The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 5 April 2000

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The UK announces extension of Ramsar site. Valuable winter nesting and breeding sites on the coast of North-East England are to get extra protection, said Environment Minister, Chris Mullin. The Teesmouth and Cleveland Coast Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar Site, which is used by more than 20,000 wintering waterfowl every year, is to be increased in size by nearly 33% (304 hectares). The site, which will now cover more than 1247 hectares, is also used by populations of Little Tern and by populations of internationally important migratory species. The whole of the Tees and Hartlepool Foreshore and Wetlands SSSI and a small part of the Durham Coast SSSI have also been included. Chris Mullin commented: "This newly expanded protected site will be a vital refuge for many species of waterfowl, both for wintering and breeding". [3/4/00]


Brief report on Kenya's activities for World Wetlands Day, including a succinct summary of the state of Ramsar implementation in that country; Humedales para el Futuro, Lista Anotada de Proyectos Financiados, 1995-1999 [4/4/00]


Ecuador designates 4th Ramsar site. Ecuador has named the Convention's 1023rd Ramsar site, Abras de Mantequilla (22,500 hectares) in Los Ríos province.  A natural permanent swampy lagoon-lake system, the wetland plays an important role in the conservation of bird fauna biodiversity by supporting 3 migratory species: Anas discours, Chordeiles minor spp. and Catharus ustulatus; 3 rare species and 8 endemic species, including Furnarious cinnamomeus, Veniliornis callonotus callonotus, Glaucidium peruanum and Turdus maculirostris. It also supports a significant population of indigenous fish and at the same time is a source of food, a spawning site and a development area for those species of fish that depend upon the wetland. However, over-exploitation of water resources combined with the introduction of tilapia for fish-farming are resulting in a dramatic decline of the populations of indigenous species, not only in Abras, but in all coastal area watercourses. An assessment of the current state of the wetland is foreseen and should serve as a basis for development of a management plan for the area. [28/3/00]


Costa Rica names new Ramsar site. The Bureau is pleased to announce that Costa Rica has designated its 10th Ramsar site, as of 16 March 2000: Cuenca Embalse Arenal (50,050 hectares), in Guanacaste and Alajuela provinces, is a predominantly human-made lacustrine wilderness area which plays a significant hydrological, biological and ecological role in the natural functioning of the Embalse Arenal water catchment in the central part of the country. It holds special value for one or more endemic species or communities of flora and fauna in each of seven protected areas and contains 1,131 species of flora, 884 of them of potential ornamental use. It contains populations of endemic bromelia Pitcairnia funckiae and sustains threatened and endangered species of fauna, such as the mammals Tapirus bairdii (Baird’s tapir) and Leopardus pardalis (ocelot), and birds such as Cephalopterus glabricollis and the Amazilia boucardi hummingbird. The wetland provides benefits related to hydropower generation, irrigation, tourism (water sports), recreational fishing and consumption, grazing, domestic agriculture and irrigation, agriculture and aquaculture. A management plan was implemented in 1997. Approximately 80% of the existing legislation is being enforced to regulate activities in the wetland and other protected areas. Environmental education programs are being implemented to involve organized groups, farmers, community leaders, teachers and schoolchildren in the search for better opportunities for the wise use of natural resources. Cuenca Embalse Arenal is the world’s 1022th Wetland of International Importance. [27/3/00]

2nd World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference, 17-22 March. Delmar Blasco, Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, reports that the Water Forum was a "significant event" – both the Ministerial Declaration and the Framework for Action that came out of the sessions give recognition to the management and protection of freshwater ecosystems, though not as fully as Ramsar would have wished. In the final Ministerial Declaration, "protecting ecosystems" has been listed as only one of seven challenges, not as the basic challenge that underlies all others, since if freshwater ecosystems are not well managed, there will be no water for any of the other sectors. Mr Blasco notes that the issue has been given its due recognition in IUCN’s Water for Nature Vision, which was discussed during the Forum, but the question now is how well that will be integrated into the "center vision", the Vision for Water, Life, and the Environment, and into the Framework for Action. Mr Blasco feels that, although there has been real progress in the past few years in advancing ecosystem conservation in the World Water Vision process, it is unfortunately still considered as somehow separated from the central issue of water for people.

The ministers divided their work into seven sessions for discussion of each of the seven challenges mentioned in their Declaration. The Thematic Session on Protecting Ecosystems, chaired by the Minister of Environment of Colombia, with the Minister of Environment of Sweden acting as rapporteur, inter alia, agreed that "ecosystems must be conserved and restored in order to ensure sustainable water resources for humanity", and concluded that "transboundary cooperation through regional bodies is vital for shared waters; regional accords, consistent with international conventions, will facilitate this cooperation". [23/3/00]


Ramsar at the World Water Congress, Melbourne. Dr Bill Phillips, until recently Deputy Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, now returned to Environment Australia, represented the Convention at the World Water Congress, Melbourne, Australia, and briefed the participants on the upcoming World Water Forum in the Hague, 17-22 March.  Here is the text accompanying his PowerPoint presentation for the meeting. [Photo: Bill Phillips and Stephen Hunter, Chair of the Ramsar Standing Committee, Melbourne]. [22/3/00]


1997 SGF project completed in Eastern Europe. The Small Grants Fund project "Establishing a Transboundary Ramsar Wetland Area in the Upper Tisza Region" was successfully accomplished by a cooperative effort of Hungarian, Romanian, Slovakian and Ukranian NGOs at the end of the last year. The project dealt with the Upper Tisza River Valley, recently the site of a devastating cyanide spill. The Tisza is the largest tributary of Danube, with a catchment area 1.5 times bigger than the area of Hungary. The studied upper reaches of the Tisza are 400 km long and pass through four countries. The project was implemented in close cooperation with the following national NGOs: Ruthenia EcoClub, Uzghorod, Ukraine; Ecological society of Maramures, Baia Mare, Romania; Water and People, Kosice, Slovakia; Upper Tisza Foundation, Nyiregyhaza, Hungary. The Tisza Klub for Environment and Nature from Hungary was responsible for the project coordination. The cooperating NGOs have studied the ecological conditions, water quality and natural values of the region and compiled a preliminary proposal for Ramsar site designation. This information was published in the book entitled "The Upper Tisza Valley", which can be ordered from the Authority for Nature Conservation (Dr Janos Tardy, Ministry for the Environment, Költo u. 21, H-1121 Budapest) in Hungary.-- reported by Alexander Belokurov. (21/3/00)


Visit from Luc Hoffmann on Banc d’Arguin. The Ramsar Bureau enjoyed a visit on 15 March from Dr Luc Hoffmann, one of the Convention’s "Founding Fathers", Mr Mohamed Ould Bouceif, Director of the Parc National du Banc d’Arguin, and Mr Pierre Campredon, Executive Secretary of the International Foundation for the Banc d’Arguin (still another foundation of which Dr Hoffmann is also one of the Founding Fathers). Dr Hoffmann introduced his colleagues to the Secretary General, Delmar Blasco, and they spent the day in discussion of a number of positive developments in the management of the Park. First, a national law of December 1999 has formally established a management structure for the Park and an "organogram" (or staff chart) has been determined by law, and second, there have been two fruitful donors/partners meeting about the Park since the law was promulgated. Dr Hoffmann and his colleagues reported on the Ramsar Small Grants Fund project which established the groundwork for a GEF-funded development project to advance ecotourism in the Banc d’Arguin and for implementation of the AEWA (African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement, CMS) there, which is now in the PDF stage. Dr Hoffmann also invited the Secretary General to participate in a ceremony, tentatively set for the latter months of 2000, to donate the extensive Banc d’Arguin coastal area of Mauritania under the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)’s Gifts to the Earth programme. (19/3/00)


National Planning Tool / National Reports format - now ready.  For each meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Ramsar and other Conventions, countries prepare and submit a National Report detailing their progress in implementing the Convention during the period since the previous meeting. Ramsar's Contracting Parties at COP7 (1999), in Resolution VII.27 (paragraphs 13-14), asked the Standing Committee to adopt a national reporting form for COP8 (2002) that could be distributed to the Parties early in the triennium and used as a "national planning tool" to guide national efforts toward wetland conservation and implementation of the Convention, and which could also be used to quantify progress against specific global and national goals for the period. Accordingly, the Standing Committee, at its 24th meeting (December 1999), did adopt such a National Planning Tool and National Report format, and the English and Spanish versions have now gone out to the Parties (the French should be ready in about one week). Here are the diplomatic notifications that communicated the new forms to the Parties (English, Español), with further links the forms themselves. (14/3/00)


1997 SGF project completed in Russia. The Small Grants Fund project "Development and implementation of management plans for three wetlands of international importance (Volga and Kuban Deltas)" has been successfully accomplished in the Russian Federation. Russia possesses the richest wetland resources in the world, and the present system of Russian Wetlands of International Importance includes 35 Ramsar sites. Elaboration of management plans for three Ramsar sites in the Volga and Kuban Deltas became possible due to financial support from the SGF. These three wetlands served as model areas for wetlands management planning in Russia. A large amount of information on physical and geographical conditions, biological and habitat resources, land-use characteristics, and pollution sources was collected and summarised in the extensive report and accompanying CD-ROM. Management plans for the wise use of wetlands resources were developed on the basis of a system of economic incentives to promote sustainable use of wetlands (payments for the use of resources, compensation for damage to ecosystems, etc.). Dissemination and replication of results will be provided to other wetlands in Russia. -- reported by Alexander Belokurov. (15/3/00)


Brazil designates two new Ramsar sites. Brazil has designated its 6th and 7th Wetlands of International Importance, one of them a very extensive and complex coastal area in Maranhão state - Baixada Maranhense Environmental Protection Area (1,775,036 hectares) - the other a collection of three coral banks off the coast of the same state - Parque Estadual Marinho do Parcel Manoel Luís including the Baixios do Mestre Álvaro and Tarol (45,237 ha). Here are brief descriptions.(8/3/00)

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