Brief report on the midterm workshops of STRP, July 2004
From 20-24 July 2004, members and observers of the Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), joined by invited technical experts including authors of chapters of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the CBD Secretariat and the Chair of the Standing Committee, met in a series of intensive and very successful workshops in Wageningen, the Netherlands. The workshops were hosted by Wetlands International as part of their provision of the STRP Support Service.
The workshops reviewed progress against the large number of tasks in the Panel's 2003-2005 Work Plan, and made significant progress in refining and further developing technical review papers and a suite of guidelines and advice for Contracting Parties, for consideration by COP9 in 2005. Panel leads for each task are now drafting materials for consultation with STRP National Focal Points and consideration by the 12th meeting of the STRP in February 2005.
Amongst the many highlights of the week, the Panel developed several overarching frameworks for the application of Convention guidelines on inventory, assessment and monitoring, wetland management, and water and ecosystems management.
Working Group 1 (inventory and assessment) reviewed development of a hydro-geomorphic classification system for wetlands, biogeographic regionalisation, advice on remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems, on the valuation of wetlands, and on defining and describing the ecological character of wetlands. The Working Group is also developing recommendations for updating and harmonising the terminologies used throughout the Ramsar 'Toolkit' of Wise Use Handbooks.
Working Group 3 (water resource management) further developed its important guidance and supporting review papers on river basin management, environmental flows and groundwater and wetlands, and a framework to describe when and how each aspect of its guidance should be applied.
Working Group 4 (Ramsar site designation) prepared a number of elements of additional guidance for the application of the current Criteria for Ramsar site designation, including in relation to the socio-economic and cultural importance of wetlands, and drafted an additional quantitative Criterion for internationally important populations of non-avian taxa.
Working Group 6 (indicators of effectiveness of the implementation of the Convention) reviewed and refined its selection of 'outcome-oriented' ecological indicators, identifying 10 indicators for which relevant data are potentially available which will be further developed for application at different spatial scales.
The Panel's Agriculture cross-cut group advised on the inclusion of agricultural issues in the work of the Panel's Working Groups, identified issues for inclusion in an upcoming FAO/Netherlands Government conference on water and agriculture, established a task force to provide further input to this conference, and developed an outline of guidelines for addressing agricultural issues in wetland management.
An informal meeting of members of Working Group 2 (Ramsar 'Wise Use' concept), made significant progress in its review and updating of guidance on 'wise use', drawing on the approach and terminologies developed by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
Working Group 5 (wetlands management) established the scope and contents of the wetland managers' 'field guide to wetland management planning', which will be prepared by WWF and the Netherlands RIZA institute.
During the workshops a number of issues concerning further improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the current modus operandi of the Panel were identified, and these will be developed for discussion at STRP12.
The Ramsar Secretariat highly commends the co-leads of the Working Groups, and all who participated, for the high quality of their discussions and their commitment and dedication in working intensively and for long hours to maximise the progress on a large number of the Panel's tasks, and particularly to Tunde Ojei and his Wetlands International colleagues for their splendid efforts in ensuring the smooth-running of the meeting.
A significant number of STRP workshop participants are now attending the 7th INTECOL wetlands conference in Utrecht, the Netherlands, where informal consultations on a number aspects of STRP's work are underway.
A full progress report will be submitted shortly to the Convention's Standing Committee.
-- Reported by Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General, 29 July 2004