Ramsar Convention

History of the Convention

The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, the Convention entered into force in 1975 and covers all aspects of wetland conservation and wise use recognising wetlands as ecosystems that are extremely important for biodiversity conservation in general and for the well-being of human communities.

Wetlands are areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. They occur where the water table is at or near the surface of the land, or where the land is covered by shallow water.  The Ramsar Convention takes a broad approach in determining the wetlands which come under its aegis. Under the text of the Convention (Article 1.1), wetlands are defined as:  areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres“.  In addition, the Convention (Article 2.1) provides that wetlands: may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands”.

Barbados has been a Party to the Ramsar Convention since April 12th 2006 and as the Management Authority and Focal Point for the Convention the Ministry of Environment and Drainage is required to facilitate the development, at national level of policies and actions that help manage Barbados’ use of our wetland resources.

It’s Mission

The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.

Wetlands are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems. They provide essential services and supply all our fresh water. However they continue to be degraded and converted to other uses.

The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.

Under the “three pillars” of the Convention, the Contracting Parties commit to:

  1.  work towards the wise use of all their wetlands;
  2.  designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management;
  3.  cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.

Our Local Wetlands

Barbados has already designated Graeme Hall as our first Ramsar site, and in the future hopes to designate more sites.

Barbados’ Physical Development Plan identifies Natural Heritage Conservation Areas and recognizes the importance of the areas identified to biodiversity conservation and the maintenance of representative ecosystems.  These areas include the wetland areas of Graeme Hall Swamp, Chancery Land and Long Pond and Walker’s Beach.