When a country accedes to the Convention, it must designate at least one wetland site as a Wetland of International Importance. Information on this first Ramsar Site is sent with the documents of accession to UNESCO, the Convention’s depositary.
According to Article 2.1 of the Convention: ‘Each Contracting Party shall designate suitable wetlands within its territory for inclusion in a List of Wetlands of International Importance, hereinafter referred to as “the List”[…] The boundaries of each wetland shall be precisely described and also delimited on a map and they may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands […].’
Article 2.2 states: ‘Wetlands should be selected for the List on account of their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology.’
Accordingly, any wetland which meets at least one of the Criteria for Identifying Wetlands of International Importance can be designated by the appropriate national authority to be added to the Ramsar List.
The national Administrative Authority completes an online Ramsar Information Sheet, with the support of the regional team in the Secretariat, which shows how the Site meets relevant criteria and describes its ecological character. The structure of the RIS follows the 2012 revision of the Strategic Framework and guidelines for the future development of the List of Wetlands of International Importance, which the Contracting Parties approved through Resolution XI.8.
The Secretariat ensures that the data and map meet the standards set by the Conference of the Parties, before publishing the information on the Site to the Ramsar Sites Information Service.
A national inventory of wetland resources, based on the best scientific information available, makes it possible to prioritize appropriate wetland sites for designation on the Ramsar List. The Contracting Parties encouraged the preparation of inventories in 1990 through Recommendation 4.6, and provided a Framework for Wetland Inventory through Resolution VIII.6 of 2002.