The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 11 March 2005
Malheureusement, il n'y a pas de version française de ce document.
Headline story.Hope for the Mesopotamian Marshlands. "It was a strange sight - after eight years of bloody war in the 1980s - to have the Iraq and Iran delegations sitting amicably side by side and agreeing on working together to designate the shared Hawr Al Hawizah wetland, one of the major remaining parts of the Mesopotamian Marshlands, as a transboundary Ramsar Site of International Importance. This hopeful event occurred during the 'High-level Conference on the Restoration of the Mesopotamian Marshlands', held in Manama (Bahrain) on 28 February and 1 March 2005, co-organised by UNEP and ROPME (Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment)." Thymio Papayannis, the Convention's MedWet Senior Advisor, reports on the meeting. [11/03/05]
Headline story.Standing Committee Subgroups wrapping up their work. The Ramsar Standing Committee Subgroups on COP9 and on Finance have been meeting throughout this week and will compare notes in a joint plenary session today, 10 March. Reports of the meetings will be available soon. [10/03/05]
Announcement.Asian regional meeting dates confirmed. The dates and venue have been confirmed for the Ramsar Regional Meeting for Asia in preparation for the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties next November. It will take place 13-16 May 2005 in Beijing, China. Inquiries can be directed to email@example.com. [02/03/05]
Announcement.African regional meeting dates confirmed. The Ramsar Secretariat would like to confirm that the dates for the Africa Regional Meeting for the preparation of COP9, to be held in Arusha, Tanzania, will be 4-8 April 2005. The 9th of April will be dedicated to a special session which addresses mangrove management for Ramsar coastal CPs. Please disregard any other dates indicated in previous messages.
Le Secrétariat Ramsar souhaiterait confirmer que les dates exactes de la tenue de la Réunion Préparatoire régionale pour l'Afrique pour la COP9 qui se tiendra en Arusha, Tanzanie sont du 4 au 8 avril 2005. Le 9 avril il y aura une session sur la gestion des mangroves pour les pays côtiers partis à Ramsar. Prière ignorer toutes les autres dates indiquées dans des messages précédents. [28/02/05]
Reprint.IISD Linkages report on Ramsar Tsunami Reference Group.Here is a reprint of the Linkages report on the World Wetlands Day tsunami forum held at the Ramsar Secretariat on 2 February, with background on the Ramsar Tsunami Reference Group. [28/02/05]
Announcement. La Fundación para la Gestión Ambiental Participativa (FUNGAP-Grupo Antigua), con el apoyo del Programa de Pequeñas Donaciones para los Humedales del Comité Holandés de la UICN, desarrolla el proyecto "Experiencias Exitosas de Gestión Participativa (GAP) en humedales de las Américas". El objetivo es mediante el análisis y difusión de casos exitosos, fortalecer la aplicación de la GAP como herramienta para el cumplimiento de la Convención Ramsar, particularmente la Resolución VIII.36. Uno de los resultados será el Borrador Marco de Actuación sobre GAP como aporte regional en la elaboración de los lineamientos solicitados en esta misma resolución. Los resultados serán presentados en la COP9 de Ramsar (Uganda, 2005) donde además serán invitados a participar los dos casos más representativos de la región. Se invita a todas las ONG, Partes Contratantes de Ramsar, Comunidades, Pueblos Indígenas, Entidades Donantes y otros, a enviar sus casos antes del 24 de febrero según los criterios que se adjuntan. Aquí. [24/02/05]
Now available.Index of Ramsar COP9 preparations. Preparations are continuing for Ramsar's 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, to be held at the gracious invitation of the Government of Uganda in Kampala, 8-15 November 2005. Two COP-preparatory regional meetings have already been held and their results can be seen here, with at least two regional meetings still to come, and the Standing Committee's Subgroup on COP9 will be making some substantial decisions about the arrangements and issues to be discussed when its members meet at the Ramsar Secretariat, 7-10 March 2005. An index to the COP preparations is available now and will be updated frequently over the next eight months. [23/02/05]
Headline story. Ramsar address to UNEP's Governing Council. The Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Program is meeting 21-25 February in Nairobi for its 23rd Session and Global Ministerial Environment Forum, and on 22 February the Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands, Peter Bridgewater, addressed the meeting on the present relationship and future cooperation between Ramsar and UNEP. The text is already available right here. [22/02/05]
Now available.STRP12 report ready. The Convention's subsidiary body for scientific advice, the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), held its last meeting of this triennium on 1-4 February 2005, the purpose of which was to progress the technical guidance that the members and consultants have been drafting for presentation to the Standing Committee and eventually for consideration by the Conference of the Parties in November; to suggest priorities for the Panel's work in the next triennium, 2006-2008; and to consider suggested changes to the Panel's future modus operandi for consideration by the COP. The report of the meeting is now ready, with a brief list of the participants. [21/02/05]
Now available.Subgroup on COP9 agenda and some docs. The Ramsar Standing Committee's Subgroups on COP9 and Finance will be meeting 7-10 March to discuss lots of important things. The agendas of both of those meetings are now available here. The agenda papers of the Finance Subgroup will not be available to the public, but all of those to be presented to the Subgroup on COP9 will be appearing in the coming days, and a few have already bobbed to the surface. The menu of agenda documentation, which is available in Web, Word, and PDF, is part of the COP9 agenda. [12/02/05]
Madagascar names fourth Ramsar site. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that Madagascar has designated its fourth Wetland of International Importance on the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2005. The "Marais de Torotorofotsy avec leurs bassins versants" (9,993 hectares, 18°52'S 048°22'E) in Toamasina Province is a near-natural permanent marsh and temporary marshes with their catchments of primary rainforest fragmented by agricultural zones and secondary forest. A number of gravely threatened species are present, including the Golden Frog Mantella aurantiaca and the Yellow or Eastern Mantella Mantella crocea, along with at least 40 additional endemic amphibians, and it is one of only two known sites that support the Slender-Billed Flufftail, Sarothrura watersi. The threatened Meller's Duck Anas melleri nests in the site, and both the Serpent Eagle Eutriorchis astur and the Madagascar Grass Owl Tyto soumagnei, both very rare, have been recorded; four endangered species of lemurs are also supported. The site plays an important hydrological role in flood control in the Andasibe region. Artisanal fishing employs customs that protect against overexploitation. A mining project in the vicinity and siltation of the marsh caused by deforestation in the region are seen as the chief threats to the site. The Wildlife Conservation Society - Madagascar and Association MITSINJO, with support from WWF-Madagascar and WWF International's Global Freshwater Programme, have been helpful to the authorities in preparing for this site designation. [16/02/05]
Progressively available at a variable pace. Reports of your World Wetlands Day activities. Many thanks to all of you who are forwarding reports of your World Wetlands Day activities, and we're just getting seriously down to posting them here. It's not OUR fault that Somebody scheduled the Scientific and Technical Review Panel's meeting (early February) and the Standing Committee's Subgroup meetings (early March) precisely at the worst time for reporting on WWD, but we're still going to carry on regardless, and at the end of the day we will win through. Please do send your reports, if you have not done so: text and captions, with JPG photos, is the best way for us, but you do what you have to do. Don't be bashful about sending reminders if we're slow, it might put you at the top of the To-Do list. Huge PDFs over half a megabyte, though, well, think twice about that -- we can take them apart and post them again as Web pages, at considerable cost in time, but it's unlikely that we can afford to post them directly unless they're really really cool. [14/02/05]
Also now available. Ramsar regional advice on the World Bank's Mangrove Code of Conduct. Mangrove fans who have been following the progress of the draft Code of Conduct should soon consult Tom Nielsen's project Web site at http://www.biology.au.dk/cenTER/MCB_2004.htm[link later removed], where they will find, amongst many other wonders, the following: "Mainstreaming Conservation of Coastal Biodiversity through Formulation of a generic Code of Conduct for Sustainable Management of Mangrove Forest Ecosystems (MCB). Funded by the World Bank In Collaboration with ISME & GLOMIS Regional Centres. Latest News: UPDATED English Language Version of the “Principles for a Code of Conduct for the Management and Sustainable Use of Mangrove Ecosystems” has been updated (posted 02 February by T. Nielsen); and Comments for the “Principles for a Code of Conduct for the Management and Sustainable Use of Mangrove Ecosystems” from the III Pan-American Regional Meeting, Ramsar Convention meeting in Merida, Mexico, November 2004 (posted 18 January 2005 by T. Nielsen)." The report of the Merida Ramsar meeting, but without the extremely necessary context, can also be found here in English and Spanish. [12/02/05]
Now available.Report of the Ramsar regional meeting in Mexico.The "III Panamerican Regional Meeting of the Convention on Wetlands, 7-12 November 2004, Mérida, Mexico" was an extraordinarily fruitful affair that brought together representatives of Contracting Parties and non-Parties, Ramsar Partner Organizations and other NGOs, and intergovernmental organizations concerned about the region. After thorough consideration of the issues already planned for the Convention's 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties set for November 2005, the meeting agreed a common platform of further issues called "Guidelines for the Americas: Towards COP9", embodied in the "Merida Message" as the key output of the sessions. Now the Report of the meeting is available in both English and Spanish, as well as the Merida Message again in both English and Spanish, and the List of Participants in PDF format into the bargain. [10/02/05]
"Collaboration between CBD and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands". The Convention on Biological Diversity's Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) is holding its 10th meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, this week, and the Ramsar Convention's MedWet Coordinator, Spyros Kouvelis, addressed the meeting with an update on the current work of the Convention, particularly the work of our own Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), on the joint objectives of both bodies. "Collaboration between CBD and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands: progress in the development of ecological assessments and indicators" provides a succinct review of the Convention's advances in addressing the joint development of targets and indicators for assessing the global 2010 biodiversity target, as well as of the preparation of a range of inventory, assessment and monitoring guidance in support of that. Spyros's address can be seen here. [08/02/05]
Now available. Results of the Forum on "Natural mitigation of natural disasters". The Forum, held at the Ramsar Secretariat on the occasion of World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2005, included participants from the following organizations: The Ramsar Convention, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, Forests and Landscape, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), World Health Organization (WHO), World Meteorological Organization/Global Water Partnership (WMO/GWP) Associated Programme on Flood Management, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), International Association of Hydrologists, IUCN - The World Conservation Union, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), BirdLife International, Wetlands International, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and European Space Agency. Following the debate the participants agreed a "declaration of principles" entitled "Beyond the tsunamis: a way forward" which is now available in PDF format only. Press releases on the event in both English and French are also available, also in PDF format. [05/02/05]
World Wetlands Day. The second of February is World Wetlands Day, and around the world activities of all sorts are being sponsored by governments and civil groups at all levels, both today and on nearby dates at their convenience. At the Ramsar Secretariat, where the STRP meetings are going on all this week, a "debate" is being held this afternoon on the ability of ecosystems like mangroves and coral reefs to mitigate the effects of natural disasters such as the recent devastating tsunami in South Asia. In addition to the STRP members themselves, participants include experts for a number of relevant organizations, including the WMO, FAO, UNEP, IUCN, WWF and others, and it is co-chaired by Philippe Roch, environment minister of Switzerland, and Kemi Awoyinka of Wetlands International, with introductory presentations by Douglas Taylor of Wetlands International, Rebecca Tharme of the Integrated Water Management Institute, and Mette Wilkie of FAO. It is expected that by the end of the afternoon the participants will have agreed a recommendation that can be taken forward as a contribution to the lessons learnt from the recent disaster.
To those of you who are involved in WWD activities, please do send us something about them, from a brief description to a longer report, with photographs as well if you wish, and we will try, as in past years, to create of record of as many of your efforts as we can. [02/02/05]
Who's where?STRP meeting now under way. The Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) has begun its 12th meeting at the Secretariat's facilities in Switzerland, and will be debating upcoming technical issues in preparation for Ramsar COP9 throughout this week. [01/02/05]
Mexico designates 4 Ramsar sites for World Wetlands Day. Following the high profile events of World Wetlands Day last year with 34 designations, this year Mexico continues to increase its number of Ramsar sites by adding four more to the List of Wetlands of International Importance. The new designations are a dune slack complex in the city of Veracruz, a national park in the island of Cozumel in the Caribbean, and a coastal lagoon and a mountain lakeshore in Michoacán state, where the WWD celebrations will be focused this year. Mexico now has 55 Ramsar sites with a surface are of 5,115,393 hectares. Summaries of the sites have been prepared by Iván Darío Valencia.[01/02/05]
México designa 4 sitios Ramsar para el Día Mundial de los Humedales. Tras haber designado un número récord de 34 nuevos sitios para la misma fecha en 2004, en esta ocasión México ha añadido 4 nuevos sitios a la Lista de Humedales De Importancia Internacional. Los nuevos sitios son un complejo de lagunas interdunarias en la ciudad de Veracruz, un parque nacional en la isla de Cozumel en el Caribe; así como una laguna costera y un sector de un lago de montaña en el estado de Michoacán, en donde las celebraciones se enfocarán este año. Las descripciones resumidas de los sitios han sido preparadas por Iván Darío Valencia.
The United States designates two Wetlands of International Importance in California. To commemorate World Wetlands Day 2005, two sites designated by the United States of America have been added to the List of Wetlands of International Importance, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve (TRNERR) and Grassland Ecological Area, both in the state of California. TRNERR is one of the few unfragmented estuaries in southern part of the state and is located at the very southwestern corner of the country on the border with Mexico. Grassland is the largest remaining freshwater wetland complex in the state and is renowned for its very large congregations of wintering waterfowl and shorebirds. Brief site descriptions have been prepared by Ramsar's Iván Darío Valencia based on the information supplied in the Ramsar Information Sheets accompanying the designations, and they can be seen here. The United States now has 21 Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area totaling 1,258,751 hectares. [01/02/05].
Switzerland names mountain wetlands for World Wetlands Day. The Government of the Secretariat's host country, Switzerland, has designated three valuable as well as very scenic Wetlands of International Importance as part of its celebration of World Wetlands Day, 2 February. Switzerland now has eleven Ramsar sites totaling 8,676 hectares. Laubersmad-Salwidili (1,376 ha) is a subalpine area of transitional and raised bogs on the northern slopes of the Alps, in the north-central canton of Lucerne, and is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve "Entlebuch". The Rhonegletschervorfeld consists of the alpine region around the tongue of the Rhône glacier, the source of the mighty Rhône River, and Vadret da Roseg includes the alpine alluvial zone at the outflow of two glaciers in the far east of the country. The French version of the press release prepared by BUWAL, Switzerland's Bundesamt für Umwelt, Wald und Landschaft (or in French OFEFP, Office fédéral de l'environnement, des forêts et du paysage), can be seen here in PDF or on BUWAL's Web site at http://www.environnement-suisse.ch/buwal/fr/medien/presse/artikel/20050128/01150/index.html. Brief descriptions of the sites have been prepared by Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Europe, Estelle Gironnet, and are linked to wonderful photographs of each of the new designations, for your delight.[29/01/05]
Tanzania designates fascinating coastal complex. The Secretariat is extremely pleased to announce that the United Republic of Tanzania has named its fourth Wetland of International Importance, entitled Rufiji-Mafia-Kilwa Marine Ramsar site (08°08'S 039°38'E), a complex of coastal and marine habitats covering 596,908 hectares, comprising the delta of the Rufiji River; the Mafia Island about 25km offshore and surrounding smaller islands, sandbars, and coral reefs; the Songo-Songo Archipelago to the south; and adjacent waters, i.e. the Mafia Channel and waters between Mafia and Songo-Songo. A large part is composed of mangrove forests (an estimated 55,000 ha) as well as extensive intertidal flats, seagrass beds, and sandbars, all thought to be ecologically interlinked with the flow of the river. Songo-Songo has a highly diverse and extensive coral assemblage with records of 49 genera of hard and 12 genera of soft corals. Five species of globally threatened marine turtles have been recorded, including Green Turtle and Hawksbill, as well as a small population of Dugong dugong. A count in the delta alone in 2001 recorded 40,160 waterbirds of 62 species at a minimum. The delta's artisanal fishery of about 7,000 fishermen produces about 4,500 tonnes of finfish per annum, as well as prawns, and thousands of families in Songo-Songo and on Mafia similarly make their livings from fishing. Fishing and extraction of other coastal and mangrove resources, as well as cultivation (especially rice), seaweed farming, and tourism are the major activities within the site. [28/01/05]
Swiss Grant for Africa: approval for projects in six African countries. The Secretary General has signed grant agreements with the Convention's Administrative Authorities in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Liberia for the implementation of several COP8 Resolutions in those countries. The grants to Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire will serve for the: i) designation of new Ramsar sites, ii) preparation of National Wetlands Policy outlines, iii) draft report of their civil wars' impacts on their wetlands and, iv) strengthening of the Ramsar focal points' operational capacities. Liberia, which does not yet have a National Wetlands Committee, will establish one; in Burkina Faso, where a Ramsar National Committee has just been created, the government intends to do designate nine new Ramsar sites, update the three Ramsar sites' RISs, and strengthen the Ramsar focal point's capacities. In addition, Cameroon and Cape Verde have also been granted Ramsar/Swiss assistance to help them prepare for accession to the Convention, and Gabon has a grant to help upgrade the data on their Ramsar sites and provide a training session for selected members of parliament. Gabon have also been granted Ramsar/Swiss Funds assistance for similar activities. The total amount disbursed is 110,500 Swiss francs for one year's duration, and the results will be presented during Ramsar COP9 in Kampala. -- Abou Bamba, Ramsar. [More info on the Swiss Grant for Africa.] [27/01/05]
China names nine new Ramsar sites for World Wetlands Day. The Secretariat is delighted to announce that the Government of the People's Republic of China has designated nine new Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of nearly 400,000 hectares. One of them, Shuangtai Estuary on the Liao River in northeastern China, makes up part of what has been called "the world's largest reed bed". The other eight new Ramsar sites are all in Qinghai and Yunnan Provinces and the Tibet Autonomous Region and are all high-altitude marshes and lakes, one as high as 6,500 meters asl, among the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Yalu Tsangpo / Brahmaputra Rivers. All of these have very important hydrological functions, both locally and downstream, and all are extremely valuable sites for migratory birds, including the endangered Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis. Because of the relative isolation of the sites, some of them have high levels of endemism, particularly with fish species, and they are vital sources of livelihood for the populations nearby. These new mountain designations have been made as part of China's efforts in the "Wetland Conservation and Wise Use in the Himalayan High Mountains" initiative and have been assisted by support from WWF China and WWF's Global Freshwater Programme.
Ramsar Tsunami Reference Group.As part of the global response to the disaster, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat has asked Wetlands International to work with Ramsar International Organisation Partners (IOPs) to coordinate efforts to bring together scientifically sound advice on wetlands in the region in order to assist governments in choosing the most effective response measures. The Ramsar Tsunami Reference Group has been established involving Wetlands International, WWF, IUCN, BirdLife International and the International Water Management Institute to combine resources, share information and produce timely advice as and when it is needed. The highest and immediate priority of this group is to coordinate rapid assessment of the affected areas with involvement and assistance of all remote sensing specialists, interested agencies and organisations. To provide an opportunity of interaction, debate and cooperation, eight internet-based discussion groups the related subjects are available on http://www.wetlands.org/tsunami/. [20/01/05]
New Intern for Africa chosen for Ramsar Secretariat. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that Lucia Scodanibbio from South Africa has been selected as the next Intern/Assistant Advisor for the African region, replacing Ahmed El-Sabban from Egypt. Lucia graduated with a First class BSc (Honours) in Plant and Freshwater Ecology from the University of Cape Town. She also holds a BSc degree in Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences from the same university. She has recently finished working on an 18-month project in Mozambique, promoting integrated water resources management for the Zambezi River, and she also has field experience in the Kosi Bay system in Kwazulu/Natal Province of South Africa and in Makerere University Biological Field Station, Kibale National Forest Park, Uganda. After the experience she gains in the Ramsar Secretariat, Lucia aims to work in integrated basin management issues in the Zambezi and elsewhere in Africa. The Ramsar Secretariat looks forward to welcoming Lucia in February 2005. [17/01/05]
European Regional Meeting report and photos ready. The "5th European Regional Meeting on the implementation and effectiveness of the Ramsar Convention" was held in Yerevan, Armenia, 4-8 December 2004, and was attended by 109 participants, representing 35 Contracting Parties in the European Region, four intergovernmental organisations, three of Ramsar's international organisation partners, several non-governmental organisations plus a number of invited experts. The aims of the Meeting, its detailed programme and annotated agenda, the participants list and texts of most of the presentations delivered during the plenary sessions and workshops are available on the Ramsar Convention Web site here. And now, the Report of the meeting can be seen in all its glory, here, and a number of poignant photographs as well, here. [12/01/04]
Small Grants Fund -- call for project proposals. The Ramsar Small Grants Fund was established by Ramsar COP4 in 1990 as a mechanism to assist developing countries and those with economies in transition in implementing the Convention and to enable the conservation and wise use of wetland resources - since that time, it has provided funding and co-funding, up to 40,000 Swiss francs (about US$ 34,000) per project, for something like 175 projects totaling about 7 million francs. Projects for the 2004 cycle will be selected by the Standing Committee's Subgroup on Finance in March 2005. The call for proposals is now being made for the 2005 cycle, with a deadline of 30 June 2005 for application and with a decision to be made by the Standing Committee around the end of the year. Here is the text of the call for proposals, and the "operational guidelines" for the SGF can be found here in Word and PDF format. [11/01/04]
Feedback and suggestions are welcome to the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland (tel +41 22 999 0170, fax +41 22 999 0169, e-mail ).