News from Vanuatu

19/10/2011

In-country Ramsar Accession Assistance for Vanuatu

At the request of the Director of the Vanuatu Environment Department the Ramsar Regional Officer – Oceania, Mr. Vainuupo Jungblut, visited Vanuatu from 19 – 23 September 2011 to provide assistance with the country’s accession to the Ramsar Convention. The visit provided to the Environment Department, a clearer understanding of the Ramsar Convention's work, its goals and objectives as well as the benefits and costs of Vanuatu becoming a Contracting Party. Previous discussions were already held with the Director of the Environment Department in 2010 and more recently in May 2011.

Ramsar Regional Officer – Oceania carrying out
Ramsar presentation for Environment Director
and Biodiversity team

(from left) Ramsar Regional Officer – Oceania, with
Vanuatu Environment Director:
Hon. Minister of Environment and
Director General of the Ministry of Lands and
Natural Resources



During the visit, a presentation was carried out on the benefits and costs of joining the Ramsar Convention for the Director and Biodiversity team of the Vanuatu Environment Department, who have responsibility for wetlands conservation at the national level. A task list and timeframe for undertaking and completing Ramsar accession activities for Vanuatu was developed, discussed and agreed during the visit. The Environment staff members were also familiarized with the Ramsar Criteria, the accession procedure and accession documentation needed such as the Ramsar Information Sheet.

Crab Bay (Vanuatu) one of the candidate sites for 1st Ramsar listing.  Vanuatu Environment Department.

The Biodiversity team identified three candidate wetland sites from which one would be selected for designation as Vanuatu's first wetland of international importance. The three candidate sites were Crab Bay - a complex of mangrove forests, tidal lagoons and associated salt marshes and mudflats; Lake Letas - a deep freshwater lake and associated marsh in a volcanic crater, and the Jordan River floodplains - a large low-lying area of freshwater marshes and swamp forest on the floodplain of the Jordan River. Due to the fact that the candidate sites were located on the outer islands, a site visit was not possible during the visit. A recommendation would be put to the Environment Director for his consideration ahead of submission for Cabinet endorsement.

Following the country visit, it was apparent that the Environment staff members were more aware of and understood the implications of joining the Ramsar Convention. They also gained a greater understanding of the tools, mechanisms and assistance available from the Convention. During the week, an opportunity was presented and a briefing was carried out for the Environment Minister of Vanuatu (Hon. Steve Kalsakau Mauterei) on the Ramsar Convention, the benefits and costs of joining and the next steps in advancing Vanuatu’s efforts towards joining. Following the briefing and associated discussions, the minister appeared to be quite supportive of the move to join Ramsar.

Vanuatu Biodiversity team
during
Ramsar presentation
and discussions

Ramsar Officer - Oceania
carrying out briefing for the
Vanuatu Environment minister

The ROO will continue to work closely with the Vanuatu Environment Department to progress Vanuatu's accession to the Ramsar Convention according to the agreed tasks and timeframes. These include:

  • Liaising with the relevant officers in the Vanuatu Biodiversity team on progress of accession activities and offer advisory and technical assistance as needed.
  • Assisting with the development of a cabinet paper for Vanuatu's Ramsar accession
  • Assisting with information gathering and the development of a Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS) for the selected site.
  • Join the Biodiversity team in conducting consultations with the community at the selected site.
  • Assisting the Vanuatu Environment department with the submission of accession documents to the Ramsar Convention depository (UNESCO, Paris).

Three officers within the Biodiversity team were delegated by the Environment Director to work primarily with the ROO on Vanuatu's accession activities. All activities for Vanuatu's Ramsar accession are expected to be completed by mid-2012.

For more information, contact:

Vainuupo JUNGBLUT (Mr)
Ramsar Officer Oceania
vainuupoj@sprep.org

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