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Ramsar Convention

Author: Donovan Kotze ~ Wetland Specialist affiliated to the University of KwaZulu Natal

( Article Type: Explanation )

The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty, adopted in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, and provides a framework for international cooperation for the conservation of wetlands. Countries that become contracting parties (South Africa did so in 1975) accept four main obligations:

  1. designate at least one wetland as a site of International Importance;
  2. formulate and implement planning to promote wise use of wetlands in their territory;
  3. establish nature reserves on wetlands; and
  4. engage in international cooperation with other countries.

There are presently 146 contracting parties to the Convention, with 1463 wetland sites, totalling 125.4 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.