The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the government of Guatemala has designated its seventh Wetland of International Importance, as of World Water Day, 22 March 2007. According to the summary of the Ramsar Information Sheet data prepared by Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for the Americas, Ms Mila Llorens, the Reserva de Usos Múltiples Río Sarstún (35,202 hectares, 15°51'N 088°58'W) is part of Guatemalan System of Protected Areas and is located along the southern border with Belize, adjacent to the Amatique Bay. The reserve is formed by a series of wetlands, ranging from continental and coastal to artificial. It has a transboundary character, since it acts as a buffer zone for the wetland of the Sarstoon-Temash Ramsar site in Belize. It is an important stop-over and breeding site for migratory waterbirds, including several flagship species. It also assists in the regulation of the local microclimate and promotes other hydrological processes, including aquifer recharge. It possesses the remains of the Caribbean Biological Corridor ecosystems and karstic wetlands that have unique characteristics. Endangered species such as the manatee (Trichechus manatus), the river turtle (Dermatemys mawii), the tapir (Tapirus bairdii) and the howler monkey (Allouata pigra) are present in the site. The main habitat type is predominantly mangrove forests, including white, red, and black mangrove, forming the second largest system of mangroves in the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. Negative factors affecting the site are the exploitation of precious woods, hunting, agriculture and livestock grazing.
Guatemala now has seven Ramsar sites covering a surface area of 628,592 hectares - the Convention's 154 Parties now have 1,651 sites covering 149,681,555 hectares.