The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 December 2000
Malheureusement, il n'y a pas de version française de ce document.
Morava floodplain is subject of impressive new DAPHNE book. A new 188-page hardcover book in Slovak and English has been published by DAPHNE (Centre for Applied Ecology, Slovak Republic) with support from the PHARE Programme of the European Commission, as well as WWF, the GEF, and the Slovak Ministry. This very useful book, called "Morava River Floodplain Meadows – Importance, Restoration and Management", is the result of six years of research and restoration works conducted by DAPHNE. It shows the importance of wetlands as ecological and economical resources, explains the main functions and roles of floodplain meadows, reflects historical changes and provides detailed analysis on the impact of different natural and human-induced factors on meadow communities. It also provides recommendations on restoration of floodplain meadows, based on field experiments. The chapter on "Economic valuation of benefits from conservation and restoration of floodplain meadows" shows that conservation and restoration as well as sustainable use of the river floodplains have a significant monetary value. Findings in this chapter could be a useful tool to convince decision-makers that investments in restoration of meadows are not only beneficial for conservation of biological diversity, but also profitable. Available from bookstores, ISBN 80-967471-5-0; more information is available from Ján Seffer, DAPHNE (firstname.lastname@example.org). -- reported by Inga Racinska [30/11/00].
Final report of Evian training project in Papua New Guinea. Aaron Jenkins, Wetlands International - Oceania, reports on the successful results of a wetlands training/survey project carried out in July 2000 under the auspices of the Ramsar Convention's Evian Project, with generous funding from the private sector Danone Group. Here is his brief report, with a few photos. [28/11/00]
Other texts newly on the Site: Still more "History of the Standing Committee" -- a daunting project almost completed -- English versions of all the Standing Committee minutes since the beginning of Ramsar Standing Committee time to the present (only SC5 1988 remains to be finished). [2/12/00]
Action on wetlands in Panama and the region. The Grupo de Humedales y Zonas Costero-Marinas de Panamá (Wetlands and Coastal and Marine Areas Group, Panama), sponsored by IUCN's Regional Office (ORMA), is expressing support for the actions being taken by Panama's National Environmental Authority in relation to the impacts of an embankment being built in the Ramsar site San San Pond Sak. At the same time, the Wetland and Coastal and Marine Areas Working Groups of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama have issued a Pronouncement, during a meeting held on 18-19 September 2000 in Costa Rica, calling on their respective governments to take action to stop the deterioration presently being caused by developments in a number of wetlands and coastal areas. These materials, in Spanish, can be consulted here. [28/11/00]
UK names first site in the Channel Islands. The United Kingdom has designated, as its 160th Wetland of International Importance, "South East Coast of Jersey, Channel Islands" (3210ha; 49°09’N 02°02’W) in the Bailiwick of Jersey, a Crown Dependency of the UK. Amongst the largest intertidal reef sites in Europe, this site 22km off the coast of France comprises various habitats: reefs, boulder fields, mud, sandy and shingle shores not covered by water at low tide, combined with shallow tidal lagoons, seagrass beds and a large number of outlying reefs. The maximum spring tide range of 12m exposes 17.5m2 of wave cut rock platforms, extensive areas of reef, and a complex system of soft substrate gullies. The site provides important winter habitat for waders and wildfowl and produces a rich and diverse range of biotopes and some uncommon species assemblages. It meets Criteria 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 8 for inclusion in the List - in regard to the Fish Criteria (7+8), because of the enormous water exchanges and substrate variability a wide diversity of species and life history stages are present. The flora and fauna is characterized by a number of limit-of-range species at both the northern and southern margins of their distributions. Fishing is of great cultural, social, and traditional importance to the population, and a wide range of non-exploitive recreational activity is very important within the site. Effects of inorganic waste disposal and sewage discharge are seen as potential threats. This is the 1042nd Ramsar site globally. [27/11/00] [français et/y español]
Ramsar's statement to the 6th COP of the Climate Change Convention. The Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, Delmar Blasco, was amongst the speakers, in the section for intergovernmental organizations, on the first day of the ministerial sessions of the 6th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He updated the participants on Ramsar work that impacts upon climate change issues and called for their support for increased synergies between the two Conventions on how climate change affects wetlands and how wetlands can help to mitigate adverse climate changes. Here is the text of his address. [21/11/00]
The UK launches government policy for Ramsar sites in England. On 14 November, UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher launched a government policy intended to give the highest possible level of protection to England's wetland sites listed under the Ramsar Convention. The new Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions policy guidance on the protection and management of English Ramsar sites "reinforces the message that development of these sites will be allowed only in the rarest circumstances. If, unusually, consent is given to development, lost wetlands interests will have to be replaced, by restoring and recreating habitats. The Government also expects that developers will have to agree and bear the cost of these compensatory packages, under the polluter pays principle." This statement sets out the Government's policies for the protection and management of Ramsar sites in England, some 75 sites covering over 361,000 hectares (matters relating to the management of Ramsar sites in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fall to the devolved administrations of those countries), and, most interestingly, it requires that Ramsar sites be accorded the same legal protections as are the country's Special Protection Areas (SPAs) classified under the EC Birds Directive and 148 candidate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) under the EC Habitats Directive in the Natura 2000 network. Both the DETR's press release and the policy itself have been reprinted with permission on this Web site, as well on the Web site of the DETR. [20/11/00]
World Commission on Dams launches report. The long-awaited report of the WCD was launched in London on Thursday, 16 November. Entitled Dams and Development: a New Framework for Decision-Making, the 404-page report compiles and assesses the work of an enormous number of individuals and presents data from a very large number of sources. It is anticipated that the WCD report will have considerable significance for the Ramsar Convention, and the report, along with its large number of technical supporting reviews, will be reviewed by the Ramsar STRP's Expert Working Group on Dams as the basis for advising Contracting Parties at COP8 on issues relating to dams, wetlands, and the WCD guidance. The new report is available from the WCD Web site, www.dams.org and in hardcopy from Earthscan publications, http://www.earthscan.co.uk . [20/11/00]
UK picks Garry Bog. The United Kingdom has designated its 159th Ramsar site, called with admirable succinctness Garry Bog (155 hectares, 55°06’N 006°31’W). Garry Bog is one of the largest lowland raised bogs in Northern Ireland, and the site exhibits the full range of characteristic vegetation and structural features associated with this type of habitat, such as bog pools and hummock complexes with extensive Sphagnum-rich bryophyte carpets. The lagg surrounding the bog has been cut for turf, creating a mosaic of water-logged cuttings at different levels, separated by elevated ramparts. The site, listed as wetland type "U" (peatlands), is considered to be internationally important by virtue of Criterion 1, as a large, relatively intact, and one of the best examples of lowland raised bog in the UK. This brings the global Ramsar total to 1041 wetlands under the Ramsar umbrella. [17/11/00] [français et/y español]
Nordic Council plans info on Ramsar in the region. The Nordic Council of Ministers has decided to produce a leaflet on Ramsar and Ramsar sites in the Nordic countries. It will be published in five versions ("we are not yet speaking the same language, but we are working on it"), and it will include information on the convention, its goals, different wetland types in Scandinavian countries and overview maps of all their Ramsar sites. Overseeing the project will be Torsten Larsson, Naturvårdsverket/Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, email@example.com, but it will be made in close contact with his Nordic colleagues. Publication is foreseen hopefully before next summer. [15/11/00]
Ecuador designates Isla Santay near Guayaquil. The Bureau is delighted to announce that Ecuador has designated its 6th Ramsar site, with the paperwork completed as of 31 October 2000. "Isla Santay" (4,705 hectares, Guayas Province, 02º13'S 079º51'W) is located in the delta of the Guayas River near the urban perimeter of the city of Guayaquil. The Isla Santay site (2200ha for the island itself and about 2505ha for surrounding waters) is characterized by halophytic vegetation that is influenced by tides and seasonal changes throughout the year (Ramsar Type "I", Intertidal forested wetlands, including mangrove swamps, etc.). Despite being a highly altered area, it provides refuge for a great number of species and conserves a great biological diversity due to its location in the ecotone region, and the site qualifies for the Ramsar List under all three of the biodiversity Criteria and both of the fish Criteria. It is probably the only known nesting area for the endangered Amazona autumnalis. The island is inhabited by 182 residents who practice fishing, traditional agriculture, and livestock raising on a sustainable level, but threats from continuing urban development have been noted. This is the 1040th Ramsar site globally. [13/11/00] [français et/y español]
Japan includes Ramsar values in school curricula. The Ramsar Convention's Strategic Plan 1997-2002 calls (in Action 3.2.5) for the inclusion of wetland and Ramsar values in elementary, secondary, and tertiary educational curricula. Here's a peek at progress on that front in Japan, with a quick look at a fine Environment Agency brochure introducing Ramsar values and Ramsar sites to the public, which might well be taken as a model by many of our Contracting Parties. [13/11/00]
China's Wetlands Conservation Action Plan is ready. Recently the China National Wetlands Conservation Action Plan has been published for implementation. The State Forestry Administration (SFA), as the focal point for Ramsar Convention implementation in China, announced that the Action Plan after consultation among 17 Ministries/Commissions has been approved by the State Council and put into implementation immediately. Here's report from Li Lukang, Wetlands International China Programme, on the results of the press conference. [13/11/00]
News from the SGF. 1998 SGF project completed in Georgia. The final report has been received for the project "Conservation of Javakheti Plateau wetlands in Southern Georgia". During the project, most of the important lakes in Southern Georgia meeting the Ramsar Criteria have been identified for potential inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance. All the stakeholders have been involved in elaboration of draft management plan for Lakes Khanchali, Madatapa, and Bugdasheni during the project. The project was carried out by NACRES (Noah’s Ark Centre for the Recovery of Endangered Species) in cooperation with Ministry of Environment of Georgia. In order to protect the highly threatened transboundary alpine and subalpine wetland ecosystems in Georgia and Turkey, Georgia is looking forward to future cooperation with Turkey to designate a transboundary Ramsar site in the area. [Racinska, 13/11/00]
Agreement signed with Danube Protection Commission. The Ramsar Convention Bureau has concluded an agreement with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River -- the permanent secretariat of which is based in Vienna, Austria -- which conveys Observer Status upon the Bureau in the meetings and deliberations of the ICPDR. Citing congruence of principles and objectives, the agreement outlines a number of areas of potentially mutually helpful contacts, and the text is reproduced right here. [9/11/00]
MOU between SCBD and Wetlands International. In September, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Coordination Unit of Wetlands International, outlining agreed objectives and areas of mutual work which have extraordinary importance for the Ramsar Convention, especially since many of the agreed activities focus upon fulfillment of the Joint Work Plan between Ramsar and the CBD. With permission of the parties to the MOU, we've reprinted the document on this Web site. [10/11/00]
Argentina names high-altitude Ramsar site. Argentina's authorities have designated their 8th Ramsar site, Lagunas de Vilama (157,000 hectares, 22°36’S 066°55’W), which comprises more than ten Andean highland lagoons that occupy endorrheic depressions in Jujuy province, in the extreme northwest of the country, at 4,500 meters above sea level. The lagoons have diverse characteristics, from saline and deep to hypersaline and shallow. They provide habitat for a very rich aquatic bird life, with a good number of endemic and/or endangered species (flamingos Phoenicoparrus andinus,P. jamesi, and coots Fulica cornuta); in addition, a diversity of Nearctic migrating species find a feeding place here. In the plains that surround the lagoons, locally called "ciénegos", other endangered species like vicuñas and "ñandú" (South American ostrich; Pterocnemia pennata garleppi) are present. These "ciénegos" also provide grazing resources for herds of domestic camelids (llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, etc.) and sheep of the local people who practice traditional modes of transhumance. In addition to these plains, the most prevalent vegetation are characteristic of shrub steppes and Andean highland pastures. Numerous archeological sites attest to significant human populations from 5,000 years ago, and the lagoons continue to hold ritual significance. The area of the Ramsar site is part of the provincial Reserva Altoandina de la Chinchilla. There are presently 1039 Wetlands of International Importance globally, covering 78,423,330 hectares. [8/11/00] [français et/y español]
News from the SGF. 1997 SGF project completed in Zambia. The final SGF report has been received for Wetlands, People, and Biodiversity: SGF Project in Zambia (1997 project cycle). The Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society of Zambia (firstname.lastname@example.org), supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, set up a pilot Wetlands Outreach Programme in the Kafue Flats, one of the two Ramsar sites in Zambia. The Outreach Programme, for which SFR 38,400 were authorized, focused upon on promotion of local awareness and action concerning the cultural, ecological and economic value of wetlands. The Programme included guided study tours into the area, production of educational materials and posters, a schedule of 13 weekly 15-minute radio programmes, a number of meetings and training workshops, and an inventory of income-generating activities which have an impact on the natural resources of the region. These form the basis for promoting community participation and action in sustainable development and environmental rehabilitation, such as stimulating discussion of environmental problems, development of ecotourism at a local level, thus also reducing poverty among the communities. [9/11/00]
United Kingdom places Ouse Washes on the Montreux Record. The Government of the United Kingdom has requested that the Ramsar site Ouse Washes be included in the Montreux Record of sites the ecological character of which has changed, is changing, or is likely to change. Ouse Washes is a long, narrow area of seasonally flooded grassland of 2,469 hectares in the north of England, designated in January 1976, which provides flood storage between two channelized rivers. Ouse Washes was considered Internationally Important by virtue of a number of Ramsar Criteria, including ‘representative example’, ‘rare or endangered species’, and both the 20,000 and the 1%-threshold waterfowl Criteria. The "nature of change in ecological character/potential for adverse change" is listed on the Montreux Record Questionnaire as "1. Decline in the numbers of breeding waterfowl, 2. Changes in vegetation communities, and 3. Decline in water quality" apparently caused by "1. An increase in the incidence of summer flooding over the past 25 years, and 2. A decline in water quality affecting higher plants within the rivers and ditches of the Ouse Washes". Efforts are presently under way to help remedy the situation. The site’s entry into the Montreux Record is effective as of the Bureau’s receipt of the UK’s request, 31 October 2000. [5/11/00]
Ramsar's 25th Standing Committee meeting. The Standing Committee has completed its week of meetings, 23-27 October, with two days of preparatory meetings of the Subgroups followed by two and a half days of plenary sessions. There were some 65 participants from SC-member Parties, Observer Parties, International Organization Partners, and other observer States and NGOs, plus Bureau staff and interpreters. Among the results: The SC endorsed and advised on the Bureau’s cooperation with the CBD and other conventions, instititutions, and processes, and encouraged the development of new initiatives such as the River Basin Initiative, the Participatory Management Networking Service, and the Ramsar Wetlands Training and Advisory Service. The members offered advice and sought further input on several key institutional issues, such as Parties’ reporting of change in ecological character, the legal issues surrounding potential restrictions of site boundaries, the structure of the Ramsar Sites Database, and the implementation of several COP7 resolutions. The Committee reviewed the work of the STRP and set up a new Subgroup to consider the STRP’s modus operandi.
In addition, the SC approved the Bureau’s accounts for 1999-2000 and its work plan and budget for 2001, carried forward the drafting of Strategic Plan 2003-2008, decided upon the interim location of the MedWet Coordination Function, and approved a slate of Small Grants Fund project proposals. The suggestion of the Government of Spain to hold the 8th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Valencia, 18-26 November 2002, was accepted with appreciation for Spain’s generous pledge of contributions to the COP budget, the draft COP8 agenda was approved, and a calendar of related meetings between now and then was established. The full report of the meeting will appear here in about a week’s time. [30/10/00]
Australia enacts landmark legislation to protect Ramsar sites and migratory birds. Former Ramsar Deputy Secretary General Dr Bill Phillips, now of MainStream Environmental Consulting, explains the new Australian legislation conferring federal legal obligations on Wetlands of International Importance, and throws in excerpts of the relevant legislation. This Australian effort is a significant advance and an excellent model for other Contracting Parties seeking to embody Ramsar's wise use principles in their national and federal legislation. It's all here for your solemn contemplation, right now. [1/11/00]