Designation and Management of Ramsar Sites: a new guidebook

Under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands the two concepts of wise use and site designation (as Wetlands of International Importance, or Ramsar Sites) are fully compatible and mutually reinforcing. Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention are expected to manage their Ramsar Sites so as to maintain their ecological character and retain their essential functions and values for future generations.

Resolution 5.7 and Resolution VIII.14 of the Convention called for the development of management plans for all Ramsar Sites, with appropriate support and funds for implementation and training of staff, including a monitoring programme with indicators on the Site’s ecological character.

In 2015, the Contracting Parties identified the effective conservation and management of the Ramsar Site Network as one of the three strategic goals of the Fourth Ramsar Strategic Plan for 2016-2024. The Plan calls for efforts to enable the participation of stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and local communities.

The Convention recognizes that the designation of Wetlands of International Importance constitutes just the starting point for securing the sustainability of wetlands and the maintenance of the ecosystem services they provide, and that development and implementation of a management planning process, involving all stakeholders, is necessary to achieve this.

Article 2.2 of the Convention states: “Wetlands should be selected for the List [of Wetlands of International Importance] on account of their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology.” Accordingly, any wetland which meets at least one of the Criteria can be designated by the appropriate national authority to be added to the Ramsar List.

To facilitate this process, the Ramsar Secretariat has produced a new guidebook, “The Designation and Management of Ramsar Sites”, for those involved in the process, based on materials identified by the Secretariat and the Convention’s experts and partners.


The guidebook includes simplified information on the process for designating Ramsar Sites. It also provides guidance on how their management can contribute to the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2016 – 2024 and other international processes.

The publication was developed by the Ramsar Regional Center – East Asia (RRC-EA), in collaboration with the Ramsar Secretariat, the Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), and WWT Consulting.


Ramsar Regional Center – East Asia. (2017). The Designation and Management of Ramsar Sites – A practitioner’s guide. Available at  and

To download the guidebook please click here.