Present status of Japan’s wetlands
Aiming for 100 Ramsar Sites by CoP16 in 2026

The 9th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (CoP9) is now being held in Kampala, Uganda in November 2005, and there Japan added 20 new Ramsar sites to the List, bringing its total up to 33. One of these sites is Kabukuri Marsh - the Ramsar site includes neighboring rice paddies that are deliberately flooded in winter to provide a resting ground for geese. This designation of rice paddies, a characteristically Asian wetland, is of great significance.

All the new Ramsar sites were chosen from the list of “500 Important Wetlands in Japan,” compiled by the Ministry of the Environment. To further promote wetland conservation in Japan, these 500 important wetlands need to be protected, but the reality is that protection measures are not even being planned for many of these important wetlands.

Comparing the 500 important wetlands (shown as black dots on the map) with Ramsar sites (shown as red stars on the map) highlights the small number of Ramsar sites, and also reveals an imbalance in their geographic distribution. Since its establishment, JAWAN has been calling for protection and Ramsar site status for four tidal flat wetlands of extreme international importance - Isahaya, Wajiro, Fujimae and Sanbanze. Of these, only Fujimae has been designated to the List, and the land reclamation project at Isahaya continues unabated, and is now nearing completion. Listing has not been achieved for the internationally important mire wetland at Nakaikemi, or the artificial flood control wetland at Watarase, largest of its type in Japan and having the second largest extent of reed marsh in the country after Kushiro Marsh.

JAWAN is calling for designation of at least 100 Ramsar sites, starting with these important wetlands, and for the organization of river-basin based networks covering these 500 wetlands and linked to central Ramsar sites.

(Map: 500 Important Wetlands of Japan)