Ramsar sites are areas of wetland that are designated under the International Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Convention). The UK government signed up to the Convention in 1976 and in 2014 there were 148 designated sites in the UK and 2186 globally.
 Mission of the Ramsar Convention
The mission of the Ramsar Convention is:
Under the Convention, wetlands include:
- Lakes and rivers.
- Underground aquifers.
- Swamps and marshes.
- Wet grasslands.
- Deltas and tidal flats.
- Mangroves and other coastal areas.
- Coral reefs.
- All human-made sites including fish ponds, rice paddies, salt pans and reservoirs.
 Ramsar Site criteria
There are nine criteria for identifying Wetlands of International Importance:
- Criteria 1: A wetland containing a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region.
- Criteria 2: A wetland supporting vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities.
- Criteria 3: A wetland supporting populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region.
- Criteria 4: A wetland supporting plant and/or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles, or provideing refuge during adverse conditions.
- Criteria 5: A wetland supporting 20,000 or more waterbirds.
- Criteria 6: A wetland regularly supporting 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterbird.
- Criteria 7: A wetland supporting a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies, species or families, life-history stages, species interactions and/or populations that are representative of wetland benefits and/or values and thereby contributing to global biological diversity.
- Criteria 8: A wetland that is an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or migration path on which fish stocks, either within the wetland or elsewhere, depend.
- Criteria 9: A wetland regularly supporting 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of wetland-dependent nonavian animal species.
Any developments that are close to (or within) the boundary of a Ramsar site may require a Habitat Regulations Assessment if they are likely to have an adverse affect on the site. An initial screening stage would be required, followed by an Appropriate Assessment.
Where it is considered that an adverse effect on the integrity of the site is likely, and no alternatives are available, the project can only go ahead if there are imperative reasons of over-riding public interest and if the appropriate compensatory measures can be secured.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- Designated sites.
- Habitats regulations assessment.
- National nature reserves.
- National parks.
- Natura 2000 network.
- Natural England.
- Protected species.
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
- Special areas of conservation.
- Special Protection Areas.
- Types of land.