Final Act of the International Conference on the Conservation of Wetlands and Waterfowl
[This is the text of the Final Act which established the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, reprinted from E. Carp, ed., Proceedings, International Conference on the Conservation of Wetlands and Waterfowl, Ramsar, Iran, 30 January - 3 February 1971 (Slimbridge, UK: International Wildfowl Research Bureau, 1972).]
Final Act of the International Conference on the Conservation of Wetlands and Waterfowl
held at Ramsar, Iran, 30 January - 3 February 1971
1.The Imperial Government of Iran, in accordance with recommendations of earlier international meetings on wetlands and waterfowl conservation, convened an International Conference on the Conservation of Wetlands and Waterfowl, with a view to promoting international collaboration in this field.
2. The Conference met at Ramsar, Iran, from 30 January to 3 February 1971.
3. Credentials were received by the Secretariat of the Conference from the Governments of the following States:
Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Federal Republic of Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Jordan, The Netherlands, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom
4. The Governments of the following countries sent Observers to the Conference
Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Rumania
5. The following Specialized Agencies of the United Nations sent Observers to the Conference:
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Oganization (UNESCO)
6. The following Non-Governmental Organizations sent Observers to the Conference:
Conseil International de la Chasse (CIC)
International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP)
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)
International Wildfowl Research Bureau (IWRB)
Special Committee for the International Biological Programme of the International Council of Scientific Unions (IBP)
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
7. The Conference elected Mr. E. Firouz, Head of the Imperial Iranian Delegation, as President of the Conference.
8. The Conference elected as Vice-Presidents, Dr. V. D. Denisov, Head of the Delegation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and Prof. Dr. M. F. Mörzer Bruyns, Head of the Delegation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
9. The Iranian Game and Fish Department and the International Wildfowl Research Bureau (IWRB) provided the Secretariat of the Conference. Prof. G. V. T. Matthews, Director of IWRB, was appointed Rapporteur-General of the Conference.
10. The following Committees were established by the Conference:
Mr. S. A. Hejmadi (India)
Mr. A. Dakhgan (Jordan)
Dr. L. E. Esping (Sweden, acting as Rapporteur)
Dr. A. Schifferli (Switzerland)
Count Cornet d'Elzius (Belgium)
Dr. W. Erz (Federal Republic of Germany)
Dr. M. Nabavi (Iran)
Mr. E. J. Ph. Roberts (The Netherlands)
Prof. Yu. Isakov (USSR)
Rapporteurs: Sir Hugh Elliott (IBP), Mr. F. G. Nicholls (IUCN)
11. The Conference was deeply impressed by the decision included in the Message sent to it by H.I.M. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shahanshah Aryamehr of Iran, that the Imperial Iranian Government would place one of its wetland ecosystems of special global significance in joint trust with a suitable international agency, such as the United Nations Organization, to conserve and administer for all mankind. The Conference commended this most important precedent to other Governments.
12. The Government of Iran in convening the Conference referred to it the draft of a Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, which had resulted from an international meeting of experts held at Espoo, Finland, in March 1970. This draft, together with comments of the Governments of France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the U.S.S.R. concerning it, constituted the basis for discussion by the Conference.
13. On the basis of its deliberations, as recorded in the summary records of its sessions, the Conference prepared and adopted in accordance with its rules of procedure a final text of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, which is appended as Annex I to this Final Act.
14. In the course of discussions on the draft Convention, the Conference agreed that whilst the final text of the Convention does not include an article concerning territorial application, this will not preclude Parties to the Convention indicating at any time to which territories constitutionally associated with them, the Convention shall apply.
15. In approving the final text of the Convention, the Head of the Delegation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics abstained from approving Article 9 because it contained the provision that only members of the United Nations, the Specialized Agencies, the International Atomic Energy Agency or Parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice may become Parties to the Convention. His Delegation believed that all countries should have the right to become Parties to the Convention, since this would contribute to the cause of conservation of wetlands and waterfowl, and he noted that birds recognized no boundaries. He expressed the hope that these views would be taken into consideration by governments at the time the Convention was opened for signature.
16. The Representative of UNESCO stated that UNESCO was willing to accept the duties of Depository as specified in the final text of the Convention, subject to final legal clearance by the Organization and subsequent notification of its acceptance to the Imperial Government of Iran.
17. The Representative of IUCN stated that he was authorized to accept on behalf of IUCN the bureau duties specified in the final text of the Convention.
18. The Conference invited the Imperial Government of Iran to take the necessary steps to prepare the final document containing the English, French, German and Russian texts of the Convention and, after submission for verification to the Governments represented at this Conference, to open the Convention for signature at a convenient date.
19. During the course of discussion of the draft Convention the Conference decided to note the following points:
a) The waterfowl referred to in the Convention include the following groups of birds:
- Gaviiformes (Divers)
- Podicipediformes (Grebes)
- Pelicaniformes (Pelicans, Cormorants, Darters)
- Ciconuformes (Herons, Bitterns, Storks, Ibises, Flamingos)
- Anseriformes (Screamers, Swans, Geese, Ducks)
- Gruiformes (Cranes)
- Ralliformes (Coots, Rails)
- Charadriiformes (Waders, Gulls, Terns)
b) The entries in the List of Wetlands of International Importance which is to be maintained under the Convention could usefully be supplemented by descriptions of the biotopes involved and an enumeration of the bird species especially in need of protection therein.
20. The Conference adopted eleven Recommendations which are submitted to the Governments and other Bodies concerned for consideration and appropriate action. Although in sympathy with the intention of Recommendations 1 to 5, Delegates from some countries refrained from voting on them for the formal reason that they did not wish to be involved in the internal affairs of the countries concerned. These Recommendations are appended as Annex II to this Final Act and relate to:
1) Conservation of the Wadden Sea, northwestern Europe.
2) Conservation of Thjorsarver, Iceland.
3) Conservation of North Bull Island, Ireland.
4) Conservation of Lakes Ab-i-Istada and Dasht-e-Nawar, Afghanistan.
5) Conservation of the Medway Estuary, England.
6) Oil Pollution.
8) Promotion of Wetlands Research.
9) Promotion of Hunting Research and Education.
10) African Wetlands.
11) Wetlands and the Man and the Biosphere Programme.
In witness whereof, the Representatives have signed this Final Act.
Done at Ramsar this third day of February, One thousand nine hundred and seventy one, in a single copy in the English language.
The original text of this Final Act shall be deposited by the Government of Iran with the Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization who shall send a certified copy of this instrument to each of the Governments represented at the Conference.
G. V. T. MATTHEWS
For the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium
COMTE CLAUDE CORNET D'ELZIUS
For the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark
H. M. THAMDRUP
For the Government of the Republic of Finland
For the Government of the French Republic
M. DE CONIAC
For the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany
For the Government of the Republic of India
S. A. HEJMADI
For the Imperial Government of Iran
For the Government of Ireland
For the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
For the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
M. F. MÖRZER BRUYNS
For the Government of Pakistan
M. S. U. SIDDIQI
For the Government of the Republic of South Africa
F. W. LIEBENBERG
For the Government of the Spanish State
For the Government of the Kingdom of Sweden
L. E. ESPING
For the Government of the Swiss Confederation
For the Government of the Republic of Turkey
For the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
For the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Final Text adopted by the International Conference on the Conservation of Wetlands and Waterfowl at Ramsar, Iran, 2 February 1971
[Note: This link is to the text as adopted in 1971, not including the Paris Protocol of 1982 and the Regina Amendments of 1987. The present text of the Convention is available here. -- Editor.]
Recommendations adopted by the International Conference on the Conservation of Wetlands and Waterfowl at Ramsar, Iran, 3 February 1971
CONSERVATION OF SPECIFIC WETLANDS
Recommendation 1. Conservation of the Wadden Sea, northwestern Europe.
CONSIDERING that multi-disciplinary international research in recent years has shown convincingly the unrivalled value of the Waddensea as a natural resource; because of its high biological productivity and its geographical situation it is of vital importance for literally millions of Eurasian waterfowl;
RECOGNIZING that this area in the territories of Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands is threatened by development plans involving the construction of dams and dykes, the establishment of industries and other human impacts which are altering the present ecological situation;
BEING ESPECIALLY AWARE of the immediate danger of pollution by industrial waste and sewage waters;
to the Governments of Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands that action be taken to halt the implementation of any such planning until appropriate research has demonstrated that no harmful effects will result,
and further RECOMMENDS that consideration be given to including the Wadden Sea area in the List of Wetlands of International Importance to be established under the proposed Wetlands Convention.
Recommendation 2. Conservation of Thjorsarver, Iceland.
BEING INFORMED of the international importance of the Thjorsarver area in central Iceland as the breeding ground of more than half the world population of Anser brachyrhynchus;
BEING AWARE of the valuable ecological research being started in the area;
to the Government of Iceland that it delay the proposal to flood Thjorsarver for hydro-electric purposes until the results of research permit a re-evaluation of resources allocation in this area.
Recommendation 3. Conservation of North Bull Island, Ireland.
NOTING that development has commenced of North Bull Island near Dublin, a vitally important waterfowl habitat;
CONSIDERING that it ranks fourth in importance among Ireland’s list of wetlands, is the winter habitat of many thousands of waterfowl, and moreover is the only wetland of international significance within a capital city in Europe;
BEING deeply concerned at the development of this area;
to the Government of Ireland that this wetland should be excluded from further development.
Recommendation 4. Conservation of Lakes Ab-i-Istada and Dasht-e-Nawar, Afghanistan.
BEING ADVISED that recent studies of wetlands in Afghanistan have shown that Lakes Ab-i-Istada and Dasht-e-Nawar are of great international importance as wintering and breeding places for waterfowl including for varying periods the greater part of the world population of the Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus;
to the Government of Afghanistan that these valuable wetlands be given protection from disturbance at all times, and suggests that they seek financial or other assistance from international organizations if this is required.
Recommendation 5. Conservation of the Medway Estuary, England.
NOTING that it is proposed that the Medway Estuary in Kent, England, be considered for development as a maritime industrial development area (M.I.D.A.);
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION that the area is of outstanding international importance to migratory waterfowl and could well become critically important as a wintering ground for part of the fifth of the world population of the dark-bellied race of the Brent goose, Branta bernicla, that would be displaced if Foulness became the site for London’s third airport or a "Europort" dock complex;
that the United Kingdom Government exclude this vitally important area from such development projects.
Recommendation 6. Oil Pollution
NOTING with anxiety the accelerated frequency of oil pollution of the sea by disasters and by oil discharge from ships which do not respect the International Convention for the Prevention of the Pollution of the Sea by Oil;
to the appropriate States and International Organizations that they bring to the attention of competent authorities the primary importance of:
a) ensuring strict supervision on coastal waters, especially in the Caspian Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Kattegat, the North Sea and the Channel;
b) accelerating research into combatting oil pollution; and
c) applying promptly and rigorously the statutory punishments.
Recommendation 7. Pesticides
NOTING with concern the grave danger to wetlands and their flora and fauna represented by the use of persistent pesticides, such as chlorinated hydrocarbons, due to run off, discharge of waste products and deliberate application;
DEPLORING an apparent tendency for such pesticides, although often banned or restricted in the countries of manufacture, to be exported in quantity and even offered for sale at reduced prices to less developed countries, which may lead to the degradation of natural areas including wetlands of international importance;
that Governments both of countries from which such pesticides originate and of those in which their use is not yet fully controlled take all necessary measures to curtail and, wherever possible, ban or severely restrict the sale and use of persistent pesticides.
RESEARCH AND INVESTIGATION
Recommendation 8. Promotion of wetlands research.
BEING AWARE of the serious and deteriorating situation facing waterfowl in many parts of the Palaearctic Region;
REALIZING the need for improving scientific information for the correct assessment of wetlands for the proposed Wetlands Convention;
that Governments and all appropriate departments and institutions concerned with natural resources should assist and facilitate wetland research at all levels, and in particular
a) that all countries which do not already carry out regular waterfowl counts on important wetlands should endeavour to do so at least twice a year on dates advised by The International Wildfowl Research Bureau;
b) that all countries should assess their wetlands in respect of the need to provide a chain of effective refuges, these being selected for their value for waterfowl as well as permanence despite varying conditions of rainfall in arid areas; and
c) that if countries are unable to undertake this work from their own resources they should seek assistance from appropriate international organizations.
Recommendation 9. Promotion of Hunting Research and Education
that waterfowl research organizations in different countries should undertake:
a) to make every effort to obtain data on the breeding success and productivity of the main species involved;
b) to produce general mortality data based on recovery of ringed birds to be compared with other measures of productivity; and
c) to carry out special studies on the effect of hunting on wildfowl populations, by means of ringing data and the use and development of realistic hunting kill or capture statistics.
and further RECOMMENDS
that international and national hunters’ organizations should:
a) encourage sportsmanlike methods in hunting, and stop actions which obviously lead to mass destruction or loss of waterfowl;
b) intensify educational measures to improve hunters’ knowledge of different species of waterfowl; and
c) make hunters aware of their responsibilities for conservation and wise use of waterfowl resources through proper hunting practices.
Recommendation 10. African Wetlands.
NOTING with satisfaction that the new African Convention on Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, in force since 1969, deals specifically with wetlands as a productive natural resource and obliges the Contracting States to undertake ecologically sound measures for the conservation, management and utilization of wetlands;
TAKING into consideration the importance of African wetlands as habitats for migratory waterfowl breeding in northern and central Eurasia, but wintering in Africa;
that African Governments encourage research on productivity of wetlands and, possibly with the help of UNESCO, establish an African List of wetlands of international importance, especially as waterfowl habitat, in conformity with the Project MAR list for Europe, published in 1965by the IUCN.
Recommendation 11. Wetlands and the Man and the Biosphere Programme
NOTING with satisfaction UNESCO’s new programme on "Man and the Biosphere" (MAB) involving the planning of worldwide research into, and the monitoring of, the role and productivity of various ecosystems or major habitats, as a basis for conservation, management, wise utilization and sustained yield;
that wetlands in all parts of the world should be brought within the scope of the MAB programme.