Press Release - There are six designated Wetlands of International Importance, or "Ramsar sites," in the Pacific islands region. Effectively managing these Ramsar sites is a significant challenge.

Pacific island parties to the Ramsar Convention: Fiji, Republic of Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa, will participate in training next week to help improve the management of their wetlands. The training addresses a need acknowledged under the Pacific Islands wetland initiative, and was also raised more recently at the Oceania regional Ramsar meeting in April 2008.

The five Pacific signatories to the Ramsar Convention have united with 153 other countries around the world to promote the conservation and wise sustainable use of wetlands. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is working with these Pacific island countries on their Ramsar Convention obligations, as well as assisting others who are interested in becoming a party to the Convention.

"We want to help the Pacific island parties by training and familiarising them with the Ramsar management planning process and provide them with the tools and guidelines to strengthen and develop specific management plans for the wetland sites," said Vainuupo Jungblut, SPREP's Associate Ramsar Officer.

"The main focus for this workshop is to help build the capacity to develop management plans for the management of existing Ramsar sites and other nationally significant wetlands."

The training will be interactive, including group work, discussion of case studies and the sharing of information about what works and what hasn't, within the different Pacific island country parties. As a follow-up to this training, the organisers are planning to provide participants with "homework" to put their newly acquired skills to practice through developing draft management plans for existing wetlands or potential Ramsar sites.

The workshop will be held from March 9 - 13 in Nadi, Fiji. It is being coordinated jointly between SPREP, IUCN Oceania Regional Office and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat.