The Ramsar Bulletin Board, June 2014

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20th anniversary of the Danube River Protection Convention

The Danube Delta. Copyright Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority

The Danube River Protection Convention, celebrating its 20th anniversary on 29 June, is the oldest mechanism for cooperation on river basins in Europe.

The Danube is the world’s most international river, flowing through ten countries and four capital towns. Its drainage basin extends to 19 countries and is home to 83 million people.

Over the centuries, the Danube has played a vital role in the region, including, for example,  by providing water for agriculture and hydroelectric power and by facilitating transport and trade. The Danube also plays an important role for the region’s biodiversity: just in the delta  there are over 300 species of birds and 45 species of fish.

The Danube River Protection Convention provides a framework for international cooperation to ensure that water within the basin is managed and used sustainably and equitably. It has been signed by 15 countries, also members of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. 

Ramsar works closely with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), the organization implementing the Danube River Protection Convention, and participates as an Observer in its activities and meetings. The ICPDR is now one of the largest international networks of river basin experts in Europe and its successful management of the Danube river should be used as example in other regions. [27/06/14]


Extensive new coastal Site in El Salvador

El Salvador has designated its seventh Ramsar Site, the Complejo Barra de Santiago (11,519 ha; 13°42’24”N 90°0’59”W) at the western end of its Pacific coast. The Site contains an area representative of the mangroves of the dry Northern Pacific ecoregion of Central America and a palm tree (Brahea salvadorensis) swamp representative of an ecosystem specific to the Mesoamerican dry tropical forest ecoregion. It supports numerous threatened or endangered species. Among these are four species of marine turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata, Lepidochelys olivacea, Dermochelys coriacea and Chelonia mydas) and other species severely threatened by their commercial trade value, such as the yellow-naped parrot (Amazona auropalliata).

The mangroves also support about 75% of the commercially important coastal fauna in El Salvador. Many of these species, such as the shrimp of the family, depend on the mangroves as feeding, spawning and nursery areas. The Site is important for local communities as they depend on artisanal fishing for their livelihoods. It is threatened by unregulated urbanization, overgrazing, the growth of sugar cane and the increasing demand of wood for construction, as these have caused deforestation, changes in the hydrology of the area and pollution.  Français | Español [26/06/14]


Mexico designates two Sites in Chihuahua

Mexico has listed two new Ramsar Sites in the Sierra Madre Occidental range in southern Chihuahua State. Humedales de Guachochi (57.5 ha; 26°50’8”N 107°7’31”W) consists of eight endorheic reservoirs and lagoons in  the municipality of Guachochi, while Laguna La Juanota (232 ha; 26°29’13”N 106°28’28”W) is also an endorheic lagoon, which lies at 2,697 metres above sea level in the municipality of Balleza.
 
As described by the Secretariat’s Sara Casallas based on the Ramsar Information Sheets, they both play an important role in controlling and preventing flooding and in retaining seasonal water. They support numerous species, including migratory birds. Threatened or endangered species include the parrot Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha, the endemic squirrel Sciurus aberti durangi, the endemic hare Lepus californicus Sheldoni, the Mexican duck Anas platyrhynchos diazi and (at Guachochi) the great blue heron Ardea Herodias.
 
The Sites are also important for neighbouring communities, including Rarámuri indigenous groups that depend on them for subsistence fishing and farming.

The Humedales de Guachochi Site is threatened by deforestation in the surrounding area and the demand for spaces for ecotourism and for water and energy supply. At Laguna La Juanota, where the only input of water is from rain, the main threat is extended drought. Overgrazing and deforestation in the surrounding area also pose threats as they result in soil erosion and increased water salinity. Français | Español [26/06/14] 


Okavango Delta Ramsar Site is now 1000th World Heritage Site

On 22 June 2014 the Okavango Delta was inscribed as the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site, bringing the number of Ramsar Sites that also carry the World Heritage designation to 62.

The Okavango is a vast inland water flow that forms each year when the summer rains in the Angola highlands drain onto the plains of Botswana, flooding a wide flat area slightly larger than Belgium. The waters peak between June and August during the region’s parched winter, attracting one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife. Read more  [26/06/14]


Farmers compete for the best wet grasslands


Since 2010, French farmers are invited to compete by producing the most colourful flowery hay meadow (“concours Prairies Fleuries”). The competition is organized close to the Ramsar Secretariat by two adjacent Regional Nature Parks on the French and Swiss side of the Jura mountains (Parcs du Haut-Jura et Jura Vaudois). They run a transboundary competition for farmers in France and Switzerland (with slightly different agricultural policies and public subsidies). This year, the competition is about who produces the best wet hay meadow, inspired by World Wetlands Day placing a focus on the need for the wetland and agricultural sectors to work together and become partners for growth. Read more [25/06/14]


Ramsar Small Grants Fund Project Completed in Viet Nam – Ba Be Lake Ramsar Site

Ba Be Lake, the largest natural lake in Viet Nam, is at the centre of the karst mountains of the Ba Be National Park and Ramsar Site. The lake supports a rich variety of animals and plants, including a number of threatened species, and is also an important source of livelihood for the local population.

Despite the efforts of the lake’s Management Board and of a cooperative set up in 2004 to encourage sustainable fishing practices, the productivity and the biodiversity of the lake, in decline for three decades, continued to drop.

The Ramsar Small Grants Fund helped to strengthen the capacity of the lake’s Management Board to maintain and improve the lake’s biodiversity. Read more  [24/06/14]


Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) Webinar: World Wetlands Network (WWN) Africa

Wetland Link International Director Chris Rostron and Ramsar Senior Regional Advisor for Africa Paul Ouédraogo will talk about the opportunity to join like-minded civil society organizations that are delivering wetland conservation, monitoring, education or community engagement in Africa.  The webinar will outline best experiences, national and international wetland work (particularly in the Ramsar context) and future WWN activities in Africa, including WWN’s conference in Uganda.

Date: Wednesday 2 July 2014
Time: English version: 9:30-11:30 EDT (17.30-19.30 CEST); French version: 7:30-9:30 EDT (15.30-17.30 CEST)

Read more and register  | En savoir plus et s'inscrire [23/06/14]


Soco halts oil exploration in Virunga, Africa’s oldest national park
Ramsar calls for clear priority on wise and sustainable use of the site

The hunt for oil in Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is about to be halted.  A joint statement from the UK-based oil and gas company Soco International and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) announced the stop, and also noted that both organisations  look forward “to working responsibly with the Democratic Republic of Congo and its people to ensure that future development benefits both people and the environment”; an aim also strongly supported by the Ramsar Convention. Read more | Français [20/06/14]


The UN Watercourses Convention enters into force

Entering into force on 17 August 2014, the United Nations Watercourses Convention will complement the framework for international water cooperation provided by the Ramsar Convention and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Water Convention.

The UN Watercourses Convention sets out standards for countries to collaborate on the management of shared rivers, and any connected wetland types such as lakes and underground waters. When joining the Convention, countries commit to use shared watercourses in an equitable and reasonable way, taking into account the needs and interests of the other countries. Countries also commit to protect and preserve the ecosystems of international watercourses. Read more [19/06/14]


The French National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments (ONEMA) issued a special newsletter on wetlands

ONEMA’s latest newsletter highlights a project analyzing research on wetlands undertaken in France over the past ten years. It also describes projects to preserve lagoons and wetlands in Languedoc-Roussillon, to manage fens in the Somme department, and to protect eels in the Charente estuary.

Read the newsletter
English | Français [19/06/14]


Working across sectors to improve water management in agriculture
Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform's Water Stewardship Seminar

A sustainable water supply is vital for agriculture, which uses 70% of the total freshwater withdrawn from surface water and groundwater. With a growing global population that could exceed nine billion people by 2050, agricultural water consumption is also expected to increase, with much of the increased demand being for irrigation in areas which are already water-scarce.


The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, a global food and drink industry initiative, organized a seminar in Seville in April 2014 to explore this issue and look for innovative approaches across sectors. Christopher Briggs, Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, participated in the event. Read more [13/06/14]


Bulgaria extends two Ramsar Sites on the River Danube

Bulgaria has updated the Ramsar Information Sheets and maps for two Ramsar Sites on the River Danube, significantly extending their extent and taking the total national area of Wetlands of International Importance to almost 50,000 hectares. 

Belene Islands Complex in Pleven Province (Ramsar Site no. 1226) has been extended by 11,432 ha with the inclusion of additional islands and agricultural lands on the river banks. The Site is formed by a complex of one big island (Belene) and nine smaller islands, characterized by freshwater marshes, seasonally-flooded riverine forests, and agricultural and semi-natural land cut by drainage channels. It is exceptionally biodiverse and hosts several rare species of plants including white waterlily Nymphaea alba and water shamrock Marsilea quadrifolia, as well as globally threatened species of birds such as the Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus, great bustard Otis tarda and aquatic warbler Acrocephalus paludicola. Large-scale wetland restoration projects have been successfully completed, a visitor’s centre has been built and a new management plan for the Site has been approved and implemented. Read more | Français | Español [12/06/14]


Carpathian Wetland Centre opens in Bánska Bystrica, Slovakia

The Carpathian countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine) work together for water and wetland management, conservation and restoration in the framework of the Carpathian Wetland Initiative (www.cwi.sk). This Ramsar Regional Initiative is also formally part of the work programme of the Carpathian Convention (www.carpathianconvention.org). Since 4 July 2014, this regional cooperation initiative has a physical home in the Carpathian town of Bánska Bystrica, where Ján Kadlečík, the Initiative’s Coordinator, opened the newly established “Carpathian Wetland Centre” in a historic building belonging to the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic. Read more [11/06/14]


Vacancy: Intern/Assistant to the Senior Regional Advisor – Europe

The Ramsar Secretariat welcomes applications for the position of Intern/Assistant to the Senior Regional Advisor for Europe, based in Switzerland and beginning on 13 October 2014.

More information is available on the website of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which provides administrative services to the Ramsar Convention: https://hrms.iucn.org/iresy/index.cfm?event=vac.show&vacId=832

The deadline for applications is 30 June 2014.

Note: Only applications received online, using the link above, will be considered. [10/06/14]


Handbook on Best Practices for the Design and Operation of Wetland Education Centres

On the occasion of World Environment Day (2014), the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Environmental Ecosystem Research Foundation (Republic of Korea), are delighted to announce the launch of the Handbook on Best Practices for the Design and Operation of Wetland Education Centres.

Wetland education centres, as their name implies, are often located nearby wetlands and are wonderful places for both children and adults to experience the beauty of wetlands and at the same time to learn about the many values and benefits that wetlands provide for people and the environment. The first wetland education centre was established in the mid-1940s in the UK and since then, their number has increased around the world. Read more and download the Handbook | Français | Español[05/06/14]


Welcome to Delphine Brémond, Administrative Assistant - Office Systems

The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to welcome Delphine Brémond as Administrative Assistant - Office Systems.

Since her earliest childhood Delphine Brémond lived in various locations throughout Europe and Asia with her journalist parents. While studying LEA (Langues Etrangères Appliquées) in Paris, she had the opportunity to intern with a major German Publishing Group in Shanghai. Back in Paris, she worked in the movie business as a Production Assistant. Moving to Switzerland in 2002, she satisfied her need for stability by working for Sanofi-Aventis as a Marketing Assistant. After the birth of her first son, she had the pleasure to work as a freelance journalist for Axel-Springer Edition in Germany, maintaining a good balance between her new challenge as a mother and her longing to stay active in the working world. Employed as an Executive Assistant at McKinsey & Company in Geneva until 2012, she has worked as a freelance translator in French, English and German before joining the Ramsar Secretariat. [03/06/14]


12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP12)

We are pleased to unveil the logo of the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP12) that will take place in Punta del Este, Uruguay, from 1 to 9 June 2015. Read moreFrançais | Español [02/06/14]


Andorra’s Third Site

Andorra has completed the designation process for Parque Natural Comunal de los Valles del Comapedrosa (Parc Natural Comunal de les Valls del Comapedrosa in Catalan) as its third Ramsar Site. The Site (1,543 ha; 42°35’26”N 001°28’03”E) comprises 74 high mountain wetlands, including permanent rivers and streams, freshwater springs, small glacial lakes and non-forested peatlands, in a well-preserved landscape.

As noted by Ramsar Assistant Advisor for Europe Ms. Laura Máiz-Tomé, based on the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheet, these wetlands provide an important concentration of biodiversity and water reservoir within the Alpine biogeographic region. They support numerous endemic Pyrenean species, as well as threatened flora and fauna. Given its location at the headwaters of the Arinsal basin, the site regulates and prevents floods and ensures drinking water supply to the parish of La Massana. The main human activities affecting the Site are related to tourism, and include hiking, hunting and fishing. The park has visitor facilities such as a viewpoint at Roc de la Sabina, interpretative trails and an extensive network of footpaths. A management plan was updated in 2013, which sets the conservation objectives and regulates the activities within the park.

With this new designation, the area of Ramsar Sites in Andorra has reached 6,870 ha. This indicates the commitment of Andorra’s government to implement the Convention, in order to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of the most important wetlands in the country. Français | Español

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