Public Awareness and Education Specialist,
UNDP-GEF/MoE Wetlands Biodiversity Project and Technical consultant for Upo Wetlands CentreMarch 24, 2003, for the Upo Wetlands Centre
Upo is an internationally important wetland, designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar “Wise Use of Wetlands” Convention (covering 854 ha), and conserved as a Wetland Conservation Area (WCA) under national legislation. However, despite advances in understanding, local communities are still not deeply involved in managing the wetland for biodiversity considerations, and the wetland remains threatened by a number of developments and other problems. For Upo’s effective conservation, there is a clear need to identify and challenge root causes of continuing wetland degradation; develop capacity and deeper partnerships among stakeholders; and devise a broad strategic plan aimed towards a long-term vision for Upo (e.g. in 50 or 100 years from now). Such a plan, in line with best international practice and the intent of various major conservation initiatives targeting the site, needs to be based on a participatory management approach that can both involve and provide clear benefits for local communities. This report, produced for the Upo Wetlands Center, aims to: provide some background information closely related to conservation planning at Upo; describe the initial development of a strategic planning approach (called the People and Wetlands Program); and provide a number of recommendations based on Ramsar Convention Recommendations and Resolutions intended to assist discussion and planning for Upo’s future long-term conservation.
South Korea’s lowlands are some of the most densely populated in the world, and almost all natural freshwater wetlands have been converted into rice-field and other human uses, while intertidal areas have also been both exploited for food and more recently for reclamation (for agriculture, industry and housing). Wetland productivity (including rice and fisheries, sea-weed and other harvested animals) still represents a significant part of the total Korean economy, even though the economic condition of many farming and fishing communities has declined in relation to that of the general population. Following on from the extremely rapid socio-economic maturation post- Korean War, there has been a growth in concern for environmental issues especially since the late 1980s. Over the past ten years, there has also been a rapid improvement in the level of awareness of wetlands and their values, and many initiatives have been developed by national government as a result. These include the country’s accession to the Ramsar Convention in 1997; the designation of two Ramsar sites (including Upo, in 1998); the passing of a Wetlands Conservation Act in 1999 (itself revised in 2002), with the designation of several Wetland Conservation Areas (WCA), again including Upo; and the development of a large-number of significant national and international initiatives for wetland conservation, including two internationally-supported interventions (one covering the Yellow Sea; the other the Tumen River Greater Region), and one presently in a preparatory stage, the Ministry of Environment-UNDP/GEF Wetlands Biodiversity Project (project number ROK/01/G41/1G/99). In addition, the national government has started to provide, in several pilot areas, financial incentives to farmers to manage their rice-fields with greater consideration for biodiversity, and in a very few areas have in partnership with local government even started to buy small parcels of land from farmers to return it to wetland. At Upo, ca 50 ha has been bought in partnership with Changnyeong Gun as part of this initiative.
NGOs have also become increasingly concerned with wetland degradation and loss at the national level, and partly in response to their environmental education and public awareness raising work the media have also explored many related biodiversity and socio-economic issues, supporting (directly or indirectly) the government initiatives outlined above. As would be expected too, the media and government attention to wetlands is also well-supported by and in turn supports a small but growing body of research scientists and academic reports, which have started to reveal the extreme international importance of South Korea’s wetlands for national interest and global biodiversity.
Although detailed stakeholder analysis relating to key wetlands has not been conducted, it is apparent that many local resource users (most especially farmers and fishers) do not perceive that there are any benefits from wetland conservation, and instead often actively oppose designation of their land/water area as a WCA or Ramsar site, perceiving that such a designation would undermine their rights and impose further unwelcome restrictions on their economic activities. It is important to note that this perception has a strong basis in history. Beyond broader issues of occupation and rule by military government in South Korea through much of the 20th century, the National Park and Green Belt system was also originally set up without consultation with landowners, and affected communities have suffered economically as a result, with many restrictions imposed on building or changing land use. Around Upo wetland, few local resource users (therefore) perceive that the wetland’s “protection” as a WCA has helped or will help to secure their livelihood or provide direct benefits, even though the wetland has become both very well-known nationally (attracting several hundred visitors a day) and the focus of several significantly-funded development projects.
It can be considered that a significant part of this sense of opposition and disenfranchisement of local resource users further derives from:
The absence of a formal, long-term structure allowing for detailed discussion amongst local stakeholders (e.g. local farmers and fishers, government officials, specialist NGOs and technical experts);
The absence of a joint management plan for Upo (ideally based on such discussion/consensus);
The absence of trained managers (and no formal training programs established for potential managers) that can address local people’s concerns;
The absence of local knowledge or local people in initiatives (even the name Upo itself is disliked by many local people, who refer to the parts of the wetland with more specific and culturally-rich names);
The absence of shared vision for (and therefore confidence in) the wetland’s long-term future;
The absence of increased economic benefits for the vast majority of local people since designation as a Ramsar site and WCA.
It is clear that if long-term conservation of Upo is to be successful, then these concerns need to be more fully addressed.
Upo is a small wetland, at present formally protected as a WCA under the Wetland Conservation Act and one of only two sites nationwide designated as a site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. Such designations have been made as Upo has been clearly identified as internationally important for biodiversity and as it is one of the only representative (historic) floodplain wetlands remaining nationwide. However, Upo’s ecological integrity and character has already been challenged by a number of historical and more recent drainage and infrastructure projects, and even now, it remains threatened by a broad range of development proposals. The wetland proper (now comprising only 4 small lakes/ponds and several streams and seasonally wet areas totaling less than 300 ha at peak flood) used to be a very dynamic and much more extensive system. Seasonally, much of the broader area would have flooded in mid-late summer due to monsoon rains and the influence of typhoons, and then dried out slowly through the winter months. This natural cycle would have maintained the natural, optimal conditions for a multitude of floodplain-adapted specialist species. Following the construction of dykes, drainage channels and pumping stations, however, flood peaks occur much more quickly, and are confined to an increasingly small area, while many of the marginal habitats have been converted exclusively to human use. Such conversion has led to general ecological simplification and the recent decline in the peak counts of several floodplain-related species, indicator species of the wetland’s overall ecological health and integrity. The Baikal Teal Anas formosa for example has shown a significant decline at the site level over the past decade (effectively becoming lost to it), despite significant increases in number at other sites nationally, clearly suggesting a significant (negative) change in Upo’s ecological character.
The gradual degradation and loss of wetland integrity at Upo clearly derives largely from human-driven catchment-wide (even region-wide) changes in land-use, and the combined impacts of a number of smaller development projects, including (but not limited to):
the conversion of much historic wetland to intensively used farmland, causing loss of habitat, a reduction in water quality and quantity, and increased disturbance;
the creation of bunds/dykes and drainage infrastructure within and adjacent to the site, causing a reduction in water quality and quantity, a significant reduction in water surface area, and a shift in the seasonal hydrology;
the construction of roads and buildings near or next to the wetland, causing fragmentation of habitats, and increased disturbance.
At present, further development proposals within or adjacent to the Upo Ramsar site, based on the perceived needs of local or regional communities, include (but are not confined to):
A new drainage pump and bund for part of the site;
Strengthening of an existing bund in one part of the site;
New infrastructure connected to e.g. Changnyeong Gun’s Ecopark proposal and the proposed citing of a National Natural History Museum near the wetland.
All such projects have the potential to provide certain welcome benefits to certain stakeholders, and to be in part mitigated by the restoration/creation of new wetland on the 50 ha of recently bought farmland. They also have the potential, however, to lead to the continuing and rapid degradation of large parts of the site, or to the degradation of the site as a whole.
The combined impacts of developments have already led and will continue to lead to an increasing ecological simplification of the site, even though certain positive management decisions focused on controlling recreational use have already been put into effect, including (but not limited to):
The designation of the site as a WCA, leading to a complete ban on illegal hunting and a restriction of recreational fishing at the site, helping to reduce disturbance levels and over-harvesting of natural resources, and to allow the greater habituation to disturbance of key waterbird species (including the Eastern Taiga Bean Goose Anser fabalis middendorffii);
The greater control of movement of recreational visitors, reducing tensions with local communities and reducing disturbance in certain parts of the site.
Although such controls are positive, they fall far short of the necessary level of management required. The health of most wetland systems depends less on selective restrictions of recreational use, and more fundamentally on water quality and quantity, and the availability of a range of chemical, biological and physical conditions appropriate to the wetland (combined forming its “ecological character”). At present, the condition of these fundamental elements are not being adequately addressed, and Upo’s integrity and character will therefore likely continue to degrade, producing a range of impacts including (but not confined to):
The wetland’s becoming progressively less able to support the economic and cultural needs of local communities presently dependent upon the wetland (presumed the major concern of most local stakeholders);
The loss of the unique recreational and educational values of Upo (presumed the major concern of local government and recreational users);
Declines in key species and key species’ communities (presumed the major concern of some specialist NGOs, academics and sections of the Ministry of Environment, as well as the Ramsar Bureau);
Declines in species’ populations and national and international biodiversity supported at the national/global level, contra the aims of national legislation and internationally held obligations uner both the Convention of Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention (a major concern of the Ministry of Environment and ministries concerned with wetland conservation as well as the Convention Bureaus themselves and other major international NGOs);
The probable need in the future of formal listing by the national government of Upo wetland on the Ramsar Convention’s Montreux record of sites most likely to suffer negative changes in ecological character: “Fundamental changes… which would affect the basic value and the functioning (i.e. the "ecological character") of a Ramsar site require careful investigation and assessment, and are to be prevented” (Conference of the Parties 5 Doc. C.5.16.153). If such changes are detected/suspected, national government is obligated to inform the Ramsar Bureau, so that the Bureau can “ assist Contracting Parties in resolving them”. Although a “neutral” list and process, listing of a Ramsar site on the so-called Montreux List of sites undergoing ecological change often acts as a major provocateur for criticism of the listing Party and the responsible management body (a potential major concern of several sections of local and national government).
Towards a Solution: looking at Root Causes and Possibilities
It is far beyond the scope of this report to adequately identify, propose or test the optimal conditions for the effective long-term management (i.e. conservation) of Upo wetland. However, it is apparent that past, present and future problems are interconnected, and will best be solved by a participatory management approach, in line with the Ramsar Convention, best international practice, and various central government-led initiatives targeting the site (including the Wetland Biodiversity project and the Ecological Network project). A participatory management approach, perhaps as yet untested in South Korea, needs to be a long-term process and by necessity also needs to overcome prevalent social conditions and mistrust between potential key stakeholders. There needs to be a fundamental shift in relationship between key groups to allow genuine discussion and change to take place. In contemporary South Korea, very significant divisions and differences of perception remain among major (potential) stakeholder groups that hinder change, and prevent the pooling of necessary skills that each group can bring to any process. For example:
Many government officials are highly committed to creating a new paradigm for Korean society, and have detailed knowledge of the administrative structures and funding mechanisms that can support such change. Despite undergoing significant structural evolution, and introducing many new and welcome initiatives, government as a whole is still often perceived to be “out-of-touch” with the needs of local people, and is often suspected of pursuing projects more for political influence rather than for serving the public good. As such, government is often poorly portrayed by the media and criticized by NGOs, and in turn many government officials express distrust of NGOs and their capabilities.
As the NGO movement largely evolved out of the human rights and civil rights movement, most NGO staff are dedicated to principles of social good, and remain committed to challenging injustice and helping to create a better Korean society. In the case of environmental NGOs, some NGO staff have worked over long time frames to win the trust of local people and the media, and thus can often play a key role in raising public awareness and moving public opinion. However, simultaneously NGOs are often perceived as radical and aggressive, and in opposition to the mainstream. As such, although a few selected individuals with NGO backgrounds have been given important advisory roles to government, the organisations themselves are often not deeply involved in decision-making, and lacking adequate resources, often cannot develop the necessary skills to evolve adequately to build up their capacity. As such, many NGOs remain overly critical of government and depend overly on the advice and direction of the academic community (it is important in this regard to note that NGOs in many countries have developed great technical expertise; that they often play a strong advisory role to government in such countries; that four major international NGOs rank as partners to the Ramsar Convention; and that the managers of many protected wetlands in Europe and the US are in fact NGO staff).
The academic community tends to enjoy a very privileged position in South Korean society, being trusted on the whole by most sectors of society, including many NGOs. Researchers and institutions have a key role in gathering, analysing and disseminating information, allowing for more informed decision-making. However, restrictive bureaucratic systems and a lack of appropriate support within universities and institutes often prevent necessary new skills from being developed, and ensure that many key researchers are over-extended - simultaneously involved in numerous projects to ensure adequate research funds. In addition, in some cases the dependence on funding from bodies in connection to a given development means that independence and scientific objectivity cannot be maintained at all times. There are also in many instances strict restrictions imposed by the body that funds any given research, so generated data remains “owned” by that body and unavailable in an appropriate form and time-frame to other stakeholders, including local people. This lack of information provision can in turn create frustration among researchers and suspicion amongst other stakeholders.
Many local people feel a strong connection with their community and would choose to maintain and improve their way of life if financial conditions allowed it. Many local people have great expertise and in-depth knowledge of certain aspects of the area which supports their needs (financial, social and cultural/spiritual). However, local people are often considered as non-experts by other stakeholder groups, and therefore as the intended recipients of finalized decisions rather than as partners in decision-making. Exclusion leads to mistakes in project and program design, and increased resentment, further leading to local opposition to conservation and initiatives designed for the ‘greater good’ and not for the ‘local good’.
Industry has not as yet involved deeply in conservation initiatives, although at certain sites (e.g. Seosan) major companies have very great control over wetland areas and the management of certain sites. There is often a mutual distrust between NGOs and industry, as industry is viewed as the polluter while NGOs are perceived as opponents of the economic development, which has benefited South Korea as a whole (including the NGOs).
These perceptions and roles act as the social backcloth to four major root causes of wetland loss and degradation (based on their characterisation in the Wetlands Biodiversity Project PDF-B [ROK/01/G41/1G/99]) thus:
Perverse financial incentives or lack of incentives to conserve wetlands;
Lack of capacity and support for local communities and concerned organizations to conserve wetlands;
Administrative and structural weaknesses;
Inadequate legal frameworks for wetland conservation
To conserve Upo long-term these root causes need to be addressed (as is being proposed by the Wetlands Biodiversity project) and mechanisms created to achieve the best conditions for maintaining the ecological character, functions and values of the wetland by involving and benefiting local stakeholders.
The Upo Wetlands Centre and The People and Wetlands Program
The Changnyeong Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM) in partnership with other NGOs (notably the Masan-Changwon KFEM) have worked since at least the mid-1990s to raise awareness of the value of Upo, holding discussions with local people, local government and the national Ministry of Environment. Following Ramsar designation and conversion of a large former school near to the site to create the Upo Wetlands Centre, the staff there has fulfilled a critical (though often highly stressful) role of unofficial ‘watchdog’, enforcing a ban on recreational fishing and other illegal activities: work which often has brought them into direct conflict with local people and recreational users. They have also developed environmental education programs and public awareness materials, largely on a project base, which has provided an excessively work-intensive financial base and helped increase their political support.
Despite the Center’s staff’s obvious knowledge of the site and commitment to it, their personal relationship with many local people and their expertise in certain aspects key to successful conservation, the Centre’s role has remained largely confined to that of reaction rather than partnership. The Centre has not been deeply involved in developing discussions on major projects, instead often being asked only to participate in the final stages, by giving opinion statements, and these often to very tight deadlines. In January and February 2003 alone, near completed documents presented to the Centre included an outline of the Wetlands Biodiversity project; the Ecological Network project; and Changnyeong Gun’s Ecopark concept.
In common with many NGOs (and other stakeholder groups) their workload and lack of capacity (financial and personnel) combined with social perceptions of their work largely confines the Center to a reactionary role. Therefore, rather than advising projects and working to positively influence the decision-making process, they are often left simply opposing decisions already taken by administrative bodies. In the case of projects involving draining part of the Ramsar site at the request of local people, the Center’s defense of Upo’s ecological integrity leads them into direct conflict with both local government and local stakeholders, further reinforcing already negative stereotypes, and undermining their political support base.
Realising the need to change the present status quo and the need to build capacity to allow greater participation in planning and management processes affecting Upo wetland, the Center used a small grant to initiate the People and Wetlands Program. The Program, presently in its earliest stages, is an attempt to:
Create and communicate a long-term vision for the site;
Rationalize present projects and workloads;
Increase communication, cooperation and participation.
Since the initial small-grant funding was received in December 2002, the Center has:
Clarified work objectives and a long-term vision for Upo wetland, expressed through a Mission Statement: “ Working to conserve the values and functions of Upo wetland, for 50 years and beyond, through partnership with local stakeholders”. Work rationalization has included the refinement of educational programs and public awareness materials to better reflect this mission statement (and also allowing for more time to involve in fund-raising, scientific monitoring of the site, and meeting with other stakeholders). In addition, through a series of workshops held at the Center it was agreed that there are a range of options for solving threats to the integrity of wetland: many of these involve effective cost-benefit analysis and the identification of ways in which benefits can be provided to stakeholders by adopting more ecologically sustainable development methods.
Analysed documents of proposed large-scale initiatives to identify shared objectives, identifying aspects of the major projects that the Center can contribute to (most especially in the future as capacity is built up e.g. in line with the Wetlands Biodiversity project). The Center has identified approximately 10 projects that they are now seeking funding for, largely concerned with environmental education (of students, teachers and local administrators); developing an eco-guide training program; scientific monitoring; and public awareness work.
Reorganized staff commitments and timetables to fulfill work program objectives, and to build up a program team (including staff and volunteers);
Held meetings with Green Upo (a second local NGO), local government officials and officials of the Ministry of Environment’s Nakdong Basin Office to listen to details on development proposals and to introduce the Program and the aims/needs of the Wetland Center (supporting co-financing efforts of other projects). Such preliminary meetings are considered by the Center essential in building trust and identifying shared objectives.
Opened up a dedicated Program website Upo Wetlands Centre, with links to the leading English language website for Korean wetland and bird issues (www.wbkenglish.com). The Korean language website aims to provide detailed background information and (over time) to post local information and opinions (covering cultural and local history aspects as well as providing more technical and ecological information); while the English language section aims to provide members of the international conservation community and the Ramsar Bureau with up-to-date information on the status of Upo Ramsar site.
Discussed the Program through meetings with local stakeholders, a newsletter and through interviews with the media. Such informal discussion and explanations are aimed at encouraging people, including local farmers and other stakeholder groups, to use the website and newsletter to express their opinions and to gain access to best information: all aimed at making the process of involvement more democratic and comprehensive.
Enhanced educational resources, in line with the program, including creating a small wetland area and two very small rice-fields at the center. The small pond will increase outdoor educational opportunities, and create some habitat for wetland species, while the rice-fields will allow an increased focus on the relationship between wetlands, farmers and food. Both importantly will act as a statement of the value and functions of wetlands for visitors to the Wetland Centre.
Tackling Root causes: Recommendations towards Effective Participatory Management
The PWP aims to create better conditions for a participatory management approach that takes into full consideration both the ecological functions and values of Upo wetland (and its status as a Ramsar site) and the needs of stakeholders, in full accordance with Ramsar Resolution 8.36 (“Participatory Environmental Management as a tool for management and wise use of wetlands”).
A list of broad recommendations relating to these aims has been developed through the initial phase of the PWP. These recommendations include (but are not limited to):
The Ministry of Environment, as the focal point for the Ramsar Convention and as the body responsible for two major conservation initiatives targeting Upo, is respectfully requested to provide (in an easily accessible form) maps showing the clear delineation of Upo Ramsar site and Upo WCA, along with clear guidelines on what kinds of development are allowed/disallowed, under national legislation, within such areas. In addition it is respectfully requested to provide detailed information on all proposed initiatives and projects affecting either the ecological integrity of the site and the economic conditions of local stakeholders. The provision of this information, which can be posted on the Centre’s website and distributed to other stakeholders, is in full accordance with Ramsar Resolution 7.8.17, which “ ENCOURAGES Contracting Parties to provide for transparency in decision-making with respect to wetlands and their conservation and ensure that there is full sharing with the stakeholders of technical and other information related to the selection of Ramsar sites and management of all wetlands, with guarantees of their full participation in the process”.
In addition the Ministry of Environment is respectfully requested to provide clear guidelines for the form and manner of any environmental impact assessment to be conducted in relation to development proposals effecting Upo, in consideration of Ramsar COP Resolution 7.16 (which “calls upon Contracting Parties to ensure that any projects, plans, programmes and policies with the potential to alter the ecological character of wetlands on the Ramsar List or impact negatively on other wetlands in their territory, are subjected to rigorous impact assessment procedures and to formalise such procedures under policy, legal, institutional and organizational arrangements”) and Resolution 8.9 (“Guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact assessment legislation and/or processes and in strategic environmental assessment’ adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and their relevance to the Ramsar Convention”).
There is a clear need for a series of local stakeholder meetings, adequately funded as part of ongoing initiatives or development proposals. The meetings need to have themes relevant to the major stakeholder groups already identified by basic stakeholder analysis, thus: local farmers and fishers; local NGOs; academics and researchers; local administrators (most especially relevant officials of Changnyeong Gun and the Nakdong Basin office); local businesses. The meetings need to form the basis of discussion on proposed initiatives and possible solutions to any problems such developments might produce. The discussions need to be made accessible and transparent, again through posting in an electronic format or through public notices and newsletters. They need to form the basis too of the development of a comprehensive management plan appropriate to a site of international importance, in accordance with Ramsar Resolution 5.7 which calls on Contracting Parties “to develop management plans for each wetland designated for the Ramsar List”.
In line with e.g. the Wetlands Biodiversity Project and Ramsar Convention Resolution 7.8 19. which “REQUESTS Contracting Parties to give priority to capacity building for the implementation of participatory approaches with special attention being given to the training of government administrators and local people in facilitation techniques, consultative processes, cultural sensitivity, and the application of the Ramsar Wise Use Guidelines, “ programs for capacity building of all key stakeholder groups needs to be encouraged, and funding actively sought for. Capacity building needs to cover Ramsar wise use guidelines and also include funded and expert guidance on needs identified by stakeholders, perhaps including (but not confined to) environmentally sustainable agriculture; environmentally-friendly engineering training for companies contracted for such work by government; adequate training of NGOs and provision of materials to assist with public awareness and environmental education work; and cost-benefit analysis training for administrators.
Following on from such meetings and initial capacity building, a set of clear guidelines need to be agreed collectively by local stakeholder groups. These guidelines need to set out the parameters and objectives of all future development projects affecting Upo and list up alternative solutions to them. For example, consideration of Ramsar guidelines, the experiences of others and cost-benefit analysis might suggest that compensation schemes for farmers and subsidized agriculture (with a set-aside component) might be cheaper, more desirable and more in line with the national and international interest than the construction of drainage pumps and reinforced dykes within the Ramsar site.
There is also an urgent need to identify potential wetland managers and to train such individuals/organizations in an appropriate manner, in line with Articles 4.5 of the Ramsar Convention (which calls on Contracting Parties to "promote the training of personnel competent in the fields of wetland research, management, and wardening"), and Recommendation 6.5.5 (which “URGES Contracting Parties to seek resources from their Governments, through development agencies or other national or regional bodies, to establish wetland manager training programmes”). It is important to note that there are no wetland managers in South Korea who manage wetlands for biodiversity, and very few who have experience of managing wetlands for multiple use. However, there are many people who manage wetlands for food production (i.e. fishers and farmers); and large numbers of managers of water as a resource for human use (e.g. KOWACO). This situation is rather different from many other countries. Consequently, study tours or international information exchanges need to be established, so that key stakeholders can learn best international practice, and suitable expectations and understanding of the role of wetland managers and wardens can be achieved.
In accordance with the Wetlands Biodiversity Project and the needs of potential site managers it is important that efforts are made to create twinning of Upo with other wetland sites, in order to exchange expertise and raise the profile of the international importance of the sites. Considering the importance of Upo wetland to the populations of the Eastern Taiga Bean Goose (considered the most appropriate flagship for the wetland), and the need to learn of participatory management approaches that are providing benefits for farmers and other local stakeholder groups, it is strongly recommended that Kabukuri-Numa in Sendai, Japan, is approached with the intention of twinning the site with Upo.
In addition, it is strongly recommended that in accordance with Ramsar Recommendation 4.4, which calls for networks of reserves to be established, Recommendation 4.12, which recognizes the flyway concept for the conservation of wetland bird species, and Resolution 7.3 (“Multilateral cooperation on the conservation of migratory waterbirds in the Asia-Pacific region”) that Upo Ramsar site be designated as an Anatidae Network Site at the first opportunity. The network is operated under the auspices of the Ramsar Convention through the specialist groups coordinated by Wetlands International, and while imposing no legal restrictions or obligations will assist in building the capacity of those charged with the management of Upo wetland.
Information needs to become more easily available; mechanisms need to be created and strengthened to encourage genuine discussion and participation by a wide range of stakeholders in developing a vision and long-term management plan; such a plan needs to fully respect/maintain the functions, values and ecological character of Upo wetland, as well as fulfill stakeholders’ needs; cost-benefit analysis and rigorous environmental impact assessment needs to be conducted for all projects affecting the Ramsar site; and potential managers need to be identified, trained and provided with internationally accepted frameworks to support their work and the conservation of the site.
March 24 2003.