The Ramsar Convention, formally, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, is an international treaty foron the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e., to stem the progressive encroachment of and loss of wetlands now and in the future. This treaty recognizes the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. It is named after the city ofRamsarin Iran, where the convention was signed in 1971.
The convention was developed and adopted by participating nations at a meeting inRamsar,Mazandaran, Iran on February 2, 1971. The meeting was hosted by the Iranian Department of Environment, and came into force on December 21, 1975.
The Ramsar List of Wetlandsof International Importance now includes 2 122 sites (known as Ramsar Sites) covering 205366160 ha. The nation with the highest number of sites is the United Kingdom at 169; the nation with the greatest area of listed wetlands is Canada, with over 130,000 km2, including the Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary at 62,800 km2.
Presently there are 168 contracting parties, up from 119 in 1999 and from 21 initial signatory nations in 1971. The state parties meet every three years as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (CCP), the first held in Cagliari, Italy in 1980. Amendments to the original convention were agreed to in Paris (1982) and Regina (1987). There is a standing committee, a scientific review panel, and a secretariat. The headquarters is located in Gland, Switzerland, shared with the IUCN.
Currently as of 2 November 2013, the number of Ramsar sites is 2,168. These sites cover an area of 206,632,105 hectares (510,599,050 acres), and are comprised of 168 contracting parties.