The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 December 2008

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Networking with wetland managers in Nordic-Baltic countries. Networking with wetland managers in Nordic-Baltic countries was the focus of the 4th seminar of the Nordic-Baltic Wetland Initiative on 23-25 September 2008 in Finland. It brought together 35 Ramsar focal points from national and provincial administrative authorities, wetland managers, environmental monitoring specialists and others. The main theme of the seminar was wetland management planning, aiming to increase the exchanges between Nordic and Baltic countries of lessons learnt and to form active planning networks for the future. The seminar was perfectly organized by Ms Tiina Niikkonen of Metsähallitus, the Finnish state enterprise that administers more than 12 million hectares of state-owned land and water areas, with support from the Ministry of Environment, in the village of Kempele, close to Oulu airport at the edge of Ramsar site N°1523 Liminganlahti Bay Area. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé provides the details, with photos. [01/12/08]


Niumi-Saloum named as Africa's first Transboundary Ramsar site. The Secretariat is extremely pleased to congratulate the governments of Gambia and Senegal for their declaration of the first African Transboundary Ramsar Site and the first Transboundary Ramsar Site outside of Europe, called Niumi-Saloum. Delta du Saloum was designated as Senegal’s third Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 1984, and Gambia’s Niumi National Park was designated on 13 October 2008, also the third Ramsar site in that country. Ramsar's Cynthia Kibata provides all the details here. [28/11/08]


Italy removes Stagno di Cagliari from the Montreux Record. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that Italy has completed the formalities for the removal of the last of its Ramsar sites  that has been on the Montreux Record of sites “where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur” for quite a few years. According to documentation provided by the Administrative Authority in the Ministry of the Environment and Territory and the Sea, managers at “Stagno di Cagliari” on the island of Sardinia have made substantial progress in resolving the problems for which the site was added to the Record in 1990, and after consultations with the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) it has been removed from the Record as of 25 November 2008. Ramsar's Monica Zavagli provides further details here. [26/11/08]


Ramsar COP10 first plenary sessions. Wednesday, 29 October, opened with the first plenary sessions, and the participants got through the standard COP business of approving the agenda and the Rules of Procedure, admitting observers, appointing committees, and electing the COP officers -- the COP elected as its President Mr Maanee Lee, Minister of Environment of Korea, and as Alternate President Mr Kim, Director General of the Ministry of Environment of Korea. Mr Patrick van Klaveren of Monaco for Europe and Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi of the Republic of South Africa representing Africa were chosen as Vice-Presidents. Then a round of progress reports got underway, from the Standing Committee Chair, a representative of the World Wetlands NGO conference, the Chair of the Scientific and Technical Review Committee (STRP, left), and the Secretary General. Tomorrow picks up with issues arising from Resolutions of past COPs, specifically in this case the evolution of the Transboundary Ramsar Sites initiative and the legal status of the Secretariat. Here's a page of photographs of the first plenary and a demonstration against "reclamation" just outside the venue. [29/10/08]


Ramsar COP10 getting started now. The preparations are nearly complete and the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties is getting started now -- literally "now", as Mr Lee Myung-pak, President of the Republic of Korea, is welcoming the participants just one floor up right this moment and opening an event that the Korean press is calling the "Environment Olympics". The Ramsar Standing Committee held its 38th meeting yesterday and has now transformed itself into the "Conference Committee" for the next week or so, and all today the Parties have been meeting in regional caucuses. At the Opening Ceremony this evening, participants are being treated to a video message from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, and live addresses from Korea's Minister of Environment, Minister of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs, and the Governor of Gyeongnam Province, Ramsar's Secretary General, the Director General of IUCN, a representative of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Executive Director of UNEP, with some songs performed by the "Little Angels" children's choir. Following all which, the winners of the 2008 Ramsar Conservation Awards are receiving their honors and there is a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Danone-Evian Intiative partnership in support of the Convention. And that's to be followed by a Welcoming Dinner for everyone here in the convention centre. Here's a page of photographs of the early stages today and the cultural festival taking place outside. [28/10/08]


Japan names four new sites for COP10. The government of Japan has designated four more Wetlands of International Importance for the Ramsar List, and the Japanese delegation will be hosting a 30 October side event at Ramsar COP10 to celebrate the new Ramsar sites and receive the official site certificates. Ramsar’s Pragati Tuladhar has prepared brief site descriptions based on the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheets. [23/10/08]



Two last-minute Ramsar designations. As the staff departs for Korea, the last two site designations have been added to the Ramsar List. Malaysia has named a natural coastal mangrove and peat swamp forest in Sabah province under the name "Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands" (78,803 hectares, 05°38'N 118°35'E), and Nepal has designated "Mai Pokhari" (90 hectares, 27°00'N 087°56'E), a permanent freshwater pond that has great religious and cultural value in the Buddhist, Hindu, and Mundhum traditions. [23/10/08]


France's newest Ramsar sites. The government of France has designated a fascinating collection of eleven new Wetlands of International Importance. In addition to several lagoon systems along the northern and southern coasts, there are two additional lagoons along the beautiful east coast of Corsica. Perhaps most interestingly, there are also several new sites in France’s overseas territories, or outre-mer, including a coral reef system near Tahiti in French Polynesia, sites on Martinique and in French Guyana, and a 2.2 million hectare expanse of the southern Indian Ocean that includes the French sub-Antarctic archipelagos Crozet and Kerguelen and the Amsterdam and Saint-Paul islands. In addition, the new sites include the long-awaited “Impluvium d’Evian”, the plateau across Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) from the Ramsar Secretariat from which rainwater filters downward over twenty years to become the purified mineral waters of Evian-les-Bains, the lakeside spa centre and home of the Ramsar centre and botanical garden “Pré Curieux”. The Danone Group, owner of the Evian bottled water company, has generously supported the Ramsar Convention’s outreach efforts over the past ten years through the “Evian Initiative” and the “Ecoles de l’Eau” project.

France now has 36 Ramsar sites, covering an area of 3,315,695 hectares. Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Europe, Monica Zavagli, has prepared brief site descriptions for the Annotated Ramsar List. [22/10/08]


Chad names very large Ramsar site. The government of Chad has designated the “Plaine de Massenya” (2,526,000 hectares, 11°15'N 16°15'E) as its sixth Wetland of International Importance, bringing its total area under Ramsar listing to 12,405,068 hectares, second only to Canada in total area listed. According to Cynthia Kibata, Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Africa, the site, located in the southwestern regions of the country, is an inland wetland that forms part of the Lake Chad Basin and is characterized by freshwater marshes, rivers, streams and creeks. It plays several roles such as flood control, sediment capture, groundwater renewal, etc. Various endangered species that also attract tourists are present, e.g., the African elephant, leopards, the Nile crocodile, and others. There are 386 species of birds noted in the area, as well as numerous fish species, due to the occurrence of vegetation such as Echinachloa sp among others. The most important livelihood activities in the area are fishing, agriculture and livestock keeping. The main threats are deforestation, high concentrations of livestock, bush fires, over-fishing practices, poaching and lack of personnel with technical capabilities to ensure proper management practices. In the surrounding areas the major threat is caused by exploration activities for petroleum. Development projects in the area are being carried out by NGOs, e.g., education of the local communities on sustainable management of their resources, and an inventory is being carried out on sustainable energy sources.

The preparation of this important new designation has been supported by the WWF International Freshwater Programme. [22/10/08]


Gambia’s third Ramsar site. The government of Gambia has designated Niumi National Park (4,940 hectares, 13°34’N 016°31’W) as its third Ramsar site. As summarized by Ramsar’s Cynthia Kibata, this is a complex of wetland types along the coastal strip of the northern section of the River Gambia, ranging from coastal to inland wetlands which hold important hydrological values, i.e. flood control, groundwater replenishment, shoreline stabilization and sediment and nutrient retention and export. The flora and fauna are of particular note due to their abundance and adaptations to the range of habitat types found within the site. The noteworthy flora include Rhizophora mangrove forest, Nymphaea lotus, Parkia biglobosa etc. – noteworthy fauna include 303 species of resident and migratory birds, the West African manatee, leopards, and Red Colobus monkeys. Human uses within the site are noted as rice cultivation, livestock rearing, and fishing activities. In the surrounding areas some small industries are in operation. Potential threats are due to unsuitable fishing practices, illegal hunting, land clearance, expansion of agricultural activity, and sand mining.

The management plan is being updated and a management committee is to be established following completion of the endangered species survey. The site adjoins Senegal’s Delta du Saloum Ramsar site and collaborative management arrangements are being formalized. [22/10/08]


Uzbekistan names second Ramsar site. The government of Uzbekistan has added the AydarArnasayLakesSystem (527,100 hectares, 40°47’N 067°46’E) to the Ramsar List. This ornithological protected area is the largest reservoir of Uzbekistan, consisting of freshwater lakes situated in the middle stream of the Syrdarya river and on the irrigated massif of Golodnaya steppe and Kyzyllum desert. As summarized by Ramsar’s Pragati Tuladhar, the site is located at the crossroads of the Afro-Eurasian and Central Asian flyways and a centre for migrating and wintering waterbirds, with more than 100 species noted. It provides habitat to threatened species like White-headed Duck Savka (Oxyura leucocephala), Sociable Lapwing (Chettusia gregaria), Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Red-breasted Goose (Rufibrenta ruficollis), Lesser White-fronted Goose(Anser erytropus), andPallas Sea-eagle(Haliaetus leucoryphus) and provides an important source of food and a spawning ground for various species of fish. The main vegetations are reed communities used by local people, saltwort and tamarisk. An action plan for maintaining the stability of ecological conditions, 2008-2015, is in place. [22/10/08]


Australia’s 65th Ramsar site. The government of Australia has designated the “Paroo River Wetlands” (138,304 hectares, 30°20’S 143°51’E), part of a National Park in New South Wales, as its 65th Ramsar site. The Paroo is the last remaining free-flowing river in the Murray-Darling Basin, and the site features such wetland types as large overflow lakes, tree-lined creeks and waterholes, lignum and canegrass swamps, and artesian mound spring. The site is one of the most important wetland systems for waterbirds in eastern Australia and supports a number of threatened plant and animal species as well as significant native fish communities. The area is highly significant for local Aboriginal people in terms of archaeological, traditional and contemporary social values. [22/10/08]


Peru names important mangrove habitat. The government of Peru has designated its 13th Wetland of International Importance with the “Manglares de San Pedro de Vice” (3,399 hectares, 05°31’S 080°53’W). According to Ramsar’s Mila Llorens, based on the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheet, this wetland in northern Peru is the last mangrove relict of the southern Pacific coast of South America and is composed of two mangrove species Avicennia germinans and Laguncularia racemosa, as well as 43 species of Phanerogamous plants. The site is part of the coastal wetland corridor for migratory birds, registering 98 species of resident and migratory waterfowl. The mangrove is habitat to many fish species, reptiles, invertebrates and micro fauna, and some mammal species such as Pseudalopex sechurae, Didelphys marsupialis and Conepatus semistriatus can also be spotted in the site. It is also of great social and economic importance for the inhabitants of the area, undertaking activities such as subsistence fishing and extraction of crustaceans and mollusks. The wetland is currently threatened due to inadequate management and lack of planning. Every year thousands of tourists visit the site, leaving trash behind, which accumulates and creates not only a visual impact but affects the wildlife living in it. There is a strong relation between the dry forest, the mangroves and the coastal desert, which are important for mammals and birds. [16/10/08]

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