The Miyajima marshland in Bibai, Hokkaido, and Nagoya’s Fujimae tideland were listed Monday by the Swiss-based Ramsar Convention Bureau as wetlands of international importance.

The designation obligates the national government and local authorities to strive to conserve and maintain the ecosystems in the areas.

The additions bring the total number of such areas in Japan to 13.

“The extreme dedication and efforts by local residents toward coexistence between local society and nature has led to the designation,” Environment Minister Shunichi Suzuki said in welcoming the listing of the two wetlands. “The Environment Ministry is hoping to increase the number of designated wetlands to over 22 (in Japan) by the next meeting of signatory countries of the Ramsar Convention in 2005.”

The Ramsar Convention bureau said it will deliver designation certificates to the local authorities Friday.

The 41-hectare Miyajima marshland lies on the Ishikari River in central Hokkaido. It provides a stopover for geese migrating from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, with tens of thousands of the birds visiting in spring and autumn.

The Fujimae tideland, a 323-hectare wetland at the mouth of the Shin and Shonai rivers in Ise Bay, Nagoya, is visited by more than 10,000 snipes and plovers annually. It provides a focus for environmental studies by the Environment Ministry and the city of Nagoya for its proximity to urban areas.

The Kushiro wetland, in Hokkaido, and Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture, are among the wetlands already listed. in the convention.

Representatives from about 150 countries and members of nongovernmental organizations are attending the Eighth Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, which opened Friday in Valencia, Spain.

The conference, which runs to Nov. 26, is expected to pass 43 measures for wetland conservation, including a joint proposal by Japan and Australia for international cooperation in conserving wetlands for migratory birds in the Asia-Pacific region.

The intergovernmental treaty, which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources, was adopted Feb. 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.

The treaty, officially called the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, came into force in 1975.

There are currently 133 contracting parties to the convention, with 1,229 wetland sites totaling 105.9 million hectares designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, according to the convention’s Web site.

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