The initial call for an international convention on wetlands came in 1962 during a conference which formed part of Project MAR (from "MARshes", "MARécages", "MARismas"), a programme established in 1960 following concern at the rapidity with which large stretches of marshland and other wetlands in Europe were being "reclaimed" or otherwise destroyed, with a resulting decline in numbers of waterfowl. Dr. Luc Hoffmann organized the MAR Conference in Les Saintes Maries-de-la-Mer in the French Camargue, 12-16 November 1962. Over the next eight years, a convention text was negotiated under the guidance of Prof. G.V.T. Matthews, and the leadership of the government of the Netherlands, directed specifically at the conservation of waterfowl through the creation of a network of refuges, but as the text developed, especially with the expert advice of legal consultant Mr Cyrille de Klemm, conservation of wetland habitat (rather than species) took prominence.
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