26th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee -- Agenda papers


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26th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee
Gland, Switzerland, 3 - 7 December 2001
Agenda item 8

DOC. SC26-4

Report and analysis on issues related to Resolution VII.12: "Sites in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance: official descriptions, conservation status, and management plans, including the situation of particular sites in the territories of specific Contracting Parties" and application of Articles 3.2 and 8.2(d) of the Convention

Action requested: The Standing Committee is requested to receive the report of the Secretary General on this matter, to note the draft resolutions for COP8 that have been prepared on these issues, and to provide guidance to Contracting Parties and /or the Bureau.

1. Practically all issues related to this matter have been covered in the report of the Secretary General, in paragraphs 72-79 (urgent national interests) and paragraphs 91-94 (fulfillment of Article 3.2 on change of ecological character).

2. Two issues in Oceania were not contained in that report. They are as follows:

a) Australia. The Bureau had received information from a local NGO concerning plans for a toxic waste depository adjacent to Lake Reeves (Gippsland Lakes Ramsar site). The representatives expressed concerns that any leakage of toxic or radioactive wastes into surface or groundwater could place the ecological character of the site in jeopardy. The Bureau raised these concerns with the Convention’s Administrative Authority, who have replied that they have arranged for these issues to be examined, and a substantive response is awaited.

b) New Zealand. The Bureau had received information of a long-term problem of increased siltation in the Whangamarino Wetland Ramsar site resulting from discharge of silt-laden water from Lake Waikare upstream of the wetland, as part of a flood management scheme. According to the information, this has led to severe restriction of plant and invertebrate animal growth and a major decline in the internationally-important numbers of waterbirds using the wetlands; it was reported that a further 25-year discharge consent had recently been granted which did not fully addressed appropriate mitigation measures. The New Zealand Department of Conservation have now investigated these matters through their regional staff and have advised the Bureau that they are presently examining ways of managing the system to ensure the ecological character of the site in the future.

3. The issues addressed in this agenda item are dealt with in the proposed resolutions on:

a) General guidance for determining "urgent national interest" under Article 2.5 of the Convention and compensation under Article 4.2 (DOC. SC26/COP8-1)

b) Procedure for the review of Ramsar site boundary reductions or deletions from the Ramsar List for reasons other than urgent national interests (DOC. SC26/COP8-2)

c) The implementation of Article 3.2 of the Convention (DOC. SC26/COP8-9)

4. Concerning Article 8.2 of the Convention (see footnote), the alterations in the Ramsar List will be reported upon in the Report of the Secretary General to COP8, which will be based upon the analysis of the National Reports submitted by Contracting Parties. This issue should also be addressed under Agenda Item X of COP8: Issues arising from Resolutions and Recommendations of previous meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties.

5. In the meantime, the Standing Committee may wish to provide guidance to Contracting Parties and/or the Bureau on the issues raised in the report of the Secretary General as indicated in paragraphs 1 and 2 above.

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