Scientific and Technical Review Panel 2023-2025

Pursuant to Resolution XIV.14 Future implementation of scientific and technical aspects of the Convention for 2023-2025 and in accordance with the procedure outlined in Resolution XII.5 New framework for delivery of scientific and technical advice and guidance on the Convention, the Management Working Group of the Standing Committee has appointed the following members of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) of the Convention for the 2023-2025 triennium:

Regional Technical Experts

Dr Hugh Robertson, New Zealand (STRP Chair)

Dr Hugh Robertson is the Chair of the Scientific & Technical Review Panel. He was a member of the 2019-2022 STRP and led publications on sustainable agriculture and contributed to the Global Wetland Outlook 2021 and Global Peatlands Assessment.  Dr Robertson has worked with Contracting Parties, IOPs and STRP Observers for many years, having been involved with the Convention since 2008, as STRP National Focal Point and member of the New Zealand delegation since COP10. 

Dr Robertson is the Principal Scientist-Freshwater for the New Zealand Department of Conservation. His expertise encompasses the science-policy-management interface with specialist experience in defining limits of acceptable change for aquatic ecosystems, addressing non-sustainable land and water impacts on wetlands and improving environmental policy. He is the scientific lead of a national wetland restoration programme (Arawai Kākāriki) in New Zealand that works in partnership with indigenous peoples.  His PhD examined the environmental water requirements of floodplain wetlands in Australia. 

Prof. Stephan Glatzel, Austria.

Stephan Glatzel obtained his doctorate 1999 in Soil Science at Hohenheim University, Stuttgart, Germany. After assignments as Postdoc at McGill University, Montréal, Canada and the University of Göttingen, Germany, he became Professor of Landscape Ecology and Land Evaluation at the University of Rostock, Germany. Since 2014, he is Professor of Geoecology at the University of Vienna, Austria. In 2016, he became member of Austria’s Ramsar National Focal Point and joined STRP activities, contributing to the Ramsar Policy Brief #5. Since his doctorate, the focus of Stephan’s work has been organic matter and greenhouse gas turnover in wetlands, especially peatlands. From 2013 to 2023, Stephan was an editor of Mires and Peat and became Editor in Chief of Catena in 2023. Besides his >130 scientific publications, Stephan has been active at the science-policy interface as an author of Austria’s Mire Strategy 2030+ and the 2023 update of Austria’s Floodplain Strategy. 

Prof. Line Rochefort, Canada

Line Rochefort is a professor at Université Laval and the director of the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG / GRET in French). Her research focus is the study of bryophyte ecology in northern disturbed ecosystems, of which a great part of her career has focused on the biology of Sphagnum mosses, which led her to become a leader in peatland ecological restoration in Canada and one of the world's pioneers in this field. Since 2010, wetland restoration types and approaches have diversified to include fens, peatlands degraded by mineral-based road construction, winter roads, drill rigs for oil sands and seismic lines. Equally, the restoration of disturbed mineral bare ground (post ore mining, sand pits) using bryophytes and lichens (biocrusts) is a developing branch of study in her laboratory.

Prof. Esteban Suárez Robalino, Ecuador.

Professor at the College of Biological and Environmental Sciences and the Biosphere Institute of Universidad San Francisco de Quito, since 2009. He obtained his degree in Biology from the Catholic University in Quito-Ecuador, and his Master's and Ph.D. in Ecosystem Ecology from Cornell University. For the last 12 years, his main interest has been in the ecology and conservation of high mountain ecosystems. Currently, his research seeks to characterize the diversity and functioning of peatlands in Ecuador, their carbon dynamics, and the potential effects of land use and climate change and on the integrity and health of these ecosystems. Additionally, his research group leads several initiatives for the restoration of high-Andean peatlands, trying to develop accessible and economical methods to recover mountain ecosystems.

Ms. Tondossama Kone Salimata, Ivory Coast.

Mrs. Tondossama Kone Salimata is the Director of Wildlife and Hunting Resources at the Ministry of Water and Forests of Côte d'Ivoire. She holds a Diploma in Agricultural Engineering as well as other diplomas and training certificates in the management of Protected Areas and wildlife, including a Master's degree on the analysis of populations of wildlife areas. She has been Focal Point for several international treaties including the Convention on Wetlands, CITES and AEWA. Mrs. Kone coordinates the protection, rehabilitation and enhancement of wildlife and its habitats. It is under her direction that the annual census of migratory waterbirds, the fight against wildlife trafficking and the management of human-wildlife conflicts are organized in Côte d'Ivoire.

Dr Sonam Choden, Bhutan.

Ms. Sonam Choden has been involved with the Ramsar Convention since 2008; spearheaded Bhutan’s accession to the Ramsar Convention, served as a National Focal Point, built the Water and Wetlands program in Bhutan and represented Asia as their Standing Committee Chair. She is also the STRP Focal Point and the Water and Wetlands Specialist for the Royal Government of Bhutan and advises government, non-governmental and the private sector - UNDP/GEF-SGP, FAO, WWF, GCF, World Bank, ICIMOD, Bhutan Trust Fund, Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Loden Foundation and the National Environment Commission - in water and wetlands management.

Scientific Experts

Prof. Siobhan Fennessy, United States of America (STRP Vice-Chair)

Siobhan Fennessy is the Philip and Sheila Jordan Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology at Kenyon College, and is a wetland ecologist studying the response of wetland plant communities and biogeochemical cycles to human disturbance, and how ecosystem degradation can be reversed by ecological restoration. Fennessy previously served on the faculty of the Geography Department at University College London and has worked for many years with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s wetland indicators program. She served as a Fulbright Fellow (Spain) working on blue carbon dynamics in Mediterranean wetlands, and recently served as a lead on the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Americas Regional Assessment as well as the IPBES Global Assessment of Land Degradation and Restoration. She recently finished her third 2-year appointment to the US National Academies of Science’s panel to review progress on the Florida Everglades Restoration.

Prof. Rodolfo Iturraspe, Argentina 

Professor Rodolfo Iturraspe is a senior researcher at the National University of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, with expertise over 35 year studying the hydrology of mountain regulatory systems in Southern Patagonia within the context of climate change. For the past 20 years, peatlands and other regional wetlands have attracted their attention. He has often written about peatland Hydrology and peatland distribution in Patagonia, as well as on the benefits for the people that peatland provides. He promoted in the nomination of the Vinciguerra Glacier and Related Peatlands RAMSAR SITE, Tierra del Fuego and write the RAMSAR Informative Sheet. He was a Main Board member of International Mires Conservation Group (IMCG) in 2000-2021 and is a former collaborator of Wetlands International in Argentina, working on the provincial strategy for the wise use of peatlands and peatland conservation. 

Dr Geoff Hilton, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland

Dr. Hilton leads a 25-person multidisciplinary team of conservation scientists, which provides conservation evidence to underpin the wetland conservation strategy of WWT and wetland conservation more widely. I completed a PhD in the seabird research group at Glasgow University. After 10 years in RSPB’s International Research Unit, including two years seconded to Lisbon and the Portuguese Society for the Protection of Birds (SPEA), I joined WWT in 2009. I have worked on species recovery science for many years, with a particular interest in waders such as Eurasian curlew and spoon-billed sandpiper, as well as wildfowl such as Greenland white-fronted goose. More recently, I oversee a broad portfolio of research on wetland nature-based solutions, such as blue carbon, natural flood management and health and wellbeing benefits of access to blue space. I am based in south-west England, with projects throughout the UK and in Madagascar and Cambodia 

Prof. Lei Guangchun, China

Professor Lei Guangchun, director for East Asia-Australasia Flyway Studies, Beijing Forestry University. He has been specialized in biodiversity conservation, management of protected areas, and wetland ecology. More than 160 scientific papers have been published in the field of migratory water bird ecology and conservation, wetland and climate change.  

Dr Laurent Durieux, France

Dr Laurent Durieux is a researcher at the French National Institute of Research for Sustainable Development (IRD) and Head of international cooperation at Data Terra. He spent most of his career coordinating research and scientific infrastructure programs dedicated to improve the access of developing countries to EO capacities for sustainable issues with a strong focus on tropical wetlands. He is a geographer and remote sensing expert specialized in transdisciplinary sustainable science using artificial intelligence applied to big Earth data. As SDG coordinator at the GEO Secretariat between 2021 and 2023 he managed and coordinated the GEO Wetlands Initiative which overarching vision is to deliver sustained information from Earth Observation to support the conservation, management, restoration and wise use of wetlands worldwide, as a contribution to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. He is continuing as a participant of this initiative. He is also the Science and Research trustee at the Weforest NGO supporting scientific impact monitoring on climate and biodiversity of mangrove restoration programs.

Ms. Sheila Ashong, Ghana

Ms. Ashong is the Director of Natural Resources at the Environmental Protection Agency in Ghana. She is responsible for wetlands management, protected areas and other biodiversity issues in the Ghanian Environmental Protection Agency. She also manages and coordinates the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme in Ghana and represents the Environmental Protection Agency in national and international task forces relating to the management of wetlands including Wetlands of International Importance, and is a member of the International Advisory Committee on Biosphere Reserves. She has extensive experience in protected area management, wetland ecology, environmental education and community mobilization, youth and women’s empowerment.

Technical Experts

Prof. Sevvandi Jayakody, Sri Lanka

Sevvandi Jayakody is the Chair Professor of the Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries of Wayamba University of Sri Lanka. She obtained her BScHons in Zoology from University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, Postgraduate Diploma in Wildlife Conservation and Management from WII, India and PhD in Zoology from University of Aberdeen, UK. Her research focuses on coastal ecosystems, human disturbance, policy and governance and  restoration of coastal ecosystems.She serves as the Chairperson to National Mangrove Experts Committee of Sri Lanka and a member of National Environmental Council and National Blue Carbon Task Force. She has been serving the national delegations to CITES, CBD as well as the Commonwealth Blue Charter. She has been working closely with non governmental agencies such as Wildlife and Nature Protection Society, Lanka Nature Conservationist and Environmental Foundation Limited of Sri Lanka. She has been serving the Ramsar focal point of Sri Lanka for over 10 years.

Prof. Hans Joosten, Netherlands

Hans Joosten (1955) is Professor of Peatland Studies and Palaeoecology at Greifswald University (Germany). He has published extensively on peatland (palaeo)ecology, conservation, restoration, and paludiculture, including various handbooks, was involved in developing global and regional carbon standards, in UNFCCC negotiations and IPCC guidance development  with respect to peatland emissions, and in FAO in advancing climate-responsible peatland management. Hans is Secretary-General of the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG), the world organization of peatland conservationists, co-founder of the Greifswald Mire Centre (GMC), and steering committee member of the UN Global Peatlands Initiative (GPI). For his commitment to peatland research and conservation, Hans was awarded an honorary doctorate from Batumi University (Georgia, 2010), the German Sustainability Award (2013), the European CULTURA Award (2013), the membership of Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskabs Akademi (Norway, 2014), the Indonesian Peat Prize (2018), the German Environmental Price (2021) and the Federal Cross of Merit (Germany, 2022).

Dr Virni Budi Arifanti, Indonesia

Virni Budi Arifanti is a senior researcher at the National Research and Innovation Agency Republic of Indonesia (BRIN). Formerly she worked as a researcher at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia.  Since 2022 Virni was appointed as Indonesia’s Focal Point for Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) of the Ramsar Convention. In 2023 she has been appointed as a Technical Expert on the STRP of the Ramsar Convention for the 2023-2025 triennium. She specializes in tropical mangrove ecosystems, wetlands ecology, blue carbon, greenhouse gas inventory and climate change studies. She has a keen interest in carbon dynamics and nature-based solutions (NbS) of wetland ecosystems. She has been involved in several international research collaborations and published in various peer reviewed international journals. Virni holds a PhD in wetlands ecology from Oregon State University, USA. Her MSc was obtained from Ghent University, Belgium, in forest geospatial science. 

Dr Ritesh Kumar, India

Dr Ritesh Kumar is the Director of Wetlands International South Asia. He is a practitioner with extensive experience in integrated wetland management. Over the last 25 years, Dr Kumar has led integrated management planning for several wetlands in the South Asia region and coordinated multidisciplinary projects on wetlands assessment, ecosystem services evaluation, water management, sustainable livelihoods, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. He has worked closely with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the Government of India and several state governments on policy and management aspects of Indian wetlands. Dr Kumar is also a coordinating lead author at the UNEP – Global Peatlands Initiate, Inter-governmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) for the assessment of multiple values of nature, nexus and Asia Pacific Regional Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. To bring to the fore research South Asian wetlands, he has authored several peer-reviewed articles on wetlands conservation and management topics. He also serves on the Editorial Board of international journals Marine and Freshwater Research, Wetland Ecology and Management, and PLoS Water.

Dr Suelma Ribeiro Silva, Brazil

Dr Suelma Ribeiro Silva is a Brazilian-born ecologist and environmentalist with more than 20 years of experience in neotropical biodiversity conservation. She holds a PhD in Ecology from the University of Brasilia. She has a postdoctoral degree from North Carolina State University, NCSU, USA and at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, England. She has coordinated research projects related to the conservation and restoration of wetland ecosystems and endangered plants. She was president of the IV Brazilian Congress of Wetlands and coordinates the preparation of a plan to restore riparian forests affected by fire in the Matogrossense Pantanal National Park, one of the Ramsar sites in Brasil. She also coordinates the research project on the status of knowledge of wetlands in Protected Areas of the Cerrado to support the elaboration of public policies.She’s an environmental analyst at the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation.

Mr. Lammert Hilarides, Netherlands