Sudan’s Sudd Wetlands Designated as Internationally Important


Conservation efforts aiming at preserving one of Africa’s most important wetlands received a major boost as the Sudd region in southern Sudan was included in the Ramsar Convention List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Conservation efforts aiming at preserving one of Africa’s most important wetlands received a major boost as the Sudd region in southern Sudan was included in the Ramsar Convention List of Wetlands of International Importance.  Southern Sudan now has some of the best preserved wetland and plains habitat in all of Africa and the largest timber reserves in East  Africa. 


With a total area in excess of 30 000 km2, the Sudd is arguably the largest wetland in Africa and provides immense economic and environmental benefits to the entire region. The swamps, flood plains and rain-fed grasslands of the Sudd support a rich animal diversity including hundreds of thousands of migratory birds. The area is also inhabited by the Nuer, Dinker and Shilluk people who ultimately depend upon the wetlands and the seasonal flooding of the adjacent rich pastureland for their survival.            


The  Government  of  the  Sudan  received  the  Ramsar  certificate October 31, 2006 at  an award and environmental workshop event co-sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)  and  held at the regional capital Juba. The workshop was opened by HE Salva Kirr Mayardit, the First Vice-President of the Sudan and President of Southern Sudan. The event, which will  continue  until  the  2nd  of  November,  is  one  the  first  events  of its kind for the new  government.


The event  is  particularly  significant in that it is brings technical experts and officials from the different  sides of  the major north-south conflict together to start to jointly address  the  range  of  environmental issues facing the country. UNEP is supporting the event together  with the two environmental administrations of the Sudan, the European Commission and  the  Nile  Basin  Initiative  as  one  part  of  its  new  focus  on  capacity building in the  environmental sector in developing countries.


The Executive Director of UNEP, Mr. Achim Steiner, said:  “Certification of the Sudd Wetlands as a Ramsar site is an important symbolic achievement that now hopefully will be followed through with practical measures to assist in the conservation of this unique habitat.”        


The  arrival of peace to southern Sudan is now bringing in much needed development to a region  which  has  suffered  23  years  of  continuous  warfare. New roads are being built and over a  million displaced people are gradually returning to their homelands in the Sudan. 


One  of  the  surprising  side  effects  of  the  north-south  conflict  was the isolation and  incidental  protection  of  the  natural  resources  of  southern  Sudan, such as the Sudd wetlands,  and  extensive  hardwood  timber  forests.


Southern Sudan now has some of the best preserved wetland and plains habitat in all of Africa and the largest timber reserves in East Africa.  The government of southern Sudan now has a unique opportunity to ensure that the development of these resources is both socially equitable and environmentally sustainable. 


In recognition of the importance of providing assistance during this critical time, UNEP has established a project office in Juba and has commenced a programme of capacity building for environmental governance.      


See below: "The List of Wetlands of International Importance"


For   more   information,   please   contact:  

 Nick  Nuttall,  UNEP  Spokesperson,

 Tel:  +254-20-7623084                                              

Elisabeth  Waechter,  Associate  Information  Officer

Tel: +254-20-7623088, E-mail:                                                                   


Jim Sniffen

Information Officer

UN Environment Programme

New York

tel: +1-212-963-8094/8210




The UNEP is responsible for the contents of this article: release of October 31,2006.


The List of Wetlands of International Importance


17 October 2006


The Ramsar List was established in response to Article 2.1 of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971), which reads:


Each Contracting Party shall designate suitable wetlands within its territory for inclusion in a List of Wetlands of International Importance, hereinafter referred to as “the List” which is maintained by the bureau [secretariat of the Convention] established under Article 8.


Wetlands included in the List acquire a new status at the national level and are recognized by the international community as being of significant value not only for the country, or the countries, in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole.


The Convention establishes that “wetlands should be selected for the List on account of their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology.” Over the years, the Conference of the Contracting Parties has adopted more specific criteria interpreting the Convention text, as well as an Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands and a Classification system of wetland type.


All issues pertaining to the Ramsar List were encapsulated in Resolution VII.11 adopted by the Conference of the Parties in May 1999 and entitled Strategic Framework and guidelines for the future development of the List of Wetlands of International Importance.[1]


Everything in the Strategic Framework is founded upon this “Vision for the Ramsar List”:


To develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the ecological and hydrological functions they perform.


The Convention’s goal is to achieve Ramsar listing for as many wetlands throughout the world as meet the criteria of international importance; in the short term, the objective is to have at least 2000 sites in the List by 2005, almost twice the current number. To bring this much of the world’s wetland resource under the umbrella of Ramsar status, the Convention urges all States to join the Convention, if they have not already done so, and to make significant efforts to implement the systematic approach for the development of the List in each country as adopted under the Strategic Framework.


Full data submitted by the Parties for each of their Ramsar sites are entered in the Ramsar Sites Database, which is maintained by Wetlands International under contract with the Convention.


The basic Ramsar List is also available, with one-paragraph descriptions of each site, as the Annotated Ramsar List in hard copy form and on the Convention’s Web site (


La Liste des zones humides d’importance internationale


La Liste de Ramsar a été établie conformément à l’article 2.1 de la Convention sur les zones humides (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) qui stipule:


Chaque Partie contractante devra désigner les zones humides appropriées de son territoire à inclure dans la Liste des zones humides d’importance internationale, appelée ci-après, «la Liste», et qui est tenue par le Bureau institué en vertu de l’article 8.


Les zones humides qui sont inscrites sur la Liste acquièrent un nouveau statut au niveau national et, aux yeux de la communauté internationale, prennent une importance non seulement pour le pays ou les pays où elles se trouvent mais aussi pour toute l’humanité.


La Convention précise: «Le choix des zones humides à inscrire sur la Liste devrait être fondé sur leur importance internationale au point de vue écologique, botanique, zoologique, limnologique ou hydrologique ». Au fil des années, la Conférence des Parties contractantes a adopté des critères plus spécifiques pour interpréter le texte de la Convention, de même qu’une Fiche descriptive des zones humides Ramsar et un Système de classification des types de zones humides.


La Résolution VII.7, adoptée par la Conférence des Parties en mai 1999, et intitulée Cadre stratégique et lignes directrices pour orienter l’évolution de la Liste des zones humides d’importance internationale[2] contient tout ce qui concerne la Liste de Ramsar.


Le Cadre stratégique repose intégralement sur cette «Vision pour la Liste de Ramsar»:


Élaborer et maintenir un réseau international de zones humides importantes, en raison des fonctions écologiques et hydrologiques qu’elles remplissent, pour la conservation de la diversité biologique mondiale et la pérennité de la vie humaine.


La Convention s’est donné pour objectif d’inscrire, sur la Liste de Ramsar, le plus grand nombre possible de zones humides qui, dans le monde entier, remplissent les critères d’importance internationale; à court terme, il s’agit d’avoir inscrit au moins 2000 sites avant 2005, soit près du double du nombre actuel. Pour réaliser cet objectif, la Convention invite instamment tous les États qui ne l’auraient pas encore fait à rejoindre ses rangs et à redoubler d’effort pour appliquer, dans chaque pays, l’approche systématique adoptée dans le contexte du Cadre stratégique.


Toutes les données fournies par les Parties sur chaque site Ramsar sont consignées dans la Banque de données Ramsar tenue par Wetlands International sous contrat de la Convention.



La Lista de Humedales de Importancia Internacional


La Lista de Ramsar se estableció con arreglo al párrafo 1 del artículo 2 de la Convención sobre los Humedales (Ramsar, Irán, 1971), que dice lo siguiente:


Cada Parte Contratante designará humedales idóneos de su territorio para ser incluidos en la Lista de Humedales de Importancia Internacional, en adelante llamada “la Lista”, que mantiene la Oficina [secretaría de la Convención] establecida en virtud del Artículo 8.


Los humedales incluidos en la Lista pasan a formar parte de una nueva categoría en el plano nacional y la comunidad internacional reconoce que tienen un valor significativo no sólo para el o los países donde se encuentran, sino también para la toda la humanidad.


La Convención estipula que “la selección de los humedales que se incluyan en la Lista deberá basarse en su importancia internacional en términos ecológicos, botánicos, zoológicos, limnológicos o hidrológicos.” Con los años la Conferencia de las Partes Contratantes ha adoptado criterios más precisos para interpretar el texto de la Convención, así como una Ficha Informativa de los Humedales de Ramsar y un Sistema de Clasificación de tipos de humedales.


Todos las cuestiones relacionadas con la Lista de Ramsar se encapsularon en la Resolución VII.11 adoptada por la Conferencia de las Partes en mayo de 1999, titulada Marco estratégico y lineamientos para el desarrollo de la Lista de Humedales de Importancia Internacional.[3]


El contenido íntegro del Marco Estratégico descansa en la siguiente “Visión para la Lista de Ramsar”:


Crear y mantener una red internacional de humedales que revistan importancia para la diversidad biológica mundial y para el sustento de la vida humana debido a las funciones ecológicas e hidrológicas que desempeñan.


La meta de la Convención es que se incluya en la Lista el mayor número posible de humedales de todo el mundo que cumplan los criterios de importancia internacional; el objetivo a corto plazo es que la Lista contenga por lo menos 2000 sitios para el año 2005, casi el doble del número actual. Para que esta proporción de los recursos de los humedales del mundo queden sujetos al régimen global de Ramsar, la Convención exhorta a todos los Estados a adherirse a ella, caso de que no lo hayan hecho aún, y a realizar esfuerzos significativos para aplicar en su territorio el enfoque sistemático de desarrollo de la Lista adoptado en el Marco Estratégico.


Todos los datos facilitados por las Partes respecto de cada uno de sus sitios Ramsar se introducen en la Base de Datos sobre los Sitios Ramsar, administrada por Wetlands International en virtud de un contrato con la Convención.








Status of the Convention



Number of Contracting Parties / Nombre de Parties contractantes /

Número de Partes Contratantes:



Number of sites designated / Nombre de sites désignés /

Número de sitios designados:



Total area / Superficie totale / Superficie total:

620,430 hectares



The information contained in this coverage is published thanks to and the Ramsar Sites Database.


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