Wetland Conservation

[pib] Tso Kar Wetland Complex

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tso Kar Wetland Complex

Mains level : Ramsar wetlands in India

India has added Tso Kar Wetland Complex in Ladakh as its 42nd Ramsar site, which is a second one in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh. With this, India now has forty-two Ramsar sites.

Try this PYQ:

In which one among the following categories of protected areas in India are local people not allowed to collect and use the biomass?

(a) Biosphere reserves

(b) National parks

(c) Wetlands declared under Ramsar convention

(d) Wildlife sanctuaries

Tso Kar Wetland Complex

  • It is a high-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal waterbodies, Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north.
  • It is situated in the Changthang region of Ladakh.
  • It is called Tso Kar, meaning white lake, because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water.

Ecological significance

  • Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation.
  • They are, in fact, a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.
  • The Tso Kar Basin is an A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per BirdLife International and a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway.
  • The site is also one of the most important breeding areas of the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in India.

Back2Basics: Wetlands

  • A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail.
  • The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from other landforms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique hydric soil.
  • Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation.

What is the Ramsar Convention?

  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat is a treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of such sites.
  • The convention, signed in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, is one of the oldest inter-governmental accords for preserving the ecological character of wetlands.
  • Also known as the Convention on Wetlands, it aims to develop a global network of wetlands for the conservation of biological diversity and for sustaining human life.
  • Over 170 countries are party to the Ramsar Convention and over 2,000 designated sites covering over 20 crore hectares have been recognised under it.
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