The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 22 May 2008

International Day of Biological Diversity. A message from the Secretary General on the International Day of Biological Diversity: "On behalf of the Ramsar community, I send my best wishes on the occasion of the International Day of Biological Diversity, 22 May 2008. This year’s theme of ‘Biodiversity and Agriculture’ is an especially appropriate one for us, because the Ramsar Convention is similarly concerned about the importance of sustainable agriculture in maintaining the ecological character of the world’s wetlands and the ecosystem services that flow from them for the well-being of human communities.

Food security is a key part of the requirements for human health, and this is also a vital component of the theme of the Ramsar COP10 later this year (28 October to 4 November) – “Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People”.

The International Day of Biological Diversity is an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves of the immense value of agricultural biodiversity for many of the objectives we have set for ourselves in terms of human livelihoods, poverty reduction, food security, and the conservation and wise use, not only of our vital wetland resources, but of all the ecosystems that make up our common home on this earth.

-- Anada Tiéga, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands


Three more Ramsar sites for Mexico. It will be recalled that the government of Mexico marked World Wetlands Day 2008 on 2 February by announcing the designation of a further 45 Wetlands of International Importance. The required scientific paperwork on these new sites has been progressing since then, chiefly fitted in amongst the many other duties of the Assistant Advisor for the Americas, Ms Mila Llorens, and with these three new Ramsar sites listed today a total of 15 of those are now on the Ramsar List, with more to come soon. Mexico now has 82 Ramsar sites on the List, second only to the UK in total number, and 30 more designations in the pipeline. Here are Mila’s site descriptions for the inland Arroyos y manantiales de Tanchachín in San Luis Potosí, Balandra on the Gulf of California, and Zona Sujeta a Conservación Ecológica El Gancho-Murillo on the Chiapas coast. [20/05/08]


Oceania prepares for Ramsar COP10. The relationship between healthy wetlands and healthy communities is a critical issue for the Oceania region. Pacific communities rely on wetlands for their cultural and physical well-being, with wetlands being a main contributor for livelihoods and the standard of living in the region. This was one of the key points raised during a preparatory meeting of Oceania parties to the Ramsar Convention in Samoa on 10-11 April 2008, hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). SPREP’s press release, quoting the SPREP Associate Ramsar Officer, Vainuupo Jungblut, is available here, and the report of the meeting, along with its Key Messages and Recommendations for the Ramsar Standing Committee, are available as well, in PDF format. [19/05/08]

Mexico names 79th Ramsar site.  The government of Mexico has designated its 79th Ramsar site so far, one of the 45 new sites announced on World Wetlands Day 2008. As described by Ramsar’s Mila Llorens, Humedales La Libertad (5,432 hectares, 17°39’N 091°43’W) is situated in the Usumacinta River Basin in Chiapas state and is composed of a complex of lagoons and temporary floodplains formed by the river La Libertad. The Manatee (Trichechus manatus), the Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis) and the Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra) are amongst the endangered species living in the area. The site presents ideal conditions for the reproduction stages of many species of importance including: the Coatimundi (Nasua narica), Paca (Agouti paca), the Banded Anteater (Tamandua mexicana), the Mesoamerican River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii), the Morelet's crocodile (Crocodilus moreletii), and fish species including Atractosteus tropicus and Cichlasoma heterospilum. It also shelters at least 99 species of resident and migratory birds. Fishing is the main productive activity. Factors negatively affecting the site include agricultural and livestock practices, deforestation, soil compaction caused by grazing, the discharge of waste waters, etc. The National History and Ecology Institute is in charge of the management of the site, and it is found under the IV IUCN Category of protected areas. This is Ramsar site number 1774. [19/05/08]


Bystroe Canal Project under international scrutiny. The proposed construction by Ukraine of a “Danube-Black Sea Deep-Water Navigation Canal” in the Danube Delta has been an object of strong international concern since 2003, and Ukraine’s decision in December 2007 to proceed to full implementation of the project whilst a large number of questions remain unanswered about its international environmental impacts has increased that concern considerably. A number of relevant intergovernmental organizations met informally in Geneva on 18 April 2008 to exchange information and experiences on their activities with regard to the Project, and Ramsar’s Tobias Salathé provides a summary of these contributions in an up-to-date background paper. Next week, Ramsar’s Secretary General, Mr Anada Tiéga, will be participating in the 4th meeting of the Parties of the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, Bucharest, Romania, 19-21 May 2008, and the UN ECE press release, "Controversial Danube Canal – Non-compliance with Espoo Convention? Decision expected on 21 May", indicates the seriousness with which this issue is being treated by the international community. [16/05/08]


Wetlands, land use patterns, and drought -- Ramsar and CSD-16. The Secretary General, Mr Anada Tiéga, has been attending CSD-16 in New York, USA, from 7 to 14 May 2008, in a follow-up to his participation in the intersessional meeting held in Beijing, China, January 2008. CSD-16's thematic issues are Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Drought, Desertification, and Africa -- the Secretary General was one of the panelists in the Thematic Discussion about Drought, and his presentation was focused on “Wetland management as a significant land use issue”. Here is a brief report on the Secretary General's contributions. [14/05/08]


MedWet Dialogue pour l’eau dans la région (MENA). Un atelier local s’est tenu le 6 février à la Commune rurale des Mnasra, Maroc dans le cadre du projet intitulé Dialogue pour l’eau dans la région (MENA). Ce projet financé par InWent est entrepris par MedWet dans le but de promouvoir la collaboration intra sectorielle pour une meilleure gestion des ressources en eau au Moyen Orient et dans la région Nord Africaine. Rapport. [14/05/08]

Ramsar Manual in Japanese edition. Minoru Kashiwagi and Yoshino Ito have informed us that the 4th edition of the Ramsar Manual (2006) - entitled "A Guide to the Ramsar Convention: Handing Rich Nature to the Future" - has been published in a Japanese edition through a collaboration between the Japan Wetlands Action Network (JAWAN) and the Biwa-ko Ramsar Study Group. This 110-page publication includes the entire text of the Manual as well as a special illustrated section on how Japan's wetlands are being protected under the Convention. (Announcement in Japanese.)

Financial support for the printing and design was provided by the 7-Eleven Midorino Kikin fund, with donations from customers at 7-Eleven Convenience Stores in Japan. To cover the remaining costs, JAWAN is offering the paperback hardcopy for sale at a reasonable price (English inquiries to Minoru Kashiwagi, kashiwagi(at)jawan.jp, Japanese to book2008(at)jawan.jp). The editors express their gratitude for the help of Mr Naoki Amako, Ms Noriko Moriwake, Dr Satoshi Kobayashi (formerly of the Ramsar Secretariat), the city of Narashino, and many local NGOs. [07/05/08]


European Ramsar meeting under way. The 6th European Ramsar meeting, sponsored by the Ramsar Convention and the Swedish Environment Protection Agency, is taking place now, 3-7 May 2008, in Solna-Stockholm. It provides a European opportunity to prepare for the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10), to be held in Changwon on 28 October-4 November 2008, and is looking into operational procedures of the Convention, especially at European and national levels -- "How best to deliver the Convention's mission to use all wetlands wisely through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation?" The agenda and advance documentation can be seen here, and the text of the Secretary General's opening remarks, in which he celebrated the leading roles of Europe, and especially of Sweden, in implementing the Ramsar Convention, is here. [05/05/08]


Publication of the waterbird census of Coastal Cameroon and Sanaga River. The Foundation Working Group on International Waderbird and Wetland Research (WIWO) of the Netherlands has published the results of the waterbird survey performed on the complete coast of Cameroon, from Campo (on the border with Equatorial Guinea) through the Sanaga estuary, the Douala estuary, the Mount Cameroon coastline to the Ndian basin on the border with Nigeria. The complete citation for this publication is: "Van der Waarde. J.J. (Ed)., 2007. Waterbird census of coastal Cameroon and Sanaga river, January-March 2007. WIWO-report nr 83. Beek-Ubbergen" (http://www.projects.wiwo.org/). Evelyn Parh Moloko provides further details here. [01/05/08]


Ramsar MoC with Rwanda Environment Management Authority. On 18 April 2008, the Secretary General and the General Director of the Rwanda Environment Management Authority signed a Memorandum of Cooperation to prepare the inventory and categorization of the Rwanda wetlands and marshlands. In addition, the two institutions will collaborate on i) developing a political and legal framework for the wise use of Rwanda marshlands, ii) strengthening the conservation and integrated management of Rwanda wetlands in general and marshlands in particular and, iii) raising funds and securing technical assistance for the Rwanda Wetlands Program.

The implementation and follow-up will be done by the Integrated Management of Critical Ecosystems (IMCE) project on the Rwanda site and the Africa team of the Ramsar Secretariat. The MoC will last for two years and is a pilot experience with Rwanda, a landlocked country where wetlands play a crucial role in socio-economic development. If successful, this experience should be replicated to other Parties engaged in the preparation of national wetland inventories. The text of the MOU is available in French, and Rwanda's press release on the inventory in French and English, both in PDF. [30/04/08]


A la découverte de la Genève internationale. Le 15 avril dernier, la Maison de l'Environnement accueillait 25 adolescents de 13-14 ans pour une matinée de conférence sur le thème de l'eau, des changements climatiques et de l'environnement en général. Au travers de 5 présentations, ces élèves du secondaire ont pu découvrir diverses problématiques environnementales de portée internationale. Alexandre Favre du Programme des Nations Unies pour l'Environnement (PNUE) leur a présenté le Réseau Environnement de Genève (GEN), Alexia Dufour la Convention Ramsar sur les zones humides, Vessela Monta l'Alliance internationale pour la gestion de l'eau de pluie (IRHA), Anthony Lehmann le groupe de travail de l'université de Genève sur les prévisions climatiques et enfin Diana Rizzolio le réseau mondial des centres d'information sur l'environnement (GRID).Cette conférence était organisée par Mandat International, une fondation qui a mis en place un programme d'éducation sur les institutions internationales basées à Genève destiné aux élèves genevois. [23/04/08]


Early success at Narran Lakes. As Jamie Pittock reported a month ago, Australia's Murray-Darling Basin Commission purchased 11,000 megalitres of water to top up a modest natural flood to the Narran Lake Ramsar site over the ensuing six weeks, to provide the high water levels needed to enable colonial water birds breeding on the lake to fledge their chicks. A new press release from the MDBC, 18 April 2008, reports that "Four weeks into a six-week MDBC watering at the Narran Lakes system have already resulted in a huge boost to the environmental health of the system's plants and animals, particularly its birdlife. The MDBC bought 11,000 megalitres of water over the Easter weekend to supplement the natural watering occurring at the internationally important Ramsar wetland site in north central New South Wales. Chief Executive Dr Wendy Craik said today that expert ground surveys were showing that about 75 % of the 30,000 pairs of straw-necked ibis attracted to the lakes since January were now expected to successfully produce healthy, full-fledged offspring." [22/04/08]


Exposition "Congo-Gironde, aller-retour", au Parc de l'Estuaire, Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, France. Dans le cadre d'un partenariat avec "Plein Sud", festival culturel sur l'Afrique centrale, le Parc de l'Estuaire, centre de découverte de l'estuaire de la Gironde et pôle-nature du Conseil Général de la Charente-Maritime, a choisi de créer une exposition proposant un " aller-retour " entre l'estuaire de la Gironde et un site Ramsar estuarien en République Démocratique du Congo: le Parc national des Mangroves.

The exhibition "Congo-Gironde, aller-retour", at the Parc de l'Estuaire, Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, France. In the framework of a partnership with "Plein Sud", a cultural festival about central Africa, the Parc de l'Estuaire, the discovery centre of the estuary of the Gironde and nature focal point of the General Counsel of the department of Charente-Maritime, decided to create an exhibition proposing an "aller-retour" exchange between the estuary of the Gironde and an estuary Ramsar site in the Democratic Republic of Congo - the Parc national des Mangroves. [21/04/08]


Caspian Sea region workshop: environmental scientific capacity in perspective. Last week, the10th-11th of April 2008, the Environment Pole of the University of Geneva (Switzerland) organized a workshop on the Caspian Sea. Within a cooperative agreement with Moscow State University and the University of California, the two-day event was intended to launch a multi-year programme regarding scientific capacity-building for the environment of the Caspian Region. During the first day, representatives of the UNEP and GRID team and of the Ramsar Secretariat presented projects and the current or potential future implications of their organization in the region, and the representatives of the three universities presented up-to-date research and data on the Caspian Region. The second day was dedicated to developing a working agenda for Caspian Sea Scientific Capacity Development. -- Alexia Dufour, Ramsar. [16/04/08]


Swiss Grant for Africa. Ghana publishes National Wetland Strategy. Ghana completed 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, however, lacking detailed directions and actions for effective implementation of the Strategy. This led to the approval of a project proposal in 2005 to the Ramsar Secretariat's Swiss Grant for Africa, an assistance programme funded by the Swiss Government since 1989, for a review of the 1999 Strategy along with the development of a detailed Action Plan that corresponds with the principles, objectives and expectations of a thoroughly revised National Wetlands Conservation Strategy, with the aim of enhancing its implementation. The new National Wetlands Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2007-2026) has now been published, and Ramsar's Abou Bamba provides more details here. [15/04/08]


Swiss Grant for Africa. Mali reinvigorates its National Ramsar Committee. National Ramsar or Wetlands Committees have been proven to be invaluable instruments in pursuing the Convention's objectives in countries around the world. The government of Mali established it NRC in December 2006, but because of a lack of funding the committee had been more or less dormant since its creation. The government of Mali then successfully submitted a project for funding from the Ramsar Convention's Swiss Grant for Africa, funded by the government of Switzerland, to kick off the committee's activities, and a workshop was held on 29 March 2008 to launch its new Work Programme for 2008-2009. Ramsar's Senior Advisor for Africa, Abou Bamba, provides further details. [15/04/08]


Four more Ramsar sites for Mexico. It will be recalled that on World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2008, the government of Mexico announced the designation of an additional 45 sites as Wetlands of International Importance. As the paperwork is being completed for these new designations, last week we announced that seven of them have been added to the Ramsar List, and today we are pleased to add four more. With many more to follow. [11/04/08]


Now available. 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]


Web site launched for Wings Over Wetlands. The Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) Project is a unique partnership of organizations involved in the conservation of waterbirds and their wetland habitats. It is a collaborative effort between Wetlands International and BirdLife International, with support from the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and UNEP/GEF. WOW supports the implementation of both the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and is sponsored by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the AEWA Secretariat, and several other donors.

The extremely attractive and well-designed new Web site, launched on 1 April 2008, was developed by the Communications Officer of the Project in close cooperation with the Project Coordination Unit and the Communications team at Wetlands International, and is hosted by Wetlands International. A press release on the purpose and background of the new site can be found here, and the site itself, here. [02/04/08]


Argentina names 16th Ramsar site. The government of Argentina has designated its 16th Wetland of International Importance, the Reserva Natural Otamendi (3,000 hectares, 34º14'S 058º53'W) near the Paraná River in the province of Buenos Aires. According to Ramsar's Mila Llorens, based on the RIS information, the site is located in a rich biodiversity area where three biogeographic regions meet: Pastizal Pampeano, Espinal, and Delta e Islas del Paraná. It supports internationally threatened species such as the Dot-winged Crake (Porzana spiloptera) and the Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis). Some endemic species of the region include Straight-billed Reedhaunter (Limnoctites rectirostris), the Bay-capped Wren-spinetail (Spartonoica maluroides), the dark-throated Seedeater (Sporophila ruficollis), and the Marsh Seedeater (Sporophila palustris), as well as a number of mammal species locally threatened by hunting activities, including the Nutria (Myocastor coypus), Capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) and other internationally threatened species. The site is dedicated to conservation activities and the main productive activities carried out include livestock, forestation, tourism and agriculture. Among the potential threats that are found in Otamendi are the invasion of exotic flora and fauna species, the pollution of the water bodies, changes in the hydrological system, and extraction of resources. The site is under national protection as a Natural Reserve and is part of the National System of Protected Areas. A five-year management plan is in place. [28/03/08]

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