The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 17 October 2005

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"Fragile natural areas" in the regions of France. What partnerships are needed for wetlands?” was this year’s theme of the annual meeting on “fragile natural areas” (espaces naturels sensibles) in France, bringing together about 250 site managers, local and regional administrators and politicians, environmental and water management experts and NGO representatives. The meeting took place at the invitation of the Loire Province on 10 and 11 October 2005 in Montrond-les-Bains, a small spa town in the upstream floodplain of the Loire, one of western Europe’s remaining near-natural river courses (proposed for inclusion in the Ramsar List for many years). Here is a brief, illustrated report on the meeting and its French context by Ramsar's Tobias Salathé. [14/10/05]

Niger designates five Ramsar sites. The Secretariat is extremely pleased to announce that the Government of Niger has added five new Wetlands of International Importance to its previous total of seven, all effective as of 16 September 2005. La mare de Dan Doutchi (25,366 hectares, 14°15'N 004°37'E) and La mare de Tabalak (7,713 ha, 15°04'N 005°38'E) are both significant permanent ponds in the southwest-central department of Tahoua, and La mare de Lassouri (26,737 ha, 14°02'N 009°35'E) is a semi-permanent wetland in Zinder department in the south, part of the Lake Chad catchment. The Oasis du Kawar is a large (368,536 ha, 19°43'N 012°86'E) complex of oases that form a haven between the Erg du Ténére and Erg de Bilma deserts in the vast Agadez department in the north - the Gueltas et Oasis de l'Aïr is an enormous (2,413,237 ha, 18°18'N 009°30'E) complex of permanent and temporary streams, oases and marshes that lies in the center of Niger's portion of the Sahara, also in Agadez. All five sites perform extremely important roles in the lives and livelihoods of their local populations. Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio has prepared brief descriptions for the Annotated Ramsar List, and these can be seen here. [13/10/05]

WWF's Global Freshwater Programme provided very important assistance to the Government of Niger in the preparations for these designations, and at the 24th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Niger Basin Authority, meeting in Ouagadougou, 15-16 September, 2005, Niger State Minister Abou Labo, current chairman of the NBA, was presented with certificates for the new Ramsar sites by representatives of two of Ramsar's partner organizations, Denys Landenbergue, WWF International, and Issa Seydina Sylla, Wetlands International. Photos.

Wetland managers from Mali on study tour in Ghana. "An 18-member delegation from Mali ended a five-day study tour in Ghana (29 August - 3 September 2005). The purpose of the visit was to share experiences on the management of wetlands in Ghana and to strengthen subregional cooperation in the protection of wetlands. The team also discussed with their Ghanaian counterparts the way forward for the implementation of the respective Wetland Policy/Strategy of the two countries. The team visited the offices of the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Ghana - Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission and Center for African Wetlands (CAW) in Accra and the Amansure Conservation Integrated Development (ACID) Project within the Amanzure Wetlands, which has been proposed for designation as Ghana’s 7th Ramsar Site." Here is an illustrated report by Charles C. Amankwah, Wetlands Coordinator in the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Ghana. [11/10/05]

Republic of Moldova names Unguri-Holosnita for the Ramsar List.The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Republic of Moldova has named its third Wetland of International Importance, effective 14 September 2005: Unguri - Holosnita (15,553 hectares; 48º17'N 028º03'E, in Soroca and Ocnita countries. As summarized by Ramsar's Dorothea August, based upon information provided with the designation, the site includes high rocky, crumbling-sloughing slopes and narrow flood-land of the Dniester River's left bank, in the northeastern part of the country near the border with Ukraine. The Dniester includes wide, shallow segments here with little islands, small rivers and short creeks feeding the stream and forming steep canyons. Fluvial forests are formed by poplar associations with an admixture of willows, ash and elm, with riparian willow formations. Native communities of light forest such as fresh oak, damp oak and Pinus pallasiana forests are covering the steep limestone slopes of the Dniester River canyon. Further details about the site, with photographs, can be seen here. [10/10/05]

Viet Nam names its second Ramsar site. Viet Nam joined the Convention in 1989 with the Xuan Thuy Natural Wetland Reserve (formerly called the Red River Estuary) as its first Wetland of International Importance. This has now been joined in the Ramsar List, effective 4 August, by Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake) Wetlands and Seasonal Floodplains (13,759 hectares, 11°28'N 107°23'E) in Dong Nai Province, part of the Cat Tien National Park. As described by Ramsar's Shahzia Khan, based on the information in the RIS, Bau Sau is a freshwater complex and transition zone between the Great Annamite ecoregion and lower Mekong Delta with Vietnam's last remaining lowland semi-evergreen forests representative of the Indo-Chinese region. It is a key habitat for 50 very rare IUCN red-listed species like Siamese Crocodile, Asian Arowana, Black-shanked Douc, Asian Elephant, Wild Gaur, Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon and Smooth-coated Otter, 131 endemic fish and 6 species of turtles, tortoises and terrapins. Several red-listed birds include Pseudibis davisoni, Cairina scutulata, Grus antigone and Leptoptilos javanicus, and plants Dipterocarpus dyeri and Diospyros mun. Despite human activities such as subsistence fishing, hunting and collection of wood products, it is the best-conserved and almost pristine habitat of the national park as a result of enhanced protection by local management. It also serves as a floodwater retention reservoir with significant flow regulation protecting populated downstream localities. An ecological threat arises from invasion of exotic Mimosa pigra and water hyacinth bringing succession from open water to swamp vegetation.Conservation efforts include control of invasive species, crocodile census, waterbird surveys, awareness raising and range patrolling. WWF Indochina Programme assisted in the preparation of the Ramsar designation data. [05/10/05]

National Ramsar Committee in Austria. Austria's National Ramsar Committee was established in 1990 in order to provide a continuous collaboration among the federal Ramsar authority, the wetland experts in the nine federal states or provinces, farmers' and environmental groups, and others. It has been meeting every six months over the years and has established a model for effective cooperation in Ramsar wetland matters across a range of the community. In September 2005, the Committee met in the village of Purbach on the shores of the Neusiedlersee, a transboundary Ramsar site shared between Austria and Hungary (where it is called Lake Fertö), where the members worked through a crowded agenda and visited the Ramsar site [photo right] for a demonstration of current management practices there. Tobias Salathé provides this brief, illustrated report. [05/10/05]

Kenya names fifth Ramsar site in the Rift Valley. The Secretariat is delighted to announce that the Republic of Kenya has designated its fifth Wetland of International Importance, Lake Elmenteita (10,880 hectares, 00°46'S 036°23'E), effective 5 September 2005. Ramsar's Lucia Scodanibbio notes that at the time of preparing its Ramsar Information Sheet for the new designation, the Kenya Wildlife Service took the opportunity to update Kenya's RISs for two other Ramsar sites, Lakes Naivasha and Nakuru, thus showing a strong commitment to fulfilling the Conference of the Parties' wish in Resolution VI.13 that data sheets on all Ramsar sites should be updated at least every six years. We encourage other Parties, when designating new sites, also to use the occasion to update the information on their other Ramsar sites as well. Lucia's description of the new site follows, based upon the RIS, and she has provided updated descriptions of Naivasha and Nakuru as well. HERE.[17/09/05]

Trinidad & Tobago names two new Ramsar sites. The Ramsar Secretariat is very pleased to announce that Trinidad and Tobago has designated two new coastal Wetlands of International Importance and (with Nariva Swamp) now has three. As Ramsar's Adrián Ruiz-Carvajal describes the sites, based on the data submitted by the Party, Buccoo Reef / Bon Accord Lagoon Complex (1,287 hectares, 11°10 N 060°57 W) is located on the southwestern coast of Tobago near Scarborough and includes several under-represented wetland types such as coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forests. Endangered and vulnerable species in the area include various types of coral (Acropora palmata, Diploria labyrinthiformis, D. strigosa and Siderastrea siderea) as well as the critically endangered Hawkbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and at least 119 fish species. As the major tourist attraction in Tobago, the reef continues to be adversely affected by intense tourist activity and pollutant discharges. So far the restricted area status and existing management plan have been unable to prevent these impacts, but the site is in the process of being designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area.

Caroni Swamp (8,398 hectares, 10°34'N 061°27'W) is an extraordinarily important wetland near the capital of Trinidad, Port of Spain, since it is ecologically diverse, consisting of marshes, mangrove swamp (5,996 ha), brackish and saline lagoons, and tidal mudflats in close proximity. A total of 20 endangered bird species have been recorded in the site, including the Scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber), Comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos), White-tailed kite (Elanus leucurus), Snail kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis), and the severely threatened Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). The swamp has been modified by attempted reclamation, and there is some seasonal cultivation on the landward fringe. Caroni Swamp is important economically for oyster and fish harvesting, for hunting and for ecotourism. [15/09/05] Trinidad & Tobago designa dos nuevos sitios Ramsar.

Biodiversity-related conventions speak out on Millennium Development Goals. On the eve of the 2005 World Summit -- the high-level plenary meeting of the 60th session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, 14-16 September -- the heads of the secretariats of the five global biodiversity-related conventions have issued a joint statement calling upon the world's leaders "to recognize that to make the MDGs a reality in a highly populated planet, biological diversity needs to be used sustainably and its benefits more equitably shared". Their statement reviews the importance of maintaining biodiversity for the task of finding solutions for nearly all of the world's present and future challenges and ends by urging "governments and civil society to act in helping to conserve and use biological diversity sustainably, thus ensuring all a share in the benefits of a diverse world." Their brief statement can be viewed here. [12/09/05]

The five biodiversity-related conventions are the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the World Heritage Convention.

WWF-HSBC Yangtze River Programme. The HSBC banking firm's investment guidelines restrict its financial participation to projects that meet the internationally-recognized standards of the Ramsar Convention, UNEP's Dams and Development Project, the WCD Framework, and others, and its "Investing in Nature" programme supports a range of conservation initiatives around the world. One of these is the WWF-HSBC Yangtze Programme, which has been relinking isolated lakes along the river and restoring natural processes. Further details here. [05/09/05]

World Wetlands Day posters. For World Wetlands Day 2006, next 2 February, the Ramsar Secretariat is making available two related posters with the theme 'In the face of poverty . . . wetlands are lifelines', as well as two new stickers, all (as in the past eight years) prepared with financial assistance from the Evian Initiative of the Danone Group. As last year, the printed posters and stickers will soon be sent in bulk to the Ramsar "administrative authorities" in the governments of our member States, and we are providing a list of people in those agencies for you to contact in order to receive the materials free of charge for your WWD celebrations. In addition, as in the past, we are providing the posters in a couple of electronic formats on CD-ROM so that you can, if you wish, customize them with your language or images and perhaps print them in larger quantities than we can make available to you. Here is our WWD 2006 index page, and you can view the posters and stickers here. A message from our CEPA Officer, Sandra Hails, on behalf of the Communications Team, provides more detail on the purpose and themes of the materials in , and . [31/08/05]

Czech cooperation with Ethiopia on Ramsar and wetlands. As part of the cooperation between the Czech Republic and Ethiopia, the Minister of the Environment of the Czech Republic invited Ethiopia to participate in a workshop on wetlands organised in the Czech Republic. The workshop was prepared in cooperation of the Czech Ministry of Environment represented by Mrs. Libuše Vlasáková (Ramsar Administrative Authority) and Alena Cervená (Department of Global Relations), with the non-governmental organisation ENKI represented by Dr. Jan Pokorný, and Mr Ababu Anage, Head of the Ecosystem Department, and Mr. Shewaye Deribe, Plant Ecologist, both from the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia, attended workshop sessions and visited a number of Ramsar sites between 19 and 25 July 2005. Here is a brief illustrated report. [29/08/05]

New Zealand names Ramsar site on North Island. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Government of New Zealand has designated its sixth Wetland of International Importance, effective 25 July 2005.Manawatu river mouth and estuary(~200 hectares, 40°29'S 175°14'E) is a moderate-size estuary on the southwest coast of North Island which retains a high degree of naturalness and diversity, important as a feeding ground for migratory birds. Here are the details. [23/08/05]

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