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
 Group A. Sites containing representative, rare or unique wetland types
- 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.
 Group B. Sites of international importance for conserving biological diversity
- 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.
 Proposals that may affect a Ramsar site
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.
 External references
Featured articles and news
High quality and high density homes - is it what we need or is it storing up trouble?
Government announces its intention to strengthen planning rules to protect music venues and neighbours.
National Audit Office reports that there is little evidence that PFI offers better value than other forms of contracting.
What is liquidation and how does it apply to contractors in the construction industry?
Scrutiny is placed on Carillion's controversial 2013 decision to extend subcontractor payment terms to 120 days.
RSHP unveil their involvement in a boundary crossing which will provide a new entry point into Hong Kong.
With PFI currently under the spotlight due to Carillion, this introductory article explains what they are.
Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 small firms could be at risk of non-payment as a result of Carillion's collapse.
Sir Oliver Letwin to lead an independent review into the delays in the delivery of housing.
As Carillion collapses, read our article explaining insolvency in the construction industry.
43,000 jobs at risk as Carillion declares insolvency.