Wetlands are some of the world’s most fragile and sensitive ecosystems supporting unique habitats for plants and animals, and providing livelihoods to millions of people across the world. Wetlands in India occupy 4.6% of the geographical area covering an area of 15.26 million hectares.
What are Wetlands
Wetlands are transitional areas between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems where the water table is generally at or near to the surface, or the land is covered under shallow water.
The wetlands mainly includes marshes, swamps, flood plains, peat lands, bogs, shallow ponds, littoral zones of larger water bodies, and tidal marshes.
It has been observed that over 50% of the world’s wetland have been lost in the past century and as much as 30% of the present species in some freshwater habitats are under threat of extinction.
Wetlands are area of marsh, fen, peat-land 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 meterDefinition as per Ramsar Convention of 1971
Importance of Wetlands
- 40% of animals breed in wetlands
- They clean the environment of pollutants
- They store 30% of land based carbon
- They absorb storm surge
- Wetlands provide livelihood to one billion people – their ecosystems are worth USD 47 trillion annually
World Wetlands Day
World Wetlands Day is celebrated across the globe on 2nd February every year to to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.
This year’s theme shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss. The 2021 campaign highlights the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet.
The year 2021 also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Wetlands in India
Among the Indian states, Gujarat ranks first with a total wetland area of about 3.47 m ha (about 23% of the total Indian wetland area) comprising vast stretches of intertidal mud-flats and salt pans.
Types of Wetlands in India
- Inland wetlands – Natural – 43.40%
- Ox-bow lakes/ cut-off meanders;
- High-altitude wetlands;
- Riverine wetlands;
- Inland wetlands-Man-made – 25.83%
- Salt pans
- Coastal wetlands – Natural – 24.27%
- Sand/beeach/ Intertidal mud flats;
- Salt marsh;
- Coral reefs
- Coastal wetlands- Man-made – 2.86%
- Salt pans;
- Aquaculture ponds
- Wetlands (<2.25 ha) – 3.64%
Wetlands Conservation in India
For conservation and management of identified wetlands including Ramsar sites in India, the National Wetlands Conservation Programme (NWCP) was implemented in the year 2012-13.
The NWCP was later merged with the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) and National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems’ (NPCA) to obtain a rather holistic conservation of lakes and wetlands.
Under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986, MoEFCC has issued the Wetlands (Management and Conservation) Rules, 2010 for conservation and management of wetlands.
Various Indirect Laws & Regulations also effect Wetland Conservation in India. These include:
- The Indian Fisheries Act – 1857
- The Indian Forest Act – 1927
- Wildlife (Protection) Act-1972
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974
- Territorial Water, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and other Marine Zones Act 1976
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1977
- Maritime Zone of India (Regulation and fishing by foreign vessels) Act – 1980
- Forest (Conservation Act) – 1980
- Environmental (Protection Act – 1986
- Coastal Zone Regulation Notification – 1991
- Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act – 1991
- National Conservation Strategy and Policy (Statement on Environment and Development) – 1992
- National Policy and Macro level Action Strategy on Biodiversity-1999
Ramsar Wetlands in India
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. India signed the Ramsar Convention on 1 February 1982.
As of August 2021, India has 46 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1,083,322 hectares.
|S. No.||Name of Ramsar Site||State/UT||Date of Declaration||Area (in Sq. Km.)|
|3.||Wular Lake||Jammu & Kashmir||23.3.1990||189|
|9.||Kolleru Lake||Andhra Pradesh||19.8.2002||901|
|11.||Pongdam Lake||Himachal Pradesh||19.8.2002||156.62|
|12.||Tsomoriri||Jammu & Kashmir||19.8.2002||120|
|16.||Bhoj wetland||Madhya Pradesh||19.8.2002||32.01|
|18.||Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary||Tamil Nadu||19.8.2002||385|
|19.||East Kolkata Wetland||West Bengal||19.8.2002||125|
|20.||Renuka wetland||Himachal Pradesh||8.11.2005||0.2|
|21.||Chandertal wetland||Himachal Pradesh||8.11.2005||0.49|
|22.||Hokersar wetland||Jammu & Kashmir||8.11.2005||13.75|
|23.||Surinsar-Mansar Lake||Jammu & Kashmir||8.11.2005||3.5|
|25.||Upper Ganga (Brijghat to Narora Stretch)||Uttar Pradesh||8.11.2005||265.9|
|27.||Sundarban Wedland||West Bengal||30.1.2019||4230|
|29.||Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh||19.9.2019||2.246|
|30.||Sarsai Nawar jheel||Uttar Pradesh||19.9.2019||16.13|
|31.||Keshopur-Mian community reserve||Punjab||26.9.2019||3,439|
|32.||Beas conservation reserve||Punjab||26.9.2019||64.289|
|33.||Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary||Punjab||26.9.2019||1.16|
|34.||Sandi Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh||26.9.2019||30.85|
|35.||Samaspur Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh||3.10.2019||79.94|
|36.||Parvati Arga Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh||2.12.2019||7.22|
|37.||Saman Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh||2.12.2019||52.63|
|39.||Kabar taal Lake||Bihar||21.7.2020||26.20|
|41.||Sur Sarovar||Uttar Pradesh||21.8.2020||4.31|
|42.||Tso Kar Union||Territory of Ladakh||17.11.2020||95.77|
|43.||Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary||Gujarat||05.04.2021||6.99|
|45.||Sultanpur National Park||Haryana||25.05.2021||1.425|
|46.||Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary||Haryana||25.05.2021||4.12|