Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 December 1996
Malheureusement, il n'y a pas de version française de ce document.
Headline Story: The 96th Contracting Party -- Malawi. UNESCO has informed the Bureau that on 14 November Malawi deposited its papers of accession, and the treaty will enter into force for that country on 14 March 1997. Malawi designated Lake Chilwa as its first Ramsar site; this 224,800-hectare site is partly under government control but mainly under customary ownership, under the control of local chiefs. It is a shallow, enclosed endorheic saline lake, surrounded by an area of dense swamps and marshes, surrounded in turn by a belt of seasonally inundated grassland floodplain. The lake annually supports about 153 and 30 species of resident and palearctic (migratory) waterbirds respectively. About 23 species attain the Ramsar 1% threshold, including the Pinkbacked Pelican, Blackheaded Heron, Greyheaded Gull, African Skimmer, and Marsh Owl. The socio-economically useful land practices include fishing, agriculture (cultivation of rice and dimba), and human settlements. Lake Chilwa annually contributes about 25-30% of Malawi's total fish production. [29/11/96]
New on the Site:Convention on Biological Diversity -- Decision on Ramsar and other conventions, text in English, 1/12/96 (see under Key Documents | More Documents); Ramsar Information Sheet, with Explanatory Note and Guidelines and the Classification of Wetland Types, 3/12/96 (see under Key Documents); List of Ramsar Contracting Parties -- update in English, French, and Spanish, 2/12/96 (see under Key Documents); 19th Standing Committee Meeting -- Summary of Decisions in English, French, and Spanish, 28/11/96 (see under Key Documents).
Pan-European Biological and Landscape Strategy. The Executive Board of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Strategy, composed of governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations and chaired by the Netherlands, is meeting this week, 27-29 November, in the Palais des Nations in Geneva to work out its work programme for 1997-1998. The Ramsar Bureau’s Technical Officer for Europe, Tim Jones, has been invited to present proposals for work on two of the Strategy’s twelves action themes, those concerning wetlands and rivers. [28/11/96]
Reorganization in Australia.The whole of Australia's federal environment portfolio has undergone a review of its operations. As of 18 November, the Department of Environment, Sport and Territories, as well as several related statutory authorities (including the Australian Nature Conservation Agency, the Environmental Protection Authority, the Australian Heritage Commission, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority), have been reorganized into Environment Australia. The former ANCA is now the Biodiversity Group with Environment Australia, and the Ramsar Administrative Authority in the country is now the Wetlands, Waterways and Waterbirds Unit, Environment Australia Biodiversity Group. The head of that unit is Dr Bill Phillips. [26/11/96]
Spain to develop a National Strategy. According to the newsletter of the Spanish Ministry of Environment, "Spain is going to develop a National Strategy for Wetland Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use. This strategy will be prepared in collaboration with the Autonomous Communities. The work will be carried out under the auspices of the Spanish Ramsar Committee." Further information from Antonio Fernandez de Tejada (fax +34 1 347 6303). [22/11/96]
Austria's ninth Ramsar site. Hörfeld is the name of the ninth Austrian wetland to be added to the List of Wetlands of International Importance, and the first to be shared by more than one of Austria's nine federal provinces -- Carinthia (Kärnten) and Styria (Steiermark). Hörfeld is a 173 hectare stream-fed freshwater marsh located in a valley bottom. It is of great ecological value, supporting a variety of rare and endangered plants and breeding birds. The latter include Corncrake (Crex crex), whose numbers have declined precipitously in much of Europe in recent decades. A nature trail for educational purposes is planned around the perimeter of the site. [19/11/96]
Three new sites in the United Kingdom. Morecambe Bay is the largest and most significant of three new estuarine Ramsar sites designated by the UK as of 4 October. Covering almost 40,000 hectares, this vast intertidal embayment in northwest England is the country's second-largest Ramsar site and one of the UK's top five wetlands in terms of the number of wintering and migrating waterbirds supported. During the five-winter period 1990/91 to 1994/95, Morecambe Bay hosted an average of more than 224,000 waterfowl and shorebirds, with no fewer than 11 species present in internationally important numbers. The designation has been pending for some years, awaiting the outcome of governmental and other official consultations. However, the successful outcome, including classification as a European Union "Special Protection Area," in addition to the Ramsar designation, has been widely welcomed by conservation and environment groups. The other two 4 October designations from the United Kingdom are the Alde-Ore Estuary in Suffolk (2,437 ha.) and Foulness in Essex (10,969 ha). [18/11/96]
Israel becomes the 95th Contracting Party. UNESCO has today informed the Bureau that Israel, which had deposited an instrument of ratification some time ago, has now deposited maps and descriptions of its first two Ramsar sites, En Afeq Nature Reserve and Hula Nature Reserve. With the formalities thus completed, the Convention will enter into force for Israel four months after 12 November, that is, on 12 March 1997, and Israel can be welcomed as the Convention's 95th CP.
Hula is understood to be one of the best known examples of wetland restoration in the world. The floodplain was drained for agriculture by early settlers and recently reflooded (at least in part) because agriculture failed to prosper and for conservation of biodiversity. [15/11/96]
And Ukraine is poised! This morning the Bureau was informed by Deputy Environmental Protection Minister Movchan that "on October 29, 1996 the Parliament of Ukraine ratified the Bern Convention, the Ramsar Convention, and the Convention on Climate Change. The relevant laws have been accessed also." Once UNESCO has been formally notified of this decision and received the required documentation, including site descriptions and maps, Ukraine too will become a Contracting Party to the Convention, hopefully the 96th.
Ukraine's progress report presented at the Brisbane COP in March indicated that 22 sites, totalling some 648,000 hectares, would be designated for the Ramsar List. Three of these are among the former USSR sites designated in 1976, now within Ukraine territory, the status of which has been a little bit unclear. The fourth, Dunai Plavni (the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta) is being considered for designation as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and there is good grounds for hope that it, too, will become an acknowledged Ramsar site. [15/11/96]
Support for the Convention from Wetlands International. On 29 October 1996, Dr Michael Moser tabled before the 19th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee a report on Wetlands International's contributions to the implementation of the Ramsar Convention's Strategic Plan 1997-2002 during 1996 and projected for 1997. You can read it inside this frame by clicking on Wetlands International or go Back to the homepage, open Key Documents, open More Ramsar-related Documents, and there it will be, ready to display on your full browser screen. [14/11/96]
Impressive support for the Ramsar Small Grants Fund. Fifteen projects for wetland conservation and wise use in the developing countries were approved for funding at the recent Standing Committee, the highest total ever for the SGF (formerly called the Wetland Conservation Fund). This success was due to the generosity of a number of states and organizations, including the Iceland Ministry for the Environment, the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture Nature Management and Fisheries, the New Zealand Department of Conservation, Sweden's Ministry of the Environment, the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment Forests and Countryside, and WWF International.
But the total allocation of over half a million Swiss francs was most beholding to two last-minute donations to the Fund, one gift of 350,000 Swiss francs (about US$ 290,000) from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and another of 300,000 Swiss francs from the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) which was confirmed during the Standing Committee's discussions. All of the projects that were judged by experts from the Bureau, IUCN, and Wetlands International to be worthy of funding support were approved for funding, and a sizable sum of money was left over to help with next year's proposals. [5/11/96]
The 19th Meeting of the Standing Committee. After a tough week of long meetings, 28 October through the 1st of November, the Ramsar Convention's Standing Committee has finished its business and dispersed to the home countries.
Highlights of the Meeting: Once again benefiting from the valuable inputs from partner NGOs and Observer States, the Committee
- approved the Subgroup on Finance's report on the 1996 budget, which forecasts a small surplus;
- approved an excellent slate of 15 project proposals for the Small Grants Fund, totalling SFR 502,150;
- approved 1997 work plans for the Bureau and the Scientific and Technical Review Panel;
- established 2 February as World Wetland Day, beginning in 1997;
- renewed the Secretary General's contract for a further 3-year term and paid tribute to the lifetime contributions of the Senior Policy Advisor, Mike Smart, who announced that he will be leaving the Bureau sometime in 1997 to return to field-based work;
- received the USA's generous offer to assist the beginning of a Ramsar Internship Programme, with the dual purpose of providing Bureau training opportunities for bright students from the regions as well as providing additional office support for the Bureau's Technical Officers;
- established a global suggested standard for signposting Ramsar sites;
- confirmed Ramsar's association with the proposed Mediterranean Wetlands Committee, growing out of the MedWet intiative; and
- progressed the planning for the 1999 7th Conference of the Parties in Costa Rica.
The minutes will be available soon, and further reports of Committee initiatives will be appearing here over the next weeks.[4/11/96]
Ramsar site of the Month -- Pantano de El Hondo, Spain. El Hondo in Alicante, Spain, is a Natural Park and SPA-EU which became a Ramsar site in 1989. The Marmaronetta Ornithological Society has just advised the Bureau that as of 26 October 1996 the regional government has prohibited hunting in the majority of the protected area, in order to avoid the shooting of the Marbled Teal and White-headed Duck. The Society expressed its gratitude to the Bureau and other supporters for the letters that assisted in achieving this result. For further information, try Jose-Damian Navarro Medina of the Society. [4/11/96]
[Have you got a site to propose for this Grand Distinction? Don't hesitate to propose it --drop a line to Ramsar Site of the Month. Describe the site and let us know why you think it deserves an honor of this magnitude.]
Management Plan for Paracas (Peru). The Ramsar Administrative Authority in Peru, the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales (INRENA), has recently published the management plan for the Paracas National Reserve, an important Ramsar site since 1992. The management plan was developed with the involvement of all sectors influencing or influenced by the site, such as local communities, fishermen's associations, conservation groups, and governmental agencies. Funding was generously provided by the Department of State of the USA, through the Ramsar Convention.
Peru has also completed its "National Strategy for the Conservation of Wetlands", a comprehensive document from which 26 priority activities have been identified to implement the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002. [24/10/96]
Ramsar Anniversary in Connecticut (USA). The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and partner agencies, in coordination with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, have concluded a series of monthly activities, including seminars, canoe trips, and demonstrations of new techniques and equipment, in celebration of the Ramsar Convention's 25th Anniversary. In the final event, on 10 October 1996, festivities at Gillettes Castle State Park on the Connecticut River (part of the Ramsar site) included international and national perspectives contributed by Marshall Jones of the Office of International Affairs of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Adminstrative Authority charged with implementation of the Ramsar Convention in the United States.
Dr William Niering. A high point of the day was the honoring of Dr William Niering of Connecticut College for his lifetime of work with the unique wetlands, and especially the tidal wetlands, along the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. Officers of the Department of Environmental Protection presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation in acknowledgement of his long commitment to the cause of legal recognition and public awareness of the values and benefits of wetlands in the region. Further information on the Connecticut programmes can be obtained from Ron Rozsa (firstname.lastname@example.org). [21/10/96]
The Loss of Ted Hollis. The staff of the Ramsar Bureau are grieved by the death, at the age of only 49, of Dr G.E.("Ted") Hollis, Reader in Geography at University College London. Ted was one of the first hydrologists to be involved in conservation and wise use of wetlands, and was a leading figure in the international movement to promote wetland conservation as an integral part of sustainable development. At the time of his death, he was attending the Fifth International Wetlands Conference, organized by INTECOL in Perth, Australia, and had made a series of striking presentations, calling the attention of participants to the problems of increasing water demand that would arise in the 21st century, and to the need to address these problems through new policies.
Ted was an inspiring speaker and teacher, and had worked on wetland research projects all over the world, but especially in North Africa and Nigeria. He was also very active at local level and was proud of his achievements in resuscitating the River Ver, which ran through his home village in Hertfordshire, UK.
He is survived by his wife Celia and three daughters, Bryony, Sophie and Amy. His colleagues and friends are looking into measures to commemorate his life's work, through the establishment of a scholarship, award or publication bearing his name, aimed at encouraging conservation hydrologists from developing countries. [10/10/96]