Ramsar Bulletin Board, 3 December 1997
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Bahrain becomes the 105th Contracting Party. The Ramsar Bureau is pleased to announce that Bahrain has deposited its instrument of accession with UNESCO as of 27 October 1997, so that the treaty will come into force for Bahrain on 27 February 1998. Bahraini authorities submitted to UNESCO maps indicating boundaries for two designations for the List of Wetlands of International Importance, wetlands known as "The Huwar Islands" and "The Gulf of Tubli", but for the moment we have no other information about them. The accession of Bahrain is particularly welcome because the Convention is presently less well represented in the Middle East than in many other regions. [25/11/97]
Completed data on 35 Russian Ramsar sites. The Bureau is delighted to announce that the Permanent Mission in Geneva of the Russian Federation this morning handed over completed Ramsar Information Sheets (in English) and maps for the 35 Russian Wetlands of International Importance in Russia, as designated by Government Decree in 1994. The data and maps were accompanied by a letter from the Deputy Chairman of the Ramsar Administrative Authority, the State Committee of the Russian Federation on Environmental Protection, Mr Amirkhan Amirkhanov.
This is excellent news, representing a substantial step forward for the Convention at national, regional and global scales (and adding some 4 million more hectares to the Convention's coverage). It makes a particularly significant contribution to fulfillment of Brisbane Resolution VI.13 on site data.
Congratulations and thanks are due to the State Committee, to the Research Institute of the Russian Federation on Nature Conservation (responsible for collection and compilation of the original Russian language version of the data), to the staff of Wetlands International in Wageningen and Moscow (especially the Moscow staff who undertook the heavy burden of translation into English, including working in their personal time), and to the Governments of the Netherlands and the USA which have been important financial supporters of the joint effort required to reach this goal. [20/11/97]
Czech Republic names its 10th site. "Libechovka and Psovka Brooks" has been designated the Czech Republic’s 10th Ramsar site, with effect from 13 November 1997. The 350 hectare site qualifies under criteria 1a, 1d, 2a, 2b, and 4a and comprises a system of small, shallow, calcareous wetlands along the deep valleys of the two stream (brooks) systems mentioned in the site name. The wetlands include springs, wet Alnus (alder) woodland, wet meadows, calcareous fens, reedswamp, pools and ponds. The complex is of special importance for its plant and invertebrate communities, and for the presence of a fish species (of the genus Cobitis) new to science. The area is currently in good ecological condition, although there are concerns about the possible impact of pollution in the upper part of the Libechovka brook and groundwater abstraction in the lower part of both basins. The surrounding areas are used mainly for agriculture, forestry and recreation. [20/11/97]
Jamaica is the Convention's 104th Party. The Ramsar Bureau has been informed by UNESCO that on 7 October 1997 Jamaica completed the formalities necessary for its accession to Ramsar as its 104th Contracting Party, which means that the Convention will enter into force for Jamaica on 7 February 1998.
The "Black River Lower Morass" wetland has been designated by Jamaica for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance. The largest freshwater wetland ecosystem in Jamaica, it is located in the St. Elizabeth parish of southwestern Jamaica (18 degrees 4 min. N, 77 degress 48 min. W) and has an area of approximately 5,700 hectares. The Black River Lower Morass is a complex of shallow brackish lagoons, limestone islands, tidal marshes, mudflats and mangroves near the coast, and extensive freshwater marshes with peat formations. It is owned by the Government of Jamaica and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica.
Jamaica is welcomed as the third Ramsar Contracting Party in the Caribbean region, after Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas, and the Convention is making special efforts to attract more Caribbean states to the Ramsar family before the 7th Conference of the Parties in May 1999. [18/11/97]
Industrial Shrimp Action Network launched. An international action group has been formed to counter destructiveindustrial shrimp farming. Representatives of major environmental and community organizations from 14 nations agreed last week to create an umbrella group to oppose the continued expansion worldwide of destructive industrial shrimp farming. The new group – formed on World Food Day, October 16th – is called the Industrial Shrimp Action Network or ISA Net. Here is the report and mission statement. [10/11/97]
Ramsar Award launched. The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award was established by Resolution VI.18 (Brisbane, 1996) in order to recognize and honour the contributions of individuals, organizations, and governments around the world in promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands. The Standing Committee, at its last meeting, approved criteria and procedures for adjudicating the award, determined to select three winners for presentation at the 7th COP in May 1999, and gratefully accepted the offer of the Danone Group from the private sector to present a prize of US$ 10,000 to accompany each of the three awards in 1999. The Bureau will send out the call for nominations in early 1998, with a deadline of 31 July, and the Standing Committee will choose the three recipients of the 1999 Award at its 21st meeting in October 1998. [4/11/97]
Ramsar Committee established in Togo. By ministerial decision of 28 October 1997, the Minister of Environment and Forest Resources of Togo established a Wetlands National Committee "to coordinate all activities related to wetlands in the national territory". The Committee is now the "permanent correspondent of the Bureau of the Ramsar Convention". The Committee includes representatives of the Ministries of Environment and Forest Resources; Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries; Mines, Energy, Transports, Post and Telecommunications; and Foreign Affairs and External Cooperation. In addition NGOs have one seat in the Committee. [4/11/97]
International Mire Conservation Group's Resolution for Ramsar. At its Field Symposium in Kushiro, Japan, in September 1996, the International Mire Conservation Group adopted three resolutions for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and concerning World Heritage status respectively. Because of the Ramsar Convention's growing interest in peatland conservation, the Bureau is pleased to post the first of these resolutions here, with the "Kushiro Declaration" of which they are a part, courtesy of Richard Lindsay, IMCG chairman. A background note on the International Mire Conservation Group is appended to the end of the document. [5/11/97]
New project on Earth observation data. The Ramsar Bureau has agreed to become a supporting partner in a Mediterranean wetland monitoring project which will use remote sensing data, initiated by the Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre (EKBY). The project is entitled "Monitoring the implementation and impact of EU Agriculture Regulation on the Natura 2000 sites that include wetlands, using Earth Observation (EO) data". The project can be seen as an important contribution to wetland monitoring and assessment under the Convention, and a complementary activity to MedWet. [4/11/97]
French National Plan progressing. In March 1995 the French Council of Ministers adopted a Wetland National Action Plan, and Mr Paul Baron was appointed its Coordinator in the French Ministry of Territorial Planning and the Environment in March 1997. He reports that in the past two years good progress has been made in such areas as research, communications, and the establishment of a wetlands observatory. In other areas, however, especially in those requiring action at an inter-ministerial level, not enough progress has been achieved.
Mr Baron is in the process of designating an officer responsible for each aspect of the Plan, each of whom will prepare a work programme, with a timetable and a budget, by the end of this year. An inter-ministerial committee will be established which will meet once a year to review progress and agree upon a plan of action for the following year. In addition, the Plan will have a Coordinating Committee which will meet four times a year and include representatives of the directorates in the central government that have an involvement in the Plan. The Wetlands Group will continue to play an important role, since it was from this Group that the National Plan actually emerged. [4/11/97]