With More Wetlands This Year, India Is Saving The Planet 10 Steps At A Time

WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.

World Wetlands Day was recently held on the 2nd February 2020, with the theme of ‘wetlands and biodiversity’. It is quite difficult to define a wetland, but the standard definition, as put out by the Ramsar Convention, states, “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 (Ramsar Convention, 1971)”. This broad definition usually encompasses coastal wetlands, freshwater swamps and marshes, floodplains, and peatlands as distinct types of wetland ecosystems.

In coastal areas, many wetlands are found in estuaries, which are water bodies typically found where rivers meet the sea. Habitats associated with the brackish water of estuaries include salt marshes, mangrove forests, mudflats, tidal streams, rocky inter-tidal shores, reefs, and barrier islands and beaches.

In the month of January 2020, PIB in its press release announced that 10 more wetlands have been added, taking the total number of Ramsar sites in the country to 37. Maharashtra got its first Ramsar site, and Punjab got three more Ramsar sites in addition to the existing three. Uttar Pradesh, which only had one Ramsar site earlier, got six more wetlands under the said Convention.

The broad definition of wetlands, according to Ramsar Convention1971, encompasses coastal wetlands, freshwater swamps and marshes, floodplains, and peatlands as distinct types of wetland ecosystems.

The following wetlands are the new Ramsar sites:

  1. Nandur Madhameshwar bird sanctuary- It is located in the Nasik district of Maharashtra. It has an area of 14 km2 and houses a wide range of species in contrast to the semi-arid conditions, caused by the rain-shadow zone of the Western Ghats. It was designated on 21st June 2019.
  2. Keshopur-Miani community reserve- It is located in Gurdaspur, Punjab, with an area of 34 Km2. It lies in the middle of Ravi and Beas rivers and is a community managed wetland. A favourite spot for migratory birds, the techniques of participatory management and joint forest management have shown impeccable results. It was designated a wetland on 26th September 2019.
  3. Beas Conservation Reserve- It is located in Punjab and is a 185 km2 stretch of Beas River starting from the Harike headworks to Talwara Conservation Reserve. It is also known for housing the endangered Indus river dolphin. It has successfully reintroduced the critically endangered Gharials, which otherwise are more popular in the ravines of Chambal. It was designated on 26th September 2019.
  4. Nangal wildlife sanctuary- It is located in Roopnagar district in Punjab near the Sutlej River. It has a very small area of just one km2 and is a site for many residents as well as migratory birds. An extremely eco-sensitive zone, it also houses threatened species like the Indian Pangolin adding to its conservation efforts. It was designated on 26th September 2019.
  5. Nawabganj bird sanctuary- Also known as the Chandrashekhar Azad Bird Sanctuary, it is located in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh. It has an area of only two Km2. This particular wetland is famous for a wide range of birds, both resident and migratory, and is a site loved by conservationists. An ideal spot for bird-watching, the sanctuary was designated on 19th September 2019.
  6. Parvati Agra bird sanctuary- It is located in the Gonda district of UP. It consists of two oxbow lakes and has an area of seven km2. It is a potential site for developing eco-tourism, as it is a haven for a wide range of bird species especially some of India’s threatened Vulture species. It was designated on 2nd December 2019.
  7. Saman bird sanctuary- It is located in the Mainpuri district of UP and is a seasonal oxbow lake, which means its existence depends on the south-west monsoon. Another popular bird conservation site, it has an area of five Km2. It was designated on 2nd December 2019.
  8. Samaspur bird sanctuary- It is located in the Raebareli district of UP and is a perennial low lying marsh of the Indo-Gangetic plains. It has an area of eight Km2 and houses different species of migratory and resident birds. It is heavily dependent on the monsoons. The agriculture department and the forest department (wildlife) have worked in close association for its conservation efforts. It was designated on 3rd October 2019.
  9. Sandi bird sanctuary- It is a freshwater marsh located in the Hardoi district of UP. A haven for birds, it has a very small are of three Km2 and has been listed as an ‘important bird area’ by BirdLife International. It was designated on 26th September 2019.
  10. Sarsai Nawar Jheel/ Lake- Located in Etawah district of UP, the lake is a typical Indo-Gangetic wetland fed by the water of SW monsoon. It has an area of two Km2 and is another bird haven famous for housing a large number of Sarus Cranes – the world’s tallest flying birds. This has also been recognised as an ‘important bird area’ by BirdLife International. It was designated on 19th September 2019.

Wetlands are extremely important as they provide a wide range of ecosystem services, which are provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural. Conserving such wetlands will also lead to conserving many other indicator species, which would eventually determine the health of the wetlands. One such species is ‘dragonfly’, which indicates how clean a wetland is.

Similar Posts

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below