UPSC 2020 General Studies; Biodiversity and Climate; India’s Wetlands & Ramsar Tags: In a major recognition towards Government of India’s effort towards conservation, restoration and rejuvenation of its wetlands, Ramsar has declared 10 more wetland sites from India as sites of international importance. The Ramsar Convention signed on February 2, 1971, is one of the oldest inter-governmental accord signed by members countries to preserve the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance.
The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits. Wetlands declared as Ramsar sites are protected under strict guidelines of the convention.
- With this, the numbers of Ramsar sites in India are now 37 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,067,939 hectares.
- Maharashtra gets its first Ramsar site (Nandur Madhameshwar), Punjab which already had 3 Ramsar sites adds 3 more (Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve, Nangal) and UP with 1 Ramsar site has added 6 more (Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and SarsaiNawar).
Why Wetlands Are Important
Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation.
They are, in fact, are a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.
In the past six months, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has prepared a four pronged strategy for the restoration of wetlands which includes preparing a baseline data, wetland health cards, enlisting wetland mitras and preparing targeted Integrated Management Plans. Conservation of wetlands would also go a long way in achieving our PM’s dream of ‘Nal se Jal’ in each household.
The ministry had on January 6 notified new guidelines for implementing Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 which prohibit setting up or expansion of industries, and disposal of construction and demolition waste within the wetlands.
India’s Wetlands & Ramsar Tags: More Info
India’s Prominent Wetlands
- Chilka Lake Areas (Odisha)
- Wular Lake (J&K)
- Renuka (Himachal Pradesh)
- Sambhar lake (Rajasthan)
- Deepor Beel (Assam)
- East Kolkata Wetlands (West Bengal)
- Nal Sarowar (Gujarat)
- Harika (Punjab)
- Rudra Sagar (Tripura)
- Bhoj Wetland (Madhya Pradesh)
National Wetlands Atlas
ISRO had in 2011 prepared a national wetlands atlas on the basis of satellite images.
The wetlands have been categorised under nineteen classes and mapped using satellite remote sensing data from Indian Remote Sensing Satellite: IRS P6- LISS III sensor. The results are organised at 1: 50,000 scales at district, state and topographic map sheet (Survey of India reference) level using Geographic Information System (GIS).
Prohibited Activities Within Wetlands
- Any kind of encroachment
- Setting up of any industry
- Expansion of any industry
- Solid waste dumping
- Discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities, towns, villages and other human settlements
- Any construction of a permanent nature except for jetties within 50 meters from the mean high flood level observed in the past 10 years
Source: Times of India
What are Wetlands?
Wetlands are areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. They occur where the water table is at or near the surface of the land, or where the land is covered by water.
The Ramsar Convention takes a broad approach in determining the wetlands which come under its aegis. Under the text of the Convention (Article 1.1), wetlands are defined as:
“areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres”.
In addition, for the purpose of protecting coherent sites, the Article 2.1 provides that wetlands to be included in the Ramsar List of internationally important wetlands:
“may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands”.
Five major wetland types are generally recognized:
- marine (coastal wetlands including coastal lagoons, rocky shores, and coral reefs);
- estuarine (including deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps);
- lacustrine (wetlands associated with lakes);
- riverine (wetlands along rivers and streams);
- palustrine (meaning “marshy” – marshes, swamps and bogs)
Why Conserve Wetlands?
Wetlands are among the world’s most productive environments. They are cradles of biological diversity, providing the water and primary productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival. They support high concentrations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrate species. Wetlands are also important storehouses of plant genetic material. Rice, for example, which is a common wetland plant, is the staple diet of more than half of humanity.
Read More Here.
World Wetlands Day: February 2
2 February each year is World Wetlands Day to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet. This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Wetlands and Biodiversity is the theme for 2020.
Wetlands are rich with biodiversity and are a habitat for a dense variety of plant and animal species. Latest estimates show a global decline of biodiversity, while wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests. This year’s theme is a unique opportunity to highlight wetland biodiversity, its status, why it matters and promote actions to reverse its loss.