The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 31 July 2003

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IOP NEWS: "The role of the four International Organization Partners (IOPs) of the Convention: BirdLife International, IUCN - The World Conservation Union, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Wetlands International, cannot be overestimated. In leaving my post as Secretary General, I would like to emphasize the value of this cooperation between the Convention and its IOPs, which is bringing so many benefits to the cause of wetland conservation and wise use. I thank both the CEOs of the four IOPs for their support for this special partnership and the many officers dealing with Ramsar issues for their hard work, and I encourage the Convention and the IOPs to further strengthen the effective collaboration that already exists among the five partners." Delmar Blasco, outgoing Secretary General. [31/07/03]

Visit to Ramsar sites in Malaysia. During a recent visit to the region, Ramsar's Regional Coordinator for Asia, Dr Guangchun Lei, took the opportunity to visit recently designated Ramsar sites in Johor State in Malaysia, including the southernmost point of mainland Asia. There he viewed the promising management steps being taken and made several recommendations, and he urged his hosts to place the Tanjung Piai site on the Montreux Record so that expert advice could be sought to how to deal with increasing erosion in just the past few months caused by wave action from new international sea port nearby. Here is a brief report, with photos. [31/07/03]

Algeria designates 13 varied new Ramsar sites. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ramsar Administrative Authority in the Republic of Algeria, has newly designated 13 additional Wetlands of International Importance. In studies assisted financially by the Living Waters Programme of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF International), the Ministry has presented well-researched Ramsar Information Sheets on an array of wetland types in various parts of the country. There are several "chotts" or seasonal salt lake/flats (we learn that the word "chott" means "border" in Arabic, referring to the vegetated ring surrounding the salt flat itself, which is properly called a "sebkha"), mostly in the steppe area in the north of the country between the northern and southern ranges of the Atlas mountains. We also have a "gueltate", in Tamanrasset, one of the rocky terraced pool systems found in the high mountains in the south, not unlike the fascinating Ramsar site at Issakarassene. There is a karstic subterranean hydrological system, Ghar Boumâaze, said to be the largest cavern network in Africa, with remarkable flora and fauna both inside and out. And a classic set of oases, complete with the fouggaras, those communal water-channeling system a thousand years old that we learnt about from Algeria's previous designations in February 2001. As well as a few lively pools and marshes lying behind dune systems along the Mediterranean coast. And as well as geothermal springs in the Ksour mountains into the bargain. Special thanks have to go to the Algerian authority for these superb new designations, particularly to Dr Ammar Boumezbeur who led the research efforts, as well as to WWF International for the long involvement of the Living Waters Programme in the safeguarding of these important North African sites. Brief descriptions of the new sites can be found here.

Comunidades de sitio Ramsar en Argentina en programa de educación ambiental. El proyecto "Capacitación y Concienciación de la Comunidad Regional, Protectores Ambientales y Guardafaunas en el Sitio Ramsar Jaaukanigás", financiado por el fondo Humedales para el Futuro, va viento en popa. Recientemente se produjo un folleto a todo color resaltando la riqueza biológica, cultural e histórica de Jaaukanigás (que significa gente del agua), ubicado en la planicie de inundación del río Paraná en la provincial de Santa Fe en Argentina. También se difunden constantemente programas radiales acerca de los valores y funciones del humedal, y se están programando talleres de capacitación para el mes de agosto. El trabajo está siendo realizado por el Instituto Nacional de Limnología (INALI-CONICET) en conjunto con el Instituto de Cultura Popular INCUPO, la Secretaría de Estado de Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable -SEMADS, y la Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias de la Universidad Nacional del Litoral. Jaaukanigás es un complejo extenso de ríos, cursos principales, riachos, madrejones, lagunas, esteros, bañados rodeados por bosques y selvas de galería, refugio de numerosas especies amenazadas y grandes congregaciones de patos. Hay una vida acuática muy rica, con cerca de 300 especies de peces que son claves para la economía regional, ya que el 50 % de la población del área vive de la pesca. [29/07/03]

The project "Education and Awareness Program of communities and rangers of the Jaaukanigás Ramsar site", financed by the Wetlands for the Future Fund, is currently and successfully under way. Jaaukanigás (meaning "people of the water"), is located in the floodplain of the Paraná River. There, several institutions are educating local communities about the values and functions of wetlands by means of radio programs, workshops and published materials, such as a wonderful brochure recently created for the site. Jaaukanigás is an extensive complex of rivers, lagoons, pools, permanent freshwater marshes and seasonally inundated grassland, interspersed with riparian woodland and gallery forest, providing refuge for various threatened species and large flocks of waterfowl. There is a very rich aquatic life, with about 300 fish species, key for the regional economy, as 50% of the population in the area live by fishing.

Ramsar visit to Latvia. Recently, Ilona Jepsena, the Director of the Nature Protection Department in the Ministry of Environment, responsible for Ramsar implementation in Latvia, invited Tobias Salathé, Ramsar's Regional Coordinator for Europe, to visit Latvian Ramsar Sites and to gain insight into their management situation.This provided a useful occasion to meet with key people at the Ministry of Environment in Riga, including Minister Raimonds Vejonis. The participants in the meeting in Riga and during the site visits improved, reciprocally, the understanding of the Ramsar Convention and wetland conservation issues in Latvia. It provided useful opportunities to discuss in depth different aspects related to the implementation of the Ramsar Convention and local development imperatives. Here Tobias Salathé provides a brief report on the trip and some excellent photographs of the sites. [28/07/03]

Iran helps Siberian Cranes with new Ramsar site. The Ramsar Bureau is very pleased to announce that the Islamic Republic of Iran has designated its 22nd Wetland of International Importance, a BirdLife "Important Bird Area" and Wildlife Refuge near the southern Caspian seacoast. "Fereydoon Kenar, Ezbaran & Sorkh Ruds Ab-Bandans" (5,427 ha, 36°40'N, 52°33'E) in Mazandaran province is an artificially maintained wetland in the South Caspian lowlands. The area is of outstanding importance as wintering grounds for the entire western population of the Siberian Crane (Grus leucogeranus), listed as 'critically endangered' in the IUCN Red Book. Having reappeared at the site in 1978 after 60 years' absence, the number of Siberian Cranes now fluctuates between 7-14. The new designation is part of a GEF project, implemented through UNEP and coordinated by the International Crane Foundation and CMS, aims to conserve the critical sites used by Siberian Cranes for breeding, staging during migration, and the main wintering grounds. Here is an interesting description of the new site, as summarized from the RIS by Ramsar's Liazzat Rabbiosi. [24/07/03] [français et/y español]

Coral reefs and the environmental conventions. Coral reefs, so important for biodiversity and human well-being, are being lost and degraded at increasingly alarming rates. Actions to reverse this trend are being taken, however, and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in its Plan of Implementation, sets out targets for sustainable management that help to focus global efforts. In an effort to provide the information needed to synergize the efforts under way and identify gaps, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and WWF's Coral Reefs Advocacy Initiative have published an 18-page brochure entitled "Conventions and Coral Reefs" - following a foreword by UNEP's Executive Director Klaus Töpfer (reprinted here) and an analysis of the WSSD Plan of Implementation in terms of coral reefs, there are single-page entries on the coral-related work of a number of prominent instruments, including the CBD, Ramsar, CITES, World Heritage, UNFCCC, MAB, CMS, ICRI and ICRAN, among others. Inquiries about the hardcopy brochure can be directed to Jerker Tamelander at UNEP in Nairobi ( [22/07/03]

Summary of SWS Ramsar Grants. The Society of Wetland Scientists has been operating a Ramsar Support Grants Programme since 1999. The programme manager, Eric Gilman, co-chair of the SWS International Committee, has provided a summary of the 15 grants that have been awarded from 1999 to 2003. Here it is. [22/07/03]

Germany designates parts of the Elbe floodplain. The Ramsar Bureau is very pleased to announce that the Federal Republic of Germany has designated its 32nd Ramsar site, and its first since 1991. Germany's 32 sites now cover 839,327 hectares, and the Convention's total of 1291 Wetlands of International Importance covers a surface area of 109,097,491 ha. As summarized by Ramsar's Estelle Gironnet from the Ramsar Information Sheet, "Aland-Elbe-Niederung und Elbaue Jerichow" (listed as of 21/02/03, 8,605 hectares, 52°45'N 011°49'E) comprises two large parts of the floodplain of the Elbe river, including two EU Special Protection Areas and part of the Biosphere Reserve "Flusslandschaft Elbe". Both areas are composed of near-natural floodplain meadows, despite anthropogenic changes, with dynamic floodplain development and regular flooding occurring at a reduced level. The area is of outstanding importance for breeding, resting and wintering waterbirds, waders and grassland species. The site harbours large gatherings of Cygnus bewickii (2.7% of NW European flyway population), Cygnus Cygnus (2%), Anser fabalis (30%), Anser albifrons (2.5%), and Grus grus (6.6%) and offers opportunities for research and education activities. Grassland habitat is maintained by mowing and grazing. Public water bodies are used mostly for fishing. Problems with waterbird hunting arise regularly. [21/07/03] [français et/y español]

Liberia joins the Ramsar Convention. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia first deposited his country's instrument of accession with the Director General of UNESCO in January 2002, but without designating at least one Wetland of International Importance in the territory of the acceding country (as required by the Convention). The designation of the first Ramsar site, Lake Piso, was completed by the National Environmental Commission of Liberia in June 2003; UNESCO has now informed the Ramsar Bureau that the requirements for accession have been met as of 2 July, and the Convention will therefore come into force for Liberia on 2 November 2003. Lake Piso (76,091 hectares, 06°45'N 011°13'W) is an open coastal lagoon near Robertsport to the west of Monrovia, the largest such inlet on the Liberian coast, surrounded by forested hillsides (including one of the rarest tropical rainforests in the region) and fed by a number of creeks and rivers; these latter drain a series of swamps above the lagoon, the lower ones of which are tidal and support mangroves. Other mangrove swamps occur behind the dune ridge on the west side of the lake mouth and at other creek mouths. A series of small lakes with swampy margins occurs on the sandy forested spit that separates the lake from the sea. Some 38 communities, totaling about 7000 people, depend upon Piso for transportation, commercial and non-commercial fishing, and sand for construction, and farm-to-market infrastructure was well-developed prior to the civil crisis of the past decade. The site is important both as a nursery and spawning ground for fish and sea turtles and as feeding and roosting places for large numbers of shore and sea birds. Mammals such as antelopes, duikers, monkeys, bushbucks, and a few crocodiles are also found in the area. The National Environmental Commission has also submitted in June 2003 the designation of a second Ramsar site, the Marshall Wetlands, which is presently undergoing review by the Ramsar Bureau's regional team before proceeding to its inclusion in the Ramsar List. [19/07/03] [français et/y español]

Ceremonies at Albania's Butrint. Ceremonies were held in Saranda on 14 July 2003 to present the Ramsar site diploma to Albanian authorities for the newly designated Lake Butrint Ramsar site and to consider the future development of the area around the Ramsar and World Heritage site. Participants from the Ministry of Environment, local authorities and NGOs, the national science museum, and the London-based Butrint Foundation covered a number of ecological, historical, and archaeological topics and then visited the site for a first-hand view. Tobias Salathé was there and provides this brief illustrated report on the event. [17/07/03]

Training available in Latin America. El Instituto Latinoamericano de Ciencias Marinas y del Ambiente (ILCMA) ofrecerá el próximo mes de Septiembre los siguientes cursos: "Herramientas Estadísticas para el Análisis de Ecosistemas Costeros". San Andrés, Colombia Septiembre 7-12, 2003 y "Turismo Sostenible en el Manejo Integrado de la Zona Costera". San Andrés, Colombia Septiembre 14-19, 2003. Para información completa del contenido de los mismos visite la pagina Web: o comuníquese a:,

ILCMA (Latin-American Environmental and Marine Sciences Institute) is offering two courses next September: "Statistical tools for the Analysis of Coastal Ecosystems", San Andres, Colombia, 7-12 September 2003 and "Sustainable Tourism in the Integrated Management of Coastal Zones", San Andres, Colombia, 14-19 September 2003. For further information, visit: or write to: [15/07/03]

Ecuador names 11th Ramsar site. The Bureau is delighted to announce that the Ministerio del Ambiente of Ecuador has designated that country's 11th Ramsar site, effective 12 June. As summarized by Iván Darío Valencia Rodríguez and Julio Montes de Oca from the Ramsar Information Sheets, the Reserva Ecológica Cayapas-Mataje (44,847 hectares, 01º16'N, 079º00'W), located in Esmeralda Province on the Pacific coast near the border with Colombia, between the rivers Cayapas and Mataje, is a complex of estuaries and mangrove forests within the Choco-Darien-Western Ecuador hotspot, a region recognized worldwide for its high level of biodiversity, numerous endemic species, and priority for conservation. Sedge marshes, tidal brackish marshes, peatlands or guandales, as well as humid tropical forest add to its richness. The high productivity of phytoplankton and mangrove forests sustains a diverse wildlife, with reportedly 6 species of mangrove, 68 of fish, 22 of reptiles, 145 of birds and 53 of mammals, including several threatened taxa at national or global scale, such as the black mangrove Avicennia germinans, the Neotropical Otter Lutra longicaudis, the Jaguar Panthera onca, the Blue-fronted Parrotlet Touit dilectissima and the American Crocodile Crocodylus acutus. The Afro-Ecuadorian population at the site is involved in fishing, gathering of mussels and crustaceans, subsistence agriculture and livestock raising, and recently, ecotourism. Archaeological remains of the Tolita culture (ca. 500 BC-AD 400) are abundant. The area has been affected by the construction of numerous shrimp pools and the establishment of crop plantations. Following designation as a Nature Reserve in 1996, a management plan is in preparation with local involvement. WWF International's Living Waters Programme and the Fundación Natura assisted Ecuador in making this designation. Ecuador now has 11 sites covering 158,481 ha, and the Convention, 1289 sites with an area of 109,012,795 ha. [09/07/03] [français et/y español]

Una Reciente Publicación para Argentina y América del Sur (A recent publication for Argentina and South America). La Dra. Maura Beatríz Kufner, del Centro de Ecología y Recursos Naturales Renovables, Universidad de Córdoba, Argentina, nos informa de la reciente publicación "Los Humedales del Oeste Argentino". Esta excelente publicación, desarrollada en seguimiento al 2º Taller Regional Programa Argentino UICN de Humedales recopila contribuciones detallando la historia, instituciones y el inventariado de humedales del oeste Argentino, así como los estudios de caso: "Reserva Laguna Brava - La Rioja, Argentina"; "Laguna Llancanelo, una Joya del Árido"; y "Parque Provincial Tromen". Su publicación fue financiada por la Secretaría de la Convención de Ramsar. Para mayor información sobre la misma, favor consultar a la Dra. Kufner: Dra. Maura Beatriz Kufner, CERNAR, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, [09/07/03]

Report available. River basin congress held in Peru. The Third Latin American River Basin Congress (III Congreso Latinoamericano de Manejo de Cuencas Hidrográficas) took place in Arequipa, Peru, 8-12 June 2003 and was attended by more than 1000 professionals from all over Latin America, Spain, Canada and the USA. Issues discussed included national policies, legislation and institutions; environmental planning and management; international river basins; economics and financing of river basin management; participatory management; capacity building and training; information management; management of High-Andean river basins; disaster prevention; water management; and sediment control. The Ramsar Bureau was represented by Regional Coordinator Margarita Astrálaga, and her brief report of the meeting (in English) is available here, as well as her presentation (in Spanish): La Convención Ramsar y las Cuencas Hidrográficas. [08/07/03]

World Wetlands Day preparations under way. World Wetlands Day takes place on 2 February every year, and traditionally the Ramsar Bureau provides materials for the use of everyone who will be organizing WWD activities of their own. It’s time now to let our readers know about our preparations for World Wetlands Day 2004 in plenty of time for their own planning. This year the Bureau has developed a theme -- From the Mountains to the Sea - Wetlands at Work for Us -- that will allow people to focus on their own wetlands and consider how these wetlands work for their benefit both at national and local levels, and to consider too how to manage their wetlands so that they continue to deliver these benefits. Here is a brief description of the materials now being got ready for distribution in mid-October [français et/y español]. It's worth mentioning that, as last year, all of the materials being offered free of charge for WWD activities will also be made available in Quark XPress design format, so that those with the will and the means to do so can adapt the materials to their own languages, their own local circumstances, and larger print-runs if they wish (as in Trinidad-and-Tobago's T-shirt, left). Here is a page of illustrations of WWD2003 materials that have been adapted by our collaborators in several countries to their own specificities [français et/y español]. (It should be noted that the Ramsar Bureau, having provided the original designs, is unfortunately not able to provide funding for local adaptations.) [03/07/03]

Report of the LMNN-ER donors/partners meeting.Lake Malawi-Niassa-Nyasa falls within the territories of Malawi (Lake Malawi), Mozambique (Lake Niassa), and Tanzania (Lake Nyasa). The Lake MNN Ecoregion (LMNN-ER) covers about 13,000,000 hectares and comprises the lake itself and its drainage basin, which includes Lake Malombe lying to the south. The lake is biologically the most valuable lake in the African Great Lakes area and could be regarded as the most biologically important lake in the world, particularly important, in fact, for its concentrations of endemic fish species and especially its cichlid species. The lake probably supports more species of fish than any other lake in the world and accommodates 14% of the world's freshwater species, 99% of which are endemic. For this reason, among others, WWF has identified it as a priority freshwater area under its Ecoregion Conservation Programme. On 12-13 May 2003, a donor/partner meeting was hosted by WWF's Southern Africa Regional Programme Office (SARPO) in Mangochi on Lake Malawi, financially supported by DGIS (The Netherlands) through the WWF Living Waters Programme and by the Ramsar Bureau with funds from the Government of Switzerland. The purpose was to review the progress of the LMNN-ER Conservation Programme and agree the best way forward, including consideration of an FAO-led draft for a trinational convention to establish a basin commission for the sustainable development of LMNN and its surroundings, and the full report of the meeting is available here, with the draft treaty text and additional presentations included in PDF format. [02/07/03]

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 and this little bit of background here. [01/07/03]

ALAS - All About Salt. The ALAS project is a programme of work that recognised the economic, social and cultural value of traditional salinas (salt pans) as well as their importance as wetland habitat for breeding and migrating birds. The central aims of the project were to encourage the rehabilitation and restoration of salinas around the European and Mediterranean coasts, the training of young salters to continue traditional techniques, the dissemination of information about the value of traditional salinas and the development of marketing strategies to sell traditionally-produced salt. Having begun in December 1999, the ALAS project came to a highly successful close in December 2002 with the publication of "Salt and salinas as natural resources and alternative poles for local development", a set of information leaflets, and a 14-minute video entitled "Salt and Salinas in the Mediterranean". Here's a brief report to the Ramsar CEPA List on these helpful new products. [30/06/03]

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.

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