Title page for ETD etd-07142005-124550

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Coffman, Mitchell Ward
Author's Email Address mcoffm1@lsu.edu
URN etd-07142005-124550
Title Designation of the Southwest National Wildlife Refuge Complex as Wetlands of International Importance under Ramsar, Convention on Wetlands of International Importance
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Environmental Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Michael W. Wascom Committee Chair
Charles Fryling Committee Member
Margaret Reams Committee Member
  • louisiana
  • wetlands
  • ramsar
  • sabine
  • lacassine
  • wetlands of international importance
  • cameron prairie
Date of Defense 2005-06-29
Availability unrestricted

The historical loss and continued threat of loss of Louisiana wetlands is a major environmental concern for the United States and the world. In 1971, the Ramsar Convention, an international environmental treaty was ratified to specifically address conservation planning and land use management issues involving wetlands of the world. Ramsar provides an international designation award called, the Wetlands of International Importance List, which formally acknowledges globally important wetland landscapes. Ramsar outlines specific criterion nominated wetland sites must possess for consideration of this listing.

The Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an excellent candidate for nomination to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance List. The Complex is comprised of Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge and Sabine National Wildlife Refuge located within the coastal zone of Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The area, some of the world's most valuable salt, brackish and freshwater wetlands meets the criterion required to be listed with Ramsar.

The Complex contains a biologically diverse population of waterfowl, migratory birds, anadromous and endemic fish, shrimp, crabs and native plants, trees and wetland grasses. These landscapes also offer spawning and nesting habitat and protection to endangered and threatened birds, fish, tortoise, mammals and reptiles. As excellent representations of natural wetland ecosystems, this cluster of coastal landscapes merit special attention in order to further protect, manage, conserve and use wisely the rich natural resources associated with the region.

Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to formulate a 15 year Comprehensive Management Plan for the Complex. Nomination of the Complex to the Ramsar list would not only augment this management plan, but also complement both the use mission of Ramsar and the state's policy of economic development marketing of territorial wetland landscapes for ecotourism opportunities. Justification of this nomination is demonstrated in this thesis project by listing and meeting the criterion set forth by the Ramsar Convention.

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