The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 6 April 2006

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Ramsar legal workshop for Africa. Yaounde, Cameroon, was the venue for a 27-28 March 2006 workshop on "legal support for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in West and Central Africa". The Secretariat was represented by Abou Bamba, the Senior Advisor for Africa, who reports that the workshop, officially the "Seminaire d'Appui Juridique à la mise en oeuvre de la Convention Ramsar en Afrique Francophone de l'Ouest et Centrale", was sponsored by the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law (CEL), the International Center for Comparative Environmental Law, and the Centre pour l'Environnement et le Développement and funded by the Agence International de la Francophonie through the Québec-based Institut de l'énergie et de l'environnement de la Francophonie (IEPF), with the participation of the Ramsar Secretariat, the IUCN Central Africa Office, and UNEP. Here is Abou's report on the meeting and the discussions that took place there, as well as the Declaration agreed by the participants. HERE. [06/04/06]

Ramsar signs MOC with Congo Basin Commission. On 20 March 2006, on the peripheries of the IV World Water Forum in Mexico, Secretaries General Peter Bridgewater and Benjamin Ndala signed a memorandum of cooperation between the Ramsar Secretariat and the International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin. The Commission Internationale du Bassin Congo-Oubangui-Sangha (CICOS) was created in November 1999 in an accord signed by the heads of state of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It's an intergovernmental organization charged with managing the navigable waterways of the region sustainably and promoting integrated water resources management for the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin. Its objectives are to support sustainable development, reduce poverty, and reinforce regional integration in the countries of the basin. The MOC provides for increased exchange of information about activities and work programmes and for the possibility of joint activities between CICOS and the Convention and its International Organization Partners; it will also help to keep wetland values high on the very full CICOS agenda of concerns. The text of the MOC and photos of the signing can be seen here. [05/04/06]


Cameroon joins the Convention on Wetlands. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that Cameroon has joined the Ramsar family as the 151st Party to the Convention, as amended in 1982 and 1987 - the treaty will come into force for Cameroon four months after the deposit of its instrument of accession with UNESCO, i.e., on 20 July 2006. The new Party's obligatory first Wetland of International Importance is the well-known Waza Logone Floodplain (600,000 hectares, 11°38'N 014°37'E), which includes two National Parks and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The site comprises the whole of the floodplain of the lower Logone River in the extreme north of the country, between Nigeria and Chad, within the Lake Chad basin between Lake Maga and Lake Chad. Said to represent 10% of the surface area of major inland wetlands in the West African Sahel, the area is home to more than 100,000 people who depend upon wetland products for fishing, seasonal grazing, and agriculture. A 2001 census counted more than 320,000 waterbirds from 104 species, and there is a huge concentration of wildlife, particularly in the parks, including large mammals such as elephant, ostrich, giraffe, lion, and many others. Two decades of poor rainfall and the construction of the Maga Dam in 1981 for rice irrigation caused severe disruption to the ecological character of the floodplain, but an important rehabilitation project, begun in 1988 and a collaboration among IUCN, the governments of Cameroon and the Netherlands, and the CML of Leiden University, with contributions from other institutions such as WWF and the EC, has shown good results in demonstrating the feasibility of the partial rehabilitation of the floodplain.

WWF's Global Freshwater Programme and a grant from the Ramsar Swiss Grant for Africa have been of great assistance to the government of Cameroon in preparing the site data required for accession. On the restoration project, see also Paul Loth, ed., The return of the water: restoring the Waza Logone floodplain in Cameroon. IUCN Wetlands and Water Resources Programme, Blue Series. IUCN, 2004. [04/04/06]


Ramsar presentation on wetlands and livelihoods. At a CBD COP8 side event on “Wetlands, Water and Livelihoods” organized by Wetlands International on 23 March, the Deputy Secretary General made a presentation on The Ramsar Convention: wetlands and livelihoods. The text of his presentation is available here. Other presentations were made by David Coates (CBD Secretariat) on CBD’s approach to sustainable use of inland water biodiversity and human well-being, Kemi Awoyinka (Wetlands International) on WI’s Wetlands and Poverty Reduction project, and Henk Simons (IUCN-Netherlands) on the Green Coast project, which concerns Indian Ocean post-tsunami work responding to the needs of people and biodiversity. A full report of the event will appear soon on Wetlands International’s Web site (www.wetlands.org). [31/03/06]


United Kingdom's 164th Ramsar site. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the UK has designated a new Wetland of International Importance, effective 1 March 2006. Lihou Island and L'Erée Headland, Guernsey (427 hectares, 49°28'N 002°40'W) comprises several coastal areas on the west coast of the Channel island of Guernsey, including the shingle bank Les Anguillieres and the western end of L'Erée Headland as well as the small northwestern Lihou Island and surrounding marine coastal areas. Within a relatively small area there is an amazing variety of interesting habitat types including rocky, gravelly and sandy shoreline, the sublittoral zone, coastal grassland, saltmarsh, reedbed and saline lagoon, as well as vegetated shingle banks, seagrass Zostera beds, and wet grassland, altogether supporting a rich diversity of animals and plants such as 214 different species of seaweed on the tiny shore around Lihou Island. The area also has a rich cultural heritage, with many important archaeological and historical remains. In summer the site offers very popular beaches for sunbathing and bathing at high tide as well as surfing and rockpooling at some places. Birdwatching is another well-liked activity which is supported by two bird hides at La Claire Mare. Integrated management plans are under development for different areas of the site. [30/03/06]


News from the SGF.Exploring ecotourism potential for Lake Nakuru. The Secretariat is pleased to report on the results of a Ramsar Small Grants Fund (SGF) project that was carried out by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and co-funded by Australia's Banrock Station, which donated its Evian Special Prize of $10,000 from the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award in 2002. The purpose of the project was to study the ecotourism potential for Lake Nakuru, a Ramsar site inKenya, within the framework of the Lake Nakuru Integrated Management Plan and the Nakuru Strategic Structure Plan developed under Agenda 21. As the final report on the SGF report explains, the area covered by the project consists of the catchment of Lake Nakuru National Park (LNNP) (approx. 1,800 km2), a region rich in culture and important for biodiversity conservation, both at a national and international level, located in Kenya's Rift Valley Province. It includes a gazetted wildlife protected area, gazetted government forests (Mau, Eburru, Dondori), and private and public land. Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio provides a description of the project and its outcomes, based upon the project final report, with photographs. [28/03/06]


Ramsar at the World Water Forum. Ramsar was represented at the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico by Peter Bridgewater, the Secretary General, Margarita Astrálaga, the Senior Regional Adviser for the Americas (also attending another regional event), Spyros Kouvelis (the Medwet Coordinator) who was a judge in the film festival organised at the time of the Forum, and Sebastià Semene, who was in charge of the Ramsar Game and other outreach activities undertaken with the assistance of Groupe Danone. Here is the Secretary General's brief report on Ramsar-related activities and presentations. [24/03/06]

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