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Name The Ranmsar Convention on wetlands
Logo Image:Ramsarnew3small.jpg
Geographic Scope Global
Subject Focus Expertise Wetlands
Contact E-mail: ramsar@ramsar.org
URL http://www.ramsar.org/
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The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 158 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1822 wetland sites, totaling 168 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Ramsar Secretariat is the agency in charge of the Ramsar Convention.

"The Convention's mission is the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world" (Ramsar COP8, 2002)

Key Resources

The Wise Use Resource Centre

All members of the "Ramsar family" are dedicated to the principles of "wise use", first outlined in Article 3.1 of the Convention (1971) and defined in 1987 as the 'sustainable utilization of wetland resources in such a way as to benefit the human community while maintaining their potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations'. The Wise Use Resource Centre includes a wide range of information resources including detailed technical background reviews and reports.


  • Current Convention Text
  • Water-related guidance:An Integrated Framework for the Convention's water-related guidance - This framework is essential reading for all involved in water management and in the conservation and wise use of wetlands. It clearly sets out the role of the Ramsar Convention in maintaining the global hydrological cycle, maps out the available tools for achieving this, and identifies the gaps remaining in the guidance which are yet to be filled to help address the issue.
  • River basin management: Integrating wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management - The Convention on Wetlands formally identified the need to integrate wetlands into river basin management at the 6th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP6) in 1996 through Resolution VI.23 on Ramsar and water. This Resolution recognized “the important hydrological functions of wetlands, including groundwater recharge, water quality improvement and flood alleviation, and the inextricable link between water resources and wetlands” and realised the “the need for planning at the river basin scale which involves integration of water resource management and wetland conservation”....
  • Water allocation and management:Guidelines for the allocation and management of water for maintaining the ecological functions of wetlands - The materials in this Handbook were prepared by the Convention’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) in response to that Resolution VII.18. Section I contains Guidelines for the allocation and management of water for maintaining the ecological functions of wetlands, adopted by the Contracting Parties as the Annex to Resolution VIII.1 at COP8 (2002). Section II consists of a technical Information Paper provided to Parties at COP8 which focuses on processes, strategies and available tools for determining and implementing water allocations to wetland ecosystems. It includes a number of case studies illustrating different aspects of water allocation and management.
  • Managing Groundwater to maintain ecological character - The Handbook looks at several aspects of the relationship between wetlands and groundwater, notably: the role of groundwater in maintaining wetland character and wetland ecosystem services; the role of wetlands in groundwater recharge and discharge; and the management of impacts on wetlands of changes in groundwater quality and quantity. As the Handbook makes clear, many wetlands worldwide have close associations with groundwater but these relationships are often complex and varied, in both space and time. Even for wetlands of similar type and surface appearance, some can be highly dependent on groundwater for their maintenance whilst others are wholly fed by surface waters, depending on their underlying geomorphology and its permeability.
  • The key role of wetlands in addressing the global water crisis - In 1998 the challenge for the global community is to recognise that natural water systems (called waterways here for simplicity) are not infinitely resilient to the assaults of the human species. We cannot continue to pollute them, regulate them, starve them of water and exploit them for food and economic development. The priority has to be zealously protecting those attributes which are critical to sustaining these systems. Wetlands are one of the vital elements which help to sustain the waterways that provide us with food and drinking water, and yet we continue to allow their destruction around the world. This Conference should recognise the important role of wetlands and urge all Governments to take, as one of their immediate responses to the global water crisis, all steps necessary to ensure there is no further destruction of the remaining wetlands. As a longer term measure to repair our water systems, Governments, the donor agencies and local communities should afford high priority to restoring and rehabilitating those wetlands which have been lost or degraded.
  • Allocation and management of water for maintaining wetland ecosystem functions: processes, strategies and tools - This paper provides information and case studies on different aspects of the process of determining appropriate allocations of water to maintain the functioning of wetlands, so that they can continue to provide their many goods and services, including maintenance of their biological diversity, to people. The paper first outlines the importance of wetland functions and their role in the hydrological cycle, as well as the basis of sustainable management of water and wetlands. It then describes various decision-making processes for determining water allocations and the scientific and technical tools for use in applying methodologies for water allocation. Finally it describes implementation options and management tools for achieving appropriate allocations in order to maintain wetland ecosystem functions.
Click Here for more Ramsar Handbooks for the Wise Use of Wetlands.
Click Here for other key documents.

Work on the Ground

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External Resources


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