Know All About Wetlands,Ramsar Convention and why are they so important from environmental aspects?Let’s learn in details.
What is a Wetland?
Wetland is a generic term that defines a place where plant and animal life are associated with a active water table either permanently or seasonally. The water table is the primary and controlling factor in wetland environment.
Types of Wetlands
- Salt exploitation
- Water storage areas
Wetland Is a Co-habitation of Fish, Wildlife, and Plants
Fish and wildlife use wetland habitat for different parts of their life cycle for feeding, survival and reproduction. Wetlands provide the primary habitat for many species, and for others wetland remains the important seasonal habitat. Wetlands is a cohabitation environment for all species specially for feeding, shelter and reproduction. Rich biodiversity is observed in wetlands.
- Wetlands provide food and shelter for mammals like swamp rat,rodents,platypus,fishing bat etc.
- Reptiles like freshwater turtles, water skinks, snakes are found in wetlands.
- Birds like ducks, geese and swans,grebes,pelicans,herons crakes, waterhens find a perfect habitat in wetlands.
- Two-thirds of the all the frog species are found in wetlands.
- Different species of fishes use coastal or inland wetlands for their breeding,feeding and shelter.
Wetland Is a Source of Substantial Biodiversity
Wetlands are the most productive ecosystems in the world like rain forests and coral reefs.They also are the source of substantial biodiversity in supporting rich food web numerous species from microscopic algae and submerged vascular plants to mammals.
Wetlands can be termed as ‘biological supermarkets.’ as wetlands produce varieties of food that attract many animal species.The combination of moisture, rich levels of inorganic nutrients and high rates of synthesis of new plant biomass through photosynthesis in wetlands is the ideal environment for the development of organisms that form the base of the food web.
What is Food Web?
Wetlands are Natural Buffers
Wetlands are natural buffers for excruciating weather situations. Wetland can reserve rainwater, late droughts, reduce flooding,protect shoreline erosion, improves natural water quality.
Wetland Provides a Socioeconomic and Ecological Support
Over 500 million people are directly or indirectly depends on wetlands for livelihood by fishing and adaptive aqua-culture and tourism particularly in the underdeveloped and developing world. Thus wetlands provide a socioeconomic and ecological undertaking.
Carbon Sequestration in Wetlands
Wetlands are the biggest stores of carbon on the earth. It stores green house gases like carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) etc. So the destruction of an existing wetland means the loss of that particular carbon sink, and the worst part is that the carbon stored in that wetland will be released into the environment.
- The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is a global treaty set up by UNESCO and signed in Ramsar on 2nd February, 1971. It came with effect in 1975.
- Ramsar is a city in Iran and it is situated on the shores of Caspian sea.
- It is an intergovernmental treaty which was primarily signed by 18 countries.
- Ramsar convention provides a comprehensive framework for national and international cooperation for the conservation and effective use of wetlands and their resources.
- At present there are total 171 Contracting Parties to the Convention.
- India joined the convention on 1st February 1982 in force with Chilika Lake (Ohisha)
The Ramsar Convention works with six International organisations. All of them are called International Organization Partners (IOPs)
- Birdlife International
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
- Wetlands International
- WWF International
- Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)
Other Partners in Co-operation
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
- Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
- World Heritage Convention (WHC)
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
- The main objective is to seek international attention to point out at the alarming rate at which the wetlands are disappearing.
- To avoid conflicts at the trans boundary wetlands or at the trans boundary river basin wetlands.
- To provide a comprehensive framework for national and international cooperation toward mutual benefits.
Wetland Sites In India Under Ramsar Convention
There are total 37 Ramsar sites in India. Here is the full list.
- Jammu and Kashmir – Wular Lake, Hokera Wetland, Surinsar-Mansar Lakes, Tsomoriri
- Himachal Pradesh – Pong Dam lake, Chandra Taal, Renuka lake
- Punjab – Harike lake, Kanjli lake, Ropar lake, Nangal WLS, Beas Conservation Reserve, Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve
- Uttar Pradesh – Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora stretch), Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, Parvati Agra Bird Sanctuary, Saman Bird Sanctuary, Samaspur Bird Sanctuary, Sandi Bird Sanctuary, Sarsai Nawar Jheel
- Rajasthan – Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Sambar lake
- Gujarat – Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary
- Maharashtra – Nandur Madhameshwar Bird Sanctuary
- Madhya Pradesh – Bhoj wetlands
- West Bengal – East Calcutta wetland, Sundarbans wetland
- Assam – Deepor Beel
- Manipur – Loktak lake
- Tripura – Rudrasagar lake
- Odisha – Bhitarkanika Mangroves, Chilika lake
- Andhra Pradesh – Kolleru lake
- Tamil Nadu – Point Calimere Wildlife & Bird Sanctuary
- Kerala – Ashtamudi lake, Sasthamkotta lake, Vembanad Kol wetland
A nominated wetland is designated as Ramsar site only if satisfy at least one of the nine criteria outlined by the Ramsar Convention.
- It is a register where all the present and anticipated changes of ecological character are recorded for all the Ramsar sites. These ecological changes might be due to some technological developments, pollution or human interference.
- This register helps to prioritize on wetlands that need national or international attention.
- Ramsar sites may be added or removed from the register only after the approval of the Contracting Parties.
- World Wetland Day is celebrated each year on 2nd February to mark the date 2 February,1971 when Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was adopted.
- It day was celebrated for the first time on February 2, 1997. It was the 16th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention.
- Government of India came up with Programme a called National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) to protect and stop further degradation of listed wetlands in India.
- It comes under Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change.
- National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) was launched in 1985-86
Here are some environmental laws for wetland protection in India
- Indian Fisheries Act, 1857
- Indian Forest Act, 1927
- Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
- Marine Zones Act, 1976
- Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 1991
National Wetland Atlas is the database which compiles the updated record and status of wetlands in India. There are total 2,01,503 wetlands in India have been mapped at National Wetland Atlas.
Wetlands provide many recreational, educational, and research opportunities that will help us to explore more about the habitations of many organisms associated with it. Wetlands not only provide many societal
benefits in form of food and habitat for fish,wildlife and humans but also protects threatened and endangered species thus helps to maintain an ecological balance. But now-a-days wetland and their habitats are being threatened by many factors like pollution,human intrusion,transportation and service corridors,, climate change and severe weather and geological events, weed infestation, dam construction, land filling,, sewage dumps etc. There should be stringent laws with proper implementation to follow the guidelines under Ramsar convention, which will be in line with Environment Impact Assessment also.