Ramsar List: The Union Environment Ministry recently announced that 4 more wetlands from India have been added to the Ramsar list.
The wetlands that the Ramsar Convention has designated as wetlands of global importance are:
- Thol from Gujarat
- Wadhwana from Gujarat,
- Sultanpur from Haryana and
- Bhindawas from Haryana.
- India is home to more than a dozen of threatened and near-threatened bird species and these sites are home to endangered Egyptian Vulture, Saker Falcon, Sociable Lapwing, and near-threatened Dalmatian Pelican.
- With this, the number of Ramsar sites in India is 46 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,083,322 hectares.
About the Chosen Wetlands:
Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary:
- It lies on the Central Asian Flyway in Gujarat.
- It supports more than 320 bird species and more than 30 threatened waterbird species like the critically endangered white-rumped vulture, Sociable Lapwing, Common Pochard, etc.
- It is an internationally important wetland situated in Gujarat.
- It is famous for its birdlife because it provides wintering ground to migratory waterbirds, migrating on Central Asian Flyway.
- Some of the species include endangered Pallas’s fish-Eagle, vulnerable Common Pochard, and near-threatened Dalmatian Pelican.
Sultanpur National Park:
- This Park from Haryana provides support to more than 220 species of residents, winter migratory and local migratory waterbirds.
Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary:
- It is the largest wetland in Haryana.
- This human-made freshwater wetland comprises more than 250 bird species.
- The bird species use the sanctuary throughout the year for resting and roosting.
- It also supports more than ten globally threatened species such as Steppe Eagle, endangered Egyptian Vulture, Black-bellied Tern, and Pallas’s Fish Eagle.
The Ramsar Convention:
- It was signed on 2nd February 1971.
- It is one of the oldest inter-governmental accords signed by member countries.
- Its main objective is to preserve the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance.
- It is named after Ramsar, the Iranian city where the treaty was signed.
- Places chosen for conservation under it are given the tag ‘Ramsar site’.
What is the aim of the Ramsar list?
- 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”.
What are wetlands?
- A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail.
- It is an area where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season.
- Water saturation (hydrology) largely determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil.
- Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species.
- The prolonged presence of water creates conditions that favor the growth of specially adapted plants (hydrophytes) and promote the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils.
Different Types of Wetlands:
Five major wetland types are generally recognized:
1. Marine (coastal wetlands including coastal lagoons, rocky shores, and coral reefs);
2. Estuarine (including deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps);
3. Lacustrine (wetlands associated with lakes);
4. Riverine (wetlands along rivers and streams); and
5. Palustrine (meaning “marshy” – marshes, swamps, and bogs).
Significance of Wetlands:
- Wetlands play a critical role in maintaining many natural cycles and supporting a wide range of biodiversity.
- They purify and replenish our water, and provide the fish and rice that feed billions.
- They serve as a natural sponge against flooding and drought, protect our coastlines and help fight climate change.
Note: About one-quarter of the Earth’s rain runs off as flood water, causing loss of life and billions of dollars in damage.