Ramsar Update January-February 2014

Ramsar24 February 2014: Over the January-February 2014 period, the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has celebrated World Wetlands Day and reported on the designation of new sites in Belarus, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and France.

On 2 February, organizations and individuals across the world celebrated World Wetlands Day around the theme 'Wetlands and Agriculture.' The Ramsar Secretariat underlines that wetlands and agriculture are closely interlinked. Agriculture depends on wetlands for water, as 70% of all water withdrawals from aquifers, streams and lakes is used for agriculture. Wetlands in turn depend on sustainable agricultural practices that manage water use so that wetlands remain healthy and can continue to provide their many benefits to people and nature. Successful agricultural practices that support healthy wetlands include water efficient irrigation systems and drought-tolerant crops, but also organic farming and other practices that reduce water pollution. The relationship between wetlands and agriculture was explored in a suite of materials produced by the Ramsar Secretariat, in particular a leaflet produced in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

The Ramsar Secretariat informs that, as of 24 February, over 650 World Wetlands Day activities were reported, with almost 50,000 participants, and new reports are still received daily. Event reports, photos, and a selection of online newspaper articles, are available on an interactive map.

On new designations, the Ramsar Secretariat reports that seven new sites were listed between 30 January and 2 February 2014, bringing the total number of Sites to 2,177. Belarus has named three new Ramsar sites, taking the country's total to 16 sites covering over 600,000 hectares. Guinea-Bissau has designated the large Archipel Bolama-Bijagós as its second Ramsar Site. The archipelago, which is also a Biosphere Reserve, is one of the most important sites for migratory shorebirds and a variety of vulnerable species on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa. Senegal has designated the Réserve Naturelle Communautaire de Tocc Tocc as its fifth Ramsar Site.

The UAE have designated the Sir Bu Nair Island Protected Area, a salt dome island belonging to the emirate of Sharjah lying some 65 km off the coast of Dubai.

France has designated the first Ramsar Site in New Caledonia on the occasion of World Wetlands Day. Les Lacs du Grand Sud néo-calédonien is the largest freshwater reserve of New Caledonia, situated in the Great Lakes Region in South Province of Grande Terre, the main island.

Looking forward, the Secretariat is currently preparing for the 47th meeting of the Standing Committee, which will take place from 24-28 March 2014, in Gland, Switzerland. The meeting will discuss preparations for the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) scheduled to take place in 2015, in Punta del Este, Uruguay. An update on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Uruguay will be shared, as well as draft resolutions to be debated at the COP, including one on 'Wetlands and disaster risk reduction (DRR)' submitted by the Philippines. [Standing Committee Meeting Agenda Papers] [World Wetland Day Reports] [IISD RS Story on World Wetland Day] [Ramsar Press Release on the Signature of the COP 12 MOU] [IISD RS Sources]