Projects in Central America
Wetlands Work Groups in Mesoamerica
Archives
1998
Volume 1, No. 2

One of the principal fields of action of the IUCN-ORMA Wetlands and Coastal Zones Conservation Program for Mesoamerica is the identification of conservation priorities for these ecosystems. The IUCN’s policy is to work closely with national specialists so that the program will respond more appropriately to the needs of countries in the region.
To make this possible, the program is fomenting wetlands and coastal zones work groups, which have the following characteristics:

One of the principal fields of action of the IUCN-ORMA Wetlands and Coastal Zones Conservation Program for Mesoamerica is the identification of conservation priorities for these ecosystems. The IUCN’s policy is to work closely with national specialists so that the program will respond more appropriately to the needs of countries in the region.

To make this possible, the program is fomenting wetlands and coastal zones work groups, which have the following characteristics:

  1. Because they work on a voluntary basis, these groups do not represent institutional, political or personal interests.
  2. Assumedly these groups enjoy national recognition and thus serve as forums for high-level technical discussion to identify problems and solutions concerning sustainable management of wetlands and coastal ecosystems.
  3. They serve as a liaison between regional initiatives and the program, which channels its activities through them to the greatest degree possible.
  4. With program coordinating personnel, the working groups determine priorities in wetlands and coastal zone conservation and management at the national level. These priorities form an integral part of the program’s plan of work in the different countries.
  5. To the extent possible, they function as advisor to other national IUCN groups, such as the National Members Committees and Commission Members.
  6. They receive technical support from the different IUCN groups in their countries (members, commissions and allies.)
  7. Although work groups do not implement projects, the program does enlist their participation in providing technical assistance for wetlands and coastal zone projects in their respective country.
  8. Work groups are part of the regional network that vitalizes the program and promotes the sharing of knowledge and collaborative work between regional specialists.
  9. Each group defines its own work mechanisms, which are broadly and openly discussed

Currently there are four work groups functioning in the region, one each in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. In Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica they have held workshops to define priorities. Nicaragua and Costa Rica now have work plans approved and supported by the wetlands and coastal zones program.

Nicaragua’s group has been particularly dynamic, and it has the largest number of participants, divided into subgroups for the country’s different regions. The group is currently working on a directory of wetlands and coastal zone specialists in Nicaragua. In addition, it is updating a diagnostic profile and classification of national wetlands.

In Costa Rica, the work group is looking forward to the 7th meeting of Ramsar signatories in may 1999, and during the last few days of November 1998 will be holding a forum on the major opportunities and threats to these ecosystems in their country. The group is also in the process of bringing out a publication on wetlands.

El Salvador's groups is collaborating closely with the IUCN national members committee to organize a meeting on work priorities in the country. Around 30 persons with experience in wetlands and coastal zones are expected to attend the meeting.

At the end of this year the wetlands program will be holding priorities workshops in the remaining countries (Honduras, Belize and Panamá) in order to strengthen these working groups.

CONGRATULATIONS TO NICARAGUA’S WORK GROUP FOR BEING THE MOST ACTIVE IN THE REGION

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