The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 3 July 1999

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MOC signed with the Society of Wetland Scientists. Dr Janet Keough, President of the 1998-1999 Executive Board of Directors of the Society of Wetland Scientists, and Mr. Delmar Blasco, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation the stated aim of which is the "cooperation for the knowledgeable management, conservation, and wise use of wetlands".  Resolution VII.2 of the San José COP called for the STRP in particular to develop cooperative relationships with the SWS among other bodies, and Article 1.6 of the new MOC identifies the SWS focal point for Ramsar cooperation as the Chair of the SWS International Committee, presently Dr William Streever of the US Army Engineers Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, USA. The text of the MOC is available here. [1/7/99]

Texts of new agreements signed with BirdLife International and the Society of Wetland Scientists. [2/7/99]

East Asian Anatidae Site Network launched. On 14 May in San José, Environment Agency of Japan and Wetlands International launched the East Asian Anatidae Site Network, which includes 14 sites in Japan, 6 in Russia, 2 in Mongolia, and 1 each in P.R. China, Korea, and Philippines. Here is the original press release, with an photo. [30/6/99]

Ramsar delivers on the Joint Work Plan with CBD. Dr Bill Phillips, the Deputy Secretary General, reports from Montreal that at the opening of the 4th meeting of the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-4), 21 June 1999, Ramsar officially delivered the first products of the Joint Work Plan between the two conventions. Many of the guidelines recently adopted by Ramsar’s COP7 speak directly to issues covered in the JWP’s programme, and several countries, including Canada, Japan, Malawi, the Netherlands, and the USA, spoke in support of the JWP’s progress, urging the CBD to make good use of the new Ramsar "tools". The Ramsar-CBD Joint Work Plan is recognized as a model for international conventions working in partnership. [24/6/99]

Australia names four new Ramsar sites. True to the promises made at the COP a few weeks ago, Australia's Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Robert Hill, has informed the Bureau of four new designations for the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, sites numbered 992 through 995 in the List.  Australia now has 53 Ramsar sites, more than any other nation except the United Kingdom.  Here is a brief introduction to the four new sites. [16/6/99]

Interesting new Ramsar sites in and around Europe. The United Kingdom announced at COP7 in San José, effective 11 May 1999, the designation of 8 new sites: seven teensy new sites in Bermuda in the Overseas Territories and another in the British Virgin Islands dependency. That’s not all! The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia has communicated the Ministry of the Environment’s Ramsar designation of Skocjanske jame, an extensive subterranean karst wetland system covering more than 300 ha.  No room for details here; you need to view this fuller description and take comfort in the fact that since 1986 a "tourist escalator" has been there in Skocjanske jame when most you needed it. [11/6/99]

Ramsar picks a new scientific subsidiary body. At the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, the COP conveyed its gratitude to the outgoing Scientific and Technical Review Panel and elected a new STRP for the triennium 1999-2002. Following the same proportional regional system adopted by Resolution VII.1 for the Standing Committee, the Panel now has 13 members instead of seven; the system of alternate members has been abandoned, but substitute members have been elected for the North America and Oceania regions on the "what if a bus" principle, since those regions earn only one full member each.   The first STRP meeting is set for the Bureau's offices in Switzerland in September 1999.  Here are the names of the new members.   [9/6/99]

COP7 picks a new Standing Committee. In the final plenary session, 18 May, the Conference of the Parties in San José elected a new Standing Committee to direct Ramsar affairs for the period 1999-2002, following the new proportional representation system adopted in Resolution VII.1. For Africa, Algeria, Togo, and Uganda; for Asia, India and Japan; for Europe, Armenia, France, Norway, and the Slovak Republic; for the Neotropics, Argentina and Trinidad & Tobago; for North America, Mexico; for Oceania, Australia; with Costa Rica and Spain as hosts of the most recent and the next COP. The Netherlands and Switzerland remain as permanent observer states, and the four International Partner Organizations (BirdLife International, IUCN, Wetlands International, and WWF) also remain as invited observers.

At SC23, the new SC’s first meeting, Mr Stephen Hunter (Head of Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia) was elected as Chair of the Standing Committee, and Mr Paul Mafabi (Manager of the National Wetlands Programme, Ministry of Water, Land and Environment, Uganda) was elected Vice Chair. (Under the newly-adopted Rules of Procedure, individuals rather than states are elected to the Chair positions.) The new Subgroup on Finance was determined to be Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Japan, and Mexico, with Armenia as the Chair. Welcome to everybody! The next SC meeting has been set for 29 November-3 December 1999. [4/6/99]

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