Commissioner Tromp opens Caribbean Wetlands Initiative meeting

BONAIRE — From the 5th until the 8th of July 2011, Bonaire will be hosting the Caribbean Wetlands Initiative of the Treaty for the protection of Wetlands, better known as the Ramsar Convention. This meeting will be opened on Tuesday morning the 5th of July at 9 o’clock by Commissioner Delno Tromp at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort. At this meeting the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance will be represented by Nathaniel Miller, the project officer of this organization.

Thanks to the commitment of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (EL&I) from the RCN, together with the Public Entity Bonaire, this important regional meeting can be held on Bonaire. During three days the representatives of 16 countries of the Caribbean region will be discussing the protection of internationally important wetlands and the various activities in this area in the Caribbean region.

Goal of this meeting is to develop a strategy to enlarge the focus on the protection of internationally important wetlands in the Caribbean region, in combination with a list of priorities and a budget for the coming two years. This is important for Bonaire, considering that five of these internationally important wetlands are located on Bonaire, also called Ramsar areas. The meeting is also dedicated to the 40 year anniversary of the Ramsar Convention, a fact that has been celebrated by the western hemisphere at the beginning of this year with a special gathering in Mexico. This year there is more attention than usual for the wetlands. Bonaire and the Dutch Caribbean present themselves hereby as examples and advocates on the area of preservation of natural resources, including the wetlands.

At this moment there are 1.947 Ramsar areas worldwide. The Kingdom is a Party of the Treaty as of 1980, where currently 160 countries have connected to. In the former Netherlands Antilles 6 Ramsar areas have been indicated, from which five are located on Bonaire and one on Aruba. On Bonaire these areas are Lac, Pekelmeer with the Flamingo Sanctuary, Lake Goto, Slagbaai and Klein Bonaire. With five of these protected sites Bonaire has more Ramsar areas than most islands in the region.

The Treaty for internationally important Rich Water Areas (Wetlands), also called Ramsar Convention, was signed in 1971 in the Iranian city Ramsar by a number of different countries from all over the world. Initially the treaty was meant to primarily protect the birds in internationally important rich water areas. The Convention obliges the governments to protect the areas and to give priority to interests of nature over human interests and to only permit sensible use of those areas. Over time also other animals and plants have been included. Also the definition of rich water areas was broadened in oder to include shallow water areas and coral reefs as well. The Ramsar convention requests participating countries to identify their internationally important wetlands and to register these as Ramsar areas.

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