UPDATED Ramsar Sites supporting breeding populations of ACAP-listed species


The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971 and entered into force in 1976 is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.  There are currently 171 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 2409 wetland sites totalling over  254 million hectares inscribed on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

A listing and brief descriptions of Ramsar sites supporting breeding populations of ACAP-listed species follows.

Prince Edward Islands satellite

Satellite photograph of the Prince Edward Islands; Ramsar Site No. 1104


Zona Marina Parque Nacional Machalilla

Ramsar Site No. 503; 14 430 ha; Date of Inscrption: 07 September 1990.

"A complex of shallow coastal waters, sandy beaches and off-shore islands [including Isla La Plata] fringed by coral reefs. The site includes the mouths of several seasonal rivers and streams and remnant dry tropical forest. Archaeologically interesting with evidence of civilizations dating from 3,000 B.C. to 1526 A.D. The area supports an important fishery, provides habitat for a breeding colony of seabirds, and nesting beaches for marine turtles. Human activities include subsistence agriculture, livestock raising, and tree harvesting for firewood and charcoal."

ACAP-listed species breeding: Waved Albatross (1)


Réserve Naturelle Nationale des Terres Australes Françaises

Ramsar Site No. 1837; 2 270 000 ha; Date of Inscription: 15 September 2008; also a World Heritage Site.

"The Site is located in the southern Indian Ocean and consists of two sub-Antarctic archipelagos – Crozet and Kerguelen – and the subtropical islands of Amsterdam and Saint-Paul. The islands are widely separated by open sea, so the centre coordinate given is purely notional. The Site includes a great variety of inland and coastal wetland types such as peatlands, marshes and lakes, rocky shores, estuaries and fjords. It supports many endemic species including the globally vulnerable Eaton’s Pintail Anas eatoni and Crozet Pintail Anas eatoni drygalskii, and the Critically Endangered Amsterdam Albatross Diomedea amsterdamensis. The islands represent an important refuge and reproduction ground for millions of migratory birds. Many marine mammals such as the Southern Sea Elephant Mirounga leonina and the Antarctic [Fur] Seal Arctocephalus tropicalis are also well represented. The major threat is related to the introduction of non-native species such as cats and rats that are leading to the population decline of many bird species. Climate change is also affecting the ecological character of the Site".

ACAP-listed species breeding: Amsterdam Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Salvin's Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Grey Petrel (12)


Reserva de la Biosfera Archipiélago de Revillagigedo

Ramsar Site No. 1357; 636 685 ha; Date of Inscription: 02 February 2004; also a World Heritage Site.

"Nearly 400 km offshore in the Pacific Ocean, this volcanic archipelago is home to a unique set of endemic flora and fauna as well as well-preserved terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Isla Socorro is the largest island, with the Evermann volcano peaking at 1050 m, followed by Clarión, San Benedicto and Roca Partida Islands. Socorro presents an interesting array of vegetation following the altitudinal gradient, featuring coastal halophytes, shrubs of Dodonaea viscosa, Guettarda insularis, Croton masonii; forests of Figs Ficus cotinifolia, Bumelia socorroensis and Psidium galapageium. Ten endemic species and subspecies of birds have been recorded in Socorro; however, three of them, including the Soccorro Dove Zenaida graysoni are considered extinct in the wild (there are plans of reintroduction with several captive individuals in Germany). The site is well preserved and uninhabited, apart from some navy officers. Diving and fishing groups visit the islands regularly. Volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and fires pose risks to the islands' wildlife, but invasive species remain the main threat. The Federal Government funds a group of technicians to eradicate introduced sheep, pigs and rabbits. A management plan is in place. "

ACAP-listed species breeding: Laysan Albatross, Black-footed Albatross (2)

South Africa

Prince Edward Islands

Ramsar Site No. 1688; 37 500 ha; Date of Inscription: 22 May 2007.

"Includes the larger Marion Island and the smaller Prince Edward Island, which are classified as sub-Antarctic and are of volcanic origin. They are protected natural habitats and do not support any consumptive or exploitative activities. The three main terrestrial habitats are unvegetated uplands, well-drained vegetated slopes, and poorly-drained vegetated coastal plains. Significant wetland formations include non-forested peat lands (swamps and bogs), intermittent streams, waterfalls, freshwater ponds, crater lakes, rocky marine shores, kelp beds, sea cliffs and sand shores. The islands host numerous breeding seabirds like the Vulnerable Wandering Albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) and White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis) and the Endangered Sooty Albatross (Phoebetria fusca) and [Indian] Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri). Three penguin species breed and moult on the rocky areas around the coastline; the King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus), Macaroni Penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus) and Eastern Rockhopper Penguin (E. c. filholi). Commercial tourism and fishing within territorial waters are prohibited. The principal activities on these islands since their annexation by South Africa in 1947 and 1948 include meteorological observations, scientific research, logistic support for research and conservation and management activities. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing for Patagonian Toothfish in the surrounding waters caused reduction in fish stock and high levels of incidental mortality of seabirds. This has declined in recent years, however."

ACAP-listed species breeding: Wandering Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Grey Petrel (9)


Salinas de Ibiza y Formentara

Ramsar Site No. 641; 1640 ha; Date of Inscription: 30 November 1993.

"The site consists of various Mediterranean habitats including islands, coastal lagoons, and a complex of salt pans. Vegetation consists of halophytic communities and Juniperus scrub. The area is important to various species of nesting and migratory waterbirds."

ACAP-listed species breeding: Balearic Shearwater (1)

United Kingdom (Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascenson and Tristan da Cunha)

Gough Island

Ramsar Site No. 1868; 229 811 ha; Date of Designation: 20 November 2008; also part of a World Heritage Site.

"The site includes Gough Island and surrounding territorial waters. Gough Island is one of the largest relatively unmodified cool temperate island ecosystems in the southern hemisphere. Important wetland types include non-forested peatlands, permanent freshwater pools, permanent streams, marine subtidal aquatic beds and rocky marine shores. The island is a strong contender for the title of the most important seabird colony in the world – a total of 22 bird species and two species of seals breed, some in very large numbers. Several bird species that breed on Gough are considered globally threatened (e.g., Sooty Albatross, Northern Rockhopper Penguin), and some are endemic to the island group (e.g., Gough Moorhen, Gough Bunting, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross). A South African meteorological station is currently operated on the island; other human activities include research, commercial fishery for Tristan Rock Lobster Jasus tristani in Gough territorial waters, and limited recreational fishing under license."

ACAP-listed species breeding: Tristan Albatross, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Grey Petrel (5)

Inaccessible Island

Ramsar Site No. 1869; 126 524 ha; Date of Designation: 20 November 2008; also part of a World Heritage Site.

"The site includes Inaccessible Island and surrounding territorial waters. Inaccessible Island is a near-pristine cool temperate island of volcanic origin. A total of 24 species of seabirds and land birds as well as the Subantarctic Fur Seal Arctocephalus tropicalis breed, some in very large numbers. Non-forested peatlands and rocky marine shores are critical to the survival of the breeding populations of Tristan Albatross (relict population of 2-3 pairs) and Spectacled Petrel (island endemic), and Northern Rockhopper Penguin and Sooty Albatross, respectively, all of which are globally threatened. Other important wetland types include permanent freshwater pools, permanent streams and marine subtital aquatic beds. There is no permanent human population – from time to time small numbers of researchers and conservation management teams visit the island. Commercial fishery for Tristan Rock Lobster and limited recreational fishing under license take place in Inaccessible’s territorial waters."

ACAP-listed species breeding: Tristan Albatross, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Spectacled Petrel (4)

Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)*

Sea Lion Island

Ramsar Site No. 1104; 1000 ha; Date of Inscription: 24 September 2001.

"An isolated island 17 km off the southern tip of East Falkland, Ramsar's second southernmost site, notable as an important breeding site for Southern Sea Lion Otaria byronia and Southern Elephant Seal Mirounga leonina. Despite a history of sheep ranching, the extent and condition of stands of Tussac Grass Paradiochloa flabellata are particularly good. Shallow marine waters, seagrass beds, both rocky and sandy shores, brackish lagoons, freshwater pools, and peat bogs are all present within the site. Vulnerable and Endangered birds such as Cobb's Wren Troglodytes cobbi and Ruddy-headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps are supported, and a number of endemic bird species breed there, as do Gentoo, Rockhopper, and Magellanic Penguins Spheniscus magellanicus and Southern Giant Petrels. A lodge with 15 beds is available for wildlife tourists, and a small number of tourists make day visits by boat and helicopter, causing no disturbance."

ACAP-listed species breeding: Southern Giant Petrel (1)


Note:  Australia has earlier identified Macquarie Island and Heard & McDonald Islands as potential Ramsar sites (click here), but apparently has decided not to progress their designations.

*A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Islas Georgias del Sur y Islas Sandwich del Sur) and the surrounding maritime areas.

Last updated 27 October 2020

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