The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 14 March 2006

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UNEP workshop on issue-based modules for MEAs, February 2006. With the assistance of Belgium, UNEP has started a project to structure available information on common topics shared between several biodiversity-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). The objective of the project is to facilitate the coherent implementation of the biodiversity commitments, taken under different international and regional biodiversity agreements, by all actors. The first phase of the project focused on the development of four modules on issues of common concern to the five biodiversity MEAs (the Ramsar Convention, Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on Migratory Species, Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, and the World Heritage Convention), namely inland waters, biodiversity and climate change, invasive alien species, and sustainable use. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé reports on the UNEP workshop on "issue based modules for coherent implementation of biodiversity conventions" held 20-21 February 2006 in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia. [14/03/06]

International Conference on the Danube Delta. Sparked by major development projects in the Danube Delta (such as the oil terminal in Gjurgjurlesti, or the opening of the Bystre mouth of the Danube for deep water navigation), an ad hoc group of international organizations with an interest in the Danube Delta was established during a meeting at UNEP's Regional Office for Europe in September 2004 (including the Ramsar Secretariat, UNESCO, the Danube Commission ICPDR, European Commission, Council of Europe, UNECE Aarhus and Espoo Convention Secretariats, WWF, IUCN, Wetlands International and others). A fruitful cooperation began of the international group with the Ukrainian, and also the Romanian and Moldovan authorities, in preparation for this international conference, which was held on 27-28 February 2006 in Odesa (Ukraine). Intended to elaborate visions for sustainable development and mechanisms for transboundary cooperation in the Danube Delta, the conference was convened by the Government of Ukraine in cooperation with the Governments of Romania and the Republic of Moldova, under the auspices of the Danube Commission (ICPDR), and with financial support by UNESCO and the European Commission. An helpful illustrated report of the outcomes by participant Tobias Salathé, as well as the conclusions of the meeting, can be found here. [13/03/06]

Ramsar MOC with IWMI. On 28 February, Peter Bridgewater, the Secretary General, and Frank Rijsberman, Director General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), signed a new memorandum of cooperation at the Secretariat facilities in Gland, updating the previous MOC of January 2004. IWMI recently became the Convention's fifth International Organization Partner (joining BirdLife International, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Wetlands International, and WWF International) by virtue of Resolution IX.16 at COP9 in November 2005. The text of the MOC and two photos of the signing ceremony can be seen here. [13/03/06]

Ramsar MOC with the European Environment Agency. Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, and Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency, have signed a memorandum of cooperation, effective 27 February 2006, which covers a number of areas chiefly relating to the improvement, exchange, and use of Ramsar sites data. The text is available here. [09/03/06]

Mexico names 65th Ramsar site. The Secretariat is pleased to report that the Government of Mexico has designated its 65th Wetland of International Importance. According to Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for the Americas, Adrián Ruiz-Carvajal, Laguna de Atotonilco (2,850 hectares, 20º22'N 103º39'W) in Jalisco state is situated along the neovolcanic axis, and the area around the site presents geothermal springs often used for recreational activities. Noteworthy fauna includes reptiles such as a nationally endangered toad (Bufo marinus), snake (Thamnophis eques), striped lizard (Cnemidophorus communis) and an endemic frog (Rana megapoda) also considered vulnerable by IUCN. In addition, the aquatic vegetation also provides spawning ground for several fish species. Archeological excavations have unearthed rudimentary objects (arrow heads and clay figures), as well as mammoth, rhino and bison fossil remains. Deforestation and water infrastructure works are two of the greatest threats to the integrity of the site. Ramsar site No. 1607. [07/03/06]

México designa su Sitio Ramsar número 65. La Secretaría se complace en informar que el Gobierno de México ha designado su Humedal de Importancia Internacional número 65. De acuerdo con el Consejero Asistente para las Américas, Adrián Ruiz-Carvajal, la “Laguna de Atotonilco” (Jalisco; 2,850 ha; 20º22'N 103º39'W). El Área Prioritaria para la Conservación está situada sobre el Eje Neovolcánico, presentando el área aledaña al sitio manantiales geotérmicos frecuentemente utilizados con fines recreativos por los visitantes. Dentro de la fauna del sitio destacan reptiles considerados amenazados en la legislación mexicana como el sapo (Bufo marinus), la culebra (Thamnophis eques), la lagartija rayada (Cnemidophorus communis) y la rana endémica (Rana megapoda), ésta última también considerada vulnerable por la UICN (Unión Mundial para la Conservación). Adicionalmente, la vegetación emergente de la laguna proporciona sitios para desove y crianza de varias especies de peces. Las excavaciones arqueológicas han encontrado objetos rudimentarios (puntas de flecha y figurillas de barro), así como restos fósiles de bisontes, mamuts y rinocerontes. La deforestación e infraestructura hídrica son dos de las principales amenazas a la integridad del humedal. Sitio Ramsar No. 1607.

New CD on Ramsar sites in Bolivia. Omar Rocha, Director Ejecutivo, BIOTA, está escribiendo: "El Centro de Estudios en Biología Teórica y Aplicada (BIOTA) y la Dirección General de Biodiversidad del Ministerio de Desarrollo Sostenible de Bolivia, con el apoyo de WCS/Bolivia, WWF/Bolivia y la Convención Ramsar, conmemorando el Día Mundial de los Humedales, han lanzado dos materiales de difusión: Catálogo Bibliográfico sobre los Humedales de Bolivia.- Es un documento que incluye 915 citas bibliográficas en diferentes disciplinas relacionadas a los humedales del país, un análisis sobre la publicación de temas y las tendencias del número de publicaciones por períodos. Sitios Ramsar de Bolivia.- Es la segunda edición del CD interactivo que contiene la descripción general de los Sitios Ramsar, mapas de ubicación, características físicas, hidrológicas, flora, fauna, valores culturales, legislación boliviana sobre humedales y otros aspectos, además de una interesante serie de fotografías de los humedales." Mas. [27/02/06]

Ramsar support for mangrove projects. The Secretariat's Americas team has compiled a listing of all of the projects involving mangroves that have been supported by the Ramsar Convention over the years, through its Wetlands for the Future Fund for the Americas and the Ramsar Small Grants Fund for developing countries in all of the regions. It's available here in PDF format. [22/02/06]

New guide highlights wetlands and Ramsar. Philip's Guide to Wetlands (c2005) is a well-made and very attractive 304-page, inexpensive paperback, featuring good maps and graphics and lots of photographs. After a 50-page section about wetlands generally (types, functioning, flora and fauna, loss rates, etc.), there are 250 pages of regional atlas, with maps for each area showing all Ramsar sites (as of mid-2005) and texts with overviews and regional features, all compiled by Dr Patrick Dugan and written by a who's-who of wetland scientists and the "Ramsar family". From the book's cover: "Wetlands are home to an extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna. They exist in every continent and, since 1971, many have been conserved under the Ramsar Convention. A significant number have been declared national parks and now attract increasing numbers of visitors. This guide describes the ecology of wetlands, and explains how plants and animals adapt to survive in them. It summarizes the factors leading to the loss of wetland environments, and how they can be conserved. Detailed topographical maps show the world's most significant wetland environments, and a gazetteer lists many of the most interesting wetlands to visit. 70 maps show locations of Ramsar protected sites; Wetland wildlife, especially birds, described in detail; 175 colour photographs and explanatory artworks." The book is available from the NHBS Environment Bookstore,, amongst other places. [20/02/06]

South Africa workshop on Wetlands, Water, and Livelihoods. Between 30 January and 2 February 2006, the shores of one of the most beautiful wetlands in southern Africa, St. Lucia, a Ramsar and World Heritage site, were the venue for a productive workshop organized by one of Ramsar's partner organizations (IOPs), Wetlands International, and the South African National Biodiversity Institute, SANBI. This "Wetlands, Water and Livelihoods" workshop brought together over 80 participants from 30 countries and included representatives from governments, NGOs (including all five of Ramsar's IOPs), intra-governmental institutions, aid organizations, and research institutions. The workshop included a demonstration visit to a Working for Wetlands project site and ended with the celebration of World Wetlands Day, with speeches from Leseho Sello, the Head of the Directorate of Biodiversity Conservation, and the reading out of the Secretary General's message for WWD by Abou Bamba, with a final big "cheers" by all the participants and songs and dances by schoolchildren and the lodge's kitchen staff alike! Here is an illustrated report by Lucia Scodanibbio. [17/02/06]

Ramsar visit to the Gulf region. In early February the Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, attended the UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministerial Forum in Dubai,and whilst in the region held discussions about potential accession to the Convention by both the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Here is his brief report. [16/02/06]

WWD2006 with Islamic Republic of Iran and Afghanistan. Ms Shahzia Khan, Ramsar Assistant Advisor for Asia, represented the Secretariat at a two-day event in Zabol city in Sistan-Balouchistan province, near the transboundary Hamun wetlands, which was attended by national and provincial environmental and protected area authorities from both Iran and Afghanistan, as well as representatives of UNEP, other international agencies, and local NGOs. Following WWD celebrations involving local handicrafts demonstrations, children's painting exhibitions, and information booths, a training workshop was held on management of wetland centres and the Hamun wetlands. With support provided by UNEP, bilateral cooperation began last year between these two countries and progress is being made for developing joint cooperation on management and restoration of the Hamun wetlands, where two Ramsar sites in Iran have long been listed on the Montreux Record due to severe desiccation. Shahzia's well-illustrated report is here. [15/02/06]

Report of Panama Bay Ramsar site Workshop now available. Recognizing the importance that the Higher Panama Bay holds for the local and regional biodiversity, at the end of 2005 the “Grupo para la Investigación Tecnoecológica y la Conservación” – GITEC- organized a workshop to familiarize the local Chinina and Aquendo communities with various tools to understand and use their wetland wisely. By applying a participative approach, the workshop covered such topics as the sustainable use of the mangroves, the environmental problems of wetlands, and options for their management. The theoretical sessions were complemented by field visits. The report can be seen here [in Spanish]. [09/02/06]

El Informe del Taller sobre el sitio Ramsar de Bahía de Panamá ya está disponible. Reconociendo la gran importancia de la Parte Alta de la Bahía de Panamá para la diversidad de especies de flora y fauna locales y regionales, a finales de 2005 el Grupo para la Investigación Tecnoecológica y la Conservación – GITEC- organizó un taller para proveer a las comunidades locales Chinina y Oquendo las herramientas necesarias para comprender y hacer un uso racional de su humedal. Aplicando un enfoque participativo, el taller abordó problemáticas como el uso sostenible del manglar, los problemas ambientales de los humedales, y opciones para su manejo. Las sesiones teóricas fueron complementadas con visitas de campo. Aquí.

New MOC between Ramsar and Barcelona Conventions. On 7 February in Nairobi, the Ramsar Secretary General and the Coordinator of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention) signed a new Memorandum of Cooperation between the two secretariats, which supersedes the MOC of February 2001. Peter Bridgewater's brief illustrated report is here. [08/02/06]

Slovenia's World Wetlands Day celebrations. The Slovenian Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, together with the NGO "Danube Environmental Forum" represented in Slovenia by the "Society for Bird Studies and Nature Conservation", organized on World Wetlands Day 2006, in the freshly renovated City Museum of Ljubljana, a seminar on the functions provided by wetlands for life and development. Activities continued in Cerknica, home of the newly-designated Ramsar site, and then near the Skocjan caves Ramsar site. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé provides this brief illustrated report. [08/02/06]

Albania fêtes designation of new Ramsar site. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé was present at two-day World Wetlands Day ceremonies in the town of Shkoder and provides this brief illustrated report of what happened. [07/02/06]

Small Grants Fund call for proposals. The Ramsar Small Grants Fund was established by Ramsar COP4 in 1990 as a mechanism to assist developing countries and those with economies in transition in implementing the Convention and to enable the conservation and wise use of wetland resources - since that time, it has provided funding and co-funding, up to 40,000 Swiss francs (about US$ 34,000) per project, for something like 180 projects totaling about 7.5 million francs. The Secretariat is now calling for proposals for the 2006 cycle, with an application deadline of 30 June 2006 - the full announcement can be found here, and the SGF Guidelines and all of the relevant forms can be downloaded in Word and PDF formats from the SGF index page. [25/01/06]

Chad's newest Wetlands of International Importance. The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that during a side event organized by DCFAP (Directorate for Fauna Conservation and Protected Areas, Ramsar's administrative authority in Chad) on the 14th of November 2005, which took place at Ramsar's 9th Conference of the Parties, Chad formally received the site certificates for two new Ramsar sites. The two large sites, situated in Chad's southwest, are the Plaines d'inondation du Logone et les dépressions Toupouri and the Réserve de faune de Binder-Léré. WWF's Global Freshwater Program provided valuable assistance to the government of Chad in the preparations for the designations. Chad now has four Ramsar sites with a surface area covering 4,957,068 hectares. Brief descriptions of the sites, prepared by Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio from the Ramsar Information Sheets that accompanied the designation letters, can be found here. [24/01/06]

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