Major step forward for Ramsar


The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty established to achieve the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Member States identify wetlands of international importance within their territory – there are currently over 2,000 Ramsar sites worldwide, of which 169 are within the UK. Data on each Ramsar site is contained on a formal document known as a Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS).

The eleventh Conference of Parties to the Convention in July 2012 (held in Bucharest, Romania) approved a revision of the RIS.  This endorsement brought to fruition a major task during the previous five years, which has had significant JNCC input over that period.  A major element of the revised RIS relates to the better capture of information on species at site scale.  For the first time it will be possible to answer simple questions such as “how many Hippopotami are there within African Ramsar Sites?” or “What is the status of such and such species on Ramsar Sites compared to undesignated wetlands?”  It will take some more years before all species information on existing RIS is transferred and accessible for this sort of analysis but when complete it will result in a hugely powerful tool to inform not only species conservation directly, but wider environmental assessments. 


Whilst information on species at Ramsar Sites is of direct utility for species-orientated initiatives – such as for the work of the Convention on Migratory Species – there is powerful and currently unexplored potential to use it to ‘tell stories’ for decision makers.  Correctly interpreted it has potential to be a very powerful tool to support wetland conservation decision making. 


JNCC is currently working with Defra, the devolved administrations and the country nature conservation bodies to develop a timetable for the update of RIS for the UK’s many Ramsar Sites using the innovative new format.


Further information on outcomes from the 11th Conference of Parties to the Ramsar Convention.



Contact File


David Stroud

Senior Ornithological Adviser

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866810


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