The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 5 September 2009

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Two new Ramsar sites in the South Atlantic. The United Kingdom has designated two new, very large marine areas in its Overseas Territory of St Helena, Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean. The new Wetlands of International Importance, both effective 20 November 2008, are centered on Gough Island and Inaccessible Island, respectively, with surrounding waters, and both are parts of the World Heritage natural site called “Gough and Inaccessible Islands” (1995, enlarged in 2004), as well as Nature Reserves and BirdLife Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and managed in the context of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (2004), to which the UK is a Party. Ramsar’s Ms Nadezhda Alexeeva has prepared these brief site descriptions, based upon the Ramsar Information Sheets provided by Defra, the Ramsar authority in the UK. [05/09/09] 

Kazakhstan names two arid steppe lake systems. The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the Republic of Kazakhstan has designated a further two steppe lake systems as Wetlands of International Importance, both of them enormously significant areas particularly for migratory waterbirds. One of them is part of the “Saryarka – Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan” World Heritage natural property, and both are part of the West/Central Asian Site Network for Siberian Cranes and other waterbirds under the Bonn Convention on Migratory Species. Both of the new sites are in the Kostanay Oblast or province, and both designations are effective as of 12 July 2009. Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Asia-Oceania, Ann Aldersey, has prepared brief site descriptions based on the Ramsar Information Sheets that accompanied the designations. [03/09/2009]

News from the SGF. Thailand completes Small Grants Fund project. Bung Boraphet, the largest freshwater wetland in Thailand, now has a comprehensive Plan of Management following the recent completion of the Ramsar Small Grants Fund project, Sustainable Water Use Plan for Bung Boraphet. Based on the principles of wise use, the Plan focuses on managing the competing and intensifying demands on the wetland, including fishing, rice growing and ecotourism, and to address mounting evidence of resource over-exploitation and significant ecosystem change. Read more here. [03/09/2009]

Ramsar Small Grants Fund 2009 – Call for voluntary contributions. The Ramsar Small Grants Fund supports small projects promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. It relies exclusively upon the voluntary contributions from governments and NGOs, and the Secretariat would like to invite any institutions able to support the SGF to talk with us about it. Some 44 proposals have been received for the 2009 cycle and are presently being evaluated by the staff – a portfolio of projects will be published in October. Please read more here. [13/08/09]

Ramsar Regional Centre opens in Korea. Secretary General Anada Tiéga and Senior Advisor Lew Young returned to Changwon, Republic of Korea, site of the successful 10th meeting of the Conference of the Ramsar Parties last year, to participate in the 21 July opening of the new Ramsar Regional Centre – East Asia. The RRC-EA will support projects and activities that will advance the mission of the Ramsar Convention in East and Southeast Asia, largely by enhancing the recognition of the value of wetlands and science-based wetland management, supporting Ramsar site designation and the establishment of the inventories and management planning, and helping decision-makers and practitioners to develop and use sustained wetland management tools. Maurice Lineman, one of the staff members of the new centre, has provided a brief report (PDF) with some photos of the festivities.[31/07/09])

Ramsar Site Success Stories Request. The Ramsar Convention is looking for success case studies that illustrate the process and benefits of Ramsar site designations in the Americas in order to prepare a toolkit publication tailored to governmental decision-makers, technical officers and site managers, as well as NGOs, that encourages the implementation of a strategic framework and priorities for Ramsar site designations under the Convention’s international network of wetlands. Read more here. [31/07/09]

La Convención de Ramsar esta buscando estudios de caso exitosos que ilustren el proceso y beneficios de la designación de sitios Ramsar en las Américas para preparar una publicación orientada a los tomadores de decisiones Gubernamentales, oficiales técnicos y manejadores, al igual que de Organizaciones No Gubernamentales, que promueva la implementación del marco estratégico y prioridades para la designación de Sitios Ramsar en el contexto de la red internacional de humedales de la Convención. Continúe leyendo

Iran removes site from the Montreux Record. The Alagol, Ulmagol and Ajigol lake complex (1400ha), Islamic Republic of Iran, comprises three small lakes and associated marshes in the semi-desert steppes near the border with Turkmenistan. The wetland was designated a Ramsar site in 1975 because of its abundance and diversity of wintering waterbirds, a number of which are internationally threatened. As a result of increasing threats, however, in 1993 it was placed on the Montreux Record "of Ramsar sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur". Following its successful efforts, in November 2008 the government of Iran sent a report to the Secretariat proposing that the site be taken off the Record, and this was strongly supported in the report by a Ramsar Advisory Mission (No. 60) to the site in May 2009. The improvements to the site were achieved through the national and provincial budgets of the DOE, an increasingly high level of cooperation with other governmental stakeholders, and with the local communities and NGOs. Read more here. [17/07/09]

Pakistan breaks mangrove-planting record. The government of Pakistan, as part of its National Year of the Environment efforts, set out to break the Guinness World Record for the most mangrove trees planted at a single site in a 24-hour period. On 15 July 2009, 541,148 young mangrove trees were planted in the Indus Delta Ramsar site in southern Sindh Province, bettering the previous record of 447,000 trees. The Ministry of Environment’s press release on the event can be seen here (PDF), and WWF International’s “Leaders for a Living Planet” certificate for the Minister in recognition of the achievement, signed by Lifeng Li, Director of WWF-International Freshwater Programme, can be seen here (PDF). [16/07/09]

4th Meeting of the Group of Experts on Biodiversity and Climate Change of Bern Convention, 2-3 July 2009, Strasbourg, France. The Secretariat of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of the European Wildlife and Natural Habitats convened its Group of Experts on Biodiversity and Climate Change to provide recommendations to put forward to Standing Committee this autumn. Ramsar was invited and Monica Zavagli attended the meeting (the first time Ramsar participated),  also providing a presentation on the works of the Convention and STRP on the Climate change issue. The Group of Experts – made up of about 30 people from the Convention’s Member States (including Ramsar focal point Olivier Biber for Switzerland), other international conventions such CMS and CBD, and international organizations such as UNEP WCMC, IUCN and ProNatura – revised and commented on the reports prepared specifically for invertebrates, plants and Protected Areas.  Recommendations, other documents and presentations are available here. [14/07/09]

River restoration and management in Europe. On 28-29 May 2009 the European Centre for River Restoration (ECRR, celebrated its ten year anniversary with an international seminar in Lelystad, the Netherlands. It focused on European Union Natura 2000 and Ramsar sites and explored how to create synergies between river restoration and management. The seminar was also the occasion to celebrate the president of ECRR -- when retiring later this year, Bart Fokkens will look back to 40 years of professional service at Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch Centre for Water Management, and he was honored with the creation of the “Bart Fokkens Fund”, a Dutch-Armenian development fund “from brain drain to brain gain for Armenia”. Ramsar’s Tobias Salathé was present and has prepared this illustrated report. [10/07/09]

 Mexico names 113th Ramsar site. The government of Mexico has designated Humedales de Bahía Adair (42,430 hectares, 31º35’N 113º53’W) in Sonora state, effective last World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2009, as its 113th Wetland of International Importance. As summarized by Ramsar’s Nadia Castro, the site is composed of three types of habitats, including estuaries, artesian wells, and salt marshes, and is located in the Gran Desierto de Altar, one of the most arid and extreme deserts of North America. The site supports 12 fauna species found under special protection in Mexican law, such as the endangered Desert Pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius) endemic to the region, and species listed in CITES such as the marine turtles Caretta caretta, Chelonia agassizi, Chelonia mydas, Dermochelys coriacea and Lepidochelys olivacea. Three fish species, Gillichthys seta, Anchoa mundeoloides and Leuresthes sardina, are endemic to the northern Gulf of California, as well as two endemic flora species: Distichlis palmeri and Suaeda puertopenascoa. The main hydrological value of these wetlands is the presence of the Sonoyta-Puerto Peñasco Aquifer of prehistoric formation. The main land uses include tourism and real estate in the coastal zone, conservation, salt extraction, scientific research, environmental education, subsistence fishing, oyster culture and ecotourism. [29/05/09]

Uzbekistan hosts 15th meeting of the ISDC. The 15th Meeting of the Interstate Sustainable Development Committee (ISDC) was held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 26 May 2009, attended by the Ministers of Environment from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives from a range of regional stakeholders, e.g. Central Asia Youth Environmental Network, Ramsar Secretariat, UNEP, UNDP and WWF. Ramsar's Lew Young prepared this brief report on the meeting's conclusions. [29/05/09]

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