Part 1—Load Gateway and Select Criteria

Step 1 –
Load the Ramsar Wetlands Data Gateway

Working with members of an environmental club, you'll use the Ramsar Wetlands Data Gateway to search for a wetlands site that your group wants to help protect.
  1. Click this link to access the Ramsar Wetlands Data Gateway. It will open in a new window that displays options for searching the Gateway. Note: Loading time varies from a few seconds to a few minutes.

Step 2 –
Advanced Search

  1. Once the Data Gateway has loaded, click the Advanced Search button to give you access to all the search options.


  2. This will bring up a list of search criteria tools (also called filters) that you will set to select a wetland site with specific characteristics.


  3. For this activity, your club will make choices about the wetland site as a group. For each characteristic of wetlands in the search, you'll examine the available choices and make selections as outlined in steps 3-7 below.

Step 3 –
Set Site Location

  1. Click the SET button next to Site Location Restriction, near the top of the page.
  2. In the pop-up window that displays, select the section (click on the button) labeled "Show sites located within one or more named regions:" and use the scroll bar to view the range of locations to choose from.

    After some discussion, your group agrees to look for a site on the continent of Africa. Large increases in human population in many countries on that continent are putting more pressure on the environment, so many of its wetlands could be endangered.
  3. In the list of named regions, click Africa, then scroll to the bottom of the pop-up window and click Apply.

Step 4 –
Set Minimum Area of Site

Your group wants to find a fairly large wetland site. The smallest one they want to consider would cover about 5 square miles. That area corresponds to roughly 1500 hectares (abbreviation = ha). Hectares is a metric unit for area that is used by most of the world.
  1. Under the General category, click the SET button next to Area of Ramsar Site.
  2. In the pop-up window that displays, click in the text box next to Area of Ramsar Site is Greater Than. Type 1500 in the text box, then scroll to the bottom of the popup window and click Apply.

Step 5 –
Set Land Uses for Site

  1. On the main search page, scroll down to the category, Site Values and Human Uses. Click the SET button next to Land Uses Inside Site.
  2. In the pop-up window that displays, scroll down to the section titled Land Uses Inside Site matches at least one of the following terms and scroll through the choices. To find out what a term means, select it, then click the Explain button.

    Some of the members in the club feel strongly that land can be used more efficiently by raising crops for humans instead of for grazing animals. Based on that input, your group decides to search for a site that is used for rough or shifting grazing.
  3. Under Land Uses Inside Site, click grazings, then click Apply.

Step 6 –
Set Threats to Site

  1. Back on the main search page again, scroll down to the category, Adverse Factors. Click the SET button next to Threats from Outside Site.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the pop-up window that displays. Under Threats from Outside Site matches one of the following terms, slide the small scroll bar to view all the choices. To find out what a term means, select it, then click the Explain button.
  3. Many of the club members are concerned about global climate change. They see changes in rainfall patterns that leave some areas with much less water than they have had in the past as a serious threat to wetlands. The group agrees to search for a site where drought threatens the wetlands.
  4. Select drought in the pop-up window, then click Apply.

Step 7 –
Perform Search for Wetlands Site

  1. On the main search page, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and click the Search! button. Note: The Gateway will perform a Boolean "and" search to find sites that meet all your choices. Only those sites that meet ALL the characteristics you set will appear in the results.
  2. A new page will list the criteria you set for the search and report the number of sites that matched all the criteria.
  3. For this example, your selection criteria should include the following:

    • Site in one of: Africa
    • Area of Ramsar Site Greater Than 1500 ha
    • Land Uses Inside Site Matches one of: grazings
    • Threats From Outside Site Matches one of: drought

    Two (2) sites match the criteria.


  4. Check the following items to include them on your report:
    • Area of Ramsar Site
    • Date of Designation
    • Predominant Wetland Type(s)
    • Wetland Type
    • Wetland Type Category
    • Persistence of Water
    • Salinity
    • Soil Type
    • Land Uses Inside Site
    • Land Uses Outside Site
    • Noteworthy Fauna Values
    • Noteworthy Flora Values
    • Socio-Cultural Values
    • Threats From Outside Site
    • Threats In Site
  5. Click Create Report. Your report should look similar to the one below:

Step 8 –
Compare Characteristics to Understand Each Site

  1. Beginning in the 4th column of the report (after the default entries), examine the values in each column and try to visualize what each wetland site is like. Within the chart, click the links for codes and other entries to see an explanation of their meanings.
  2. With a partner or in a small group, discuss the characteristics of the wetlands and your answers to the questions below.
    • What differences would you expect between sites with permanent versus seasonal Persistence of Water?
    • Which Land Uses and Socio-Cultural values do you think might interfere with the Noteworthy Fauna (animals) and Flora (plants) at each site?
    • What differences might you expect to find between sites that have been designated as Ramsar sites for different lengths of time? For instance, how might a site that has been designated for only 10 years compare to one that has been on the list for 20 years?
    • Which wetland site do you think is in the most danger and why?
    • Of the threats to each site, which can humans control? Which site do you think humans could do the most to help preserve?

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