The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 31 July 2008

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India's most important wetlands described. A news note from the BirdLife International Web site: "A new and monumental book details more than 100 Indian wetlands that campaigners believe desperately need protection from pollution, development and other forms of misuse. The 560-page tome describes 160 coastal and freshwater sites only 25 of which have been classified under the international Ramsar wetland treaty. . . . The authors, Zafar ul Islam and Dr Asad Rahmani of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS, BirdLife in India) call these wetlands India’s “liquid treasures.” They add in the book’s preface: 'The 25 Ramsar sites in India do not represent even a fraction of the diversity of wetland habitats existing in the country.' Here is the rest of BirdLife's review. [28/07/08]

World Heritage adds two new Ramsar sites. At the recent 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee, meeting in Québec, Canada, 3-10 July 2008, amongst the new additions to the World Heritage List were two natural properties that include Wetlands of International Importance within them. The World Heritage site “Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan” (450,344 hectares) covers basically the same features as does the “Tengis-Korgalzhyn Lake System” Ramsar site (353,341 hectares), first designated by the Soviet Union in 1976 and recently confirmed by Kazakhstan in May 2007. The World Heritage site “Socotra Archipelago” off the coast of Yemen includes within it the much smaller Ramsar site on Socotra Island that is tentatively called “Detwah Lagoon” as the Secretariat awaits further information from Yemen following that country’s accession to the Convention earlier this year. Fact sheets on the new World Heritage natural properties can be found at A list of Ramsar sites that are also all or partly World Heritage properties can be seen here. [25/07/08]

The world’s largest Ramsar site. As the Environmental News Service, WWF, and others are reporting today, the Democratic Republic of Congo is in the process of designating what will be the largest Wetland of International Importance in the world, the Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe complex covering some 6,569,600 hectares. Technical assistance and financial support for the preparation of the technical data for this designation have been provided by WWF International, Ramsar, and a USAID programme for Central Africa’s environment. The designation formalities and technical paperwork have not yet been completed by the DR Congo authorities, but as soon as that has been accomplished further details on the wetland complex will appear on the Ramsar Web site as well. [24/07/08]

Colombia names 4th Ramsar site. The government of Colombia has designated Sistema Lacustre de Chingaza (4,058 hectares, 04°30’N 073°45’W), part of the Chingaza National Natural Park in the central highlands, as its fourth Wetland of International Importance. As described by Mila Llorens, based on the RIS data, the site is a complex of lagoons and wetlands that supply water to the capital city, Bogotá. Located in the Northern Colombian Andes between 3,050 and 3,950m a.s.l., this region supports one of the dampest páramos of the country and is a center of particular endemism which has been the refuge for more than 400 flora species and 500 fauna species, some of them endangered and others which have not yet been totally identified. The complex is formed by 20 lagoons and is of great importance for migratory birds. Among the species found under special protection, at national as well as international levels, the following mammals are noteworthy: Tremactus ornatus, Mazama rufina bricenni,Tapirus pinchaque and Tapirus terrestris, and among the flora: Espeletia grandiflora, Podocarpus oleifolius, and the palm genus Xeroxilum. The high andean lakes also have great pre-colombian ceremonial significance.

Colombia’s designation of this important new Ramsar site was assisted by the NGO Fundepáramos, with financial support from the IUCN National Committee of The Netherlands, and by the staff of the Chingaza National Park. Español. [18/07/08]

High Andean Workshop results. The V Workshop of the Regional Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of High Andean Wetlands, organized by the Colombian Government, through the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development, and the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) was held in Bogotá, Colombia from 25-27 June 2008. The main objective of the V Workshop was to present the financial priorities in its Action Plan for implementation, launch of a video clip and make the preparations for its presentation in the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to be held in Changwon, Republic of Korea, from the 28th of October to the 4th of November. Here is a brief illustrated report in PDF format.[17/07/08]

El V Taller de la Estrategia Regional de Conservación y Uso Sustentable de Humedales Altoandinos organizado por el Gobierno de Colombia a través del Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial y la Secretaria de Ramsar (Ramsar, Irán, 1971) tuvo lugar en Bogotá, Colombia del 25-27 de Junio. El  propósito del taller fue  presentar las prioridades para financiación en el marco de su Plan de Acción, hacer el lanzamiento de su video clip y definir los preparativos para su presentación en el marco de la décima Conferencia de las Partes Contratantes, que se llevará a cabo en Changwon, República de Corea, del 28 de octubre al 4 de noviembre de 2008.Español.

Le journaliste tour Danone-Evian 08. Du 30 juin au 3 juillet dernier a eu lieu à Evian le journaliste tour 08 ; rencontre organisée par Danone-Evian.Une soixantaine de journalistes internationaux provenant des Pays-bas, de l’Autriche, des USA et de l’Asie, avec des représentants de Singapour et tout particulièrement de la Chine, avaient été invités. Lors de cette première journée, consacrée au développement durable, Ramsar a présenté les enjeux et défis liés à la protection de l’eau et en particulier aux zones humides, ainsi que son partenariat avec le secteur privé. Rapport. [15/07/08]

Danone-Evian journalist tour 08. In a meeting organized by Danone-Evian, 30 June-3 July 2008, in Evian, France, about 60 international journalists from the Netherlands, Austria, the USA, and Asia, with representatives of Singapore and particularly of China, participated in the “journalist tour 08”. During the first day, which was devoted to sustainable development, Ramsar staff presented the issues and challenges related to water protection and in particular to wetlands, and explained its partnership with the private sector. Ramsar's Nathalie Rizzotti reports.  

High altitude Ramsar site in Ecuador. The government of Ecuador has designated its 13th Wetland of International Importance, effective 25 June 2008. As characterized by Ramsar’s Mila Llorens, based on the accompanying data sheet, Complejo Llanganati (30,355 hectares, 01°06’S 078º21’W) is a complex of lagoons of glacial origin, situated between 2,960m and 4,571m a.s.l. and fed by rivers and seasonal floods, as well as swamps and extended peatlands associated with different types of vegetation, which gives them particular characteristics. They are an important source of water for the nearest populated areas. It is habitat to more than 14 flora species found in the IUCN Red List, such as Draba aretiodes, Siphocampylus asplundii, Gentianella jamesonii which are endangered, as well as others which are categorized as vulnerable. The complex belongs to the Tropical Andes Hotspot, said to be the richest and most biodiverse region of the planet, which includes a sixth of the plants of the Earth in 1% of the territory. It holds a number of endemic flora and fauna species, as well as migratory birds. The site is listed under IUCN Management Category II (National Park) and became a BirdLife International ‘Important Bird Area’ in 2005.

WWF International’s Freshwater Programme assisted in the preparations for this important designation, through the good offices of WWF Colombia, as part of a contribution to the Ramsar regional initiative on High Andean Wetlands. [14/07/08] Español.

A new type of Ramsar site in the making. What comes to your mind when reading the word "Armagnac"? A world famous brandy? Gentle slopes with varied cultures in a rural area of southwestern France, famous for its culinary traditions? Or an agricultural landscape embedded in a web of heaths, woodlots and fish ponds? Perhaps you should focus on the latter as key for sustainable development in this area. The Armagnac Ponds retain freshwater for irrigation and to water the cattle. The ponds absorb excessive floods, capture sediment and nutrient flows. The ponds provide abundant fish resources. And the regional biodiversity hotspots are linked to the ponds, especially where surrounded by shallow riparian zones, flood prone meadows, and wet forest parts. Ramsar’s Tobias Salathé visited the area recently to confer with the local people about designation for the Ramsar List, and here is his brief illustrated report. [11/07/08]

Peatlands and Climate Change. The human impact on global climate and the role of peatlands in this process has been widely studied and debated in media, but also within a scientific audience and peatland experts during recent years. The recently published book "Peatlands and Climate Change", edited by Maria Strack, is the outcome of the work of an expert groups set up by the International Peat Society almost three years ago. It summarizes the currently available knowledge on climate change processes and the role peatlands play in this phenomenon. It can be obtained online at www. for 22 € including mailing costs. The IPS believes that this new publication will be a valuable addition to the growing literature on peatlands and their conservation and wise use. [11/07/08]

Italy removes Molentargius from the Montreux Record. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that Italy has completed the formalities for the removal of one 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 Molentargius” 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 2 July 2008. Monica Zavagli provides more details and a link to the MR Questionnaire here. (Photo left: [02/07/08]

Republic of Korea names intertidal flats. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Republic of Korea, host country for the next meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (Changwon, 28 October-4 November 2008), has designated an important wintering stop for migratory birds along the East Asian-Australasian flyway. As summarized by Ramsar’s Pragati Tuladhar, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet, Muan Tidal Flat (3,589 hectares, 35°06’N 126°23’E), a Wetland Protected Area, is an intertidal sand- and mudflat ecosystem, largely free of human disturbance, on the coastline of the Yellow Sea, located in the mouth of semi-enclosed inner bay. Some 49 species of winter waterbirds have been observed, and the site provides habitat to various endangered and rare species such Saunder’s Gull (Larus saundersi), Black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) and Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes). It is a notable spawning ground for marine organisms, with some 357 species recorded, providing valuable food resources for the migratory birds. A ‘reclamation’ with small-scale sea dyke constructions was carried out for the development of Woldoo village fishing port, but detrimental effects have not appeared so far. A comprehensive management plan has been in effect since 2002, implemented by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF), and a number of monitoring programmes are continuing. [26/06/08]

Austria remeasures key Danube site. Austria has recalculated the area, using GIS techniques, of the Donau-March-Thaya-Auen Ramsar site, resulting in an area of 36,090 hectares instead of the former estimate of 38,500. The site, now renamed by the addition of "Thaya", is part of the "Trilateral Ramsar Site Floodplains of the Morava-Dyje-Danube Confluence" Transboundary Ramsar site with Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Austria now has 19 Ramsar sites covering 119,962 hectares. [26/06/08]

Serbia names riverine Ramsar site. The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Republic of Serbia has designated its 9th Wetland of International Importance. As described by Monica Zavagli, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet, Zasavica (1,913 hectares, 44°56’N 019°32’E) is a Special Nature Reserve and BirdLife IBA located in northern Mačva, a riverine ecosystem that dominates the area south of the river Sava, with the rivulet Zasavica and its tributary the Batar, for a total length of 33 km. Aquatic and swampy ecosystems line up along with fragments of floodable meadows and forests representing one of the last preserved pristine swamp areas in Serbia.

The natural conditions are favorable for many rare plant and animal species, such as greater spearwort (Ranunculus lingua), water violet (Hottonia palustris), marsh nettle (Urtica kioviensis), freshwater sponge (Spongilla lacustris), a rare species of oligochaete (Rynchelmnis limnosela), Danube crested newt (Triturus dobrogicus), ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca) as well as otter (Lutra lutra) and beaver (Castor fiber). It is also the only habitat of the mudminnow, Umbra krameri, in Serbia. Traditional grazing and cattle breeding, particularly of autochthonous races, along with the several centuries’ long usage of the area, supports the maintenance of grassland habitats within the Reserve. Zasavica has inspired many legends and myths, and it is woven into the cultural being of the people. Some photographs of the site can be seen here. [25/06/08]

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