The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 20 January 2009

CREHO's course on EIA and SEA.The II International Course on Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Management of Wetlands has been successfully completed. During 12 days of theoretical - practical sessions, 18 representantives from seven Latin American countries and the Caribbean participated in the second version of the international course on Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Strategic assessment for Wetlands Management, which was organized by the Ramsar Regional Center for Training and Research on Wetlands in the Western Hemisphere – CREHO. The course was held in Panama City from November 24th to December 5th, 2008, and was made possible thanks to the kind support of the Ramar Convention, the Organization of American States, the Panamanian Authority of Aquatic Resources (ARAP, spanish acronym), the Environmental National Autority of Panama (ANAM), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. Photos and version español. [14/01/09]


“Ramsar soft law is not soft at all”. In 2006, the Competent Authority of Bonaire in the Caribbean Dutch territory of Netherlands Antilles permitted the construction of a resort in proximity to the Ramsar site “Het Lac”, and the Governor annulled that decision, largely on the basis that it infringed upon Article 3 of the Ramsar Convention and Resolution VIII.9 (2002) on environmental impact assessment. Following Bonaire’s appeal to the Dutch Crown, as reported here by Eric C. Newton in November 2007 the Crown supported the Governor’s decision and argued that resolutions, decisions and guidelines accepted unanimously by the Conference of Parties to the Convention, of which the Netherlands is a signatory, must be considered part of the national obligations under the Convention.

Prof. Jonathan Verschuuren, vice dean of the Tilburg University School of Law, has translated the case law annotation and provided his own commentary on the significance of this decision. He notes the Crown’s conclusion that the Governor was justified in using his authority to guarantee performance of the Kingdom’s obligations under the Convention and stresses the importance of the finding that, in line with Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969), the “soft law” of COP resolutions intended to interpret the treaty’s commitments must also be fully taken into account. Prof Verschuuren’s paper “Ramsar soft law is not soft at all” can be downloaded (PDF) from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1306982, and he has kindly allowed us to include it here as well. [09/01/09]


International seminar on the Bug River. The Bug river (772 km long) has its source in the Lviv region of Ukraine -- further downstream it forms the border between Ukraine and Poland and then between Poland and Belarus. Arguably the Bug river floodplain forms the backbone of the wider Polesie region, containing some of Europe’s richest natural treasures. Long stretches are in a natural state with natural discharge patterns, regularly flooded floodplain areas, a relatively good water quality and high biodiversity values. In order to clarify the current state of cooperation between the three governments and to explore possibilities of enhancing transboundary cooperation between relevant government bodies, NGOs and scientific institutions, an international seminar was held in Lublin (eastern Poland) on 13-14 November 2008. Tobias Salathé explains the background and summarizes the conclusions of the meeting. [09/01/09]


China designates six new Ramsar sites. The paperwork has been completed for the People's Republic of China's newest additions to the List of Wetlands of International Importance, designated with effective date of last World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2008. China has now designated 36 Ramsar sites, totaling 3,168,210 hectares, and globally the Convention now has 1,828 Ramsar sites covering a surface area of 168,985,680 hectares. Ramsar's Pragati Tuladhar has drawn up brief site descriptions for the Annotated Ramsar List, based on the information contained in the Ramsar Information Sheets that accompanied the designations. The WWF International Freshwater Programme has been very helpful in terms of financial support for this work, and the WWF China Programme Office with technical support. [19/12/08]


Ramsar sites in the Baltic Sea region. WWF Sweden has recently published, as part of the Baltic ecoregion programme, a thorough analysis of “the representation of wetland types and species in Ramsar sites in the Baltic Sea catchment area”. The analysis focuses on the representation of different wetland types in the Ramsar List and distills priorities for future wetland conservation. Tobias Salathé provides the background and summarizes the conclusions, and provides a link to the publication -- click here. [15/12/08]


Restoration and public awareness for Lake Ludaš in Serbia. “Setting conditions for the rehabilitation and restoration of wet meadows at lake Ludaš and realization of the Visitor Centre – Serbia/SGF2001 Final Report.” In 2001, the Ramsar Convention through its Small Grant Fund Programme was able to fund a two-phase project in Serbia intended to rehabilitate and restore wet meadows at Ludaško Lake, and to contribute to the realization of a Visitor Educational Centre. The site, located in Vojvodina province, is the oldest of nine Serbian Ramsar sites, in fact, one of the few remaining natural lakes of the Pannonia Plain. In the ‘50s most of the wet and fen meadows were converted into hayfields, pastures and arable lands, leading to severe degradation of the original ecosystems. Ramsar’s Monica Zavagli provides an illustrated report on this now-completed project. [15/12/08]


Expozaragoza Declaration. "On September 5th 2008, the National Wetlands Committee of Spain gathered in the International Center of Water and Environment (CIAMA) in Zaragoza. During the meeting, the Declaration proposal of the Wetlands Committee was discussed, in order to include it in the Water Letter of Expozaragoza." Ramsar's María Rivera explains (PDF). [15/12/08]

El 5 de Septiembre de 2008, se reunió en el CIAMA  (Centro Internacional del Agua y del Medio Ambiente) en Zaragoza, el Comité Nacional de Humedales de España. En esta reunión se discutió una propuesta de Declaración del Comité de Humedales para ser incluida en la Carta del Agua de Expozaragoza. Español (PDF).


"Oil and Gorillas?"-- A Ramsar and UNEP-GRASP Documentary Film on Great Apes, Extractive Industries in Petit Loango Ramsar Site in Gabon. The Ramsar Convention Secretariat and the United Nation's Environment Programme - Great Apes Survival Project (UNEP/GRASP) have released a documentary that highlights the correlations that exist between the sustainable management of wetlands hosting great apes in a developing country confronted with oil exploration activities.The film shows the example of a country that is trying to reconcile conservation and development concerns through participative management of a park which is both a great ape site and a Ramsar site. Ramsar's Abou Bamba provides more details. [11/12/08]


Report on Survey of Canadian Ramsar sites. "Dear Ramsar Colleagues, Following up on the November 1 COP side event on "Assessing the Value of Ramsar Designation: Survey Results from North America", the report entitled "Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites) in Canada", which discusses on the survey results from Canada's 37 Ramsar site managers, is now available at http://www.ramsar.org/wurc/wurc_canada_survey_2007.pdf.  I very much recommend your perusing this interesting document.  Among the key findings: -- Managers of 25 (67.6%) of the Ramsar sites think that the designation helps to maintain the ecological character of the site. --  The two most valuable benefits of site designation are “protection of the site and surrounding area” and “public awareness of the wetland.”

But there is much more, including a comparative analysis of the findings from the survey of U.S. Ramsar sites.  The report on U.S. sites, published in the Environmental Law Reporter, is available at http://www.ramsar.org/wurc/wurc_gardner_elr2007.pdf. Several people have expressed interest in conducting similar surveys in their own countries.  Please keep us informed about your progress and let us know if we may be of any assistance. Best regards, Roy" -- Royal C. Gardner, Professor of Law and Director, Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy, Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, Florida, USA. [11/12/08]


The Pond Manifesto. "Wetland ecosystems come in all shapes and sizes – and all have a role to play. The larger ones, perhaps inevitably, have enjoyed the most attention – it is easy to overlook the many small waterbodies scattered across the landscape. Fortunately, over the last decade, our knowledge and attitude towards small wetlands has begun to change. We know now that they are crucial for biodiversity and can also provide a whole range of ecosystem services. These ‘local waterbodies’ can also help us encourage the link between people and wildlife." With these words, Ramsar’s Secretary General Anada Tiéga, introduces The Pond Manifestopublished by the European Pond Conservation Network, with support from the MAVA Foundation. Tobias Salathé provides links to the new document and places it into context. [11/12/08]


SGF portfolio of project funding opportunities. The Ramsar Small Grants Fund (SGF) was established in 1990 as a mechanism to assist developing countries and those with economies in transition in implementing the Convention and to enable the conservation and wise use of wetland resources. From 1991 to 2007 the Fund has provided a total of 7.3 million Swiss Francs to 217 projects from 104 countries, providing up to 40,000 Swiss francs (about US$32,000) per project. Over this same period, 470 feasible projects were not supported due to lack of funds. The Fund relies exclusively upon voluntary contributions from government agencies and national and international NGOs.

Each year a rigorous evaluation procedure is carried out by the Ramsar Secretariat to assess the project proposals according to the strength of the project design, their relevance to the Convention’s objectives, and the capacity of the proponents to complete the project successfully. The SGF Portfolio 2008 (PDF) describes 18 projects that were favorably evaluated, but for which financial support has not yet been found. We strongly encourage you to consider providing financial support for one or more of these projects.  If you are able to help or would like additional information, please contact Ms Alexia Dufour (dufour@ramsar.org). [09/12/08]


News from the Evian partnership. Ecoles de protection de l’eau – background reports. In 2007, a new agreement between Danone-Evian and Ramsar was signed to support a new programme called “Les Ecoles de protection de l’eau” or 'water protection institutes'. This new fund complements the Danone Evian fund for water. Nathalie Rizzotti, Ramsar’s Project Officer, explains the purpose of the programme and provides links to background reports from the participating NGOs: Bird Conservation Nepal on its project at the Jagdisphur Reservoir Ramsar site, WWF Thailand on its project at Beung Khong Long lake Ramsar site, and Fundación Proteger on its project at Jauukanigas and Chaco Ramsar sites. [08/12/08]


Crucial meeting for the Prespa Lakes. In spite of various difficulties and broader political disagreements, the collaboration among Albania, the FYR of Macedonia and Greece on the Prespa Lakes has been maintained for eight years now, becoming stronger with time. Established in 2000 by a joint declaration of the three prime ministers and facilitated by Ramsar and its MedWet Initiative, the Prespa Park process has been evolving with positive results, and progress has been strengthened by the implementation of a large GEF/UNDP project in the area. This was evident during the 11th regular meeting of the Prespa Park Coordination Committee (PPCC), held in a new visitor centre in the Greek part of Prespa on 21-22 November 2008. Representing the three governments, municipalities and local NGOs, this body has been the key driver of the collaboration process and the promoter of the GEF/UNDP project, acting now as the project oversight committee (POC).Thymio Papayannis, who was present representing MedWet, provides this brief summary of the meeting and a photo. [08/12/08]


BirdLife's "Think Pink" campaign for Lake Natron. "Speaking at a recent Conference of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Tanzania's Environment Minister outlined the value of Lake Natron as the world's most important breeding site for Lesser Flamingos Phoeniconaias minor. Dr Batilda Salha Buriani stated that Lake Natron is: "The sole breeding ground of up to 2.5 million flamingos ... representing 75% of the global population"." Recent proposals to construct a soda ash plant on Lake Natron have evoked international concern, and a Ramsar Advisory Mission to the site in February 2008 offered cogent suggestions. "BirdLife International believes the development, and associated infrastructure, will displace and scatter the Lesser Flamingos, and is spearheading the "Think Pink" campaign to conserve Lake Natron." BirdLife's article welcoming Minister Buriani's remarks has been reprinted here, and more information about the Think Pink campaign can be found on the BirdLife Web site. [05/12/08]


Networking with wetland managers in Nordic-Baltic countries. Networking with wetland managers in Nordic-Baltic countries was the focus of the 4th seminar of the Nordic-Baltic Wetland Initiative on 23-25 September 2008 in Finland. It brought together 35 Ramsar focal points from national and provincial administrative authorities, wetland managers, environmental monitoring specialists and others. The main theme of the seminar was wetland management planning, aiming to increase the exchanges between Nordic and Baltic countries of lessons learnt and to form active planning networks for the future. The seminar was perfectly organized by Ms Tiina Niikkonen of Metsähallitus, the Finnish state enterprise that administers more than 12 million hectares of state-owned land and water areas, with support from the Ministry of Environment, in the village of Kempele, close to Oulu airport at the edge of Ramsar site N°1523 Liminganlahti Bay Area. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé provides the details, with photos. [01/12/08]


Culture at Ramsar COP10. During the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties of the Convention on Wetlands, held in Changwon from 28 October to 4 November 2008, the South Korean authorities and the Convention's Culture Working Group ensured that there would be no shortage of events to highlight the role of cultural values in wetland management. Thymio Papayannis surveys the activities that took place there and summarizes the Convention's way forward on these issues. [01/121/08]


Niumi-Saloum named as Africa's first Transboundary Ramsar site. The Secretariat is extremely pleased to congratulate the governments of Gambia and Senegal for their declaration of the first African Transboundary Ramsar Site and the first Transboundary Ramsar Site outside of Europe, called Niumi-Saloum. Delta du Saloum was designated as Senegal’s third Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 1984, and Gambia’s Niumi National Park was designated on 13 October 2008, also the third Ramsar site in that country. Ramsar's Cynthia Kibata provides all the details here. [28/11/08]


Italy removes Stagno di Cagliari from the Montreux Record. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that Italy has completed the formalities for the removal of the last of its Ramsar sites  that has been on the Montreux Record of sites “where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur” for quite a few years. According to documentation provided by the Administrative Authority in the Ministry of the Environment and Territory and the Sea, managers at “Stagno di Cagliari” on the island of Sardinia have made substantial progress in resolving the problems for which the site was added to the Record in 1990, and after consultations with the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) it has been removed from the Record as of 25 November 2008. Ramsar's Monica Zavagli provides further details here. [26/11/08]

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,187 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,608,257

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