Herm, Jethou and The Humps (a collection of sandbanks off the north-east corner of Herm), part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the English Channel, have been formally designated as a Ramsar site under The Convention on Wetlands. The announcement coincided with World Wetlands Day on 2nd February, which is marked each year to promote the importance of wetlands, not only for wildlife but also for local economies.
The new site joins the Bailiwick's three existing Ramsar sites in Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. In March 2006, L'Eree Headland and Lihou Island, linked to Guernsey's mainland by a cobbled causeway at low tide, was designated the island's first Ramsar site. Alderney West Coast including the Burhoe Islands, and Gouliot Caves in Sark are other recognised areas in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. The status gives international recognition of the special environmental, cultural and heritage characteristics of wetlands to ensure the conservation of key-species and habitats.
The recognition and management of ecologically important areas such as Herm is consistent with the aims and aspirations of Guernsey's Biodiversity Strategy. The various marine and land habitats on and around Herm support a rich diversity of flora and fauna including important breeding areas for sea bird species such as the Lesser black backed gull, Puffin and Shag. In addition, Herm Common has an excellent cultural heritage, with numerous archaeological remains.
Whilst Ramsar status does not confer any legislative protection, recognition of an area contributes to the long-term conservation and wise use of an area. This recognition can provide a positive focal point for new education, tourism and environmental initiatives. Evidence of this is provided by Alderney which has promoted its Ramsar site heavily using ideas such as “Puffincam” and “Gannetcam” and has led to the development of the Living Islands initiative.
Minister for the Environment Department, Deputy Yvonne Burford said “Herm has always been a favourite place for residents and visitors alike and I am delighted that the island's treasure trove of wildlife and flora has been recognised at an international level”.
A set of stamps to mark the designation has been commissioned by Guernsey Post using artwork being prepared by local artist Wendy Bramall and which reflects the wildlife, history and use of the site. The stamps are due for issue later this year on 27th July and the issue will complete the set of Ramsar stamps which have already been done for Guernsey, Alderney and Sark.