The 6th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties

15/04/1996

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Technical Session B:
Guidelines on interpretation of Article 3.2 of the Convention: "ecological character" and
"change in ecological character"

Chair: Dr Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu (Ghana), STRP Member
Vice-Chair: Mr Peter Kaestner (USA)
Coordinator: Dr Max Finlayson (Australia), STRP Member


Keynote Presentations

"A Global Overview of Wetland Loss and Degradation", Dr Michael Moser, Wetlands International

"The Montreux Record - A Mechanism for Supporting the Wise Use of Wetlands", Dr Max Finlayson


Case Studies

"Influence of Water Hyacinth on the Ecological Character of Shoreline Wetlands of Eastern Africa", Dr Timothy Twongo, Fisheries Research Institute, Uganda.

"Changes in Habitat Condition and the Conservation of Mangroves in Asia", Mr Zakir Hussain, IUCN.

"Laguna Colorada", Lic. Alexandra Sanchez de Lozada, DNCB, Bolivia.

"Wetland Management and Restoration Practices at the Kiskunsag National Park, Hungary", Zoltan Vajda, Nature Conservation Department, Hungary.


    The Chair
    indicated that the expected output of the Technical Session would be a Draft Resolution on Definitions and Guidelines for Interpreting Change in Ecological Character and Operation of the Montreux Record.

    The Vice Chair
    summarized the presentations and asked delegates to bear them in mind when considering the text of Draft Resolution VI.1.


A. Definitions

    The Coordinator
    summarized the STRP's definitions of "ecological character" and "change in ecological character". Considerable debate ensued with numerous interventions by Contracting Parties and observers. Australia, concerned by the overall approach to this issue, suggested the need for a wider, well structured appraisal of the operational framework of the Convention with respect to these guidelines. This received support from Poland, Sweden, New Zealand, and IUCN. Interventions were also made by the UK, Philippines, The Netherlands, Niger, Brazil, Czech Republic, Pakistan, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the Inland Rivers Network, and the International Limnological Society.

    The Vice Chair
    stressed that definitions were of critical importance and that the final Draft Resolution would note the concerns expressed.


B. Guidance for describing and maintaining the ecological character of listed sites

    Interventions
    were made by Denmark, USA, The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Senegal, Belgium, Wetlands International, Caddo Lake Insitute, and the South Australian Department of Natural Resources, either with specific amendments for consideration in the redraft, or with more general questions and concerns. Wetlands International said that many Listed Sites were lacking data and that they would be offering technical support in this area to Contracting Parties during the coming three years.

    The Coordinator and Wetlands International
    referred to the framework for designing a wetland monitoring programme, developed in parallel with the MedWet programme.


C. Guidelines for operation of the Montreux Record.

    The Bureau
    referred to Addendum II to DOC. 6.17, specifically Draft Resolution VI.13 on Information on Threats to Listed Sites and Draft Resolution VI.16 on Submission of Information Sheets and Maps, and asked delegates to consider them in the context of Draft Resolution VI.1.

    Australia
    responded that Draft Resolution VI.13 was unclear and appeared unnecessary at this time.

    Interventions
    were made by Denmark, Australia, UK, USA, Hungary, Canada, Brazil, Peru, Italy, the New South Wales Government Department of Land and Water Conservation, IUCN, and WWF. The amendments noted would be considered for the final Draft Resolution.

    The Vice Chair
    proposed a shorter mandatory section of the Montreux Record questionnaire, and a longer optional section. It was agreed that Section One would ask simply for details of site name, listing criteria, the nature of change in ecological character, and the reason for change.


Conclusion

    The Chair
    asked Australia to assist with rewording the definitions to be included in the final Draft Resolution. This would indicate that a further three-year period of study and refinement would be needed before firm definitions could be realized. She charged the Bureau with responsibility for producing the final Draft Resolution, taking into account all comments received, including those put in writing and passed to the rapporteur.


Other Business

    Denmark
    tabled a Draft Recommendation on Restoration of Wetlands, to which New Zealand responded favourably subject to the inclusion of various amendments which would be submitted to the Danish delegation. Other Contracting Parties and observers were asked to comment.

Rapporteur: Tim Davis

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