Germany publishes report on Ramsar implementation 

Germany publishes report on Ramsar implementation 

5 March 1998

The Bundesamt für Naturschutz announces the publication of Ramsar-Bericht Deutschland (Ramsar Report Germany) by Günter Mitlacher.  This study analyzes 20 years (1976-1996) of Germany's Ramsar membership -- how has the Convention been implemented? What have been the consequences for the protection of its 29 Wetlands of International Importance and for the birds living in them?  The 189-page book is written in German with a 2-page summary (reproduced here) and short explanations to numerical tables in English. It's available for DM 29.80 + p&p from BfN-Schriftenvertrieb, c/o Landwirtschaftsverlag, D-48084 Münster (tel +49 2501 801 0, fax +49 2501 204).

This summary appears on pages 178-79 of the publication.

Ramsar Report Germany -- Summary

The Federal Republic of Germany ratified the Ramsar Convention in 1976, the German Democratic Republic in 1978. This report is an analysis of the implementation of the Ramsar Convention and its influence on national nature conservation policy till 1996. Germany today has designated 29 wetlands to the world list of "Wetlands of International Importance". The most important Ramsar site in Germany is the Wadden Sea.

The main results in the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Germany are the following (table 29 [not shown]).

  • about 40% of the total Ramsar site area are protected as National Park or Nature Reserve; deficits in conservation status still exist in 15 Ramsar sites; their legal status needs further improvement;
  • Management plans have been worked out in 25% of the Ramsar sites; management plans are still in preparation in 66% of the Ramsar sites; lacks in spatial coverage and in consideration of natural dynamics
  • the wise use principle is not implemented in German Ramsar sites; in fact intensification in agriculture, fishery, tourism, infrastructure building and resource exploitation took place in many Ramsar sites over the last 20 years; in future seminatural Ramsar sites should be model regions to implement the wise use principle taking into account the significant conflicts of intensive land use with conservation in a highly industrialized country;
  • a monitoring programme of the Ramsar sites and their birds is not yet implemented and should be developed; the waterfowl monitoring programme at its present mainly honorary stage is not sufficient enough; the monitoring needs of other international conservation instruments (i.e. EU Habitat Directive) should be incorporated;
  • the wardening of Ramsar sites as well as public awareness and education activities with special respect to the Ramsar aims are not sufficient and should be strengthened;
  • a national wetland policy as such is not developed; specific wetland conservation is integrated into the general nature and environmental conservation policy and administration of the federal and state govemments;
  • the international cooperation regarding transboundary wetland conservation shows some deficits, except the Trilateral Conservation Policy for the Wadden Sea;
  • a coherent German wetland development policy has to be worked out to support protection and wise use of Ramsar sites in different geographical regions throughout the world; in that field cooperation with the Convention on Biodiversity is necessary.

bericht.jpg (18079 bytes)Regarding the last 20-year period, population trends of many waterfowl species using the western palearctic flyway are positive, as well as inside or outside of German Ramsar sites. The main influences are: better food conditions because of intensive agricultural land use, eutrophication of coastal waters, rivers and lakes, more man-made wetlands (such as fish ponds) and reduced hunting activities in the breeding area of the migrating and wintering birds. The few substantial conservation measures being taken under the Ramsar Convention in German Ramsar sites only worked complementary and helped to reduce further negative impacts on waterfowl and their habitats.

Most of the German Ramsar sites are an essential part of an international wetland conservation system. The present Ramsar list of wetlands is - under waterfowl conservation point of view - more or less sufficient. Some wetlands should be added to prevent habitat loss and degradation in other regions. The Helsinki Convention should help to create waterfowl conservation areas in the Baltic Sea.

In 53% of the German Ramsar sites the ecological character deteriorated because of intensification of agriculture and fishery, recreation activities, hunting, airway service, infrastructure building and resource exploitation. 46% of the German Ramsar sites could be kept stable or the ecological character could even be improved (table 30).

The influence of the Ramsar Convention on national conservation policy and on conservation action in Ramsar sites and wetlands in general was more or less unimportant. Conservation measures and management plans could only be pushed in the framework of the trilateral conservation policy for the Wadden Sea, in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia Ramsar sites and in German Democratic Republic Ramsar sites (1978-1990). In some wetlands of international importance the Ramsar Convention helped to reduce hunting activities and to solve conflicts with farming (geese damage).

In many cases other conservation instruments, such as the creation of National Parks or Biosphere Reserves, Extensification Programmes, Waste Water Act, took greater influence on specific wetland protection. The Ramsar Convention benefits a lot of the increasing conservation awareness and nature protection activities since the 70s.

Germany's engagement as member state of the Ramsar Convention is not sufficient. International political activities, technical contributions and financial support under the Ramsar Convention - in cooperation with the Convention on Biodiversity - should be strengthened.