The International Seminar on Wetland Sustainable Management concluded with important resolutions
Paraná, Argentina, 29th September.- The International Seminar on Wetlands Sustainable Management in Latin America, organized by Fundación Proteger-Amigos de la Tierra, Argentina, with the support of Wetlands International and the Ramsar Convention, concluded with important political resolutions and academic recommendations.
More than 700 participants from several parts of the world discussed and shared experiences regarding wetland sustainable management alternatives during two days in the Mayorazgo Hotel. The environmental event, the most important one regarding the International Year of Freshwater, summoned scientists, officials, ecologists, fisherfolks, students and NGOs members from Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba, Switzerland, España, Germany and Argentina.
Among the most significant announcements involves the decree 4489, made public by the Governor of Entre Ríos Sergio Montiel, stating that the Paraná Floodplain Fluvial Wetlands Corridor of Provincial Interest in its territory would be seeking its declaration as Ramsar Site. Should it become realized, the site could largely exceed 900.000 hectares.
Another important Declaration signed within the Seminar framework was the decision of promoting a common agenda to advance towards themes regarding the Declaration of Ramsar Sites in the Wetlands Corridor of the Fluvial Littoral in Argentina. In the text, National Environmental authorities, officials, and legislators from the NEA provinces committed themselves to elaborate a proposal on the management and sustainable use of the fluvial wetlands. The document, considered "historic", set a precedent for a "process of wetlands corridor integral planning".
It has also been arranged to "invite bordering countries to share the adoption of similar criteria" regarding the sustainable management and the adoption of Ramsar Convention guidelines. The Statement is signed by Homero Bibiloni, representative from the National Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development, Horacio Zambón, president of COFEMA; Bruno Schwesig, Subsecretary of the Natural Resources of Chaco; Gustavo Menéndez, Subsecretary of Environment of Entre Ríos; Fernando Delssin, from the Instituto Correntino del Agua y el Ambiente (ICAA); Elena Gamarra and Cristina Carbini, provincial Deputies of Chaco; and Antonio Prats, former Senator from Santa Fe and the Executive Secretary of the Legislators Forum CRECENEA-Litoral.
In addition, an announcement was made of decree 4519, declaring an environmental emergency in Entre Ríos, by means of which is banned the cutting of native forest, including riverside forest.
During the closing ceremony were present, among others, the governor of Entre Rios, Sergio Montiel; the regional coordinator of Ramsar Convention for the Americas, Margarita Astrálaga; the Secretary of Environment of Entre Ríos, Gustavo Menéndez; Director of Entre Rios of Natural Resources and Fishing, Esteban Puntín; the President of the Federal Council of Environment - COFEMA-, Horacio Zambón; and the National Coordinator of Proteger- Amigos de la Tierra, Argentina, Jorge Cappato.
"The event was one of the most important within the International Year of Freshwater, which turned out to be an extraordinary event", said Menéndez. Margarita Astrálaga emphasized "the excellent outcomes of the event, embodying the vision, mission and guidelines of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance".
Jorge Cappato highlighted the "high scientific quality of the presentations and participants' diversity, representativeness and quantity coming from more than twenty countries". Cappato also said that the Declarations which came up during the Seminar "are historical facts after the Constitutional Reform 1994 regarding natural resources management".
Further information: www.proteger.org.ar Telfax: 54 - 342 - 4558520
PROTEGER - Amigos de la Tierra, Argentina
Coordinador General, Jorge Cappato
Miembro de la UICN
Miembro Coordinación, Coalición Ríos Vivos
3000 Santa Fe - Argentina
Presidente del COFEMA, Horacio Zambón; coordinadora regional RAMSAR para las Américas, Margarita Astrálaga; coordinador nacional de PROTEGER - Amigos de la Tierra Argentina, Jorge Cappato; subsecretario de Recursos Naturales del Chaco, Bruno Schwesing; Secretario de Medio Ambiente de Entre Ríos, Gustavo Menéndez
Buenos Aires Herald, October 1, 2003
A WETLANDS CORRIDOR?
By Bonnie Tucker
Herald Travel Editor
An international seminar sees a future in river- based tourism
In Argentine rivers, many people fish to eat and earn a bit of cash. Some authorities think that well-planned tourism undertakings could help improve their lives and replenish fishery resources.
In Argentina 77 percent of the population lives beside rivers in the River Plate basin formed by the Paraná, Paraguay and Uruguay rivers. In tiny Uruguay and Paraguay the figure is closer to 100 percent, while in landlocked Bolivia and gigantic Brazil it drops to 30 percent. It is estimated that the lives and livelihoods of 95 million people in these five southern South American countries are affected directly or indirectly by water and river management policies.
These statistics were mentioned over the weekend at the International Seminar on Sustainable Wetlands Management in Paraná (Entre Ríos) by Juan José Neiff of CONICET´s Centre of Apllied Ecology in the River Provinces. They emphasize the importance of Water management to people who fish, or are involved in water-based agriculture or tourism operations. It also involves people who pay water billsa and work in companies that pro vide goods and services to an economuy whose many sectors depend on the conditions of rivers and other boldies fo water.
The floodplains on either side of a flatland river like the Paraná serve as regulators of the flood-drought cycle, storing excess water and releasing it when reains cease. Their earth and sand purify the water as it filters wown to replenish aquifers. The nutrient rich sediments that they collect are spread around the countryside as natural fertilizerswhen the rivers overflows, and nourish natural grasslands that are grazed by livestockwhen waters recede.
In addition, a great variety of wetland-adapted flora and fauna -including edible fish and medicianl plants- live in the interdependent, biodiverse ecosystem they constitute.
In an attempt to make this issue a matter of state for the Argentine provinces and the countries that form part of the basin of the Paraná River and that of its crucial tributary, the Paraguay River, the Santa Fe based NGO Fundación Proteger - Amigos de la Tierra, Argentina, organized the seminar on management in Paraná September 25 and 26, and a seminar on tourism in these environments on September 27, with the sponsorship of Wetlands International and the Ramsar Convention.
The objective is to set up a 3 million-hectare "corridor" of protected wetlands along the 3.400 km of the courses of the Paraguay and Paraná rivers that are still free of dams and can be developed in environment and people friendly ways that will improve the lives and incomes of local communities. The floodplains extending from Mato Grosso to the River Plate would comprise the longest such unbroken ecosystem in the world.
More than 700 government officials, NGOs, students and professionals from 16 countries attended the two-day seminar on management, and the following one-day seminar on tourism at which panelists said that ecotourism and cultures like fishing, boat excursions, birding, and organic and other value-added farming ventures could be good income sources for residents of wetlands areas.
Tourism authorities from the Argentine northeastern river provinces signed a document stating the need to coordinate efforts to set upo the corrider and involve neighbouring countries in the process.
During the closing ceremony of the management seminar, Entre Ríos Governor Sergio Montiel announced two decrees: one declared the province´s interest in asking the national government (through the Environment Secretariat and Foreign Ministry) to request that its wetlands become Ramsar sites, and the other banned cutting the few remaining native forests on public and private land.
The provincial officials also requested the national tourism and environment secretariats to declare 2004 National Wetlands Year, and the Tourism Secretariat to declare the wetlands corridor proposal project of national tourism interest and call for a first national seminar on tourism in wetlands.
In addition, they asked the World Tourism Organization and the Ramsar Convention to declare 2005 international Wetlands Tourism Year. Thus, the issue has been installed as a talking point.