Madagascar protects more critical wetlands
On World Wetlands Day, five new sites were added to Madagascar’s existing Ramsar sites, bringing the total to 15, which together cover more than 1.5 million hectares of critical wetlands.
Ankarafantsika, Nosy Ve Androka, Bemanevika, Sahamalaza and the biocultural Antrema wetlands were officially included in the Ramsar list on February 2.
“These new sites will greatly improve the international recognition of the value of Madagascar’s biodiversity and contribute to its long-term conservation,” said Simon Rafanomezantsoa, Terrestrial Biodiversity Coordinator of WWF Madagascar, which strongly supported their nomination.
All these sites harbour remarkable and threatened biodiversity. For example, the Bemanevika wetland in the northern highlands is the only place now known to shelter the Madagascan Pochard, a species of wild duck that was considered extinct until it was rediscovered in this site.
Meanwhile, the Reef Barrier of Nosy Ve Androka in the southwest contains more than 140 species of corals and over 240 species of fish, shellfish and other marine creatures, including the world famous living fossil, the coelacanth, and five species of marine turtles.
And there are another five sites in Madagascar in the pipeline.
Overall, there are now 2,280 Ramsar sites designated by the Convention’s 169 Parties, protecting more than 215 million hectares.
Other new sites include wetland in France, Italy, Ukraine and Myanmar, which has just designated the Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary, a coastal wetland that supports one of the largest remaining mangrove areas in the delta. There are an estimated 30 threatened Irrawaddy dolphins in the rivers and creeks around the sanctuary.