The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat was signed on February 2, 1971 in a city of Ramsar in Iran. The convention was signed by representatives of 18 parties and was enforced on 21.12. 1975. The first counties which implemented Ramsar Convention into their legislation in 1975 were Australia, Finland, Greece, Iran, Norway, South Africa and Sweden. Czechoslovak Federative Republic became a Convention party on 2.7.1990. At present, there are 171 Ramsar Convention contracting parties and it is the only international convention on any types of ecosystems.
The FES, especially the Department of Applied Ecology, has long been studying this ecosystem in terms of carbon storage in natural wetlands, removal of nutrients, heavy metals and organic matter, including pharmaceuticals, personal belongings and pesticides in artificial wetlands, waterfowl or the use of wetlands for water retention in the landscape.
The Convention mission is "the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world". Ramsar Convention defines wetlands as „Areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.“ From the scientific point of view, the wetlands are defined as „Areas flooded with shallow water or with soil saturated with water long enough to promote the development of hydric (anaerobic) soils which support the growth of specialized vegetation adapted to anaerobic soil conditions.“
In the Czech Republic, there are 14 designated sites with a total area of 60 207 ha. First wetlands were designated on 2.7.1990: Lednické rybníky (Lednice Fishponds, 650 ha), Novozámecký a Břehyňský rybník (Novozámecký and Břehyňský Fishponds, 923 ha), Šumavská rašeliniště (Šumava Peatbogs, 637 ha) and Třeboňské rybníky (Třeboň Fishponds, 10 165 ha). The most recent (13.2.2012) designated wetlands areHorní Jizera (Jizera Headwaters, 2303 ha) and Pramenné vývěry a rašeliniště Slavkovského lesa (Springs and Mires of the Slavkov Forest, 3223 ha).
The nine criteria for identifying Wetlands of International Importance:
Group A: Sites containing representative, rare or unique wetland types
Criterion 1: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it contains a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region (17.8 %).
Group B: Sites of international importance for conserving biological diversity
Criteria based on species and ecological communities
Criterion 2: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities (20,2 %).
Criterion 3: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it supports populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region (16,7 %).
Criterion 4: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it supports plant and/or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles, or provides refuge during adverse conditions (15,7%).
Specific criteria based on waterbirds
Criterion 5: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds (7.9 %).
Criterion 6: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterbird (9.2%).
Specific criteria based on fish
Criterion 7: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it supports a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies, species or families, life-history stages, species interactions and/or populations that are representative of wetland benefits and/or values and thereby contributes to global biological diversity (4.9 %).
Criterion 8: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it is an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or migration path on which fish stocks, either within the wetland or elsewhere, depend (7.1%).
Specific criteria based on other taxa
Criterion 9: A wetland should be considered internationally important if it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of wetland-dependent non-avian animal species (0.6 %).
At present, the Ramsar Convention includes 2414 wetlands with the total area of 254 540 512 ha. The highest number of Ramsar Wetlands is in Europe (47 %), Africa (17%) and Asia (15 %). In terms of Ramsar Wetlands area, Africa contains 43%, South America 24% and Europe 11%.
Bolivia has the largest are od Ramsar Wetlands with 148 425 km2, followed by Congo (138 139 km2), Canada (130 869 km2), Chad (124 051 km2) and Russia (103 238 km2). The countries with the most Sites are in the United Kingdom (175), Mexico (142), Spain (75), Sweden (68) and Australia (66).
The world´s first Site was the Cobourg Peninsula in Australia, designated in 8.5.1974. The largest Sites in the list of Ramsar Wetlands are Rio Negro in Brazil (120 016 km2), Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo (65 696 km2) and Queen Maud Gulf in Canada (62 782 km2).