How to Apply


Caddo Lake. Credit: Dave Hensley / Creative Commons LicenseObtaining RAMSAR designation for a wetland can produce valuable benefits in raising awareness about the economic and ecological value of special places. Below you will find instructions on how to apply, but first, we encourage to review the following information:

What is the Convention on Wetlands?

• In 1971, an international convention was held in Ramsar, Iran and participants signed a treaty entitled, “The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat.”

• The Ramsar Convention provides a framework for voluntary international cooperation for wetland conservation.

• The U.S. acceded to the Ramsar Convention April 18, 1987.

What Ramsar Does:

• Recognizes wetlands’ importance to communities, cultures, governments, and businesses and encourages wetland conservation and wise use of wetlands.

• Establishes criteria for designating rivers, marshes, coral reefs and other areas as a “wetland of international importance.”

• The Ramsar Secretariat facilitates implementation of wetlands conservation decisions made by nations, by preparing wise use guidelines, creating training opportunities, and providing access to financial resources.

What Ramsar Does Not Do:

• Ramsar does not impose restrictions on nations and landowners. Ramsar is not a regulating entity, nor is it a United Nations Convention.

How We Benefit From Ramsar:

• Wetlands provide many environmental services, including clean water, flood abatement, wildlife habitat, recreation, tourism, fishing, groundwater recharge.

• A wetland of international importance designation can bring economic benefits to surrounding areas due to increased tourism, fishing and recreation.

Who Can Nominate A Site?

• Any local government, group, community, private organization, or landowner can nominate a site for inclusion on the Ramsas  List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Federal government can also nominate sites, such as National Parks, National Forests, or National Wildlife Refuges.

• A written agreement is required from all landowners and a Member of Congress representing the geographic area.

What You'll Need to Nominate a Site:

The petitioner must submit a complete nomination package to

Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

with a copy to the International Affairs Program.

Assistant Director, International Affairs
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
5275 Leesburg Pike, MS:IA
Falls Church, VA 22041

Nomination Package Checklist

• A cover letter addressed to the Director describing how the proposed site meets the Ramsar criteria as well as the separate U.S. Ramsar Sites criteria.

• Written endorsements from each of the landowners, the local or state wildlife or natural resource agency, and a member of Congress representing the geographic area.

• Although not required, additional letters of support from other stakeholders associated with the proposed site greatly contribute to the nomination process; and

• A completed Ramsar Information Sheet. Instructions for completing this form are available here.

Global Ramsar Criteria

Global Ramsar Criteria (Must Meet At Least One Criteria)

U.S. Ramsar Site Criteria

1. Contains a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region.

U.S. Ramsar site criteria are currently in development. We encourage applicants to consider withholding applications until criteria are formalized. We anticipate releasing criteria by the end of 2017.

2. Supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities.

 

3. Supports populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region.

 

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.

 

5. A wetland should be considered internationally important if it regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 nonavian animal species.