Ramsar Secretariat Announces 2012 Ramsar Award Winners

Ramsar Secretariat Announces 2012 Ramsar Award Winners

15 November 2011

The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award – Education
The Wisconsin Wetlands Association, USA

The Wisconsin Wetlands Association (WWA) is a leader in communicating about, and promoting education, participation and awareness of wetlands and the Ramsar Convention in the United States. WWA is a non-governmental organisation, founded in 1969, that is dedicated to the protection, restoration, and enjoyment of wetlands in the State of Wisconsin, through science-based programs, education and advocacy. For several years, WWA has incorporated the messages and values of the Ramsar Convention in their wetland conservation, communication and awareness initiatives. WWA was instrumental in establishing a Wisconsin Ramsar Committee in 2009 to select priority sites in the state for nomination as Ramsar sites. On the basis of the WWA’s “Wisconsin Wetland Gems” program, the Committee identified twelve priority sites that meet the Ramsar criteria to be submitted. Three sites have been or are being submitted to the US Fish & Wildlife Service for review.

WWA’s strength also lies in strong communication and awareness programs focused on engaging participation of local communities and government bodies. In this respect WWA has successfully engaged local government officials to promote the integration of wetland conservation into existing development laws and regulations. WWA has also worked successfully with native communities.

The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award for Education is conferred upon the Wisconsin Wetlands Association in recognition of innovative and long-term initiatives which successfully include education, training, advocacy and research.

The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award - Management
Ms Augusta Henriques, Secretary General, TINIGUENA, Guinea-Bissau

The Ramsar Award for Management is given to Ms Augusta Henriques for her central role in the foundation of the NGO Tiniguena (“This Land is Ours”) in 1991 and for her long-term leadership and work with communities towards the creation of a Community Marine Protected Area at Urok Islands – the first marine protected area recognized by the Government of Guinea-Bissau. In the Bijagós Archipelago, Ms Henriques created this community marine protected area, comprised of mangroves and tidal flats and home to many bird and other species, among them marine turtles and manatees.

Ms Henriques has carried out exemplary and innovative work with local communities to maintain the local culture and allow it to evolve, and at the same time to ensure sustainable livelihoods. The system of community management promoted by Ms Henriques and Tiniguena has in particular enabled the replenishment of the fish stocks. She has been very attentive to the involvement of all stakeholders at of all levels of society, including women and youth. Dialogue between all villages of the archipelago is one of the keys to the success of Ms Henriques, as it has helped the local community members to reach a common understanding of the rules for access and use of the area and its resources. Central to Ms Henriques’ work is the importance of empowerment of the local populations in the management of their natural resources, the successful inclusion of government institutions, exchanges with similar projects in the region and fundraising with international institutions.

Ms Henriques has put Ramsar principles at the heart of her work and has collaborated with the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Guinea-Bissau. In her country and in the region, she has been working in partnership with some of the Convention’s IOPs and other international organisations such as IUCN, Wetlands International, WWF, and the Banc d’Arguin Foundation (FIBA). She has played an important role in establishing a network of marine protected areas in West Africa, and in a programme for coastal and marine areas conservation. Her innovative approach, intelligence, tireless effort and her dedication make Ms Henriques one of the major figures of environmental conservation in Guinea-Bissau and in West Africa.

The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award - Science
Professor Tatsuichi Tsujii, Japan

Prof. Tatsuichi Tsujii is being awarded the Science Ramsar prize for his lifetime contribution to wetland science and conservation, in Japan and internationally. For 50 years, Prof. Tsujii has played a leading role in wetland conservation in Japan, notably in the restoration and management of the famous Kushiro-shitsugen Ramsar Site and World Heritage Site in Hokkaido, as well as in the designation of some 20 other Ramsar Sites in Japan. He has played an important role in raising awareness of wetlands and their values in Japan, at political and public level. In addition to his academic career, Prof. Tsujii has held many high-level positions in governmental, non-governmental, and scientific governance bodies, an example being his chairmanship of the of the Nature conservation committee of the Central environment Council of the Government of Japan.

At the international level, Prof. Tsujii has conducted research in several parts of the world. In particular, he made a strategic contribution to the restoration of Chilika Lake in India and he has made important contributions to the work of several international scientific organisations, such as Wetlands International, the International Mire Conservation Group, the International Ecological Congress, the International Peat Society.

In his work, Prof. Tsujii has adopted a holistic approach, linking science to management and wise use as well as connecting conservation to heritage and cultural values. Putting his principles into practice, he has been very active in training, raising awareness (CEPA activities), and in involving stakeholders. Prof. Tsujii was also instrumental in organising Ramsar COP5 in Kushiro, Hokkaido (1993), as the first Ramsar COP in Asia – thus contributing in a major way to raising awareness of wetlands and of the Ramsar Convention in Japan and in Asia.

Recognition of Achievement
Thymio Papayannis, Greece

Thymio Papayannis has been working on wetland conservation, wise use and the cultural values of wetlands, and with the Ramsar Convention for 26 years, in the framework Greece, the Mediterranean and globally. He has played a key role in the establishment of important research institutes and organisations in natural environment and culture, such as WWF Greece, the Society for the Protection of Prespa (in which he has succeeded Luc Hoffmann as President), Med-INA, the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (of which he is the Director) and the Greek Biotope Wetland Centre (EKBY, a research centre on wetlands issues). On a Mediterranean scale, he was instrumental in establishing in 1991 the MedWet Initiative, and in its implementation as a Coordinator for its first 10 years (in which he remains as Senior Advisor). He has also been a Board member of WWF International and of the Tour du Valat Foundation (for nearly 20 years), as well as joint Coordinator of the IUCN Delos Initiative on sacred natural sites. Thymio Papayannis’s work and his books have contributed significantly to an overall better understanding and awareness of Mediterranean wetland issues and challenges. His work has inspired a number of research and development programmes and institutions. For many years, he has advised the Ramsar Secretariat and made a major contribution to the incorporation of cultural values in the work of the Convention and has coordinated the work of the Ramsar Culture Working Group. Thymio Papayannis is a visionary leader that personifies the Ramsar Recognition of Achievement Award.

40th Anniversary Honorary Ramsar Award
Dr Luc Hoffmann, Switzerland

To recognize and celebrate one of the founders of the Ramsar Convention, in this 40th anniversary year, the Standing Committee has decided to bestow a 40th Anniversary Honorary Ramsar Award to Dr Luc Hoffmann.

Dr Hoffmann is celebrated for his lifetime engagement in the cause of wetland conservation and environmental conservation in a broader sense. For decades, Luc Hoffmann has inspired and been a mentor to scientists and conservationists concerned with wetlands. He is one of the founding fathers of the Ramsar Convention, and he has also been the co-founder and/or key supporter of two of the International Organisation Partners (IOPs) of the Convention: WWF and Wetlands International. In addition to his key role in the development of the IOPs, he created three key wetland conservation organisations: the Tour du Valat biological station in the French Camargue (1954), the FIBA (Fondation du Banc d’Arguin, 1984) and the MAVA Foundation (1994). A conservation pioneer, he participated in the first steps towards the creation of an international treaty for wetlands since the start of the MAR project in 1961. Dr Hoffmann has also been a leading figure in the conservation of such iconic wetlands as the Camargue in France, Coto Doñana in Spain, and Prespa (Albania, FYR of Macedonia and Greece).

Dr Hoffmann has been one of the most significant contributors to the Ramsar Convention, as a founding father, co-founder of supporting organisations, through his scientific and strategic contributions, and also through important financial contributions, whether directly to the Convention or through other foundations and organisations or projects. It is impossible to do justice to his immense contribution and long-term support to the treaty and to wetland conservation in a few words – the 40th Anniversary Honorary Ramsar Award is a tribute from the Ramsar community to this benevolent figure who has accompanied the Convention from its conception to its maturity.