India’s concern for environmental conservation has led to an overall enhancement of its wetlands. And recently, Four more wetlands from the nation have got recognition from the Ramsar Secretariat as Ramsar sites. The four sites include Thol & Wadhwana from Gujarat and Sultanpur & Bhindawas from Haryana.
India is a land of rich culture and posses a wide range of biodiversity for both humans and animals. The nation has been constantly working on conserving the natural habitats of animals by strengthening the National Parks, Wildlife sanctuaries, Biosphere Reserves, and many more.
Union Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav said in a tweet, “PM Modi’s concern for the environment has led to overall improvement in how India cares for its wetlands. Happy to inform that four more Indian wetlands have got Ramsar recognition as wetlands of international importance.”
The number of Ramsar sites in India is now 46
Previously the number of Ramsar sites in India was 42, but with Thol & Wadhwana from Gujarat and Sultanpur & Bhindawas, the number is now 46. The list includes Ashtamudi Wetland, Bhoj Wetland, Chilika Lake, East Kolkata Wetlands, Harike Wetland, Loktak Lake, Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, and several others. The surface area covered by Ramsar sites in the country is 1,083,322 hectares.
The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands that are important for the conservation of global biological diversity. The aim is also to sustain human life through the maintenance of wetlands ecosystem components, processes, and benefits.
Thol & Wadhwana Ramsar sites from Gujarat
Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary from Gujarat lies on the Central Asian Flyway. It is home to more than 320 bird species. The wetland supports more than 30 threatened waterbird species, such as the critically endangered White-rumped Vulture and Sociable Lapwing, and the vulnerable Sarus Crane, Common Pochard, and Lesser White-fronted Goose.
Wadhvana Wetland from Gujarat is internationally important for its birdlife as it provides wintering ground to migratory waterbirds. The wetland hosts over 80 species that migrate on the Central Asian Flyway. They include some threatened or near-threatened species such as the endangered Pallas’s fish-Eagle, the vulnerable Common Pochard, and the near-threatened Dalmatian Pelican, Grey-headed Fish-eagle and Ferruginous Duck.
Sultanpur & Bhindawas Ramsar Sites from Haryana
Sultanpur National Park from Haryana supports more than 220 species of resident, winter migratory and local migratory waterbirds at critical stages of their life cycles. More than ten of these are globally threatened, including the critically endangered sociable lapwing, and the endangered Egyptian Vulture, Saker Falcon, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, and Black-bellied Tern.
Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest wetland in Haryana. It is a human-made freshwater wetland. The Sanctuary hosts over 250 bird species throughout the year as a resting and roosting site. The site includes more than ten globally threatened species including the endangered Egyptian Vulture, Steppe Eagle, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, and Black-bellied Tern.
The Importance of Wetlands
Wetlands are vital for human survival and are among the world’s most productive environments. They are cradles of biological diversity that provide water and productivity. Countless species of plants and animals depend on wetlands for survival.
They provide several important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fiber, 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 that help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.
History of the Ramsar Convention
The industrial revolution was great for humankind but it affected the environment on its way forward. With time, the conservation of nature and the environment was needed and several treaties were coming into existence. And the Convention on Wetlands is the oldest of the modern global intergovernmental environmental agreements.
The treaty was negotiated through the 1960s by countries and non – governmental organizations concerned about the increasing loss and degradation of wetland habitat for migratory waterbirds. It was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. The sites are thus called Ramsar Sites.
Wetlands of International importance (Ramsar Sites)
The Ramsar sites are recognized as being of significant value not only for the country or the countries in which they are located but for humanity as a whole. There are currently over 2,400 Ramsar Sites around the world which cover over 2.5 million square kilometers, an area larger than Mexico. The First Ramsar site was the Cobourg Peninsula in Australia.