Message from Mr. Hitoshi Watanabe, Wetland Ecosystem Conservation and Environmental Education Expert of JICA Expert Team
There are over 2,200 Ramsar Sites in the 169 countries across the world. I believe that the Anzali Wetland is one of the most important wetlands in the world because of its scale, biodiversity, beauty of landscapes, co-existence with local people, etc. However, somebody pessimistically said “Anzali Wetland is already dead, it is too late to make any effort to conserve and restore the wetland.” It was completely wrong. I guess somebody who says such a thing doesn’t know the Anzali Wetland at all.
In fact, there are many issues to be solved to conserve the Anzali Wetland. However, there is no doubt that Anzali Wetland still has incomparable beauty and significant value as wildlife habitat. As proof of them, 21 species of mammals, including the first record of a bat species in Iran, and 243 bird species were recorded through comprehensive ecosystem survey only in one year, conducted as a joint pilot activity (JPA) under the project. In addition, a satellite tracking survey, also conducted as a JPA, clarified that Dalmatian Pelican, which is typical wintering waterbird in the Anzali Wetland, migrated from the Anzali Wetland up to 1000 Km to Volga Delta in Russia where is a breeding site. Although it is difficult to score accurately due to lack of information, the Anzali Wetland may still have almost perfect score in Ramsar Wetland’s requirements. Therefore, everybody should know the value of the wetland more and should not be too pessimistic. I have talked with many Iranian people. Many of them including local people live near the Anzali Wetland. Unfortunately, they don’t know the values of the wetland well. I would be very happy if we could continuously support them to know the values of the wetland and to take actions for the Anzali Wetland conservation.