Projects in Central America
Contribution of the Mesoamerican Wetlands and Coastal Zones Program for Compliance with the Wetlands Convention (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Volume 1, No. 3

The Program for Mesoamerican Wetlands and Coastal Zones began working in this field in 1989. Its efforts have been oriented toward five specific fields of action, including the establishment of conservation and management priorities, technical assistance and training, strategic planning for wetlands management, information dissemination and formation of networks and support for international treaties. The program has been working for the last ten years in the implementation of activities to collaborate with Ramsar authorities in the different countries and with organizations whose work involves wetlands with potential importance or Ramsar sites. The Wetlands Program helps with the implementation of this convention indirectly by promoting conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, since ratifying countries assume a commitment to all wetlands, not just those with international importance.

The principal processes and activities promoted by the Wetlands and Coastal Zones Program as a means of assisting countries to comply with their Ramsar Convention commitments include:

  • Assistance in processes for including wetlands on the List of Wetlands with International Importance (Ramsar sites), as in Costa Rica (Gandoca-Manzanillo, Térraba-Sierpe, Tortuguero), Belize (Crooked Tree) and El Salvador (Laguna El Jocotal). Assistance was provided to help organizations evaluate the sites, prepare and revise the corresponding technical file and in the cases of Belize and El Salvador, follow up on ratification procedures.
  • With other organizations such as CATIE and Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, implementation of a pilot project in mangrove conservation and management through a local cooperative (Coopemangle), in a wetland of international importance (Térraba-Sierpe).
  • Work in participative processes to prepare, implement and publish management plans for Ramsar sites such as Térraba-Sierpe and Caño Negro, in Costa Rica. In the latter case, a non-technical version of the management plan was put together for communities near the refuge, so that they could better understand how to comply with management guidelines, thus helping to maintain both the refuge and their quality of life.
  • Technical collaboration in procedural and monitoring processes for the Palo Verde Ramsar site, in Costa Rica
  • Support for the formulation and initiation of the National Wetlands Conservation Strategy, in Costa Rica, through the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC)
  • Collaboration with the Government of Costa Rica in presenting the National Wetlands Strategy at Ramsar COP6, in Australia (1996)
  • Preparation of technical, administrative and legal manuals for wetlands in Costa Rica, and the Wetlands Inventory for that country, within the framework of the National Strategy
  • Participation in COP6, in Australia, and in the Pan-American meeting of Ramsar Wetlands
  • Technical assistance for the formulation of a Conservation and Sustainable Development Strategy for Los Guatuzos Wetlands (Ramsar site in Nicaragua)
  • Preparation of a document that compiles information on the principal commitments, contracting parties and contacts for the following international treaties:
    • Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Habitat for Waterfowl (Ramsar Convention)
    • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
    • Convention for the Protection and Development of Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region (SPAW Protocol)
    • Convention for the Protection of Biological Diversity

This document will provide the foundation for an analysis of compliance by signatory countries and identify those that have not ratified the treaties, in order to provide the technical assistance they require to become incorporated and comply with commitments.

  • Various types of publications on the Convention and its potential for conservation and sustainable use of wetlands in Latin America
  • Preparation of the document on options and mechanisms for wetlands conservation and the status of management plans in Central American Ramsar sites. The primary objective was to assess the status of contracting party compliance with commitments regarding preparation and implementation of management plans for Ramsar sites, under the provisions established at Ramsar COP6. This analysis will provide the bases for a close collaboration between the IUCN-ORMA Wetlands Program and Ramsar authorities at the national level regarding compliance with this particular commitment.
  • Technical assistance for the Panamanian National Authority for Environment (ANAM) in preparing base documents for a Ramsar Training Center proposal
  • Technical assistance for the United Nations Development Program UNDP) and the Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE) in Costa Rica, to prepare a base document for a wetlands proposal presented at Ramsar COP7.
  • Technical assistance for Guatemala in preparing a technical file for Punta Manabique wetland, presented at Ramsar COP7, in May 1999
  • Preparation of a travelling exhibit on wetlands and their goods and services, to be displayed in the Mesoamerican countries
  • Implementation of activities to prepare the Declaration of the Central American peoples on Wetlands and a COP7 commemorative mural expressing the sentiments of the Declaration by representatives of Central American communities. The Declaration was read by a community member at COP7 and the mural was created during the meeting.
  • Action to encourage each of the wetlands and coastal zones working groups in the different countries to establish a Ramsar Technical Committee
  • Collaboration in the preparation and publication of the presentation on Sustainable Development of Wetlands in Central America, presented at COP7 by the President of the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD)
  • Technical assistance for organizations in the region to prepare and present proposals for funding from Ramsar (Wetlands for the Future and Small Subsidies funds), and technical participation in assessing the proposals submitted

The program's interest is to continue activities that help with the implementation of this vital convention in Mesoamerica, along with our members, commissions, partners and allies. We feel that coordinated work in association with other organizations involved in this area constitutes a strength that our region should take advantage of to continue implementing activities and projects for the conservation and sustainable use of these valuable ecosystems.

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