Wetland Management and Monitoring: Adequacy of Ramsar information sheets for detecting change in ecological character, January 1998

Department of the Environment, 1998

Internal Report 271
Pedretti YM
Supervising Scientist Division

About the report

Selected Ramsar Information Sheets (RIS's) were examined to determine their adequacy for detecting changes in ecological character. Twenty nine RIS's were selected by Wetlands International for being the most complete and also to represent the seven Ramsar regions.

A semi-quantitative matrix was developed to examine whether the RIS's met the purpose for which they were initially designed. That is, whether they provided information on, and fulfilled criteria by which a wetland is considered internationally important. This information also provided a description of the wetland's ecological character. It was concluded that RIS's did provide a good general description of a wetland site, that is they appeared to fulfill the purpose for which they were designed.

Four additional matrices were compiled to examine whether the RIS's provided sufficient information for detecting changes in ecological character. The first two matrices recorded the values and threats occurring at each wetland. This information describes the individual components of ecological character, and indicates whether or not the 'processes' and 'functions' components of ecological character are adequately described.

The final two matrices were used to examine whether the selected RIS's supplied information on baseline data and monitoring for the values and threats listed. They indicated that, in general, information on baselines and monitoring was poorly addressed. In addition, baseline data was mainly qualitative with a few RIS's also supplying limited quantitative information. Future RIS's need to include the following if they are also to provide information on ecological change:

  • sufficient parameters to describe baselines for individual values and threats;
  • important details on parameters including: when the information was recorded (ie. date, time, season); the location of the information recorded; the equipment utilised; who recorded the information; and for what purpose;
  • a description of seasonal and natural variation in key baseline parameters;
  • information on 'processes' and 'functions'; and
  • a clear linkage of baseline information with values and threats to ensure that appropriate information is recorded.