The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 28 January 2008

Conference on Combating Desertification. The Secretary General, Mr Anada Tiega, is participating in the Beijing International Conference on Combating Desertification, 22-24 January 2008, organized by the Ramsar Administrative Authority in China, the State Forestry Administration, and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs as an intersessional event in contribution to the 16th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), set for May 2008. His address to the meeting earlier today, 22 January 2008, can be seen here. [22/01/08]

World Wetlands Day, 2 February.A message from the Secretary General. "World Wetlands Day provides all of us with an opportunity to join together with our colleagues around the world to celebrate the benefits that we all receive from wetlands, and to help raise the awareness of our fellow citizens about the importance of these vital ecosystems for our common future.

"Whether we are talking about swamps and bogs, peatlands, rivers and lakes, estuaries and coastal zones, coral reefs or rice paddies, we understand that wetlands are essential for the supply of fresh water, maintenance of biodiversity, mitigation of the effects of climate change, groundwater recharge and flood control - and so many other so-called 'ecosystem services'- and we want to get that message out to decision-makers and citizens in our communities." The rest of Mr Anada Tiega's inspirational WWD message can be seen here. [18/01/08]

UNCCD Executive Secretary visits Ramsar Secretariat. Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), visited the Ramsar Convention Secretariat on 16 January 2008, his first visit to Ramsar, to discuss issues of common interest to the two conventions since his appointment by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In the absence of the Ramsar Secretary General, Mr. Gnacadja, accompanied by Mr. Gregoire de Kalbermatten, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNCCD, was welcomed by the Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Nick Davidson, and Mr Abou Bamba, Senior Advisor for Africa, who has lead responsibility for dryland issues in the Ramsar Secretariat. Here is Mr Bamba's brief report on what they discussed. [17/01/08]

New publications on Poland's wetlands. The Naturalists' Club Poland has recently published two very interesting publications with the titles "Conservation of Baltic raised bogs in Pomerania, Poland" (Maria Herbichowa, Pawel Pawlaczyk, and Robert Stanko, 2007, 147 pages, in Polish and English) and "Conservation of wetlands in Polish agricultural landscapes" (Ab Grootjans and Leslaw Wolejko, eds., 2007, 112 pages, in English and Polish) presenting experiences in practical Nature Conservation, gathered as a result of implementation of the LIFE-Nature and Dutch PIN-Matra projects. Anyone interested may contact them at: Klub Przyrodników, tel./fax. +48 68 3828236, e-mail, [17/01/08]

Hungary completes updates of Ramsar site data. The Parties to the Ramsar Convention decided in 1996 (Resolution VI.13) that the Ramsar Information Sheets used to provide site data for the Ramsar Sites Database should be updated at least every six years, in order to provide managers, researchers, and the public with more or less up-to-date information and to allow monitoring of changes in the ecological character of the sites over time. The process of updating is ongoing and many Parties have been doing their best to keep up with this commitment - and the Secretariat is pleased to announce that Hungary has just completed the updating of site data for all 26 of its Wetlands of International Importance. We hope that that will provide an additional inspiration to other Parties to improve the currency of their Ramsar site data regularly. The current status of RIS updates for all Parties can be seen here. [16/01/08]

Asia Regional Meeting gets under way. On Monday morning, 14 January, Mr Chartree Chueyprasit, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand, opened the Asian Regional Meeting in the Maruay Garden Hotel of Bangkok. This is the largest Ramsar regional meeting so far, with over 150 registered participants. It will focus on major challenges for wetlands, biodiversity and climate change in preparation of Ramsar's COP10, opening in some nine months in Changwong, Republic of Korea. The meeting was perfectly organised by Ms Nirawan Pipitsombat (left in the picture), Ramsar's national focal point in Thailand. The meeting will continue until Friday 18 January, including a visit of the Bang Pu Nature Education Centre, run jointly by WWF-Thailand and the Royal Thai Army, on Wednesday 16 January. [14/01/08]

World Wetlands Day 2008 in Corsica.The MedWet Secretariat and Office de l'Environnement de la Corse launch a celebration in Corsica. For World Wetlands Day 2008 the MedWet Secretariat in collaboration with the Office de l'Environnement de la Corse are launching a celebration in Corsica. On 2 February a number of films on water and wetlands are planned to be shown in different cities across the island of Corsica. The Office de l'Environnement de la Corse (OEC) has been working to assist the wise management of wetlands. For the past five years the OEC has been coordinating celebrations for World Wetlands Day across Corsica. This year the OEC chose film as a means for sensitizing the public on the value of wetlands. Aware of the annual Ramsar MedWet award crowning high quality films focusing on water and wetlands, the OEC addressed a proposal to the Ramsar Convention and MedWet for a joint film event. A selection of films has been chosen for this celebration of World Wetlands Day in Corsica: Rain is falling by Holger Ernst, Delta Oil's Dirty Business by Yorgos Avgeropoulos and The Water Bearer by Pascal Gelinas. The screening will take place courtesy of the directors who have provided rights for showing of their films at this awareness-raising event. An update on more events to be launched by the MedWet Secretariat for World Wetlands Day 2008 will follow soon. You can read more about films that won the Ramsar MedWet award in the past here. (From the MedWet Web site) [07/01/08]

"Challenges and Perspectives for the Management of Bahía Lomas Ramsar site" held in Magallanes, Chile, 29-30 November 2007. With the purpose of promoting the wise use of Bahía Lomas Ramsar site, interchange of experiences, and information under the agreement signed in 2005 between ENAP (National Petroleum Company of Chile) Magallanes region and CONAMA XII region, an international workshop was held from November 29 to 30 2007 with the participation of relevant academic, institutional and civil society stakeholders related with wetlands and the Ramsar Convention, with a visit to the Bahía Lomas site as well. Here is a well-illustrated report by Ramsar's María Rivera . [04/01/08]

Con éxito se realizó en Magallanes, Chile, el seminario internacional Desadios y Perspectivas para el Manejo del Sitio Ramsar Bahía Lomas. Con el objetivo de generar un espacio para la promoción del Uso Racional del Sitio Ramsar Bahía Lomas, a través del acceso a información e intercambio de experiencias, en el marco del Convenio de Cooperación firmado en el 2005, ENAP en Magallanes y CONAMA XII región organizaron el 29 y 30 de noviembre un Seminario Internacional con relevantes actores del ámbito académico, institucional y de la sociedad civil relacionada a los humedales y la Convención Ramsar, así como una visita al humedal de Bahía Lomas. Informe .

Nepal names four high altitude Ramsar sites. As reported here in October 2007, as part of commemorations in Kathmandu on 23 September, the first anniversary of the Ghunsa tragedy, in which the lives of 24 noted conservationists from the Nepalese government and WWF were lost in a helicopter crash, the government announced the designation of four new high altitude Wetlands of International Importance. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for the Asia-Pacific, Ms Pragati Tuladhar, was on hand to deliver an address on behalf of the Secretary General and present Ramsar site certificates for those four new sites. The paperwork has now been completed and the sites have been added to the Ramsar List. Together they are an extraordinary group of himalayan lakes -- Gokyo and Associated Lakes (4,710m-4,950m asl), Gosaikunda and Associated Lakes (4,054m-4,620m asl), Phoksundo Lake (3,611m), and Rara Lake (2,900m) -- all within National Parks and the first of these already a UNESCO World Heritage site (Sagarmatha National Park).

The government of Nepal is to be commended for this initiative, and WWF Nepal is to be acknowledged for its considerable assistance in preparing the groundwork for these designations. WWF Nepal is also our source for the extraordinary photographs that follow the brief site descriptions that can be found here. [21/12/07]

Republic of Korea names two new sites. The Republic of Korea, which will be playing host to the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties next year, has just added two new sites to the List of Wetlands of International Importance, as of 20 December 2007. Du-ung Wetland (6 hectares, 36°49'N 126°11'E) in Chungcheongnam-do is a topographically unique wetland for the area: a freshwater lagoon fed by underground water, separated from the Yellow Sea by a sandy dune system. A large number of nationally endangered and rare species are found, including Korean golden frog (rana plancyi chosenica), Narrow-mouth Boreal digging frog (kaloula borealis), and the Tiger lizard (eremias argus). In all, 311 plant species, eight mammals, 39 bird species, 14 amphibians, and 110 species of insects, with 49 species of invertebrates, have been recorded. Under the Wetland Conservation Act, no recreation or tourism is allowed in the area, officially, but officials report that a visitors' centre is planned and eco-guide training sessions and study tours are being developed.

Moojechineup (4 hectares, 35°27'N 129°08'E), also a Wetland Conservation Area, is a 10,000-year-old high moor, the oldest in Korea, with well-developed peat layers and slightly acidic surface water. Various rare flora and fauna, including locally and nationally endangered species, have been identified, including a high diversity of insects with some 197 species. The name of the site comes from a ritual praying for rain in the Ulsan area. The Republic of Korea now has 7 Ramsar sites covering an area of 4,560 hectares. [20/12/07]

Wetland biodiversity conference in China. An international workshop on Mainstreaming Wetland Biodiversity Conservation: Experiences and Lessons Learned in Practical Applications of Mainstreaming, organized by the GEF Wetland Project Office and the State Forestry Administration of China, took place from 2-4 December, 2007, in Yueyang, Hunan Province on the shores of Dongting Lake, a large freshwater lake that includes three Ramsar sites. Sponsored by UNDP/GEF, the workshop brought together over 130 experts and practitioners with the objective of sharing experiences in mainstreaming wetland biodiversity across all sectors of the national economy, society, and the policy-making framework, as well as at global levels. Sandra Hails, Ramsar's CEPA Programme Officer, participated in the conference and provides this illustrated report, as well as the "Dongting Lake Declaration" that issued from the meeting. [18/12/07]

Ramsar address to UNFCCC COP13. On 14 December 2007, the Secretary General, Mr Anada Tiéga, addressed the ministerial segment of the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In his remarks he stressed the importance of wetlands to climate mitigation and adaptation, the role of peatlands in climate change, and the necessity for integrated, multisectoral partnership approaches to tackling climate change impacts. Here is the text of his address. [14/12/07]

CREHO course on EIA in wetland management.International Course on Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Impact Assessment for Wetland Management. Twenty-two representatives of governments, NGOs and consultants from nine Latin American and Caribbean countries participated in an intensive 17-day theoretical and practical course on Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment for wetland management that was held in Panama from November 19th to December 5th, 2007. The course was organized by the Regional Ramsar Centre for Training and Research on Wetlands in the Western Hemisphere (CREHO) and sponsored by the Ramsar Convention and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Details and photos here. [14/12/07]

Culminó Curso de Impacto Ambiental y Evaluacón Ambiental Estratégica para el Manejo de Humedales. Durante 17 días de sesiones teórico practicas, 21 representantes de 9 países del gobierno, organizaciones no gubernamentales y consultores de Latinoamérica y el Caribe, participaron en el curso de Impacto Ambiental y Evaluación Ambiental Estratégica para el Manejo de Humedales que se llevo a cabo en Panamá del 19 de Noviembre al 5 de diciembre. El curso organizado por el Centro Regional Ramsar para la Capacitación e Investigación sobre Humedales en el Hemisferio Occidental CREHO y la Convención Ramsar fue financiado por la Convención Ramsar y el Servicio de Pesca y Vida Silvestre de Estados Unidos. Fotos.

VI Simposio Internacional de Humedales en Ciénaga de Zapata, Cuba. Participantes de América Latina y el Caribe compartieron experiencias sobre manejo sustentable de humedales en el Simposio Internacional de Humedales de la Ciénaga de Zapata, Cuba del 5-9 de Noviembre de 2007. En el evento participaron científicos, funcionarios, ecologistas, estudiantes y miembros de ONG´s. Informe. [14/12/07]

VI International Wetlands Symposium in Zapata Cienaga, Cuba. Participants from Latin America and the Caribbean shared experiences about wetland management in the International Symposium in Zapata Ciénaga, Cuba, from 5-9 November 2007. The workshop was attended by scientists, officials, ecologists, students and NGOs members. Report.

Inaugural U.S. Ramsar site managers meeting and U.S. National Ramsar Committee meeting held at Caddo Lake, Texas. Members of the U.S. National Ramsar Committee (USNRC), Ramsar site managers and representatives from ten U.S. Ramsar sites, and other Ramsar supporters met at Caddo Lake from October 31 to November 2, 2007, to share experiences, discuss collaborative opportunities, and consider how Ramsar might be strengthened in the United States. Ramsar's María Rivera provides this brief illustrated report. [13/12/07]

Reunión de Manejadores de Sitios Ramsar de Estados Unidos y Comité Nacional Ramsar en Caddo Lake, Texas. Miembros del Comité Nacional Ramsar de Estados Unidos, manejadores de Sitios Ramsar , representantes de 10 Sitios Ramsar y otros actores interesados en los humedales se reunieron en Caddo Lake del 31 de Octubre al 2 de Noviembre para compartir experiencias, discutir oportunidades de colaboración y considerar como se puede fortalecer la Convención de Ramsar en Estados Unidos. María Rivera de la Secretaría de Ramsar preparo este informe.

Ramsar Africa Regional Meeting reported. The "Africa Regional Meeting in preparation of Ramsar COP10" took place in Yaoundé, Cameroon, 26-30 November 2007. The conclusions of the meeting are ready in French and are presently being translated into English, and the official report of the meeting will also soon be along in both languages. Here, in the meantime, is Mr Abou Bamba's brief report of the proceedings and quite a few photographs of the meeting, the celebrities, and the field trip in the Ebogo mangrove wetlands by Ramsar's Alexia Dufour. [12/12/07]

Switzerland approves "Swiss Grant for Africa" for 2007. The Secretariat's Africa team is pleased to announce that the Federal Government of Switzerland (Federal Department for the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication) through the Swiss Agency for the Environment (OFEV) has agreed to assist the Convention's activities in Africa for another year through the Swiss Grant for Africa. The 2007 Swiss Grant for Africa will allow the Secretariat to support three projects on the continent and supported the organization of the Africa Regional Preparatory Meeting for COP10 held from 26 to 30 November 2007, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. This will make an important contribution to the team's strategic objectives for Africa. See Abou Bamba's description of the supported projects here. [12/12/07]

National Wetland Directory of Sri Lanka. The Directory of Asian Wetlands (comp. D. A. Scott, IUCN, 1989) identified 41 wetland sites of international importance in Sri Lanka, covering 274,000 ha in total. In 1990, Sri Lanka joined the Ramsar Convention and designated Bundala as its first Ramsar site. A major advance in the conservation of wetlands in Sri Lanka was the establishment of a National Policy on Wetlands in 2004, the National Wetlands Steering Committee was also revived in 2003, and a draft wetland conservation strategy and action plan was undertaken. To progress the conservation of wetlands in the country, the Steering Committee requested the services of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to facilitate the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) in preparing an updated information base on wetlands in Sri Lanka. The wetland directory was jointly funded by the CEA and IUCN (through financial assistance from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Sri Lanka), while the digital database was funded by IWMI. The National Wetland Directory of Sri Lanka is a 342-page book that presents an overview of the country's wetlands by S W Kotagama and C N B Bambaradeniya, followed by data sheets and maps on 62 significant wetlands in a format consistent with the Ramsar Information Sheet. For more information about the availability of the Directory, contact [13/12/07]

"Assessment on Peatlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change" launched during Bali UNFCCC COP. Today this new assessment was launched by UNEP in association with GEF, Wetlands International, CBD, the Global Environment Centre, and the Ramsar Convention. Ramsar Secretary General Anada Tiega participated as a Panel member in the launch and associated press conference. UNEP's press release about the findings of the report can be seen here. [11/12/07]

"GEF: Financing adaptation action". The Global Environment Facility provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. It is a financial mechanism for implementing the international conventions on biodiversity, climate change, and persistent organic pollutants, and it is also a financial mechanism for the Convention to Combat Desertification and collaborates closely with other treaties and agreements, including the Ramsar Convention. The GEF received the mandate from the UNFCCC in 2001 to finance climate change adaptation projects on the ground, and began piloting adaptation action under three financing avenues: 1) Strategic Priority on Adaptation (SPA); 2) Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF); and 3) Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF).

A new 12-page booklet from the GEF describes these funding mechanisms and provides examples of projects under each of them, amongst which are a number of ongoing wetland management and restoration projects and possible models for new wetland-related projects in future. Ramsar Parties may be able to draw much inspiration and some guidance from this short publication. GEF: Financing adaptation action (PDF, 990kb). [10/12/07]

Ceremonies for Morava-Dyje-Danube initiative. The 8th meeting of the trilateral Ramsar Platform for the Transboundary Ramsar Site "Floodplains of the Morava-Dyje-Danube Confluence" was held on November 15th 2007 in Devin, Slovakia. Twenty-six members of the platform - representing the state administration, expert governmental and non-governmental institutions from the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovakia - took part along with the other invited guests. The meeting was aimed at exchanging news on the present situation and at presenting current common activities on restoration of the area, flood control, etc. The next step, the elaboration of a common management plan, will begin during the next meeting in the Czech Republic in 2008. Alexia Dufour represented the Convention at the ceremonies and provides this illustrated report. [07/12/07]

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