Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1979-1987 - Mr Major’s Written Question on Wetlands

Below is the text of Mr Major’s Parliamentary written question on Wetlands, published on 11th November 1982.


Mr. Major Asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the criteria for the identification of wetlands of international importance for listing under the Ramsar convention, which were prepared at the Cagliari conference on the conservation of wetlands of international importance, especially as waterfowl habitat.

Mr. Macfarlane The Cagliari conference recommended that the following revised criteria be used for identification of wetlands suitable for designation:

1. Quantitive criteria for identifying wetlands of importance to waterfowl. A wetland should be considered internationally important if it:

(a) regularly supports either 10,000 ducks, geese and swans; or 10,000 coots; or 20,000 waders or

(b) regularly supports 1 per cent. of the individuals in a population of one species or sub-species of waterfowl or

(c) regularly supports 1 per cent. of the breeding pairs in a population of one species or sub-species of waterfowl.

2. General criteria for identifying wetlands of importance to plants or animals.

A wetland should be considered internationally important if it:

(a) supports an appreciable number of a rare, vulnerable or endangered species or sub-species of plant or animal or

(b) is of special value for maintaining the genetic and ecological diversity of a region because of the quality and peculiarities of its flora and fauna or

(c) is of special value as the habitat of plants or animals at a critical stage in their biological cycles or

(d) is of special value for its endemic plant or animal species or communities.

3. Criteria for assessing the value of representative or unique wetlands. A wetland should be considered internationally important if it is a particularly good example of a specific type of wetland characteristic of its region.

Mr Major Asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will name those sites which may be identified as being wetlands of international importance, using the criteria prepared at the Cagliari conference; and if he will make a statement on the steps he is taking to list these sites under the Ramsar convention.

Mr. Macfarlane The criteria prepared at the Cagliari conference have not yet been formally adopted by the contracting parties. None the less, the Nature Conservancy Council has recently drawn up a preliminary list of additional sites in the United Kingdom from which further designations are being considered. Nineteen United Kingdom sites are currently designated.