Change in Ecological Character

The Convention has a range of measures to ensure that the ecological character of Ramsar Sites is preserved.

According to Article 3.2 of the Convention, “Each Contracting Party shall arrange to be informed at the earliest possible time if the ecological character of any wetland in its territory and included in the List has changed, is changing or is likely to change as the result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.” Contracting Parties commit to inform the Secretariat of such changes.

Ramsar Sites which are potentially at risk as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference may be placed on “The record of Ramsar Sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur” - the Montreux Record.
The Contracting Parties approved the Record as a means of drawing attention to Sites through Recommendation 4.8 in 1990. In 1996 they adopted Guidelines for Operation of the Montreux Record through Resolution VI.1.

At the request of a Contracting Party, the Secretariat may organize a Ramsar Advisory Mission to analyze the situation at one or more Sites, and provide advice on measures to address the situation.

Deletions from the List

A Contracting Party may, because of its urgent national interest, delete or restrict the boundaries of wetlands already included in the List (Article 2.5 of the Convention). Article 4.2 states, however, that such deletions or restrictions should be compensated for by the creation of additional nature reserves or by the protection, either in the same area or elsewhere, of a suitable portion of the original habitat. No Ramsar Site has ever been “deleted” in this way, and Parties have only extremely rarely restricted the boundaries of a Site on this basis. The Parties agreed guidance on issues relating to Article 2.5 through Resolution VIII.20.

The approach embodied by the Convention guidance is that of maintaining or restoring ecological character wherever possible. Only if it is not possible should any consideration of restricting or delisting a designated Ramsar Site be considered. If unpreventable wetland loss or deterioration does occur, then mitigation of the loss is expected, with compensation measures as a last-resort option where the change is irreversible.