The Ramsar Bulletin Board, January 2014

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Press Release: Healthy wetlands are essential to feed growing global population

On Sunday 2 February, World Wetlands Day, the Convention on Wetlands calls for greater collaboration between the agriculture, water and wetlands sectors to ensure that healthy wetlands continue to provide clean water, food, and many other benefits to people and nature.

Across the world, 70% of all water withdrawn from wetlands, including aquifers, rivers and lakes, is used for agriculture. Wetlands support agriculture by providing water, transport and fertile soils but also by directly supplying food and other products such as thatch or biofuel. They also provide benefits to others further downstream such as helping to store water for drinking and for energy production and providing habitat for local and migrating animals. Read more: EnglishFrançais | Español [31/01/14]


New Ramsar Site for the United Arab Emirates

The U.A.E. has designated its fifth Wetland of International Importance, a very interesting salt dome island belonging to the emirate of Sharjah lying some 65 km off the coast of Dubai. As summarized by Ms Samridhi Rijal, Ramsar Assistant Advisor for Asia-Oceania, based on the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheet, the Sir Bu Nair Island Protected Area site (4,964 hectares; 25°13’55”N 054°13’09”E) includes the island itself, formed from regional tectonic activities and rich in minerals, with a terrestrial area of 1,333 ha, surrounded by extensive and healthy coral reef amounting to 3,631 ha within the site limits. Despite its small size, the site supports a high biodiversity for the biogeographic region. A total of 40 coral species and 76 reef fish species have been recorded, including seven coral species that are Red Listed as Vulnerable. The site is an important nesting site for the Critically Endangered Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), and it supports more than 1% of the regional breeding population of the Sooty gull (Larus hemprichii).

The island is of historical importance as pottery has been found dating back to about 3,500 years ago. It also used to be a meeting point for fishermen and a base for pearl divers. The island was declared a National Protected Area in 2000 and visits are permitted only for environmental surveys and studies. There is a plan to develop a limited area of the site for commercial tourism. Español | Français [30/01/14]


Fifth Site for Senegal

Senegal has designated the Réserve Naturelle Communautaire de Tocc Tocc (273 ha, 16°20'38''N 15°50'13''W) as a Ramsar Site. As summarised by Ramsar’s Dede Amah, this site is a permanent coastal freshwater lake which provides a habitat for spawning, nursery and feeding for over 98 fish species including Bagrid and Eel Catfish (Chrysichthys nigrodigitatus and Clarias anguillaris) and Guinean tilapia (Tilapia guineensis), which are species of high nutritional and commercial value to the local communities. The site serves as home for a large colony of water birds including the White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), and also the freshwater Adanson's mud turtle (Pelusios adansonii) and the iconic and vulnerable West African Manatee (Trichechus senegalensis),which was recently listed on CITES Appendix I.

As well as acting as a reservoir of biodiversity, the site supports the hydrological balance of the Senegal River basin and provides services including groundwater recharge and flood control, and also desalination of brackish water for agricultural purposes. It is also a source of livelihoods for resident populations, which engage mainly in artisanal fisheries and harvesting of forest products such as Cyperus articulatus, a sedge species used as a base in the perfume industry. The main threats facing the site are overfishing and the uncontrolled abstraction of the water; a local management committee has been established to monitor these activities.  Español | Français [30/01/14]


Guinea-Bissau designates Bijagós Archipelago

Guinea-Bissau has named the large Archipel Bolama-Bijagós (1,046,950 ha; 11°14’N 16°02’W) as its second Ramsar Site. The archipelago, which is also a Biosphere Reserve, has the only active delta islands in the Atlantic Coast of West Africa.  The intertidal mudflats host one of the largest populations of migratory shorebirds in the world (with over 870,000 recorded in 2001) on the East Atlantic flyway. Visitors include the Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) and Red Knot (Calidris canutus). The influence of coastal upwelling and estuaries and the large areas of mangrove support the reproduction and early growth of a large number of fish species. The site hosts the largest colony of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Africa, and provides a habitat for over 15 vulnerable species including the Hippopotamus, West African Manatee (Trichechus senegalensis), Timneh Parrot (Psittacus timneh), Atlantic Humpbacked Dolphin (Sousa teuszii), Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and Green Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).

As described by Ramsar’s Dede Amah, based on the accompanying RIS, the archipelago is also a source of livelihoods for over 32,000 inhabitants, who use some areas for rice farming, palm plantations and subsistence fishing, and the others  for cultural and spiritual purposes. The main threats facing the site are overfishing, tourism and ongoing offshore oil exploration and bauxite mining in the neighbouring regions. Español | Français [30/01/14]


Belarus designates three new Sites

Belarus has named three new Ramsar sites, taking the country’s total to 16 Sites covering over 600,000 hectares. The largest is Pripyatsky National Park; like Pripyatsky, Kozyansky and Vydritsa are designated as Important Bird Areas. The Sites include bogs, peatlands, swamps and lakes, as well as rivers and their floodplains. They host bird species such as the Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris and the Common Crane Grus grus, and mammals such as the Eurasian Lynx, Brown Bear Ursus arctos and Eurasian Badger Meles meles.

The sites have significant value in regulating the supply and quality of water. They are appreciated for their archeological sites and the agricultural, hunting, fishing and forestry opportunities they offer. They share the threat of being over-exploited, while the ecological character of the two Sites in the south of the country may be affected by radioactive contamination which has been recorded since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Site summaries (in English only) have been prepared by Assistant Advisor for Europe Laura Máiz-Tomé.  Read more | Español | Français [30/01/14]


H5N8 avian influenza outbreak in the Republic of Korea

The Republic of Korea has reported a number of outbreaks of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) since 16 January. The virus has also killed a number of wild birds including Baikal teal (Anas formosa) and bean geese (Anser fabilis). Over 640,000 poultry have already been slaughtered, with many hundreds of thousands more set to be destroyed.The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds, co-convened by the United Nations Environment Programme/ Convention on Migratory Species (UNEP/CMS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has produced an update in English, summarizing the current situation and guiding the response of agencies. Read more [28/01/2014]


Celebrating 16 years working together for water and wetlands: the Danone Group, Evian and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

The Ramsar Convention was the first international convention to promote the engagement of the business sector directly in the conservation and wise use of wetlands. The first partnership agreement, signed on 27 January 1998, resulted in the creation of the “Danone – Evian Fund for Water” for the protection of wetlands as well as providing the Ramsar Secretariat with support to raise awareness of global water and wetlands-related challenges through Ramsar’s World Wetlands Day annual campaign (2 February). The World Wetlands Day campaign has grown from fewer than 30 countries in 1998 to over 160 countries in 2013. Read more [27/01/14]


Improving management of marine and coastal biodiversity in the Pacific Islands

Ramsar and partners took part in a fact-finding and consultation mission in the Republic of Kiribati in December 2013, for the GIZ-SPREP-IUCN project on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Management in the Pacific Island Countries (MACBIO). Vainuupo Jungblut, Ramsar Officer for Oceania (ROO) based at SPREP in Samoa,  represented Ramsar and SPREP at the meeting. Read more [27/01/14]


Burundi’s four Ramsar Sites

By designating three Ramsar Sites in 2013, Burundi demonstrated its commitment to the protection and wise use of wetlands. Burundi’s four Sites cover a total area of 78,000 hectares and are home to a variety of plants and animals, including threatened species such as the IUCN Red-Listed Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius and the Grey Crowned-crane Balearica regulorum. The Ministry of Water, the Environment, Land and Urban Planning of Burundi has published a leaflet detailing the geographic location and resources of the four Ramsar Sites. For more information contact Paul Ouédraogo, Senior Advisor for Africa, at ouedraogo[at]ramsar.org. Read the leaflet (only available in French).

Les quatre Sites Ramsar du Burundi 
 
En désignant trois sites Ramsar en 2013, le Burundi a démontré son engagement envers la protection et l'utilisation rationnelle des zones humides. Les quatre sites du Burundi couvrent une superficie totale de 78 000 hectares et abritent une grande variété de plantes et d'animaux, y compris des espèces menacées telles que
l’Hippopotamus amphibius, inscrit sur la « Liste Rouge » de l’UICN et la Grue royale Balearica regulorum. Le Ministère de l'Eau, l'Environnement, de l’Aménagement du Territoire et de l'Urbanisme du Burundi a publié un Atlas des quatres Sites Ramsar du Burundi, en détaillant leur localisation et leurs ressources. Pour plus d'informations contacter Paul Ouédraogo, Conseiller Principal pour l'Afrique, à ouedraogo[at] ramsar.org. Télécharger l’Atlas [21/01/14]


KODOMO: Children exchange views for sustainable development in Thailand

Children from Thailand and Japan met in January to learn about the conservation of their wetlands. The event, held from 10 to 12 January at Mahidol University in Thailand, was part of an exchange programme entitled "KODOMO Ramsar for ESD (Education for Sustainable Development): International Wetland Exchange in Lower Chao Phraya River, Thailand". Read more [20/01/14]


STRP Webinar Series: Looking forward to the future of wetlands – a vision from the new Secretary General of Ramsar

Please join us on Friday 24 January 2014, from 14h00-15h00 (CET) (or 8h00-9h00 (EST)) for a webinar by Ramsar Secretary General Christopher Briggs on “Looking forward to the future of wetlands – a vision from the new Secretary General of Ramsar.” The webinar will introduce the new Secretary General as well as his vision for the future.

Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/936466538.  After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. For any questions, please write to strp[at]ramsar.org.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Mac®-based attendees: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
Mobile attendees: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet
[20/01/14] 


Namibia designates Bwabwata – Okavango

Namibia has designated its fifth Ramsar Site, Bwabwata – Okavango (46,964 ha; 18°12’43”S 21°45’36”E) in Bwabwata National Park. The site covers the lower Okavango River, part of the Okavango Delta Panhandle and permanently or temporarily flooded marshes and floodplains bordered by riparian forest and open woodland. It supports IUCN Red-Listed species, including the vulnerable African Elephant Loxodonta africana, Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius, Lion Panthera leo, Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula and the endangered Grey Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum. The site supports one of the highest diversities of species in the Zambezian Flooded Savannas ecoregion. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded, the highest number of any site in Namibia.

The site provides a variety of ecosystem services, including provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural services. Current land use includes tourism, crop cultivation and livestock farming. Small-scale farming dominates, typically of a few hectares of millet, sorghum and maize with a small number of goats and cattle. A management plan was drafted recently and is in the process of official approval. Parts of the southern boundary of the site are contiguous with the northern boundary of the Okavango Delta Ramsar Site in Botswana. Español | Français [16/01/14]


 Seventh Ramsar Site in Indonesia

The Indonesian government has significantly increased the area of Ramsar Sites in the country by designating Tanjung Puting National Park (408,286 ha; 03°02’47” S and 111°59’45” E). The Park is one of the most important conservation areas in Central Kalimantan, acting as a water reservoir and representing one of the largest remaining habitats of the endangered Kalimantan Orangutan Pongo pygmaeus. The site consists of seven different types of swamp, including peat swamp forests, lowland tropical rainforest, freshwater swamp forests and as well as mangroves and coastal forest. It supports large numbers of endemic species of flora and fauna adapted to the predominant acidic peat swamp environment.

The area was declared a National Park in 1996, and is currently managed under a long-term plan (2009-2029) to rehabilitate areas formerly used for timber concessions and to prevent illegal logging and encroachment. Local communities depend on the wetlands for fish, fruit and timber and some continue to use traditional methods of fishing and to extract latex from the Jelutong/Gum tree Dyera costulata. However, there is increasing pressure on the natural resources of the area, leading to the decline of endemic species such as the Ramin Gonystylus bancanus and Meranti (Shorea spp.) trees. Español | Français [16/01/14]


Building partnerships to promote sustainable management of agriculture and wetlands

Wetlands and agriculture are closely interlinked. Agriculture depends on wetlands for water – 70% of all water withdrawals from aquifers, streams and lakes is used for agriculture. Wetlands in turn depend on sustainable agricultural practices that manage water use so that wetlands remain healthy and can continue to provide their many benefits to people and nature. Read more [10/01/14]


Ramsar Advisory Mission to Mývatn-Laxá region, Iceland

Lake Mývatn and its outflowing Laxá river form an outstanding wetland ecosystem in the Arctic realm. Thanks to the geothermal water inflow with specific mineral loads, a rich food web, leading to an outstanding biodiversity, has been able to develop rapidly since the creation of the ecosystem after a major volcanic eruption 2,300 years ago.

The Mývatn-Laxá Protection Area is highly valued by the Icelandic society for its unique biodiversity values, for its hydrological services and the substantial recreational and tourist attraction the landscape and its features provide locally, nationally and globally. The Mission therefore highlights the importance of this wetland ecosystem and acknowledges the global commitment by Iceland, when joining the Ramsar Convention, to sustainably manage this heritage for the benefit of future generations, according to the Ramsar “wise use” principle. Read the report [10/01/2014]


International cooperation to end the illegal trapping of protected bird species in Egypt and Libya

The widespread hunting and trapping of migratory birds in Egypt and Libya, especially through the use of mist nets along vast stretches of the Mediterranean coast, have become issues of public concern in a growing number of European countries.

Representatives from the governments of Egypt, Germany, Switzerland and from the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) met in December and agreed a Plan of Action to address this issue. Read more on the website of the AEWA (African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement) or read UNEP's press release. [07/01/2014]


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