By Dr. Salwa Mansour Abdelhameed
Ramsar Focal Point and coordinator
Wetlands have great environmental and economic values in Sudan. Wetland conservation and management are most important ecological intervention for the future of Sudan.
The Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources (HCENR) made considerable efforts towards joining of Sudan to the Ramsar Convention and making use of the convention guidelines as an important strategy for achieving the goal of sustainable use of Sudan's wetlands resources. Sudan submitted the necessary documents to join the Convention by 9/Nov. / 2004 signed by the President and was on force as partner by the 7th of May 2005.
HCENR had established a National Wetland Committee (NWC) composed of almost all stakeholders, representing:
HCENR as the Administrative Authority for the Convention held several meetings for the NWC discussing all issues related to implementation of the Convention and designation of the sites.
With the assistance of the Ramsar Convention and WWF (Living Water Program), Sudan was able to prepare the Ramsar Information Sheets for 4 nominated sites (Dinder N. Park, Sunt Forest Reserve, the Red Sea coast sites (Mangrove and coral reef sites) and Sudd region). Dinder N. Park considered a Ramsar site when Sudan considered as a partner by 7th of May/ 2005, and Sudd region by 5th of June/2006.
HCENR had organized a National Workshop on the Environment Day; 5th of June/ 2006, in Khartoum celebrating the registration of the Sudd region as Ramsar Site of international importance. The workshop was addressed by the Minister of Environment and Urban Planning who stated the importance of joining the Convention. The designation of two sites till now (the Dinder and Sudd swamps) and the need to promote national programs in conservation and management of wetlands. The workshop was attended by Mr. Denis Landenbergue /WWF, representing the Ramsar Convention Secretariat. The workshop session addressed the following issues:
1-All about Ramsar Convention and its implementation in Africa - Ramsar Senior Advisor for Africa/ Mr Abou Bamba.
2- Wetlands in Sudan- Prof. Asim El Magraby.
3- Towards a National Strategy for management of wetlands in Sudan- Prof. Asim El Magraby and Dr Mutasim Nimir.
4- Sudd wetland as Ramsar Site- Dr Kalid Riak and Mr Bojoi Mosuss.
Official presentation of the Sudd Ramsar Site Certificate to the Minister of Environment and Urban Planning, National Government.
There are three distinct swamps in the Upper Nile namely the Sudd swamps, Bahral El Gazal swamps, and Machar swamps. The most known of which are the Sudd swamps which seasonally expands and contracts between 16 thousand to 60 thousand kilometer square. The swamps and the flooded region is about 246,050 km2, constituting about 9.8% of Sudan's total area. The Sudd is the first Ramsar site in Southern Sudan. The area of the Sudd Wetland designated contains the permanent swamps that extends from Bor to Lake No and is approximately 5,700,000 ha in size.
The designation of these sites will promote the wetland biodiversity conservation in the site including very important species, some of which are endangered such as the elephants. The conservation and management of the Sudd area are the most important ecological intervention for the future of Sudan after Peace and are very essential to the functioning of such wetlands of an international importance and its sustainable use.
HCENR had organized a similar Workshop on Ramsar Convention and Sudd Ramsar Site on October 31, 2006 in Juba/ Southern Sudan celebrating the registration of the Sudd region as Ramsar Site of international importance.
Since the Sudd wetland is geographically located in Southern Sudan and falls under the jurisdiction of the government of Southern Sudan(GOSS), in terms of policy and its management as indicated in the RIS, it is advisable that GOSS in general and the minister of Environment, Wildlife Conservation and Tourism (GOSS) in particular be involved officially. Therefore, the official announcement of registration took place in Juba in order to create awareness and sense of responsibility among major stakeholders in the various levels of government in Southern Sudan.
The one-day workshop was held in Juba under GOSS (Ministry of Environment, Wildlife Conservation and Tourism), Unity Government (Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources), in collaboration with Ramsar Convention and WWF based on the following objectives:
1- Create awareness about Ramsar Convention and wetlands conservation in Sudan
2- Provide background information about the Sudd wetland
3- Facilitate links, networking and interaction among stakeholders in the area of the Sudd wetlands
4- Official presentation of the Sudd Ramsar Site Certificate to GOSS
The workshop session addressed the following issues:
1-All about Ramsar Convention and its implementation in Africa- Ramsar Senior Advisor for Africa/ Mr Abou Bamba.
2- Towards a National Strategy for management of wetlands in Sudan- Prof. Asim El Magraby and Dr Mutasim Nimir.
3- Sudd wetland as Ramsar Site- Dr Kalid Riak and Mr Bojoi Mosuss.
4- Self Assessment of National Capacity Building Needs in Sudan to manage Global Environmental issues (NCSA) Dr Mutasim Nimir.
The workshop was attended by Mr Denis Landenbergue /WWF and Mr Abou Bamba, Senior Advisor for Africa , representing the Ramsar Convention Secretary General.
Representatives of Stakeholders at GOSS level addressed the floor in the opening session and shared their experience in the discussion. The workshop also was attended by representatives of ministers and agencies related to wetlands (Nile Basin Initiative), different NGOs, and an international organizations (UNEP).
The chance is now available for Sudan to review and update the information regarding other areas such as lakes Kundy and El Abid and Wahat El Nokila in Western Sudan which are so important to be designated as Ramsar sites. The list of wetlands of Sudan will be revised and selected sites will be proposed for RIS documents.
The focal point of the Convention in any country needs the support and capacity building to prepare national Strategy, well written management plans for the Ramsar sites and a program of public awareness about the convention.
Objectives and Activities on year 2007: