The Bureau is pleased to pass on the news that, as of 1 October 1998, the United Kingdom has two new Wetlands of International Importance. Quoting the Ramsar Information Sheet on Dorset Heathlands (6730.15 ha), this is "an extensive and fragmented heathland area centered around the estuary of Poole Harbour and adjacent to the urban conurbation of Bournemouth and Poole. The heathland contains numerous examples of wet heath and acid valley mire, habitats which are restricted to the Atlantic fringe of Europe. These heath wetlands are among the best of their type in lowland Britain. The wetland flora and fauna includes a large assemblage of nationally rare and scarce species, especially invertebrates."
Solent and Southampton Water (5414.61 ha) "extends from Hurst Spit to Gilkicker Point along the south coast of Hampshire and along the north coast of the Isle of Wight. The site comprises estuaries and adjacent coastal habitats including intertidal flats, saline lagoons, shingle beaches, saltmarsh, reedbeds, damp woodland, and grazing marsh. The diversity of habitats support internationally important numbers of wintering waterfowl, important breeding gull and tern populations, and an important assemblage of rare invertebrates and plants" (quoted from its RIS). English Nature is the management authority for both of these new sites, and both were classified as Special Protection Areas under the EC Birds Directive at the same time.
The United Kingdom now has 118 Ramsar sites covering a surface area of 487,658 hectares, with eight more designations announced some time ago and still awaiting completion of the paperwork before inclusion in the Ramsar List. The total area of the Conventions coverage in the 113 Contracting Parties now stands at 70,429,156 hectares in 957 Ramsar sites.