Petaluma Wetlands Ramsar Designation

The Petaluma Wetlands are special – not only to Petaluma and the larger San Francisco Bay but also, it turns out, to the world.

So much so that in 2018, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service included several Petaluma wetlands in an international conservation agreement called the Convention on Wetlands, aka the Ramsar Convention. Only 40 sites within the United States have received the Ramsar designation. Petaluma joined this group under a larger San Francisco Bay designation.

What is the Convention on Wetlands?

The Convention on Wetlands is the oldest of the modern global intergovernmental environmental agreements. The treaty was negotiated through the 1960s by countries and non - governmental organizations concerned about the increasing loss and degradation of wetland habitat for migratory waterbirds. It was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1971, which is why it is often known as the Ramsar Convention with Ramsar-designated sites.

Today, the Convention establishes boundaries, spells out codes of conduct, and creates rules that cover wetlands and other related waterways such as rivers and lakes. It is all about recognizing the cultural, environmental, and economic value of wetlands as wetlands, rather than as sites to be drained and developed.

Governments that join the Convention commit to the conservation/restoration and “wise use” of designated sites. They also agree to cooperate on transboundary wetlands, shared wetlands systems, and shared species.

How are Ramsar Sites Selected?

Wetlands with Ramsar designation are selected based on their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology, or hydrology. Worldwide, there are 2,388 Ramsar-designated wetlands. Representing Petaluma are:

  • Alman Marsh tidal wetlands
  • Shollenberger Park wetlands
  • Gray’s Marsh tidal wetlands
  • Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility wetlands
  • Hill Property tidal wetlands

The Ramsar designation came about thanks to a partnership between the City of Petaluma and the Petaluma Wetlands Alliance.

Learn More

Convention on Wetlands:

Petaluma Wetlands Alliance:

photo of bird at Petaluma Wetlands
Close window