Ramsar Bulletin Board, 3 September 1997

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Russia tops the agenda.The upcoming (1-7 September) visit to Moscow by the Secretary General and the Regional Coordinator for Europe will be the first Bureau mission to the Russian Federation since 1994, despite the fact that Russia is currently Alternate Regional Representative for Eastern Europe on the Ramsar Standing Committee. At the top of the agenda are discussions with the State Committee for Environmental Protection, and a meeting with Deputy Minister Amirkhanov (to whom the State Committee is responsible) is scheduled for 2 September. There will also be visits to the Moscow offices of partner organizations: IUCN, Wetlands International, and WWF. From Moscow, the mission will go on to visit the southern city of Astrakhan, in the Volga Delta, at the head of the Caspian Sea. Parts of the Delta have been designated as a Ramsar site since 1976 and in recent years there has been active international involvement (notably by Wetlands International and the Dutch Government). The Volga Delta is also the subject of a 1997 Small Grants Fund project proposal. During the Bureau visit, discussions will be held with local authorities and wetland researchers. The mission will end back in Moscow, where a 'wrap-up' session with the State Committee is planned for 6 September. [29/8/97]

Nicaragua joins the Convention! The Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs of UNESCO has sent the welcome news that Nicaragua has become the 102nd Contracting Party to the Convention, by virtue of having deposited its instrument of accession, as amended by the Protocol of Paris (1982), on 30 July 1997; the Convention will thus enter into force for Nicaragua on 30 November 1997.

Nicaragua's first wetland of international importance, Los Guatuzos, is described in this brief accompanying report (choose English or Spanish versions) by Montserrat Carbonell of the Bureau staff. [23/8/97]

Regional Coordinator for Africa chosen. At the end of a lengthy search for precisely the right candidate, Mr Anada Tiéga of Niger has been selected to be Ramsar's next RC for Africa, and has accepted, to begin late in 1997; he will be replacing Tom Kabii of Kenya, who is completing his three-year term in the Bureau. Mr Tiéga has a BS from the University of Niamey and an MSc in Forest-Watershed Management from the University of Arizona in Tucson, USA; he also has more than 17 years' professional experience in formulation of conservation and sustainable use strategies at local, national, and regional level, management of technical programmes, and negotiation with government organizations and multilateral financial institutions, as well as expertise in technical subjects related to forestry, arid lands, wildlife and protected areas, and wetlands management. Fluent in Hausa and French, Mr Tiéga also speaks and writes excellent English. He has been serving as IUCN Country Representative in Niger since 1992 and has been IUCN's Regional Coordinator for West Africa. We look forward to welcoming Mr Tiéga and his family to the Bureau and wish him good luck in bringing to fruition the many promising initiatives that Mr Kabii has successfully begun on the continent. [21/8/97]

Hungary names six new sites for the Ramsar List. Authorities in Hungary have submitted Ramsar Information Sheets for six new sites along with boundary extensions for two existing sites. In addition, they have announced the normalization of one of the world's two "seasonally-restricted" Ramsar sites, sites which have Ramsar protection for only part of the year. Brief descriptions of all of these have been drawn from the Information Sheets. [22/8/97]

Pan-European meeting set.The Bureau is sending out diplomatic notification about the 3rd Pan-European Ramsar Regional Meeting slated for Riga, Latvia, 3-5 June 1998, to be hosted by the Government of Latvia. "Pan-European" in RamsarSpeak means 'including Contracting Parties and observer states from both the Eastern and Western European Ramsar regions'. [15/8/97]

Sri Lanka's National Wetland Committee. Sri Lanka's National Wetland Steering Committee met on 8 July 1997 with the new Secretary of the Ministry of Forestry and Environment chairing. High on the agenda was the proposed National Wetland Policy, a draft of which had already been pondered at a workshop in February. The meeting determined to make the draft available for public comment before finalization of the policy, and translations are now being prepared for the newspapers. Copies will soon be available from the Project Manager, Wetland Conservation Project, Central Environmental Authority, Maligawatte Colombo 10 (tel: +94 1 439073/6). [11/8/97]

Asian Regional Meeting set. The dates are firm now, you can write this into your datebooks in laundry ink. The Ramsar Regional Meeting for Asia will convene in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 20-24 October 1997. The purpose of the meeting is to promote national and regional actions in accordance with national commitments made for the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002. The participants will review progress on national implementation of the Plan, develop a Regional Action Plan with agreement on how this will be implemented and monitored, and identify actions for international cooperation and finance. The four-and-a-half day meeting will incorporate a one-day workshop on two issues: "water and wetlands" and "donor policy and practice". For info, contact Rebecca D'Cruz. [19/7/97]

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