The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, or more simply the Ramsar Convention, is an international treaty on the conservation and sustainable management of wetlands.
Adopted in 1972 in the city of Ramsar, Iran (hence its name), this convention requires its members, including France, to:
- consider wetlands in the development and use of their territory;
- identify important wetlands, add them to the Ramsar list and ensure their conservation;
- preserve all wetlands;
- cooperate with neighbouring countries in the conservation of cross-border wetlands.
This convention also provided a wide definition of what may be considered a wetland, i.e. all "areas of marshes, fen [Note: swampy moors of the Ardennes plateaus], peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt water, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres".
In 2009 over 1,800 of these areas were included on the Ramsar list for an area of over 1.6 million hectares, even though these areas are still subject to as much pressure as they were in 1972.
Location of wetlands listed in the Ramsar Convention from around the world. © Ramsar Convention