Review of Ramsar sites in UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies
Pienkowski, Dr. M.W.,
Online only
In 2003, the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) commissioned a review of existing and potential Ramsar sites in the UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies from the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF). The final report was completed in April 2005


There are 21 entities amongst the UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, with separate governments. With one exception (British Antarctic Territory), all of these entities are included in UK's ratification of the Ramsar Convention.
In order to fulfil its commitments under the Ramsar Convention, UK arranged to review its suite of existing and potential Wetlands of International Importance, in the context of the priority ecosystems identified by the Conferences of the Parties. This review is particularly relevant for UK Overseas Territories because:
  • In global biodiversity terms, the Overseas Territories are the most important parts of UK sovereign territory;
  • In recent years, all UK Overseas Territories not previously included in the UK's ratification have joined (except British Antarctic Territory, for which the Antarctic Treaty covers many relevant aspects);
  • More of the Ramsar Convention's priority ecosystem types (including mangrove, coral, seagrass beds, peatlands, caves, etc.) occur in the UK Overseas Territories than in metropolitan UK;
  • For historical reasons there has been under-representation of UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies in the Ramsar site series;
  • Because of limited research in the past and recent progress in some aspects, the previously-existing list of proposed Ramsar sites (which included about 20 areas) was out of date and gave very inadequate coverage to the wetland types and globally important wildlife populations dependent on the UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.
Prior to the project, 15 Ramsar sites had been designated in the UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. As a result of this review, the number of recommended Ramsar sites rose to 76, in addition to the 15 previously designated. (In several cases, progress towards designation of these sites was already well advanced.) Also, the Review includes proposals to extend certain sites, and in a few cases the need for further sites has been recognised but present survey data does not allow definition even in a preliminary way. The report demonstrates also a move to a pattern reflecting better the wetland nature of the various areas and their global biodiversity importance.
As part of the project, the Ramsar Information Sheets and maps for the designated sites were updated, and draft RIS were prepared for the recommended sites. This information was included in Annexes to the main report. These are not included here, but further information is available from UKOTCF, or on request from
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Please cite as: Pienkowski, Dr. M.W.,, (2005), Review of Ramsar sites in UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, Online only