US Designates Two Ramsar Sites
30 May 2012: The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) has announced that the US Government has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, both effective as of World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2012.
The first site, Congaree National Park, is located in the southern state of South Carolina. According to Ramsar, the site is composed of various habitat types, and supports a variety of species with different conservation status under the National Endangered Species Act. Recreational activities are carried out in the Park, which is threatened by the presence of invasive species.
The second new site, The Emiquon Complex, comprises three existing protected areas, the Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge, and Emiquon Preserve. According to Ramsar, the complex includes the Illinois River and its floodplain, which support abundant and diverse animal populations, both terrestrial and aquatic. The complex also contributes to ecological processes, such as: processing and cycling of nutrients, sediments, and energy; improving water quality; sequestering carbon; and normalizing hydrology. Educational and recreational activities are carried out on the site, which is threatened by invasive species, high sedimentation rates, pollution, and altered hydrology in the areas of the complex that are not protected by levees.
The US's designations contribute to one of the goals contained in the Ramsar Convention's Strategic Plan for 2009-2015, which is to reach a protected area of 250 million hectares by 2015. [Ramsar Press Release]