SWS International Chapter - News & Information

The SWS International Chapter supports initiatives to form new regional chapters outside of North America and strives to strengthen ties between SWS and other international wetland organizations including the Ramsar Secretariat and Wetlands International. The International Chapter manages the SWS Gratis Membership Program, which provides free SWS memberships to wetland professionals in less developed countries; and manages the Ramsar Support Grant Program , which funds projects at a level of US $5,000 per year that advance Ramsar Convention on Wetlands objectives, including the selection, designation, management, and networking of Ramsar sites; and the promotion of Ramsar's Wise Use guidelines. The International Chapter also occasionally organizes symposia on international topics for annual SWS meetings.

In general, SWS members residing outside of the U.S. and Canada are part of the International Chapter. However, SWS members residing in the U.S. and Canada but with professional interests outside of the U.S. and Canada can also elect to be members of the International Chapter. The SWS International Chapter has roughly 200 members in over 40 countries.

The Society of Wetland Scientists and the Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) have signed a memorandum of cooperation relating to the Cooperation for the Knowledgeable Management, Conservation, and Wise Use of Wetlands. Please click here to read the MOC.

SWS International Chapter Interim President / Chair: Elijah Ohimain

Rice paddy in Indonesia The SWS International Chapter has over 450 members in 62 countries.
ARGENTINA CUBA IRELAND NIGERIA SPAIN
AUSTRALIA CZECH REPUBLIC ISRAEL NORWAY SWEDEN
AUSTRIA DENMARK ITALY PAKISTAN SWITZERLAND
BANGLADESH ESTONIA JAPAN PERU TAIWAN
BELGIUM FINLAND KENYA PHILIPPINES TANZANIA
BRAZIL FRANCE LESOTHO POLAND THAILAND
BULGARIA GERMANY MACEDONIA PORTUGAL TURKEY
CAMBODIA GHANA MALAYSIA PUERTO RICO UGANDA
CANADA GREECE MEXICO ROMANIA UNITED KINGDOM
CHILE HONG KONG MOROCCO RUSSIA VENEZUELA
CHINA HUNGARY NEPAL SLOVAK REPUBLIC
COLOMBIA INDIA NETHERLANDS SOUTH AFRICA
COSTA RICA IRAN NEW ZEALAND SOUTH KOREA

Gratis Membership Program

(Updated April 2005)

The Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) International Committee manages a "Gratis Membership Program." Under Section 16 of the SWS Standing Rules, up to 3% of memberships can be awarded, each for a two year term, at no cost to financially disadvantaged wetland professionals and wetland organizations in developing countries. Gratis memberships provide full membership privileges, including:

  • Subscriptions to the journal "Wetlands" and the "SWS Bulletin" (both are published quarterly),
  • The SWS membership directory,
  • Regional chapter newsletters,
  • Discounted registration at the annual conference, and
  • Voting privileges.

Three factors are considered in reviewing potential candidates:

  • Is there a genuine financial need?  For paying members, a membership for an individual costs U.S. $60 per year, and an annual membership for an institution or corporation is U.S. $250.Subscriptions to the journal "Wetlands" and the "SWS Bulletin" (both are published quarterly),
  • Will the candidate make good use of the journal, and does the candidate have an interest in wetland research?
  • Will the candidate share the journal with others?  How many people will benefit from the free membership?

SWS initially sought nominations for gratis memberships in 1996, and within a few months the gratis program reached its maximum limit. As of January 2005, 47 gratis members from the following 27 countries are part of the Society:

Argentina (1)
Bangladesh (1)
Bhutan (1)
Brazil (2)
Bulgaria (1)
Chile (1)
China (1)
Columbia (5)
Cuba (1)
Egypt (1)
Ethiopia (1)
Ghana (1)
Greece (1)
India (7)
Indonesia (2)
Kenya (4)
Madagascar (1)
Malaysia (1)
Nepal (1)
Nigeria (6)
Pakistan (1)
Philippines (1)
Poland (1)
Serbia & Montenegro (1)
Singapore (1)
Turkey (1)
Zimbabwe (1)

Gratis Members of Interest

Adnan Abubakr - India

As part of the application process, gratis members are asked to describe their wetland-related activities. A gratis member in Brazil is inventorying floodplain wetlands and evaluating wetland plant diversity. One gratis member in Africa has an interest in wetland birds and in community awareness of wetland issues, while another is a coordinator for a program designed to develop and publish wetland wise-use guidelines in support of Uganda's National Wetlands Policy. In Malaysia, a gratis member teaches ecology to university students and conducts mangrove research. In the Philippines, a gratis member carries out mangrove research and is attempting to start a Philippines-SWS Chapter. In short, the interests of gratis members mirror the breadth of interests of the entire Society membership.

Most gratis members share their copies of the SWS Bulletin and Wetlands with at least five other readers and some claim to share their publications with over 100 additional readers. In South America, a gratis member shares publications with academics and graduate students at a university that offers graduate degrees in limnology. In Africa, Society publications are shared among wetland professionals involved with the Wetlands Working Group in Kenya and are circulated among students in at least two graduate classes taught by gratis members. In India, non-governmental organizations share Society publications with members and visitors. Because resources such as scientific publications are in short supply in many less-developed countries, networks of individuals share whatever becomes available; this sharing increases the impact of the Gratis Membership Program far beyond the 40+ gratis members.

If you are interested in obtaining a gratis membership to the Society, please contact Irene Ulm, Gratis Membership Manager, and she will provide you with an application form and with information on the availability of gratis memberships.

Ramsar Support Grant Program

The Society of Wetland Scientists' Ramsar Support Grant Program was established in 1999 to advance Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) objectives, including the selection, designation, management, and networking of wetlands on the Ramsar List; and the promotion of Ramsar's Wise Use guidelines. Projects are funded at a level of U.S. $5,000 per year on a competitive basis as reviewed by an Evaluation Committee, which includes a Ramsar Convention Secretariat representative.

Click this link for SWS Ramsar Support Grant Program guidelines, application form, and a description of previous grant awards.

Establishment of New SWS International Chapters

Because the current 'International Chapter' covers too large an area, it is the intention that new chapters covering smaller geographic areas be established. It is the view of the undersigned, that this is initially best done along continental boundaries. Smaller chapters would mean that some members would be left out, and that the 'International Chapter' would be left with, for example, one member in Morocco, one in Uzbekistan, and one in Paraguay. This would not help communication between the members and it would not convey a sense of cohesion among the members. Besides, the numbers of SWS members in smaller areas are in some cases not even enough to establish smaller chapters. Currently for example, only 16 SWS members are registered in the whole of Africa, while 25 are needed to start a new chapter.

My recent communications with members of the International Chapter about separate chapters for Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and Latin America have received very positive responses. It is therefore with much pleasure that I can announce that initiatives to establish such chapters are underway, as follows.

Africa

Clearly, as currently only 16 members are present in Africa, more members need to be recruited before an African Chapter can be formed. Elijah Ohimain (eohimain@yahoo.com) of Rohi Biotechnologies Ltd, Warri, Nigeria, is coordinating the efforts, and assistance is appreciated.

Asia

About 70 members are dispersed across Asia. It is proposed that initially one chapter is formed for the whole of Asia, co-chaired by Isidro Savillo, Philippines, for South Asia, and Kwi-Gon Kim, Korea, for North Asia. For further information see http://www.geocities.com/sws_southasia_chapter/sws.html

Australasia

An Australian chapter already exists. It has been proposed that that chapter be expanded, and renamed, to include New Zealand and other countries close to Australia. For further information see http://www.sws.org/regional/australia/ or contact their chair Neil Saintilan (N.Saintilan@mackillop.acu.edu.au)

Europe

There are about 125 European SWS members. Chris Freeman, Bangor, Wales (c.freeman@bangor.ac.uk) and Jane Bunting (M.J.Bunting@hull.ac.uk), Hull, England, have agreed to take the lead in the establishment of a European chapter, and they would greatly appreciate assistance. Click here for the website.

Latin America

A chapter already exists for Colombia. Upon my proposal to expand this chapter to include the whole of Latin America I received many positive responses. For further information and expressions of interest, contact the Colombia chapter at http://www.sws.org/regional/colombia/ or their chair German Andrade. (gandrade@humedales.com)

I hope these initiatives will lead not just to expansion of the Society, but also improve awareness and understanding of wetlands world-wide.

Marinus Otte
Chair, International Chapter