The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 20 April 2009
Sudan adds two Red Sea coastal Ramsar sites. The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to report that, effective World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2009, the Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources of Sudan has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, both biodiversity-rich coastal areas in Red Sea State. Dongonab Bay-Marsa Waiai(280,000 hectares, 20°33'N 037°13’E) features an array of coral reefs, mangroves, off-shore islands, soft-bottom mud flats, sand beaches and hard bottom rocky shores in addition to salt-marshes, sabkha and khor basins. Suakin-Gulf of Agig(1,125,000 hectares, 18°34’N 038°05’E) encompasses, not only the sand flats, lagoons, sand shores and Tokar Delta along the coastline, but also the marine expanse of the Suakin Archipelago and its coral reefs.
Sudan now has four Ramsar sites covering an area of 8,189,600 hectares. WWF International’s Freshwater Programme and the Swiss Federal Office for Environment were very helpful in the preparations for these two important site designations. Ramsar’s Cynthia Kibata has prepared brief site summaries for the Annotated Ramsar List, which can be seen here. [14/04/09]
Congo names two riverine Ramsar sites. The Secretatiat is pleased to announce that the Direction générale de l’Environnement in Brazzaville has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance in Congo, effective 3 April 2009.Les Rapides du Congo-Djoué(2,500 hectares, 04°19’S 015°11’E) comprises the important Congo River tributaries the Djoué and the Loua and a rich complex of surrounding wetland types. The very large Sangha-Nouabalé-Ndoki(1,525,000 hectares, 01°41’N 016°26’E), which includes a National Park, comprises the important Sangha River and its surroundings. These two join Congo’s existing five Ramsar sites to provide commitments for the conservation and wise use of a total of 8,454,259 hectares. WWF International’s Freshwater Programme was extremely helpful in facilitating the work leading to the designation of these important new sites.
Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Africa, Cynthia Kibata, has provided brief site summaries based on the Ramsar Information Sheets that accompanied the designations, and so photographs have been supplied in PDF format. Here. [09/04/09]
Survey of African Ramsar sites. “African Wetlands of International Importance: Assessment of Benefits Associated with Designations under the Ramsar Convention", by Royal Gardner (Stetson University College of Law), Kim Diana Connolly (University of South Carolina School of Law), and Abou Bamba (Ramsar Secretariat), has just been published in the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, vol XXI, issue 2 and is posted here with permission from the Review. The survey follows on from Professors Gardner and Connolly’s study of Ramsar sites in the United States (2007) and a similar survey of Ramsar sites in Canada (2008) done for the Canadian government by Pauline Lynch-Stewart. The Georgetown Review article discusses the survey results from 26 sites in 18 countries. Benefits associated with Ramsar designation included increased support for protection and management of the sites, increased scientific studies, increased funding opportunities, increased ecotourism, and poverty alleviation. Download the new study here (PDF, 5MB). [09/04/09]
Youth Model Ramsar Convention 2009, Changwon City. On 28-29 March 2009 in Changwon, South Korea, high school students from various locations in Korea got together to hold the second Youth Model Ramsar Convention in continuation of the event developed through an increased awareness of wetlands and wetland conservation and established during the year of COP10. The event, supported by Gyeongsangnamdo Ramsar Environment Foundation, was a success, hosting two days of events with over 150 attendees. Here is a brief report (PDF). [07/04/09]
News from the Danone-Evian initiative. Support for World Wetlands Day in France. Ramsar's Nathalie Rizzotti explains: "For the second consecutive year, the Danone-Evian Fund for Water is helping the French NGO LPO (Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux) to organize about 40 free animations in the field and to edit a brochure about wetlands’ importance, in support of the Ramsar World Wetland Day." Brief report. [02/04/09]
Kazakhstan names important Caspian Sea site. The government of Kazakhstan has designated as its second Wetland of International Importance, effective 10 March 2009, the Ural River Delta and adjacent Caspian Sea coast(111,500 hectares, 46 58’N 51 45’E), part of North Caspian Nature Reserve. According to Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Asia/Oceania, Ann Aldersey, the site is a unique river delta wetland in western Kazakhstan along the northern shore of the Caspian Sea, comprising a large variety of marine/coastal and inland wetland types. Due to its mixed water supply and seasonal variation, the site has a range of marine and freshwater habitats and supports considerable numbers and diversity of species, notably 13 IUCN threatened bird species. The site is significant for large numbers of nesting, moulting and migratory species, among them appreciable numbers of Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) (22,000), Mallard (Anas platerhynchos) (12,000) and Teal (Anas querquedula) (44,000). The Ural River is significant as a spawning ground for a number of Caspian Sea sturgeon fish species. The site supports more than 460 species of vertebrate animals, including 76 species of fish, 20 species of reptile, 292 bird species and 48 species of mammals. The site is important for transport, and also supports farming activities (pasture, cropping) and tourism. Intensive fishing, navigation and exploration all pose threats to the ecological character of the wetland. A management plan has been prepared for the site. [31/03/09]
Wetland workshop for Pacific Islands. "The five Pacific Island signatories to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands recently completed a one-week training session from 10-13 March, designed to enhance sustainable management of their important wetland sites. The Pacific island parties to the Convention: Fiji, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa, were brought together in an informal and interactive setting to familiarise with the Ramsar management planning process and format. It was a week of ‘hands on’ work to develop draft management plans for Ramsar sites and other priority national wetland sites. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) coordinated the one-week training in partnership with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and IUCN Oceania, in Nadi Fiji." Ramsar's Lew Young and Vai Jungblut were there, and here is the illustrated report. [31/03/09]
Southeast Asian nations share Ramsar experiences. “South-East Asia's wetlands are very important for biodiversity, national economies and the wellbeing of human communities. . . . Thailand recently hosted a round table and study tour, involving government and civil society organisations from Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam, to share experience with Ramsar implementation. The visit was organised by BirdLife International and hosted by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (Thailand’s Ramsar Administrative Authority (RAA)) and the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST, BirdLife in Thailand).” Here is the brief informative report from BirdLife International's Web site, with some additional photos sent by Simba Chan. [27/03/09]
News from the SGF. Japan supports Small Grants Fund project in Bangladesh. The government of Japan has indicated that they will continue to provide generous voluntary support for the Ramsar Small Grants Fund. Japan has committed up to CHF 37,969 funding for the 2008 SGF round, which will be invested in the promotion of the wise use of the wetlands in the southwest coast of Bangladesh. The project will be implemented by the Coastal Development Partnership and will focus particularly on the Sundarbans Reserved Forest Ramsar Wetlands, working with local NGOs, communities, businesses, decision makers and the fishing industry to highlight the value of the wetlands and advocate for their wise use. The Secretariat gratefully recognizes the government of Japan’s long-time support of the Small Grants Fund. [26/03/09]
Scientific & Technical Review Panel (STRP) members appointed for 2009-2012. Following the call for nominations for the STRP for 2009-2012 made in December 2008, the STRP Oversight Committee has reviewed all nominations and has appointed the STRP members to serve for the 2009-2012 cycle. The list of appointed members is provided here (PDF). In view of the fact that the Oversight Committee received many more nominations of highly qualified experts than could be appointed Panel for this cycle, the Committee has also invited a number of these nominees to act as "STRP Invited Experts" for 2009-2012, and a list of those experts who have accepted this role will be posted soon. The first full meeting of the STRP for the 2009-2012 cycle (STRP15) will take place at the Secretariat offices in Gland, Switzerland, from 30 March to 3 April 2009. The main focus of the meeting will be to develop the Panel's 2009-2012 Work Plan from the instructions and prioritisation provided by COP10 Resolution X.10 on future scientific and technical priorities for the Convention -- the draft agenda is available here (PDF). -- Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General [23/03/09]
Turkmenistan becomes 159th Contracting Party. The Secretariat is delighted to announce that Turkmenistan has completed the accession formalities with UNESCO and has joined the Ramsar Convention, as amended by the Protocol of 1982, as its 159th Contracting Party. The Convention will enter into force for Turkmenistan on 3 July 2009.
As its obligatory first Wetland of International Importance, the new Party has designated Turkmenbashy Bay(267,124 hectares, 39°48’N 053°22’E) comprising several bays of the Caspian Sea that are separated from the open sea by the Krasnovodskiy and North Cheleken spits. The site includes shallow brackish bays with open access to one another and separated from the sea by the sandy spits; sandy/shelly spits, islands, and dunes overgrown with halophytes; and stony islands in Balkan Bay, including the largest, Dagada, with an area of 120 ha. The coastal shallow waters are part of the largest flyway, and also the largest wintering area, of waterbirds nesting in Western Siberia, Kazakhstan, and other regions of central and northern Asia. The site also supports 1% of the biogeographical population of the Caspian seal, Phoca caspica. The strictly protected Hazar State Reserve covers most (72%) of the Ramsar site, but in other parts fishing and hunting make a significant contribution to the local economy. The fact that much of the site remains in a near-natural state and the waters are relatively clean ensures the tourist potential of the area; presently several hundred thousand people visit the area, and a multi-billion-dollar international tourist zone is planned for nearby which will increase the possibilities for ecotourism. Potential threats from further development of oil and gas terminals in the area demand careful attention. [23/03/09]
World Migratory Bird Day 2009. The Secretariats of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (UNEP/AEWA) and the Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS) are glad to announce the countdown for World Migratory Bird Day 2009. The two-day awareness raising campaign will take place globally for the fourth consecutive year from 9-10 May 2009. This year the central theme of World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is “BARRIERS TO MIGRATION”, highlighting the threat posed by man-made obstacles to birds during their annual migration. Read more here and visit the WMBD Web site. [18/03/09]
Ramsar visit to Seychelles. At the State House in Victoria, Mahé, 10 March 2009, the Ramsar Secretary General, Anada Tiéga, met with H.E. James A. Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles, to discuss the implementation of the Convention in the country since its accession in 2004 and consider possible actions to strengthen it in the future. Based on his and colleague Abou Bamba’s visits to selected wetlands and talks with government and private sector managers during their stay, Mr. Tiega expressed his appreciation and satisfaction to the President regarding the implementation of the Convention in Seychelles and the way in which the Ramsar wise use principle is applied there. Abou Bamba’s brief illustrated report can be seen here. [13/03/09]