Ethiopia is not a contracting party and thus has not designated a wetland of internationalimportance. But in the probable event of signing the treaty now or in the future, there isneed to premeditate conditions including preparing a country list of possible candidateRamsar sites for selection.
2. Ramsar Sites - an overview
Ramsar sites or wetland sites with special global importance are found in all contracting parties. The main impetus for coming up with a List of Important Wetlands is to "developand maintain and international network of wetlands which are important for theconservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through theecological and hydrological functions they perform" (Ramsar Bureau Convention, 1997).Some members have gone ahead and listed several sites while others still maintain thefirst one or two they committed at the time of accession. Most recent update on number of contracting parties is 138. The total number of sites designated by these countries is1,368 and the total area covered by the sites is 119,611,621 ha
. At the firstConvention meeting in Ramsar, Iran, Article 2.1 set out the fact that allcontracting parties need to commit one site for designation at the timeof signing the treaty. Furthermore, the Convention has made clearindication that the setting aside of these special wetland areas denotesthat the sites are important not only to the country or region but tohumanity as a whole. Sites are selected according to standardizedcriteria based on hydrological, limnological, ecological, zoologicaland/or botanical factors.
A country that agrees to join the Convention must designate a site to be included in theList of Wetlands of International Importance. Subsequent designation of other sites isalso possible as long as the country feels the need to set aside more. A Ramsar site thataccompanies the actual contracting procedure must also have filled out an informationsheet as supplied by the Ramsar Bureau with a map that describes its boundaries. In somecases boundary definition is difficult by the very nature of wetlands, whose edges couldincrease or decrease with seasons or years. In these kind of cases, boundaries should bedefined as precisely as possible. One solution to this kind of problem is to designate awider ecosystem that encloses the wetland e.g. the terrestrial habitats of a national park that enclose a wetland (Ramsar Convention Bureau, 1997).While designation is a prerogative of each contracting party, conservation action at sitelevel is also required. At the 4
meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 4), inMontrreux, Switzerland a recommendation (Recommendation 4.2) was stated that wouldassist the parties to take action at their designated sites (Ramsar Convention Bureau,1997). Accordingly, States are free to decide on the legal status or protection measures atsites, undertake conservation work with the aim of preventing changes to sites and promote wise use of wetlands by maintaining positive traditional land use practices andestablishing nature reserves where possible. One important way of carrying out the wiseuse concept is to develop management plans for all sites that have been listed as Ramsar sites or not (Ramsar Convention Bureau, 1997).