have been added to Annex 2 of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (UNEP/AEWA) - an international treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds in Africa and Eurasia. The decision to give 20 waterbird species greater international protection was made at the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to AEWA (MOP4) which was held in Antananarivo, Madagascar from 15-19 September 2008.  At the meeting over 150 delegates from 80 countries adopted, among others, Resolution 4.11, which calls for the inclusion of 20 additional waterbird species in Annex 2 of the Agreement. The inclusion of these species gives them greater international protection and calls upon countries and other stakeholders in the region to take concrete action for those species that have an unfavourable conservation status." Here's the full text of AEWA's press release. [07/10/08]


BirdLife honors Luc and André Hoffmann. Every four years, BirdLife International recognizes the achievements of the people and organizations that support and promote its mission, programme and conservation priorities worldwide.  The most prestigious individual award, the 2008 President's Medal, was presented by BirdLife's Honorary President, Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan, to Dr Luc Hoffmann and his son André Hoffmann. Dr Luc Hoffmann has played an active part in the development and governance of national and international institutions, including the Ramsar Convention and IUCN.  He served on the Executive Committee of BirdLife's predecessor, the International Council for Bird Preservation, and has been a Founder Patron of BirdLife, contributing significant financial support to the Secretariat's operating budget.  Through family foundations he also contributes to various BirdLife programmes.  André Hoffmann became the first Founder Patron after working with BirdLife's previous Treasurer, Tasso Leventis, and CEO Mike Rands, to create the BirdLife Founder Patron scheme. All of BirdLife’s Partnership and Conservation Achievement Award winners are described on BirdLife's Web site. [07/10/08]


Swampfest in Ohio celebrates USA’s 24th Ramsar wetland. Swampfest 2008 was held at the Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (ORWRP) at The Ohio State University (OSU), Columbus, Ohio, USA, on Thursday evening, September 25, 2008, to celebrate that wetland being named the USA’s 24th Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The ORWPR is the first Ramsar wetland in Ohio and one of only a few in the American Midwest. An estimated 650 people attended the event, including OSU President E. Gordon Gee, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Charles Wooley, representatives of U.S. Congress members, ORWRP Director Bill Mitsch, the Society of Wetland Scientists, and The Nature Conservancy, among others.  Representing the U.S. Ramsar program and presenting the Ramsar site certificate to President Gee were Mr. Wooley, Royal C. Gardner (past chair, U.S. Ramsar Committee, Stetson University Law School), and Suzanne Pittenger-Slear (current chair, U.S. Ramsar Committee, Environmental Concern, Maryland).  The full, well-illustrated report can be seen here (PDF). [01/10/08]


Eight more Ramsar sites for Mexico. On World Wetlands Day 2008, 2 February last, the government of Mexico announced the designation of 45 new Wetlands of International Importance, and gradually since then the paperwork for these important new designations is being cleared. Eight new sites added to the Ramsar List on 29 September 2008 bring Mexico's total number of Ramsar sites to 97, covering an area of 7,010,189 hectares, with the site data for 15 additional wetlands from that WWD announcement still in the pipeline. Here are brief site descriptions prepared by Ramsar's Mila Llorens for the Annotated Ramsar List. [30/09/08]


Australia’s Coorong Ramsar site at an example of growing challenges. The Coorong, Lake Alexandrina & Lake Albert Ramsar site in South Australia, as well as many other wetlands in the vast Murray-Darling river basin, have been under extreme stresses in recent years, and citizens groups and governments at all levels have been expressing their concerns and trying to find solutions for some time. Jamie Pittock’s brief illustrated paper, "Over-allocation of water and climate change wreck ecological havoc: big issues for Ramsar C0P10? Australia’s Coorong Ramsar site provides an example of the growing challenges facing many countries in conserving wetlands", surveys the situation and the prospects for the Ramsar sites in the basin as food for thought in the run-up to the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Ramsar Parties coming up at the end of this month in Changwon, Korea. Here it is. [29/09/08]


Visit to the new “Ecoles de protection de l’eau” pilot project in Argentina.Nathalie Rizzotti, Ramsar project officer and Danone Evian coordinator, went to the northeast of Argentina to visit the new “Ecoles de protection de l’eau” pilot project. It was the first visit from the Ramsar Secretariat to one of the three projects that are called “Écoles de protection de l’eau” ("Water Protection Institutes"). All three – the other two are located in Nepal and Thailand – are financed by a new fund coming from the Danone-Evian partnership with the Ramsar Convention (http://www.evian-ecolesdeleau.fr/). The project is being implemented in two Ramsar sites, Jaaukanigas and Chaco wetland, an area of more than 900,000 hectares in Santa Fé and Chaco Provinces. Nathalie's brief report, with photographs, can be found here. [25/09/08]


Interviews with Ramsar Award winners. The winners of the 2008 Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards were announced in June 2008, and the awards ceremony will take place during opening session of the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in Changwon, Republic of Korea, on 27 October 2008. The winners of the Awards and the accompanying Evian Special Prize of US$ 10,000 each are -- in the Education category, Dr Sansanee Choowaew; in the Science category, Mr Dave Pritchard; and in the Management category, Mr Denis Landenbergue. In addition, the 2008 Recognition for Excellence was awarded to Dr Jan Květ. Interviews with all four of the laureates, conducted recently by Mark Schulman, Libuše Vlasáková, and Ramsar staff, are now available in English here. [25/09/08]


State of the World’s Birds. “Common birds are in decline across the world, providing evidence of a rapid deterioration in the global environment that is affecting all life on earth – including human life. All the world’s governments have committed themselves to slowing or halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010. But reluctance to commit what are often trivial sums in terms of national budgets means that this target is almost certain to be missed. These are some of the stark messages from State of the World's Birds, a new publication and website (birdlife.org/sowb) launched today at BirdLife International’s World Conference in Buenos Aires. . . .  The report highlights worldwide losses among widespread and once-familiar birds. A staggering 45% of common European birds are declining: the familiar European Turtle-dove Streptopelia turtur, for example,has lost 62% of its population in the last 25 years. On the other side of the globe, resident Australian wading birds have seen population losses of 81% in just quarter of a century. . . . Twenty North American common birds have more than halved in number in the last four decades State of the Worlds Birds identifies many key global threats, including the intensification of industrial-scale agriculture and fishing, the spread of invasive species, logging and the replacement of natural forest with monocultural plantations." The full press release is available here, and the State of the World's Birds Web site is here. [25/09/08]


Three more Ramsar sites for Mexico. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that a further three Ramsar site designations have been finalized from amongst those that the government of Mexico announced on World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2008. They are Humedales de Montaña La Kisst (36 hectares, 16°44’N 092°39’W) in Chiapas; Playa de Colola (287 hectares; 18°18’N 103°25’W), a turtle beach on the Pacific coast in Michoacán state; and El Estero La Manzanilla (264 hectares; 19°18’N 104°47’W), a productive mangrove estuary on the Jalisco coast. Summaries by Mila Llorens of the site information on all three can be found here. [19/09/08]


Rapid Wetland Inventory in DR of Congo. With the support of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, under the scheme of the Swiss Grants for Africa (SGA), and technical assistance from WWF-DRC, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has just completed an impressive rapid inventory of the representative wetlands of the country. The group of freshwater experts who contributed to the report highlighted 33 wetland priority areas, covering parts of every province of DRC. The 66-page inventory report provides a description for each priority area with information on the biological diversity as well as data responding to some of the fields of the Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS). Here is a brief report by Ramsar's Abou Bamba, with a link to the inventory report itself. [19/09/08]

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