The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 7 April 2008
Management plan for Wular Lake. "Wular Lake, the largest freshwater lake within River Jhelum basin, plays a significant role in the hydrography of the Kashmir valley by acting as a huge absorption basin for floodwaters. The lake with its associated wetlands is an important habitat for migratory waterbirds within Central Asian Flyway and supports rich biodiversity. It is a major fishery resource in the valley supporting a large population living along its fringes. The wetland also generates revenue to the state government through fisheries and auctioning of water chestnut, fodder, and other economically important species. The catchment of the lake supports coniferous forests and alpine pastures, adding to the natural beauty and biodiversity of the wetland area. Recognizing importance of the wetland for its biodiversity and socio economic values, the Wular Lake was designated as a Wetland of International Importance under Ramsar Convention in 1990. . . . . Sectoral developmental activities have, however, failed to recognize the immense role of the Wular Lake, leading to its degradation." So begins the "Comprehensive Management Action Plan for Wular Lake, Kashmir" prepared by Wetlands International - South Asia under an assignment from the Department of Wildlife Protection, Government of Jammu and Kashmir. The 6.9MB PDF of this model Ramsar site management plan can be seen here. [07/04/08]
Additional Ramsar sites for Mexico. As has become almost a tradition, the government of Mexico has used the occasion of World Wetlands Day to designate a considerable number of additional Wetlands of International Importance. At ceremonies in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, on 2 February 2008, 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 hopelessly understaffed Secretariat, in this case the Americas team of María Rivera and Mila Llorens, have been working hard on doublechecking that the data and maps submitted with the Ramsar Information Sheets conform to the standards set by the Parties in their COP Resolutions, and seven of the new sites have now been added to the Ramsar List. With, obviously, many more to come.
Brief site descriptions for the Annotated Ramsar List have been prepared by Mila Llorens in English and in Spanish. Mexico now has 74 Ramsar sites covering 5,908,968 hectares. [04/04/08]
Nine new Ramsar sites in Nigeria. The Federal Ministry of Environment of Nigeria has designated an additional nine wetlands for the Ramsar List, following on from the designation of "Lake Chad Wetlands in Nigeria" announced a few weeks ago and all effective as of 30 April 2008. Taken together, the sites present a fascinating array of wetland types, including swamp forests, river floodplains, mangroves, and lakes, and all of them are extremely important for their support for flora and fauna and for the ecosystem services they provide for the local communities. Most or all of them are formally state-owned but in practical terms under the customary control of local families and communities, which brings with it in some cases a challenging set of threats and opportunities.
The WWF Global Freshwater Programme has supported the Ministry in developing these designations, with the contributions of Professors Ogunkoya and Dami of the Department of Geography, University of Maidugui, and the Niger Delta Wetlands Centre, and UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Europe has helped in the preparation of the site maps. Nigeria presently has 11 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 1,076,728 hectares. Brief site descriptions prepared by the Assistant Advisor for Africa, Evelyn Parh Moloko, can be seen here. [04/04/08]
Workshop on Hindu Kush Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. There is a major need for better long-term monitoring of glaciers in the Himalayas using direct observations in the field, as well as for improved sharing of data among the different countries in the region. These were among the conclusions drawn by the more than 70 international scientists who met at a three-day workshop on ‘Cryosphere and Hazards for the Hindu Kush Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau’ from 31 March-2 April 2008 to discuss the problems of glaciers, glacial fluctuations, and loss of permafrost in the mountains and plateaus of the Himalayas. The meeting, held at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), was organised by the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), Global Land Ice Measurements from Space Regional Centre for Southwest Asia (GLIMS), Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study (MAIRS), Institute for Development and Innovation (IDI), Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), and ICIMOD. ICIMOD's press release on the workshop can be seen here. [04/04/08]
Action for culture in Mediterranean Wetlands. A new publication has just been released by the Mediterranean Institute on Nature and Anthropos/ Med-INA. Presenting a great deal of valuable information on cultural values and wetlands, the publication by Thymio Papayannis and contributors aims to encourage addressing cultural values in the management of wetlands. It presents information on culture-related activities relating to 22 wetland sites in the Mediterranean. Well-illustrated, the book provides up-to-date documentation of characteristic ongoing cultural activities and examines their significance for the management and protection of these sensitive ecosystems. A main conclusion is that nature and culture are two interdependent elements and therefore "we cannot understand and manage the 'natural' environment unless we understand the human culture that shaped it". Thus, the values resulting from cultural activities are important in strengthening the links of people with wetlands, a prerequisite for wetland conservation and for the sustainable use of their resources and services. Among other things, the book informs about the work undertaken in the field of cultural values of wetlands within MedWet and within the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. PDF versions in English and in French are available from http://www.med-ina.org/mava01/04_progress/index.html, and for the print publication, inquiries can be made to Med-INA at email@example.com. [31/03/08]
New field guide for Australian plants. A new field guide compiled by Greening Australia in conjunction with Australian Plants Society has been launched and is now available. Salt Tolerant Plants of the Western District Ramsar Lakes is a comprehensive field guide for anyone interested in the flora of South Western Victoria and includes both native and introduced plants. It was produced to increase the knowledge of indigenous, introduced native and exotic salt tolerant plants found within saline ecosystems. The 182-page guide features technical illustrations and full colour photographs -- it will be a valuable resource for land managers, students and Natural Resource Management practitioners and will increase their capacity to conserve the biodiversity assets of saline sites at local and regional levels. For each plant there is a description of the plant - general, foliage, flowers, fruit, where it grows, and its occurrence. Price: $10. For enquires or an order form contact Ammie Jackson, firstname.lastname@example.org. [28/03/08]
Caribbean Subregional Meeting for the Implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 8-10 April, Havana, Cuba. During the Ramsar Pan American Meeting held in Mérida, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, from 18-21 of September 2007, it was decided that the Caribbean Countries would meet in Cuba to discuss the formulation of a Subregional Strategy for Caribbean Wetlands, review experiences in the region regarding the implementation of the commitments agreed to by the Contracting Parties, and prepare Resolutions and Regional Initiatives for COP10. All Contracting Parties of the Caribbean are expected to be present during the meeting. Observers including, Intergovernmental and Non-governmental organizations, and representatives of Ramsar's International Organization Partners are also being invited to attend. The working languages of the Regional Meeting will be English and Spanish. You can download the Registration Form here. [27/03/08]
Reunión Subregional del Caribe para la Implementación de la Convención Ramsar, 8-10 de abril, La Habana, Cuba. Durante la reunión Panamericana celebrada en Mérida República Bolivariana de Venezuela del 18-21 de Septiembre de 2007, las Partes Contratantes del Caribe propusieron tener una reunión en Cuba para discutir la formulación de una Estrategia Sub regional para los Humedales del Caribe, la revisión de experiencias en la región en la implementación de la Convención en el contexto de los compromisos acordados por las Partes y la preparación de resoluciones e iniciativas regionales para la COP10. Se espera que todas las Partes Contratantes del Caribe estén presentes en la Reunión. Adicionalmente, están siendo invitados observadores, entre los que destacan aquéllos países del Caribe que todavía no son Partes Contratantes de la Convención, organizaciones intergubernamentales y no gubernamentales, así como representantes de las Organizaciones Internacionales Asociadas a Ramsar. El formulario de inscripción lo pueden encontrar aquí.[27/03/08]
Now available. Ramsar address to LCBC. The text of the address by the Secretary General, Anada Tiéga, for the 54th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers and 12th Summit of Heads of States and Governments held in Abuja, Nigeria, 25-26 March 2008, is now available. Mr Tiéga could not attend the event, but he was represented there by Denis Landenbergue of WWF International, and Denis' further report of the events and collaboration among Ramsar, WWF, and the LCBC will follow in a few days.
Nigeria's part of Lake Chad added to the Ramsar List. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that Nigeria has designated 'Lake Chad Wetlands in Nigeria' (607,354 hectares, 13°04'N 013°48'E) for the List of Wetlands of International Importance. The designation is effective 30 April 2008, but the announcement and conferral of the site certificate will be made at the summit of heads of states and governments of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in Abuja on 25-26 March. The WWF Global Freshwater Programme has supported the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Environment in developing this and nine further designations by Nigeria that are presently in the pipeline at the Secretariat.
The achievement that this designation represents comes as the result of a decision made by the summit of heads of states and governments of the LCBC in July 2000, and both Chad and Niger have already designated their portions of Lake Chad as well - the only remaining part of the lake to be designated for the Ramsar List is in Cameroon, where a project supported by WWF is currently underway to achieve that. (The Central African Republic is part of the Lake Chad basin and the fifth member of the LCBC.) The designation is seen as a new contribution to the ChadWet regional initiative under the framework of the Ramsar Convention. Further details on the new site, prepared by Evelyn Parh Moloko, can be seen here. [17/03/08]
Prespa Park GEF meeting. The transboundary Prespa Park, which concerns the two Balkan lakes shared by Albania, FYR of Macedonia and Greece, is benefiting from a large GEF project, managed by UNDP. The ambitious goals of the project are to improve the management of ecosystems, to increase the capacity of the responsible state and NGO organisations, to promote sustainable activities and better quality of life for the local inhabitants and to strengthen the cooperation among the three neighbouring countries. On 7 March 2008, in the small village of Pretor on the Macedonian shore of Macro Prespa, the Prespa Park Coordination Committee met in its capacity of GEF Project Oversight Committee. Mr Thymio Papayannis provides this brief report of the background and conclusions. [17/03/08]
World Wetlands Day in Botswana. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) organised a number of activities to commemorate World Wetlands Day 2008, including included a International Wetlands Conference, a public panel discussion referred to as Environment and Development Dialogue and an official ceremony on World Wetlands Day (2nd February 2008) to celebrate wetlands and for Botswana to showcase the completion of the planning phase of the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP). Anada Tiéga, the Ramsar Secretary General, and Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Honourable Onkokame Kitso Mokaila (left) delivered addresses, and there were any number of festive events. Here is a very well illustrated report, and here is the text of the Secretary General's address. [07/03/08]
Ramsar Pan-American Regional Meeting. The Pan-American regional meeting was held in Merida, Venezuela, in September 2007. The full report of the meeting is now available in English and Spanish, as well as photographs of the events. See the meeting's index page for links. [07/03/08]
Estonia names new Ramsar site and Transboundary Ramsar Site. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Ministry of the Environment of Estonia has designated the Sookuninga Nature Reserve (5,869 hectares, 58°00'N 024°45'E), a Natura 2000 SPA and BirdLife International IBA, as its 12th Wetland of International Importance. Citing a Joint Commission set up in February 2006 between the Ministries of Environment of Estonia and Latvia on "Management of Nature Conservation in Transboundary Context", the two countries have established a Transboundary Ramsar Site, including Sookuninga and the Nigula Nature Reserve in Estonia and the Northern Bogs (Ziemelu purvi) Ramsar site in Latvia, with the name of North Livonian Transboundary Ramsar Site.
The Sookuninga NR, as described by Ramsar's Monica Zavagli based on the accompanying RIS information, is a complex of six different raised bog massifs with hummock and hollow complexes as well with numerous pools. The site supports rare, vulnerable and endangered species of birds and plants, some of them occurring in great numbers or densities. Highly endangered and strongly protected are Black Stork, Golden Eagle, Lesser-Spotted Eagle, Great-Spotted Eagle and Lagopus lagopus Willow Grouse. The site also supports populations of large mammals including Canis lupus Wolf, Lynx lynx Lynx, Ursus arctos Brown Bear and Alces alces Elk. The site plays an important role in the recharge and discharge of groundwater as well as maintenance of water quality in southwest Estonia and northwest Latvia. It also has a significant cultural and historical importance for its small-scale battlegrounds, burials, and war routes. Due to its remote location the area is sparsely inhabited, and the main uses are tied to forestry, berry and mushroom picking, and small-scale hunting - all at comparatively low intensities. [06/03/08]