The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 27 June 2008

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Republic of Korea names intertidal flats.The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Republic of Korea, host country for the next meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (Changwon, 28 October-4 November 2008), has designated an important wintering stop for migratory birds along the East Asian-Australasian flyway. As summarized by Ramsar’s Pragati Tuladhar, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet, Muan Tidal Flat (3,589 hectares, 35°06’N 126°23’E), a Wetland Protected Area, is an intertidal sand- and mudflat ecosystem, largely free of human disturbance, on the coastline of the Yellow Sea, located in the mouth of semi-enclosed inner bay. Some 49 species of winter waterbirds have been observed, and the site provides habitat to various endangered and rare species such Saunder’s Gull (Larus saundersi), Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) and Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes). It is a notable spawning ground for marine organisms, with some 357 species recorded, providing valuable food resources for the migratory birds. A ‘reclamation’ with small-scale sea dyke constructions was carried out for the development of Woldoo village fishing port, but detrimental effects have not appeared so far. A comprehensive management plan has been in effect since 2002, implemented by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF), and a number of monitoring programmes are continuing. [26/06/08]

Small change in the Ramsar List. Austria remeasures key Danube site. Austria has recalculated the area, using GIS techniques, of the Donau-March-Thaya-Auen Ramsar site, resulting in an area of 36,090 hectares instead of the former estimate of 38,500. The site, now renamed by the addition of "Thaya", is part of the "Trilateral Ramsar Site Floodplains of the Morava-Dyje-Danube Confluence" Transboundary Ramsar site with Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Austria now has 19 Ramsar sites covering 119,962 hectares. [26/06/08]

Serbia names riverine Ramsar site. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Republic of Serbia has designated its 9th Wetland of International Importance. As described by Monica Zavagli, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet, Zasavica (1,913 hectares, 44°56’N 019°32’E) is a Special Nature Reserve and BirdLife IBA located in northern Macva, a riverine ecosystem that dominates the area south of the river Sava, with the rivulet Zasavica and its tributary the Batar, for a total length of 33 km. Aquatic and swampy ecosystems line up along with fragments of floodable meadows and forests representing one of the last preserved pristine swamp areas in Serbia.

The natural conditions are favorable for many rare plant and animal species, such as greater spearwort (Ranunculus lingua), water violet (Hottonia palustris), marsh nettle (Urtica kioviensis), freshwater sponge (Spongilla lacustris), a rare species of oligochaete (Rynchelmnis limnosela), Danube crested newt (Triturus dobrogicus), ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca) as well as otter (Lutra lutra) and beaver (Castor fiber). It is also the only habitat of the mudminnow, Umbra krameri, in Serbia. Traditional grazing and cattle breeding, particularly of autochthonous races, along with the several centuries’ long usage of the area, supports the maintenance of grassland habitats within the Reserve. Zasavica has inspired many legends and myths, and it is woven into the cultural being of the people. Some photographs of the site can be seen here. [25/06/08]

Wings Over Wetlands training workshop in Jordan. The Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) project set out in 2006 with the broad aim to improve and conserve healthy and viable populations of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds through identifying and conserving critical wetland areas and building local professional capacity. Funded largely by UNDP-GEF, the project lead implementers include Wetlands International and BirdLife International and it operates in close coordination with the Secretariats of Ramsar and UNEP/AEWA as well as UNEP-WCMC. A workshop held in Amman, Jordan, 9-16 June 2008, was the near-final step in the development of the Training and Awareness component of the WOW project, and Sandra Hails has prepared this illustrated report. [25/06/08]

First meeting of Ramsar site managers in Switzerland. On 15 March 2008, the Fondation des Grangettes (managing Ramsar site N° 504 Les Grangettes on Lake Geneva) hosted a meeting of Ramsar site managers in Switzerland and nearby France in the small town of Villeneuve at the edge of the Ramsar site. This was a first and very successful event, based on the reflections of the Swiss Ramsar Administrative Authority (the Federal Office of the Environment) about practical ways to improve Ramsar contacts at national level. HERE [23/06/08]

USA adds 24th Ramsar site. The Secretariat is delighted to announce that the well-known Olentangy research wetland in the US state of Ohio has been designated by the United States as its 24th Wetland of International Importance, effective 18 April 2008. As described by Ramsar’s Mila Llorens, based on the exemplary Ramsar Information Sheet, Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park(21 hectares, 40º01’N 083º01’W) is a complex of created and natural freshwater riverine wetlands located on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The wetlands include freshwater, tree-dominated wetlands, permanent rivers/streams/creeks, seasonal/intermittent freshwater marshes, and permanent freshwater marshes. It is a unique combination of 1) a biologically diverse assemblage of different wetland and riverine habitats both representative and unique to the region; 2) high-quality university teaching, research, and publishing related specifically to wetland ecology and management; and 3) significant wetland ecotourism and outreach for an urban community where few wetlands remain.

As a result of wetland creation, restoration, and sound management, the ORWRP has developed into a diverse set of habitats and vegetated ecosystems comparable to any similar-sized temperate zone wetland. The site has supported almost 160 bird species, diverse fish and invertebrate communities in the river and marshes, and a wide variety of mammals, amphibians and reptiles, all in an urban region of 1.6 million people. The ORWRP is one of only two wetland research facilities in the USA in the Global Wetland Consortium (GWC). The Olentangy park Web site is presently featuring the new Ramsar site certificate on its front page ( [20/06/08]

6th European Ramsar Meeting. The 6th European Ramsar Meeting was hosted by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in Stockholm, Sweden, 3-7 May 2008. It provided a great opportunity to actively discuss the new millennium challenges for wetland conservation, look into operational procedures of the Convention, and prepare for the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10), to be held in Changwon on 28 October-4 November 2008. It was attended by 109 participants representing 37 Contracting Parties in the European Region, six intergovernmental organizations, three of Ramsar’s five International Organization Partners, seven other organizations, and two invited Ramsar experts. The final report is now ready and available (PDF), together with the final list of participants, agenda, supporting documents and and a page of photographs right here. [19/06/08]

MedWet Project Dialogue on water in the MENA region. A mission was undertaken by MedWet Policy Advisor Nejib Benessaiah to Menasra, Morroco, on 13-19 April 2008 in the framework of the MedWet project Dialogue on water governance in agriculture and the interaction with wetlands. During the mission, the Menasra Agreement and Action Plan were amended according to comments provided by the team working to moderate the process of the dialogue-- in an upcoming national meeting of the Menasra dialogue an Agreement will be signed representing the key stakeholders in the management of the basin. The operation of the Menasra Agreement is also expected to support efforts for the conservation of the nearby Ramsar site of Merja Zerga. Further details are provided by MedWet Policy Advisor Nejib Benessaiah. [13/06/08]

News from the SGF. Moldova completes Unguri-Holosnita project. Moldova's Small Grants Fund Project on “Management Scenario Development for the Unguri – Holosnita Ramsar Site and Awareness Rising on the Ramsar Convention Wise Use Policy” has been successfully concluded. The one-year cycle SGF project, carried out by BIOTICA Ecological Society in close cooperation with the National Focal Point for the Ramsar Convention at the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, was successfully concluded a few months ago. The project aimed at developing a management plan and implementing the wise use approach in the Unguri-Holosnita Ramsar Site, located on the left bank of the Dniester River in northeastern Moldova near the border with Ukraine. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Europe, Monica Zavagli, provides further details and photos. [12/06/08]

Winners of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards. The Standing Committee has announced the winners of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards for 2008. In the science category, the Award goes to Dave Pritchard; in the management category, to Denis Landenbergue, WWF International; and in the education category, to Dr Sansanee Choowaew of Mahidol University, Thailand. In addition, the Recognition of Excellence was awarded to Dr Jan Kvet of the Czech Republic. Full descriptions of the reasons for these choices can be found here. The three Ramsar Awards, with the Evian Special Prize fo USD 10,000 for each, will be conferred at the opening of the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties in the Republic of Korea in October 2008. [05/06/08]

Transboundary Ramsar site for Belarus and Ukraine. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus has significantly extended the boundaries of the Prostyr Ramsar site (designated in 2005), from 6,800 to 9,500 hectares. At the same time, in a letter of 4 January 2008, Belarus has nominated Prostyr as part of a new Transboundary Ramsar Site (TRS) named “Stokhid-Pripyat-Prostyr”, meaning that “an ecologically coherent wetland extends across national borders and the Ramsar site authorities on both or all sides of the border have formally agreed to collaborate in its management, and have notified the Secretariat of this intent." (This is a cooperative management arrangement and not a distinct legal status for the Ramsar sites involved.) The government of Ukraine notified the Secretariat on 1 February 2008 that the Ramsar sites Pripyat River Floodplains (1995) and Stokhid River Floodplains (1995) would also be part of this new TRS. [02/06/08]

SC37 underway. The 37th meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee is getting underway today, 2 June 2008, with meetings of the Management Working Group and the Subgroup on Finance. Tomorrow, following an early session of the Subgroup on COP10, the plenary sessions will commence and carry on through to the end of the week. The main item of business throughout the five days will be the consideration of draft Resolutions that are to be transmitted onward to the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, set for Changwon, Republic of Korea, 27 October to 4 November. The documentation for this week’s meetings can be found here. [02/06/08]

USA adds 23rd Ramsar site. The Secretariat is delighted to announce that at the 30 May 2008 annual meeting of the US National Ramsar Committee, hosted by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in the Hall of States, Washington D.C., Ramsar site certificates will be presented for the 23rd Wetland of International Importance, the Francis Beidler Forest (6,438 hectares, 33°15’N 080°22’W), a sanctuary and Important Bird Area in South Carolina largely owned by the Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy. This will be in conjunction with a briefing for the Congressional Wildlife Refuge Caucus, entitled “Wetlands of International Importance: National Wildlife Refuges and the Ramsar Convention”, in which Steve Atzert and Royal Gardner will introduce US congressional staff members to the Ramsar Convention and the benefits associated with designating National Wildlife Refuges as Ramsar sites. Read more about the event and the Francis Beidler Forest here and view the Audubon Society’s press release here, with a link to a brief video about the site. [30/05/08]

Now available. Ramsar regional meeting reports. The meeting report and key messages and recommendations from the Ramsar Asia regional meeting (Bangkok, Thailand, 14-18 January 2008) are now available here. The meeting report and key messages and recommendations in English and French from the 5th Pan-African regional meeting (Yaoundé, Cameroon, 26-30 November 2007) are now available here. [30/05/08]

Ecohydrology conference in Lodz, Poland. The European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology (ERCE) organized on 19-23 May 2008 an international conference on “Ecohydrological Processes and Sustainable Floodplain Management” to discuss opportunities and concepts for water hazard mitigation in view of achieving ecological and socio-economic sustainability. The organizers benefited from institutional advice and support by UNESCO’s International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) in Japan and the Institute for Water Education (IHE) in the Netherlands, by the Institute for Water Resources of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the International Society of Limnology (SIL) and the Universities of Vienna, Tours and Algarve, among others. The Polish Ministries of Science and Higher Education and of the Environment, the City of Lodz, and the Ramsar Secretariat acted as Honorary Patrons. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé reports on the issues involved and on the conference itself. [28/05/08]

International Day of Biological Diversity. A message from the Secretary General on the International Day of Biological Diversity: "On behalf of the Ramsar community, I send my best wishes on the occasion of the International Day of Biological Diversity, 22 May 2008. This year’s theme of ‘Biodiversity and Agriculture’ is an especially appropriate one for us, because the Ramsar Convention is similarly concerned about the importance of sustainable agriculture in maintaining the ecological character of the world’s wetlands and the ecosystem services that flow from them for the well-being of human communities.

Food security is a key part of the requirements for human health, and this is also a vital component of the theme of the Ramsar COP10 later this year (28 October to 4 November) – “Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People”.

The International Day of Biological Diversity is an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves of the immense value of agricultural biodiversity for many of the objectives we have set for ourselves in terms of human livelihoods, poverty reduction, food security, and the conservation and wise use, not only of our vital wetland resources, but of all the ecosystems that make up our common home on this earth.

-- Anada Tiéga, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

Mexico names 79th Ramsar site.  The government of Mexico has designated its 79th Ramsar site so far, one of the 45 new sites announced on World Wetlands Day 2008. As described by Ramsar’s Mila Llorens, Humedales La Libertad (5,432 hectares, 17°39’N 091°43’W) is situated in the Usumacinta River Basin in Chiapas state and is composed of a complex of lagoons and temporary floodplains formed by the river La Libertad. The Manatee (Trichechus manatus), the Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis) and the Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra) are amongst the endangered species living in the area. The site presents ideal conditions for the reproduction stages of many species of importance including: the Coatimundi (Nasua narica), Paca (Agouti paca), the Banded Anteater (Tamandua mexicana), the Mesoamerican River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii), the Morelet's crocodile (Crocodilus moreletii), and fish species including Atractosteus tropicus and Cichlasoma heterospilum. It also shelters at least 99 species of resident and migratory birds. Fishing is the main productive activity. Factors negatively affecting the site include agricultural and livestock practices, deforestation, soil compaction caused by grazing, the discharge of waste waters, etc. The National History and Ecology Institute is in charge of the management of the site, and it is found under the IV IUCN Category of protected areas. This is Ramsar site number 1774.

Bystroe Canal Project under international scrutiny. The proposed construction by Ukraine of a “Danube-Black Sea Deep-Water Navigation Canal” in the Danube Delta has been an object of strong international concern since 2003, and Ukraine’s decision in December 2007 to proceed to full implementation of the project whilst a large number of questions remain unanswered about its international environmental impacts has increased that concern considerably. A number of relevant intergovernmental organizations met informally in Geneva on 18 April 2008 to exchange information and experiences on their activities with regard to the Project, and Ramsar’s Tobias Salathé provides a summary of these contributions in an up-to-date background paper. Next week, Ramsar’s Secretary General, Mr Anada Tiéga, will be participating in the 4th meeting of the Parties of the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, Bucharest, Romania, 19-21 May 2008, and the UN ECE press release, "Controversial Danube Canal – Non-compliance with Espoo Convention? Decision expected on 21 May", indicates the seriousness with which this issue is being treated by the international community. [16/05/08]

Wetlands, land use patterns, and drought -- Ramsar and CSD-16. The Secretary General, Mr Anada Tiéga, has been attending CSD-16 in New York, USA, from 7 to 14 May 2008, in a follow-up to his participation in the intersessional meeting held in Beijing, China, January 2008. CSD-16's thematic issues are Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Drought, Desertification, and Africa -- the Secretary General was one of the panelists in the Thematic Discussion about Drought, and his presentation was focused on “Wetland management as a significant land use issue”. Here is a brief report on the Secretary General's contributions.[14/05/08]

MedWet Dialogue pour l’eau dans la région (MENA). Un atelier local s’est tenu le 6 février à la Commune rurale des Mnasra, Maroc dans le cadre du projet intitulé Dialogue pour l’eau dans la région (MENA). Ce projet financé par InWent est entrepris par MedWet dans le but de promouvoir la collaboration intra sectorielle pour une meilleure gestion des ressources en eau au Moyen Orient et dans la région Nord Africaine. Rapport. [14/05/08]

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