The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 25 February 2008

Ramsar secondment for coral survey in Tanzania. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Europe Monica Zavagli was in Tanzania from 14 November 2007 to 8 January 2008 to participate in field work activities with WWF Tanzania in the Rufiji-Mafia-Kilwa Marine Ramsar site and assist the Government of Tanzania in preparing the logistics for the Ramsar Advisory Mission to Lake Natron. This interaction stems from the understanding between Ramsar and the Convention's International Organization Partners (BirdLife International, IWMI, Wetlands International, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and WWF International) to provide opportunities for their young professionals to gain experience from the IOPs' projects through short-term secondments. Here is Monica's brief illustrated report (PDF). [25/02/08]

Hungary names two new Ramsar sites. In World Wetlands Day ceremonies held on 20 February 2008, Mr László Haraszthy, State Secretary for Nature and Environment Protection, announced the designation of two new Ramsar sites effective on that date. Borsodi-Mezoség (17,932 hectares, 47°44'N 020°54'E) is a Landscape Protection Area and Natura 2000 site, a large alkaline marshland on the bank of the river Tisza. Montág-puszta (2,203 hectares, 46°21'N 020°40'E) is part of a National Park located on the Hungarian Great Plain. In addition, one of Hungary's first Ramsar sites, Hortobágy, designated back in 1979, has been extended by over 8,000 ha. to 32,037 ha. Here are brief descriptions of the two new sites as summarized by Ramsar's Monica Zavagli from the accompanying RIS data. [21/02/08]

News note. Turkey completes RIS updating. Turkey's Ministry of Environment and Forestry has completed the revision and updating of the Ramsar Information Sheets for all of its 12 Wetlands of International Importance. In Resolution VI.13 (1996) the Parties determined that all RISs should be updated at least every six years and with every significant change in the ecological character of the Ramsar sites, in order to provide more recent site data for planners and the public and to allow for monitoring change over time at the sites. The Secretariat congratulates Turkey and encourages other Parties to redouble their efforts to update their own Ramsar site information. [21/02/08]

Now available. 6th Ramsar European Regional Meeting. The 6th European Regional Meeting will take place 3-7 May 2008 in Stockholm, Sweden, and the draft agenda and programme, registration form, and basic information about the event are now available -- HERE. The deadline for registration is 1 April 2008 (for those requiring financial assistance, 1 March 2008). [21/02/08]

Ramsar Advisory Mission to Tanzania. In response to stakeholder concerns about the proposed development of a soda ash extraction facility at the Lake Natron Basin Ramsar site, the Ramsar Secretariat offered to provide technical assistance to the government of Tanzania through a Ramsar Advisory Mission (RAM), and the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism welcomed that proposal. The RAM is now underway, 17 to 28 February 2008, and is made up of a multidisciplinary team which includes: i) the Chair of the Ramsar Standing Committee (Head of Delegation), ii) a representative of the Ramsar STRP, iii) the IUCN Species Survival Commission, iv) a representation of the CMS and its AEWA agreement, v) two consultants to deal with the wise use and socio-economic aspects of the mission. Senior Regional Advisor Mr Abou Bamba provides further details here about the structure and objectives of the mission. [20/02/08]

Ramsar visit to Krabi Estuary. Following the Asian Regional Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Technical Officer for Asia -Oceania Pragati Tuladhar visited the Krabi Estuary Ramsar site in Thailand, 21-25 January 2008, to learn more about Wetlands International's mangrove work. Wetlands International is in the process of starting several mangrove rehabilitation projects there, restoring degraded areas and abandoned aquaculture ponds back to biodiverse mangrove, with the full involvement and participation of the local communities. Pragati took this opportunity to get acquainted with related issues and technical details of these proposed projects by inspecting degraded areas, discussing with local communities, and offering advice where possible. Here is a brief report with photos. [20/02/08]

Wetland restoration experts in Central Africa required. Amir Grossman, IUCN-NL Ecosystem Grants Programme, writes: "We are currently supporting three projects related to wetland restoration and sustainable use in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. These are small grants project (max. 85.000€/3 years). As the involved NGOs have limited experience we are looking for experts that will be able to make a visit to the project sites in order to help the NGOs in developing a restoration plan. These visits should take place within no more than 6 months. Ideally, a second visit should be made a year later to monitor progress. We are willing to cover the costs of these visits.". [20/02/08]

Now available. The Okavango Delta Management Plan. The long-awaited ODMP has been launched and is available in PDF format here and in print form from the Botswana Department of Environmental Affairs. The ODMP project was begun some years ago, with seed funding from the Ramsar Convention, and it has been developed under the framework of the Ramsar Management Planning Guidelines by a number of national and local government sectors and other organizations such as the Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre (HOORC) and The World Conservation Union (IUCN). Financial support has been provided along the way by the governments of Denmark, Germany, and Sweden, and by IUCN and Ramsar. The OMDP is endorsed by the Permanent Okavango River Basin Commission (OKACOM), including Angola and Namibia, the Secretariat of which was also launched in Maun on World Wetlands Day earlier this month with the participation of the Ramsar Secretary General, Mr Anada Tiéga. The ODMP in PDF (2.8MB). [14/02/08]

Wetland training in the Caucasus region. A significant step towards cooperation between protected area and wetland managers from Armenia and Georgia was a training course organized by the NGO "Professional and Entrepreneurial Orientation Union" in close cooperation with the Ministry of Nature Protection of Armenia and with the resources made available by the Critical Environment Partnership Fund (CEPF). From 24 September to 5 October 2007, 24 participants from Armenia and Georgia participated in the wetland management training course. Protected area managers from Armenian "Sevan" and "Dilijan" national parks, Georgian "Kolkheti" National Park and "Kobuleti" Nature Reserve, civil servants, scientists, businessmen and NGO members lived and worked together in the comfortable resort situated on the shore of Lake Sevan, which is the largest Ramsar site of Armenia and the whole Caucasus region. Here is Karen Jenderedjian's lavishly illustrated report on the course. [11/02/08]

Mauritius names marine park as second Ramsar site. The Ministry of Agro-Industry and Fisheries of Mauritius has designated Blue Bay Marine Park (353 hectares, 20°27'S 057°43'E) in the Grand Port district as its second Wetland of International Importance, as of 31 January 2008. As Assistant Advisor for Africa Evelyn Parh Moloko explains, based on the RIS information, this Marine Protected Area is a unique coastal wetland recognized for its exceptional underwater seascape with diverse marine fauna and flora, especially its coral diversity (38 coral species representing 28 genera and 15 families). The presence of mangroves, seagrass meadows, and macro algae contribute to the overall stability of the marine environment and make it a habitat for about 72 fish species and the endangered green turtle, as well as a nursing ground for juvenile marine species. This site adjoins the popular Blue Bay Beach, 5 metres away, which is widely used by the local community for recreational purposes, and tourism is also significant. Threats posed to the coral ecosystem by diving activities are controlled by allowing only certified divers to operate in the area. Management of Marine Protected Areas is ensured by the Fisheries and Marine Regulations of 2001, which make special provisions for this site. In addition, there is a steering committee for the management of the park drawn from most of the environment-related ministries (Agro-Industry, Environment, Tourism, Housing and Lands, etc.), and daily patrols are conducted to enforce the regulations.

New MedWet Coordinator. The Ramsar Secretariat welcomes the new MedWet Coordinator, Adnan Budieri from Jordan, who took up his new post on 1 February 2008 and is based in the MedWet Secretariat in Athens, Greece. Adnan has an advanced degree in hydrobiology and ecology and over 18 years of experience in environmental management focusing on wetland, coastal zone and marine management, as well as on biodiversity. He has been involved in activities related to the CBD, the Ramsar Convention (representing Jordan at Ramsar COPs), the World Heritage Convention, the UNCCD, and the CITES Convention. He has also worked for BirdLife International and IUCN, thus gaining a profound knowledge of the Mediterranean and especially of its South and East subregions. We look forward to working with Adnan in the coming years. [07/02/08]

Mexico listing 45 new sites for World Wetlands Day. At ceremonies in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, on 2 February, Secretario de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada; the Gobernador del Estado de Sinaloa, Jesús Aguilar Padilla; and the Comisionado Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, Ernesto Enkerlin Hoeflich, joined the celebrations and announced that Mexico is designating 45 new Wetlands of International Importance to be dated as of World Wetlands Day 2008. The Secretariat is delighted by this new initiative and our Americas team has already begun going over the new Ramsar Information Sheets. When these new designations have gone through the paperwork of the listing process, Mexico's total number of Ramsar sites should come out to 112 Ramsar sites, which will be the second highest national total after the United Kingdom. More details here. [06/02/08]

Grants for Ramsar sites in the USA. "In celebration of World Wetlands Day, Environmental Concern Inc., on behalf of the U.S. National Ramsar Committee, is pleased to announce the recipients of the "Promotion of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands" grant awards. These grants are funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife Without Borders Global Programs. Grant funding in the amount of $28,700 was awarded to support the designation of new Ramsar sites. Recipients included: Ballona Institute, California; Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, California; and Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Wisconsin. Grant funding in the amount of $50,700 was awarded to assist existing Ramsar sites with communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) activities related to promoting wetland conservation. Recipients included: Ahahui Malama I ka Lokahi, Hawaii; Cache River Wetlands, Illinois; Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin; Grassland Ecological Area, California. Also, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, MD received funding to educate the public about the importance of the Chesapeake Bay Estuarine Complex. Rutgers University in New Jersey received funding for workshops to educate teachers about the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The University of Connecticut's Sea Grant Program received funding to raise awareness of the Connecticut River Estuary." Press release here (PDF). [04/02/08]

Four new Ramsar sites for Congo. The Direction Générale de l'Environnement of the Republic of Congo has taken the occasion of World Wetlands Day to designate four new Wetlands of International Importance, effective 13 December 2007. Conkouati-Douli (504,950 hectares, 03°55'S 011°27'E) and Cayo-Loufoualeba (15,366 hectares, 04°53'S 011°57'E) are both at least partially mangrove sites on the Atlantic coast in Kouilou province, the first near the border with Gabon and the second farther southeast near the border with the Cabinda exclave of Angola. Grands affluents (5,908,074 hectares, 00°15'S 016°42'E) is an enormous area that includes basins of a number of important tributaries of the Congo River and surrounds Congo's only previous Ramsar site, the Réserve Communautaire du Lac Télé/Likouala-aux-Herbes, and Libenga (59,409 hectares, 02°51'N 018°00'E), near the northern border, comprises the river Libenga and associated marshes and floodplains.

The four new designations have been jointly supported by WWF International's Freshwater Programme and by the Swiss Federal Office for Environment through the Convention's Swiss Grant for Africa, and they are intended to be part of a series of new Ramsar designations throughout the Congo Basin leading up to the creation of the CongoWet regional initiative, which has been under development as a result of the Declaration by the Council of Ministers of the Commission Internationale du Bassin Congo-Ougangui-Sangha (CICOS), with which the Ramsar Secretariat has a memorandum of cooperation.

Brief site descriptions have been prepared by Ramsar's Evelyn Parh Moloko based on the Ramsar Information Sheets compiled by Gilbert Madouka, the Ramsar focal point in Congo, and Gilbert Mbati. The Congo river photos by Denis Landenbergue, WWF International, are from preparatory visits that he and Abou Bamba made to Congo in 2005 and 2007, but are not specifically of these four new Ramsar sites. [02/02/08] WWF press report.Environmental News Service.

Cameroon designates third Ramsar site for World Wetlands Day. Cameroon's third Ramsar site, designated for World Wetlands Day 2008, is the Partie camerounaise du fleuve Sangha (6,200 hectares, 01°50'N 016°02'E), part of the Lobéké National Park, located in the southeast of Cameroon and bordering the Dzanga-Sangha National Park of Central African Republic (CAR) and Nouabale-Ndoke in the Republic of Congo. This designation, which is in preparation for the CongoWet initiative, was assisted by the Ramsar Swiss Grant for Africa. Ramsar's Evelyn Parh Moloko provides further details, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet that accompanied the designation, with some photographs -- [30/01/08]

FYR of Macedonia designates second Ramsar site. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has designated Dojran Lake (Dojransko Ezero) (2,696 hectares, 41°13'N 022°45'E), a lake that it shares with Greece, as its second Wetland of International Importance, joining the Macedonian part of Lake Prespa in the southwest, designated in 1995 and shared with Greece and Albania in the Transboundary Prespa Wetland Park. The Dojran site is a shallow eutrophic lake with no natural outlets and its surrounding swamp and thermal spring, located in the southeast of the country along the border with Greece. The local community employs a unique and ancient fish hunting practice, with its own implements and traditions using birds and reed traps, first described by Herodotus in the 5th century B.C. and thought now to be practiced only here. The lake hosts several endemic species and subspecies of fish as well as 11 endemic invertebrates and many protected bird species. More than 100 individuals of Pelecanus crispus are supported every year in the period from November till March. A decreasing water level from over-abstraction is perceived as a potential threat. [30/01/08]

Conférence de presse au Musée d'histoire naturelle de la ville de Genève pour le lancement de la journée mondiale des zones humides. Hier, le 29 janvier 2008, pour le lancement de la Journée mondiale des zones humides, le Département du Territoire (domaine nature et paysage) de l’Etat de Genève et le Musée d’histoire naturelle de la ville de Genève ont organisé conjointement une conférence de presse. Suite aux mots de bienvenue de Mme Danièle Decrouez, directrice du Musée, Alexia Dufour, représentant le Secrétariat Ramsar, a introduit le thème de cette année « notre santé dépend de celle des zones humides ». Mr Jean-Bernard Lachavanne, président de l’Association pour la sauvegarde du Léman, a ensuite montré à travers l’exemple du lac Léman, réservoir d’eau potable de la région, à quel point gestion rationnelle des zones humides et santé humaine sont intimement liées. Enfin Mmes Andrea Finger Stich, professeur à l’HES de Lullier, et Christina Meissner, chargée de communication au département du territoire, ont présenté le programme des animations respectivement pour le samedi 2 février au centre de Lullier et pour le dimanche 3 février à l’entrée de la jetée des Paquis. Félicitations à tous pour votre implication dans cette Journée mondiale des zones humides ! [30/01/08]

Republic of Serbia adds two new Ramsar sites. The Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Serbia, with the assistance of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, has designated two new Ramsar sites with the effective date of 20 November 2007 -- both nominations were announced at World Wetlands Day celebrations in Novi Sad in February 2007. Gornje Podunavlji (22,480 hectares, 45°45'N 018°57' E) is a marsh complex along the Danube River that is part of a natural unity with the Gemenc and Kopacki Rit Ramsar sites in Hungary and Croatia respectively. Vlasina (3,209 hectares, 42°42'N 022°21'E) comprises, along with the surrounding countryside, the reservoir Vlasinsko, which at the time of its creation in 1949 inundated what was thought to be the largest peat bog in the Balkans and one of the largest in Europe.

Serbia now has 8 Ramsar sites covering a total of 53,714 hectares. Some photo pages prepared by the Institute, with brief descriptions of the two sites prepared by Ramsar's Monica Zavagli, can be found here -- Gornje Podunavlji first, followed by Vlasina. [29/01/08]

Yemen joins the Convention on Wetlands. The Secretariat is very pleased to report that we have been informed by the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs at UNESCO that Yemen deposited the instrument of accession to the Ramsar Convention, as amended in 1982, on 8 October 2007, and therefore the Convention will come into force for Yemen on 8 February 2008. The 158th Contracting Party to the Convention has designated as its obligatory first Ramsar site the Detwah Lagoon in the northwest of Socotra Island some 340 kilometres to the south in the Indian Ocean. No information or boundary delimitations have yet been received for the new Ramsar site, but we will have a site description made up as soon as the Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS) has been received. Congratulations to Yemen for its commitment to the objectives of the Ramsar Convention. [28/01/08]

International Year of the Reef launch. Coral reef experts and managers from the United States, Mexico, France, and Bonaire will officially inaugurate the International Year of the Reef 2008 with a news conference as part of the International Coral Reef Initiative Meeting in Washington D.C. A live telephone and web connection to a NOAA-funded coral reef exploration of Bonaire, Netherland Antilles will present new findings following release of report on 2005 Caribbean coral bleaching event. Thursday, 24 January 2008, Washington, D.C. See the announcement here. [21/01/08] -- Francis Staub, IYOR Coordinator, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.,

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]

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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