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Ramsar Convention effectively responds on avian flu and natural disasters

15-Nov-2005

The Contracting Parties of the Ramsar Convention in Kampala, ending today, have made remarkably ambitious agreements on major issues, according to the NGO’s.  The Convention underlined that culling of wild birds or destroying wetlands should not be considered as a method to stop the spread of the avian flu, as these measures might even exacerbate the spread of the disease.

Instead, the Convention agreed on the need to expand the monitoring of waterbirds and to providing practical advice about how to limit the transmission of the flu between wild and domestic birds. The Contracting Parties also agreed on the importance of conserving and restoring wetlands for preventing and mitigating natural disasters such as droughts, floods, storms and peatfires; especially in the light of increasing extreme weather events due to climate change. Particularly in developing countries and along coasts, wetlands are essential to increase the security of local communities. A spectacular new step is made by putting poverty reduction on the agenda of this Convention. A new era has started for this Convention dealing with wetlands conservation and misuse. Recognition of the role of wetlands in protecting people from natural disasters and supporting livelihoods for millions is now widely shared. The valuing of the role of wetlands in reducing poverty is a big achievement. The Parties recognised the important role that wetlands play in supporting fisheries resources, thereby reducing the agricultural pressures on the ecosystems. The convention provided guidance on fisheries pratices that avoid damage to wetlands. The convention made some progress in strengthening the Convention and holding the member states accountable. However, there is still a long way to go to reach enough political impact with outreach to other sectors. Jane Madgwick   Wetlands International David Lindley   WWF

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