6 Jun 2015

Wetlands for our Future

By Martin Fowlie

Wetlands are vital for human survival. They are among the world’s most productive environments worldwide. Lakes, marshes, lagoons, river deltas and mangroves; cradles of biological diversity that provide the water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival. The Ramsar Convention is the most important mechanism for the conservation of these wetlands.

BirdLife’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) Programme has so far identified the most key sites for nature across the globe – 12,500 in total. Hundreds of these IBAs have also been designated as Wetlands of International Importance (known as Ramsar Sites) under the Ramsar Convention.

Underway at the convention’s 12th Conference of the Parties (COP) are discussion to approve a new Strategic Plan, which should guide countries’ actions towards the conservation and sustainable use of wetland areas over the next five years.

Taking place in Bañados del Este in Uruguay, this meeting provides an opportunity for countries to review the status of Ramsar sites  and recommend actions for better protection as well as  provide guidance for the sustainable use of their resources.

“Sixty eight sites identified as both Ramsar sites and IBAs are in immediate danger of being lost”, said Melanie Heath, BirdLife’s Director of Science Policy and Information. “Nine of these IBAs in Danger are found in the Americas region”

These IBAs in Danger include such high-profile sites as Asunción Bay in Paraguay, the Northern Everglades in the USA and the Bañados del Este in Uruguay.

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BirdLife Partners are working at many of these sites to protect them from development and unsustainable use. For example, Panama Audubon Society (BirdLife Partner) and other local NGOs successfully lobbied to protect the Upper Panama Bay, removing the most pressing threats and preserving its immense value for tens of thousands of migratory birds.

As one of the International Partners of the Ramsar Convention, BirdLife International has been a close advisor on many issues and strongly supports the implementation of the Convention at the national, regional and global levels.

‘The BirdLife Partnership are working to conserve and maintain wetlands across the Americas, from assessing ecosystem services in the high Andes to the development of participatory management plans and awareness-raising campaigns  and agreements with local communities for sustainable wetland use and management  in the mangroves of the Caribbean‘ added Amiro Perez-Leroux  BirdLife’s Regional Director for the Americas.  

IBAs in Danger, including those that are Ramsar Sites, can be explored on this interactive map

IBAs in Danger in the Americas that are Ramsar Sites

  • Cerrón Grande, El Salvador
  • Jiquilisco y Jaltepeque, El Salvador
  • San Diego y La Barra, El Salvador
  • Parte Alta de la Bahía de Panamá
  • Boundary Bay - Roberts Bank - Sturgeon Bank (Fraser River Estuary), Canada
  • Northern Everglades, USA
  • Reserva de Uso Múltiple Bañados del Río Dulce y Laguna Mar Chiquita, Argentina
  • Parque Nacional Tinfunqué - Estero Patiño, Paraguay
  • Bañados del Este, Uruguay