The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 1 July 2003
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WLI launches new Web site. WLI - Wetland Link International - is a global network of wetland education centres coordinated by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) and endorsed by the Ramsar Bureau as a means of sharing ideas and expertise about CEPA (communications, education and public awareness) concerning wetlands. WLI is launching its first Web site on July 1st 2003. Visit the site to find out what WLI does, what it plans to do, and how your wetland education centre can join. There is also a planned global wetland education centre directory with illustrated site profiles. Future plans include an e-group and online training modules ranging from design and interpretative planning to formal and informal education programmes, activities and events. Find out more by visiting http://www.wli.org.uk [at press time, just a few hours away] and this little bit of background here. [01/07/03]
government of Benin, 30 June to 4 July2003, to prepare African countries to the sixth Session of the UNCCD Conference of the Parties (COP6) to be held in Havana, Cuba from 25 August to 5 September 2003.
CIESIN's Ramsar Data Gateway is available. The Ramsar Bureau is pleased to announce the availability of the Ramsar Wetlands Data Gateway, a Web-based information service developed by the Centre for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University (USA), in collaboration with the Ramsar Bureau and Wetlands International. The Gateway was demonstrated at Ramsar COP8 in Valencia, and Resolution VIII.13 called on "the Bureau and Wetlands International to ... make arrangements for the Ramsar Sites Database to be accessible through the World Wide Web, including the inclusion of a regularly updated version of the Ramsar Sites Database for incorporation into the Ramsar Wetland Data Gateway developed by the Centre for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)." Data about Ramsar sites from the Ramsar Sites Database maintained by Wetlands International are fully searchable using simple and advanced search tools, and an online mapping tool places Ramsar sites in their geographic context by providing map overlays of watershed boundaries, land cover, population density, and major water bodies.
Wetlands in the EEA's Third Assessment of Europe's Environment."There are multiple threats to Ramsar sites and the surrounding areas. In all countries, agriculture is perceived as the main threat, followed by pollution and water regulation - both probably due to agriculture." This is the quintessence of chapter 11.4.1 on "Wetlands" of the Third Assessment of Europe's Environment prepared by the European Environment Agency (EEA) for the Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" held under the auspices of the UN Economic Commission for Europe in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on 21-23 May 2003. More details here. [25/06/03]
Inter-agency meeting on incentive measures. An inter-agency coordination committee meeting was held at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) on the afternoon of 5 June 2003, back-to-back to the second Workshop on Incentive Measures. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss further work on incentive measures as mandated by the Conference of the Parties under decision V/15. Alain Lambert participated for the Ramsar Convention, and a brief summary of the meeting is available here. In addition, a small secretariat-based informal working group has just been created between Ramsar, CBD and CITES on incentives, economic valuation and sustainable trade issues to share views and coordinate their work. More information can be found at http://www.biodiv.org/programmes/socio-eco/incentives/wsim-02.asp. [23/06/03]
First Ramsar Workshop in Lao PDR. Lao PDR is the one of the two remaining countries in Southeast Asia that have yet to ratify the Convention on Wetlands. The government continues to take strides, however, in exploring options for sustainable development. On 18 June 2003, the Science, Technology and Environment Agency (STEA) of Lao PDR in collaboration with IUCN held a one-day information sharing workshop to initiate a national dialogue on the Convention. Here's a brief report with a few photos. [20/06/03]
Cycling for the environment -- the river Rhône. In the framework of the International Year of Freshwater, the group Cycl'eauRhône is making a bicycling trip from the Rhône Glacier in Switzerland down the length of the Rhône river past Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) all the way to the Mediterranean. Some 20 cyclists "animés d'un esprit sportif et écologique" will make the trip, 28 June to 6 July, in 8 stages of about 100km each (though local riders are welcome to accompany the group during each of the stages), and at the end of each stage there will be local activities and displays featuring their environmental message. During the stopover in Vevey, Switzerland, on Lake Geneva, on 29 June, they will be displaying the Ramsar poster exhibit, and again the next day in Geneva in front of the Bains des Pâquis and at Seyssel. Their Web site can be seen at http://www.cycleaurhone.ch/. [20/06/03]
La Fundación Aguaclara (email@example.com) informa sobre su nueva página Web describiendo los cinco sitios Ramsar de Venezuela (lado derecho): http://www.aguaclara.org. El montaje de esta excelente página informativa es parte de las actividades del proyecto "Conociendo los Humedales y los cinco sitios Ramsar de Venezuela" financiado a través del Fondo Humedales para el Futuro, de Ramsar. El Fondo es a su vez apoyado por el Servicio de Pesca y Vida Silvestre y el Depto. de Estado de los Estados Unidos de América. [19/06/03]
News from Venezuela. The Fundación Aguaclara (firstname.lastname@example.org) informs us of their new Web page detailing the Venezuela's five Ramsar sites (right side of page): http://www.aguaclara.org. The setup of this very informative Web page is one of the activities derived from the project "Getting to know Wetlands and Venezuela's five Ramsar site" financed by Ramsar's Wetlands for the Future Fund, supported by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Department of State.
Ireland and Syria join AEWA. Bert Lenten, Executive Secretary of the UNEP/ AEWA Secretariat (email@example.com, http://www.unep-aewa.org) at the UN-Premises in Bonn, writes: "The UNEP/ AEWA Secretariat received information from the Depositary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands that Syria and Ireland deposited their instrument of accession to Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) on 30 May 2003. In accordance with Article XIV of the Agreement text, AEWA will enter into force for these countries as of 1 August 2003. The Agreement Secretariat welcomes both countries to the 'AEWA family' and looks forward to a close and fruitful cooperation with both of them. Now that Ireland and Syria have joined AEWA the total number of Contracting Parties will be 40." [18/06/03]
CIWEM plans World Wetlands Day conference.Justin Taberham (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director of Policy of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) (http://www.ciwem.com) writes that the CIWEM World Wetlands Day 2004 Conference will be held on February 3rd in London. This is the follow on from the successful 2003 conference, which is described on the Web site http://www.world-wetlands-day.com. The 2003 conference speaker notes and 2004 conference information will be updated very soon. For further information on the conference, please email Coastal Management for Sustainability (CMS) at email@example.com. [14/06/03]
Albania names World Heritage site for Ramsar List. The Ramsar Bureau is extremely pleased to announce that the authorities of Albania have designated Butrint (13,500 hectares, 39°50'N 20°00'E) for the List of Wetlands of International Importance. As Ramsar's Estelle Gironnet describes the site, Butrint is a wetland complex, a National Park in the southwestern part of Albania, that is famous for its archaeological monuments (ancient port of Buthrotum), historical significance, and natural richness. The core area is composed by a tectonic lagoon of 1600 ha, known as Lake Butrint, that is surrounded by forested hills and mountains and complemented by saltwater and freshwater marshlands. Butrint supports a large number of plants and animals considered as having an unfavorable conservation status either nationally or internationally, such as Numenius tenuirostris, Caretta caretta, Dermochelys coriacea, and Monachus monachus. The area is also an important spawning ground, food source and migration path for fish. The main human activities are fishing, mussel farming, stock raising, vineyards and cultural tourism. Butrint is Albania's second Ramsar site, and the 1288th for the Convention. [12/06/03] [Photos available.] [français et/y español]
Three new Ramsar sites in southern Malaysia. The Ramsar Bureau is delighted to announce that Malaysia has designated three new Wetlands of International Importance, all in southern Johor State not far from Singapore. Particularly rich in mangroves and intertidal mudflats, these three island, coastal, and estuarine sites support a large number of species, notably vulnerable and threatened species, and provide both livelihoods and important functions for the local population. Pulau Kukup (647 ha, 01°19'N 103°25'E) is an uninhabited mangrove island located 1 km from the southwestern tip of the Malaysian peninsula, one of the few intact sites of this type left in southeast Asia. Sungai Pulai (9,126 ha, 01°23'N 103°32'E) is the largest riverine mangrove system in Johor State, located at the estuary of the Sungai Pulai river, with associated seagrass beds, intertidal mudflats and inland freshwater riverine forest. Tanjung Piai (526 ha, 01°16'N 103°31'E) consists of coastal mangroves and intertidal mudflats located at the southernmost tip of continental Asia and is especially important for protection from sea-water intrusion and coastal erosion. Malaysia now has four Ramsar sites -- these three and the famous Tasek Bera -- totaling 48,745 hectares, and the Convention has 1287 sites totaling just short of 110 million hectares. Here are brief descriptions by Ramsar's Liazzat Rabbiosi, based upon the Party's Ramsar Information Sheets. [11/06/03] [français et/y español]
MedWet/Com 5 gets under way in Izmir. The 5th meeting of the Mediterranean Wetlands (MedWet) Committee begins 11 June in Izmir, Turkey, with an ambitious agenda running through to 15 June. After welcoming remarks from Turkey's Minister of the Environment and presentation of that Party's National Wetland Strategic Plan 2003-2008, participants will analyze the progress of MedWet (as well as the MedWet/Regions initiative) and the country reports on the Ramsar Convention's implementation in the region, and discuss the MedWet Coordination Unit's proposed work and communications plans. A Technical Session on Saturday will consider "Wetlands, agriculture and water use interactions" ("The sustainable agriculture and integrated water management approach could be a key element in our double strategy of socioeconomic development and wetlands conservation. A small number of expert presentations will be delivered with the aim to refine the implementation of relevant Ramsar Resolutions in the Mediterranean Region and design new paths of collaborations on the subject.") Sunday's plenaries will cover MedWet business, such as budgets, future meetings, etc., and there'll also be a study tour to the nearby Gediz Ramsar site. The meeting's costs are being covered by the Turkish Ministry of Environment, and the Swedish International Development Agency is kindly providing, through the Ramsar Bureau, funds for travel and accommodation expenses of sponsored delegates. Working languages will be English and French, with simultaneous interpretation in English, French and Turkish. The Bureau's Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General and Carlos Villalba (seconded by the Spanish government to help with MedWet affairs) will be participating actively, as will three of our four Regional Coordinators (i.e., those whose regions intersect with the Med Basin). [11/06/03]
Initial funding for the development of a full transboundary project for Prespa secured. In June 2003, the Prespa Park Coordination Committee (PPCC) was granted initial funding (Programme Development Facility - PDF B phase) from GEF (Global Environment Facility), in order to undertake preparatory activities, which will enable the development of a full GEF project. This project aims at the execution of a multi-annual programme entitled: “Integrated Ecosystem Management in the Transboundary Prespa Park Region”. The Ministry of Environment in Albania and the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning in the FYR of Macedonia will be the Executing Agencies, and will closely liaise with the Greek Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works as integral partner in the project. The Convention on Wetlands and the MedWet Initiative, which were instrumental in the establishment of the Prespa Park, will assist in the development of the programme. Daphne Mantziou from the Society for the Protection of Prespa has a report on MedWet's Web site, http://www.medwet.org/news/pdfb.html. [11/06/03]
RAM report on Mühlenberger Loch. In January 2001, Germany informed the Ramsar Bureau of its wish to restrict the boundary of the Mühlenberger Loch Ramsar Site near Hamburg to permit industrial development related to Airbus airplane construction, invoking Article 2.5 of the Convention (which limits such restrictions to the "urgent national interests") and proposing compensatory measures, in light of Article 4.2. The European Commission had decided in April 2000 that the proposed project offered the "compelling grounds in the overriding public interest" required under the site's status as a Natura 2000 site, and the questions arose whether those grounds should be considered equivalent to the Ramsar treaty's "urgent national interests" and whether the quality, quantity, and timing of the proposed compensation should be seen as adequate under the treaty. To seek answers and develop recommendations for Germany and the other Ramsar member States, a Ramsar Advisory Mission composed of Ramsar's Tobias Salathé and invited experts David Pritchard and Mike Pienkowski visited the area in September 2001 in collaboration with federal and local German authorities and NGOs and produced a mission report which provides a fascinating case study for any Article 2.5 and 4.2 issues that may arise in future. In light of the Ramsar Parties' Resolution VII.23 (1999), and especially in light of their subsequent Resolution VIII.20 (2002), their RAM Report no. 46, which takes on board the comments of Germany's Federal Ministry to the earlier drafts, lays out the issues very clearly and will provide a useful baseline for further thought about these crucial issues in interpretation of the Parties' commitments under the Convention. The text is available here. [07/06/03] [français et/y español]
Ramsar address to UNFCCC's SBSTA. At the 18th meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice, Bonn, 4-13 June 2003, under the agenda item for "Cooperation with relevant international organizations", the participants received a report from Ramsar's Deputy Secretary General, Nick Davidson, on recent developments within the Ramsar Convention bearing upon climate change issues. Here is the text of his address. [08/09/03]
New MOC with Greece for MedWet Unit. On 3 June 2003, a new Memorandum of Collaboration was signed between the Greek Ministry for the Environment and the Ramsar Convention at the Minister's office in Athens, Greece. It provides for continuing Greece's hosting of the Convention's MedWet Coordination Unit in Athens until the end of 2005 and its support the Unit's operations with annual funding of 160,000 EUR, a relationship which began in 2001. Following the signing of the MOC between Mrs Vasso Papandreou, Minister of the Environment, and Mr Delmar Blasco, Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, the Secretary General met with the staff of the MedWet Coordination Unit for discussions of Mediterranean issues and the upcoming MedWet/Com5 meeting set for Izmir, Turkey, 12-15 June. Some photos are available here, courtesy of the MW-CU. [06/06/03]
Ramsar Bureau visit to Bassin du Drugeon Ramsar site. A momentous occasion all the way round -- it's "Green Days" in Europe, all the first week of June 2003, and it's the "National Days of Sustainable Development" in France. At the Bassin du Drugeon, a new Ramsar site designated as of World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2003, officials have prepared a week of activities centering upon the site's new Ramsar status -- including a public conference on 3 June, at which Estelle Gironnet represented the Convention, and inaugural ceremonies on 5 June, to be attended by Tobias Salathé. And on Sunday, 1 June, at the gracious invitation of the authorities of the Communauté de Communes du Plateau de Frasne et du Val du Drugeon, Ramsar Bureau staff and their friends and relations traveled an hour over the Jura mountains at the Swiss frontier and got the guided tour from site manager Geneviève Magnon (left) and her colleagues. [04/06/03]
UN World Environment Day focuses on water. The United Nations' World Environment Day has chosen "Water - Two Billion People are Dying for It!" as its theme for its 5 June 2003 celebrations and awareness-raising activities around the world -- a theme dear to every Ramsar heart. The Ramsar community should be encouraged to participate and ensure that the water message includes wetlands as a key component. That's what the Secretary General is going to do at the "Providing Freshwater for All" roundtable at the International Environment House in Geneva at 10:35 a.m. on 5 June 2003 (book reservations now). Here's some more detail. [02/06/03]
Wetland management planning for West Africa. The International Course on Wetland Management, run by the Dutch government's Wetlands Advisory and Training Centre (WATC) annually since 1994, has introduced some 165 participants from 60 countries to the Ramsar principles of wetland management. Many of the graduates have returned to their countries and made enormous contributions, and some have also contributed at the international level, including quite a few who have subsequently served as interns in the Ramsar Bureau. In fact, in his Foreword to Wetland Management Planning: five years of case studies from West Africa, WATC Director Bart Fokkens says that at Ramsar COP8 in November 2002, he met 24 of the course alumni. This impressive new book, edited by Pieter Terpstra and published by Wetlands International through its West Africa programme in Dakar, includes the full texts, tables, and photos of 19 draft wetland management plans covering West African wetlands, including many Ramsar sites, that students of the International Course produced in the course of their studies. It's extremely valuable for its information on those key sites, and equally welcome as a big step forward in their wise use management. The 358-page A4 book, ISBN 910 5882 9642, can be purchased from NHBS (the Natural History Book Service), http://www.nhbs.com, and further information can be sought on the Wetlands International Web site, http://www.wetlands.org. [Note: the Ramsar Secretary General is a member of the board of the WATC International Course.] [02/06/03]