Wetland Conservation

Wetland Conservation

Two bird sanctuaries of Bihar added to Ramsar List

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nagi-Nakti Wetland, Ramsar Convention

Why in the News?

Two wetlands in Bihar, Nagi and Nakti bird sanctuaries, have been added to the global list of wetlands of international importance under the “Ramsar Convention”, bringing India’s total Ramsar sites to 82.

Do you know?

  • Currently, the highest number of such sites is in the UK (175) followed by Mexico (144).
  • The number of Indian sites on the list has increased from 26 to 82 in the last ten years, of which 40 have been added in the last three years.

About Nagi-Nakti Wetland

  • These wetlands, situated in Bihar’s Jamui district within the Jhajha forest range, are man-made reservoirs nestled amid dry deciduous forests and hills.
  • Both sanctuaries were developed as man-made reservoirs, primarily for irrigation purposes, through the construction of dams.
  • These wetlands host a diverse range of flora and fauna, including over 150 species of birds, mammals, fish, aquatic plants, reptiles, and amphibians.

Nakti Bird Sanctuary:

  • It was developed primarily for irrigation through the construction of the Nakti dam.
  • In 1984, the wetland was designated as a bird sanctuary, highlighting its importance as a wintering habitat for several migratory species, with over 20,000 birds congregating during winter months.
  • This includes one of the largest congregations of red-crested pochard in the Indo-Gangetic plain.

Nagi Bird Sanctuary:

  • It was, on the other hand, created by the damming of the Nagi River, which enabled the gradual formation of water bodies with clear water and aquatic vegetation.
  • Overall, the wetland and its fringes provide habitat for over 75 bird species, 33 fish, and 12 aquatic plants.
  • Notably, the site hosts one of the largest congregations of bar-headed geese in the Indo-Gangetic plain.

Ecological Significance

  • Migratory Bird Haven: The sanctuaries serve as critical wintering habitats for numerous migratory bird species, attracting over 20,000 birds during the winter months.
  • Species Diversity: Nagi and Nakti sanctuaries support a rich biodiversity, including over 75 bird species, 33 fish species, and 12 aquatic plant species.
  • Bar-headed Geese Congregation: Notably, the wetlands host one of the largest gatherings of bar-headed geese on the Indo-Gangetic plain, highlighting their importance as migratory bird habitats.

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

Explanation
Purpose International treaty aimed at conserving and promoting the sustainable use of wetlands.
Establishment Established on February 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran.
Key Components
  • Identifying and designating wetlands of international importance.
  • Ensuring their effective management.
  • Promoting international cooperation for wetland conservation and sustainable use.
9 Criteria for Sites Declaration
  1. A site should contain representative, rare, or unique wetland types.
  2. It should support vulnerable, endangered, or endemic species.
  3. It should be a habitat for waterfowl.
  4. It should have significant ecological, botanical, zoological, limnological, or hydrological features.
  5. It should support scientific research and biodiversity conservation.
  6. It should provide essential services such as flood control, water purification, and groundwater recharge.
  7. It should have cultural, recreational, or spiritual value for local communities.
  8. It should support sustainable livelihoods for human communities.
  9. It should be at risk or face human-induced threats that require international cooperation for conservation.
Participating Countries 171 contracting parties (countries) as of September 2021.
India and Ramsar Convention  The first Ramsar Site in India, the Chilika Lake in Odisha, was designated in 1981.
Ramsar Secretariat The convention is administered by the Ramsar Secretariat, based in Gland, Switzerland.
World Wetlands Day
  • February 2nd of each year.
  • To raise awareness about the importance of wetlands and commemorate the adoption of the Ramsar Convention.
Montreux Record Register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention that require special attention.

 

PYQ:

[2014] If a wetland of international importance is brought under the ‘Montreux Record’, what does it imply?

(a) Changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur in the wetland as a result of human interference.

(b) The country in which the wetland is located should enact a law to prohibit any human activity within five kilometres of the edge of the wetland

(c) The survival of the wetland depends on the cultural practices and traditions of certain communities living in its vicinity and therefore the cultural diversity therein should not be destroyed

(d) It is given the status of ‘World Heritage Site’

[2019] Consider the following statements:

  1. Under Ramsar Convention, it is mandatory on the part of the Government of India to protect and conserve all the wetlands in the territory of India.
  2. The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 were framed by the Government of India based on the recommendations of the Ramsar Convention.
  3. The Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 also encompass the drainage area or catchment regions of the wetlands as determined by the authority.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 3 and 3

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Wetland Conservation

In the news: Pulicat Wetland

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pulicat Wetland and its topography; Eco-sensitive Zones (ESZs)

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Settlement of claims for local communities within Pulicat Wetland and Birds Sanctuary boundary raises concerns.
  • State government plans to denotify a significant portion of the sanctuary and Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) for industrial park development.

About Pulicat Wetland and Birds Sanctuary

  • Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary is the second-largest bird sanctuary in India.
  • It cuts across Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu.
  • The sanctuary is situated along the coast of the Bay of Bengal covering an area of 759 square kilometers.
  • The sanctuary is bordered by the Arani River at its southern tip, the Kalangi River from the Northwest, and the Swarnamukhi River at the northern end.
  • Pulicat Lake runs parallel to the Bay of Bengal and has a sand bar, making it a lagoon of its own kind.
  • Sriharikota, renowned as India’s rocket launch pad and home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal.
  • The sanctuary includes 16 island villages and 30 villages adjoining the lake, whose inhabitants depend on the lake for their livelihood.
  • Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary hosts a large number of migratory birds during winter, including gulls, terns, plovers, shanks, curlews, and storks.
  • It is a habitat for a variety of bird species such as flamingos, pelicans, storks, herons, and ducks.

What are the Eco-sensitive Zones (ESZs)?

  •  Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
  • They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.

 How are they demarcated?

  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does NOT mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
  • However, Section 3(2)(v) of the Act, says that Central Government can restrict areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall be carried out or shall not, subject to certain safeguards.
  • Besides Rule 5(1) of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 states that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries and carrying on certain operations or processes on the basis of certain considerations.
  • The same criteria have been used by the government to declare No Development Zones (NDZs).

Defining its boundaries

  • An ESZ could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002.
  • Moreover, in the case where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are beyond 10 km width, these should be included in the ESZs.
  • Further, even in the context of a particular Protected Area, the distribution of an area of ESZ and the extent of regulation may not be uniform all around and it could be of variable width and extent.

 

PYQ:

 [2017] Consider the following statements:

1. In India, the Himalayas are spread over five States only.

2. Western Ghats are spread over five States only.

3. Pulicat Lake is spread over two States only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

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Wetland Conservation

Five more Wetlands added to Ramsar List

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ramsar Wetlands

Mains level: Read the attached story

wetland

Introduction

  • Five more Indian wetlands have been added to the global list of wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, taking the total number of such highly recognised waterlogged ecosystems in the country to 80.
  • India is now the fourth-largest nation on the Ramsar map, trailing only behind the UK (175), Mexico (144), and China (82).
  • Tamil Nadu continues to have the maximum number of Ramsar sites (16) followed by Uttar Pradesh (10).

List of newly designated Ramsar Sites:

[1] Ankasamudra Bird Conservation Reserve (Karnataka):

  • Spread over 98.76 hectares adjoining Ankasamudra village.
  • A biodiversity hotspot with over 210 plant species, 8 mammals, 25 reptiles, and 240 bird species.
  • Vital nesting and roosting ground for over 30,000 waterbirds, including the Painted Stork and Black-headed Ibis.

[2] Aghanashini Estuary (Karnataka):

  • Covers 4,801 hectares at the confluence of Aghanashini River with the Arabian Sea.
  • Offers flood and erosion risk mitigation, biodiversity conservation, and livelihood support.
  • Sustains 6,000-7,500 families through fishing, agriculture, and traditional fish farming.
  • Acts as a natural barrier against storms and cyclones.

[3] Magadi Kere Conservation Reserve (Karnataka):

  • A human-made wetland spanning nearly 50 hectares, originally designed for rainwater storage.
  • Home to 166 bird species, including 130 migratory birds.
  • Sanctuary for vulnerable and near-threatened species like the Common Pochard, River Tern, and Oriental Darter.
  • A crucial wintering ground for the Bar-headed Goose.

[4] Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu):

  • Encompassing 453.72 hectares, it’s one of Tamil Nadu’s largest inland wetlands.
  • Facilitates groundwater recharge and supports agricultural activities.
  • Hosts around 198 bird species, including the Bar-headed Goose and Common Teal.

[5] Longwood Shola Reserve Forest (Tamil Nadu):

  • Named after “Solai,” meaning tropical rainforest in Tamil.
  • Integral to the Western Ghats’ unique biodiversity.
  • Provides sanctuary to globally endangered and vulnerable bird species like the Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri Blue Robin, and Nilgiri Wood-pigeon.
  • Home to 14 of the 26 endemic bird species of the Western Ghats.

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

Explanation
Purpose International treaty aimed at conserving and promoting the sustainable use of wetlands.
Establishment Established on February 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran.
Participating Countries 171 contracting parties (countries) as of September 2021.
India and Ramsar Convention The first Ramsar Site in India, the Chilika Lake in Odisha, was designated in 1981.

 

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Wetland Conservation

Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme 2023

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme 2023

Mains level: Not Much

Amrit Dharohar

Introduction

  • The Indian government has launched the ‘Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme’ 2023 to convert ecologically fragile wetlands, designated as Ramsar sites, into sustainable tourist attractions.
  • This initiative seeks to create jobs and support local communities’ livelihoods in the process.

‘Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme’ 2023

  • Launched in 2023-24 Budget: This scheme was introduced as part of the budget for 2023-24.
  • Objective: It aims to promote the conservation values of Ramsar Sites while creating employment opportunities and supporting local livelihoods.
  • Enhancing Livelihoods: The scheme seeks to enhance livelihoods for local communities by tapping into the nature-tourism potential of Ramsar Sites nationwide.
  • Collaborative Effort: It is being implemented through collaboration with various Central Government ministries, State wetland authorities, and a network of formal and informal institutions and individuals working together for conservation.

About Ramsar Sites: International Significance

  • Definition: Ramsar sites are wetlands designated as internationally important under an environmental treaty established in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, under UNESCO’s auspices.
  • Waterfowl Habitat: They are identified for their role as critical waterfowl habitats.
  • Conservation and Sustainable Use: Ramsar encourages national and international efforts for wetland conservation and sustainable resource utilization.
  • India’s Ramsar Sites: India boasts 75 Ramsar sites, showcasing its commitment to wetland conservation.

Pilot Projects and Skill Development

  • Identified Sites: Among India’s Ramsar sites, 16 have been identified for the mission.
  • Pilot Projects: Five wetlands, including Sultanpur National Park (Haryana), Bhitarkanika Mangroves (Odisha), Chilika Lake (Odisha), Sirpur (Madhya Pradesh), and Yashwant Sagar (Madhya Pradesh), have been selected for the initial pilot phase.
  • Alternative Livelihood Programme (ALP): Participants receive training under ALP to explore alternative livelihood opportunities.
  • Paryatan Navik Certificate: Additionally, a boatman certification program is offered to tourism service providers, ensuring a skilled workforce.

Ecological Significance of Wetlands

  • “Earth’s Kidneys”: Natural wetlands are often referred to as “earth’s kidneys” due to their ability to filter pollutants from flowing water.
  • Critical Ecosystem Services: Wetlands play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity, regulating water flow, and providing habitat for numerous species.

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Kadalundi Mudflats

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kadalundi Mudflats

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • Kadalundi’s mudflats are shrinking drastically with sands cover.
  • These mudflats have been a vital source of sustenance for thousands of migrant shorebirds, offering abundant prey like polychaetes and crustaceans.

About Kadalundi Mudflats

  • Kadalundi Mudflats are situated in the Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary, which is located in the Kozhikode district of Kerala, along the southwestern coast of India. The sanctuary encompasses estuarine wetlands, mudflats, and mangrove forests.
  • The mudflats are part of the estuarine ecosystem formed at the confluence of the Kadalundi River and the Arabian Sea.
  • This unique environment is influenced by both freshwater from the river and saline water from the sea, creating a diverse habitat.

Ecological significance

  • Kadalundi Mudflats are renowned for their rich biodiversity, especially in terms of avian species.
  • The Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary and the mudflats are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
  • The mudflats serve as a critical habitat for various resident and migratory birds.
  • It is estimated that over 100 species of resident and migratory birds visit the area, making it a paradise for birdwatchers and ornithologists.
  • They are a crucial stopover point for migratory birds travelling along the East Asia-Australasia Flyway.

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Dhanauri Wetland

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dhanauri Wetland

Mains level: NA

Dhanauri Wetland

Central Idea

  • The National Green Tribunal has given the UP government four weeks to inform it about the status of the Ramsar tag for Dhanauri wetlands.

Dhanauri Wetland

  • The Dhanauri Wetlands is a bird-watching area located in Dhanauri village near Dankaur in Uttar Pradesh.
  • It is home to over 120 Sarus cranes (Sarus Cranes is the state bird of Uttar Pradesh).
  • It is a sanctuary for 23 species of endangered, critically endangered, and threatened birds, with special significance as a habitat for the majestic Sarus crane.

Ecological Significance

  • Dhanauri is a natural wetland that hosts more than 217 bird species, including over 150 Sarus cranes, and serves as a vital birding and nesting site.
  • It has received recognition as an Important Bird Area by Bird Life International and has been documented by the BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society).
  • During peak migratory seasons (November to March), the wetland hosts over 50,000 waterfowls.

Why in news?

  • Dhanauri plays a crucial role in supporting the vulnerable Sarus crane population.
  • The wetland fulfills two key Ramsar site criteria out of nine:
    1. It hosts over 1% of the biogeographic Sarus crane population.
    2. The area serves as a congregation site for 20,000+ waterfowls and various other species.

Ramsar Wetlands

  • The Ramsar Convention, also known as the ‘Convention on Wetlands,’ is an intergovernmental environmental treaty founded by UNESCO in 1971.
  • It derives its name from the city of Ramsar in Iran, where it was initially signed.
  • Ramsar sites are wetlands of global significance recognized under this treaty.
  • The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the brink of ecological changes and in need of close monitoring under the Ramsar Convention.

Ramsar Site Designation Criteria:

Ramsar site designation hinges on several factors:

  1. Representing rare or unique natural wetland types.
  2. Supporting endangered species or threatened ecological communities.
  3. Maintaining biodiversity in specific biogeographic regions.
  4. Offering refuge during adverse conditions.
  5. Regularly accommodating 20,000 or more waterbirds.
  6. Sustaining 1% of a population of a single water-bird species.
  7. Serving as a critical source of food, spawning grounds, nurseries, and migration paths for fish.
  8. Regularly supporting 1% of a population of non-avian wetland-dependent animal species.

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Wetland Conservation

Kanwar Lake: Bihar’s only Ramsar Site drying up

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kanwar Lake

kanwar lake

Central Idea

  • Kawar Lake, Bihar’s only Ramsar Site, is experiencing a significant decrease in water levels and degradation.
  • However, it is drying up due to negligence.

About Kanwar Lake/ Kabartal Wetland

  • The Kanwar Lake is Asia’s largest oxbow lake situated in the Begusarai district of Bihar.
  • It is a residual oxbow lake, formed due to the meandering of Gandak River, a tributary of Ganga.
  • It was declared a Ramsar site in 2020, making it the first wetland in Bihar to be included in the Ramsar convention.
  • This lake draws water from the confluence of the Gandak, the Bia and the Kareh river – is situated near Manjhaul, 22 km northwest of Begusarai, the district headquarters.

Various threats to Kanwar Lake

  • Challenges include migratory bird hunting, agricultural activities around wetland areas, and government policies related to wetland management and conservation.
  • This decline has negatively impacted the livelihoods of around 20,000 Nishad community members in nearby villages who depend on fishing.

Bihar’s Wetland Potential

  • Bihar possesses a substantial area of wetlands, covering around 4.4% of its total geographical area, according to data from ISRO.
  • Despite its wetland potential, Bihar has only one recognized Ramsar site out of a total of 75 in India.

Potential Wetlands

  • Bihar has proposed several wetlands for Ramsar designation, including Kusheshwarsthan, Barela, Goga Bil, Nagiand Nakti dams, Udaipur Lake, Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, and Gokul Reservoir.
  • These wetlands are home to a range of wildlife, including migratory birds and endangered species like dolphins.

Back2Basics:

Ramsar Convention
Purpose International treaty aimed at conserving and promoting the sustainable use of wetlands.
Establishment Established on February 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran.
Participating Countries 171 contracting parties (countries) as of September 2021.
India and Ramsar Convention The first Ramsar Site in India, the Chilika Lake in Odisha, was designated in 1981.

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Wetland Conservation

MISHTI: Budgetary push for Mangroves

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mangroves

Mains level: Read the attached story

mangrove

The Union Budget for 2023-24 announced an initiative for mangrove plantation along the coastline and on saltpan lands, under MISHTI (Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes).

MISHTI

  • MISHTI is a new programme that will facilitate mangrove plantation along India’s coastline and on salt pan lands.
  • This new programme will aim at intensive afforestation of coastal mangrove forests.

Implementation strategy

  • The Budget states that MISHTI will be implemented through convergence between-
  1. MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme),
  2. CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority) Fund and other sources.

What are Mangroves?

  • Mangroves are salt-tolerant plant communities found in tropical and subtropical intertidal regions.
  • They are important refuges of coastal biodiversity and also act as bio-shields against extreme climatic events.
  • With the threat of climate change and frequent tropical storms looming large, planting more mangroves is a welcome development for India which has a coastline of about 7,500 km.

Mangroves in India

  • India has about 4,992 sq km (0.49 million hectares) of mangroves, according to the Indian State of Forest Report (IFSR) 2021.
  • Mangroves in India are distributed across nine States and three UTs with West Bengal having the highest mangrove cover of 2,114 sq km.
  • The IFSR report also points out that there has been an increase in the mangrove cover from 4,046 sq km in 1987 to 4,992 sq km in 2021.

Why protect mangroves?

  • Infrastructure projects — industrial expansion, shifting coastlines, coastal erosion and storms, have resulted in a significant decrease in mangrove habitats.
  • Between 2010 and 2020, around 600 sq km of mangroves were lost of which more than 62% was due to direct human impacts, the Global Mangrove Alliance said in its 2022 report.

Importance of mangroves

  • Biodiversity: Mangrove forests — consisting of trees and shrub that live in intertidal water in coastal areas — host diverse marine life.
  • Fishing grounds: They also support a rich food web, with molluscs and algae-filled substrate acting as a breeding ground for small fish, mud crabs and shrimps, thus providing a livelihood to local artisanal fishers.
  • Carbon sinks: Equally importantly, they act as effective carbon stores, holding up to four times the amount of carbon as other forested ecosystems.
  • Cyclone buffers: When Cyclone Amphan struck West Bengal in May, its effects were largely mitigated by the Sundarbans flanking its coasts along the Bay of Bengal.

Threats to Mangroves

  • Anthropogenic activities: They are a major threat to the mangroves. Urbanization, industrialization and the accompanying discharge of industrial effluents, domestic sewage and pesticide residues from agricultural lands threaten these fragile ecosystems.
  • Saltpan and aquaculture: This causes huge damage to the mangroves. Shrimp farming alone destroyed 35,000 hectares of mangroves worldwide.
  • Destruction for farming: 40% of mangroves on the west coast has been converted into farmlands and other settlements in just 3 decades.
  • Sea-level rise: This is another challenge to these mangroves- especially on the Bay of Bengal coast.

What lies ahead?

  • A contract-based one-time plantation under MGNREGS and CAMPA alone may not work unless the local communities take ownership of the forests.
  • Discharge of untreated domestic and industrial effluents into the rivers should be immediately stopped.
  • The natural inter-tidal flow along the coast should be conserved.

Try this PYQ:

Q. Which one of the following is the correct sequence of ecosystems in the order of decreasing productivity?

(a) Oceans, lakes, grasslands, mangroves

(b) Mangroves, oceans, grasslands, lakes

(c) Mangroves, grasslands, lakes, oceans

(d) Oceans, mangroves, lakes, grasslands

 

Post your answers here.
5
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

 

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Wetland Conservation

India adds five more Ramsar Sites

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ramsar wetlands in India

Mains level: Not Much

India has added five more Ramsar sites, or wetlands of international importance, bringing the number of such sites in the country to 54.

Newly added Ramsar Sites

  1. Karikili Bird Sanctuary, Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest and Pichavaram Mangrove in Tamil Nadu,
  2. Sakhya Sagar in Madhya Pradesh
  3. Pala Wetlands in Mizoram

What are 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.

Significance of Wetlands

  • 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, 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.
  • They provide many societal benefits: food and habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; water quality improvement; flood storage; shoreline erosion control; economically beneficial natural products for human use; and opportunities for recreation, education, and research, etc.

 India and Ramsar Wetlands

  • India’s Ramsar wetlands are spread over 11,000 sq.km — around 10% of the total wetland area in the country — across 18 States.
  • No other South Asian country has as many sites, though this has much to do with India’s geographical breadth and tropical diversity.
  • The UK (175) and Mexico (142) — smaller countries than India — have the most Ramsar sites, whereas Bolivia spans the largest area with 1,48,000 sq.km under the Convention protection.
  • The National Wetland Inventory and Assessment compiled by the ISRO estimates India’s wetlands to span around 1,52,600 square kilometres.

What makes Ramsar designation significant?

  • Being designated a Ramsar site does not necessarily invite extra international funds.
  • Acquiring this label helps with a locale’s tourism potential and its international visibility.

Criteria for Ramsar site designation

To be Ramsar site a place must meet at least one of the criteria as defined by the Ramsar Convention of 1961, such:

  1. Supporting vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities or,
  2. If it regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds or,
  3. Is an important source of food for fishes,
  4. Spawning ground,
  5. Nursery and/or migration path on which fish stocks are dependent upon.
  6. Static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres
  7. Does not include river channels, paddy fields, human-made water bodies/ tanks specifically constructed for drinking water purposes

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide fresh water and food and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals, and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

 

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Pantanal Wetlands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pantanal Wetlands

Mains level: Not Much

The world’s largest wetland, the Pantanal in South America, is at the risk of collapse due to legal land-use decisions and proposals.

About Pantanal

  • The Pantanal is a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area, and the world’s largest flooded grasslands.
  • It is located mostly within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but it extends into Mato Grosso and portions of Bolivia and Paraguay.
  • It sprawls over an area estimated at between 140,000 and 195,000 square kilometres.
  • Various subregional ecosystems exist, each with distinct hydrological, geological and ecological characteristics; up to 12 of them have been defined.
  • Roughly 80% of the Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing a biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping to support a dense array of animal species.

Significance of Pantanal

  • The Pantanal is a refuge for iconic wildlife. This massive wetland has the largest concentration of crocodiles in the world, with approximately 10 million caimans.
  • Jaguars, the largest feline in the Americas, hunt caiman in the Pantanal, which has one of the highest density of jaguars anywhere the world.

Threats

  • Around 95% of the Pantanal is under private ownership, the majority of which is used for cattle grazing.

 

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Basai Wetlands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Basai Wetlands

Mains level: Not Much

The Basai Wetlands in Gurugram has shrunk to a quarter of its original size over the years.

Basai Wetlands

  • Basai wetland, located in Basai village in Gurgaon Haryana is a flora and fauna rich water body.
  • It lies in one of the paleochannel of the Sahibi River, a tributary of Yamuna which originates from the Aravalli range in Rajasthan and flows through the region.

Its significance

  • It is recognized as one of India’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas and is of global conservation significance.
  • It supports populations of several endangered, vulnerable, and threatened bird species.
  • It is recognized globally as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the BirdLife International housing 20,000 birds of over 280 species including migratory birds and endangered birds.
  • However, it has not yet been declared a protected wetland by the Government of Haryana.

Threats

  • Given the accelerated expansion of the city of the future, the wetland continues to disappear under newly laid roads, modern housing constructions and other infrastructure development.
  • An upcoming expressway, cutting through the terrain here, has majorly impacted the flyway of thousands of migratory birds from Europe and Central Asia.

 

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Pantanal Wetlands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pantanal Wetlands

Mains level: Not Much

Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands is facing a severe crisis due to wildfires and climate change.

Pantanal Wetlands

  • The Pantanal is a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area, and the world’s largest flooded grasslands.
  • It is located mostly within the Brazilian and extends to some portions of Bolivia and Paraguay.
  • It sprawls over an area estimated at between 140,000 and 195,000 square kilometer.
  • Roughly 80% of the Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing a biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping to support a dense array of animal species.

Risks faced

  • Unlike the Amazon rainforest, vegetation in the Pantanal has evolved to coexist with fire — many plant species there require the heat from fires to germinate.
  • Often caused by lightning strikes, those natural fires spring up at the end of the dry season, but the surrounding floodplains prevent them from spreading.
  • What’s different now is the drought, contributing further to the unusually dry conditions and exacerbating the fire risk.

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Deepar Beel Wildlife Sanctuary

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Deeper Beel

Mains level: Wetland conservation

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the eco-sensitive zone of the Deepar Beel Wildlife Sanctuary on the south-western edge of Guwahati.

Deepar Beel

  • Deepar Beel is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Assam and the State’s only Ramsar site besides being an Important Bird Area.
  • It is located to the south-west of Guwahati city, in Kamrup Metropolitan district.
  • It is a permanent freshwater lake, in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River, to the south of the main river.
  • It is also called a wetland under the Ramsar Convention which has listed the lake in November 2002, as a Ramsar Site for undertaking conservation measures on the basis of its biological and environmental importance.

Major threats

  • Deepar Beel has long been used as a sponge for Guwahati’s sewage via a couple of streams.
  • The wetland has also suffered from seepage of toxins from a garbage dump at Boragaon adjoining it.
  • It has for decades been threatened by a railway track — set to be doubled and electrified — on its southern rim, a garbage dump, and encroachment from human habitation and commercial units.
  • The water has become toxic and it has lost many of its aquatic plants that elephants would feed on.

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Sambhar Lake

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Sambhar Lake

Mains level: Not Much

The world-famous Sambhar Salt Lake in Rajasthan is constantly shrinking with the degradation of soil and water quality and a decline in the population of migratory birds.

Sambhar Lake

  • The lake, situated 80 km south-west of Jaipur, is the country’s largest inland saline water body which attracts thousands of migratory birds every year.
  • The death of more than 20,000 birds belonging to about 10 species which migrate annually to the lake had made international headlines in 2019.
  • The lake receives water from six rivers: Mantha, Rupangarh, Khari, Khandela, Medtha and Samod.
  • Sambhar has been designated as a Ramsar site because the wetland is a key wintering area for tens of thousands of pink flamingos and other birds that migrate from northern Asia and Siberia.

Threats: Illegal mining

  • 30% of the Sambhar Lake’s area had been lost to mining and other activities, including the illegal salt pan encroachments.
  • It has also threatened the livelihoods of local people who have always lived in harmony with the lake and its ecology.

Try answering this:

Which one of the following is an artificial lake? (CSP 2014)

(a) Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu)

(b) Kolleru (Andhra Pradesh)

(c) Nainital (Uttarakhand)

(d) Renuka (Himachal Pradesh)

Post your answers here.
3
Please leave a feedback on thisx

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Wetland Conservation

Four new Wetlands added to Ramsar list

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ramsar wetlands in India

Mains level: Wetlanc conservation

Four more wetlands from India get recognition from the Ramsar Secretariat as Ramsar sites.

What are 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.

Significance of Wetlands

  • 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, 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.
  • They provide many societal benefits: food and habitat for fish and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; water quality improvement; flood storage; shoreline erosion control; economically beneficial natural products for human use; and opportunities for recreation, education, and research, etc.

Which are the new sites added to the Ramsar List?

  • Thol and Wadhwana from Gujarat and
  • Sultanpur and Bhindawas from Haryana

With this, the number of Ramsar sites in India are 46 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,083,322 hectares.

(1) Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Bhindawas WLS, the largest wetland in Haryana is a human-made freshwater wetland.
  • Over 250 bird species use the sanctuary throughout the year as a resting and roosting site.
  • The site supports more than ten globally threatened species including the endangered Egyptian Vulture, Steppe Eagle, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, and Black-bellied Tern.

(2) Sultanpur National Park

  • Sultanpur NP 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.

(3) Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Thol Lake WLS from Gujarat lies on the Central Asian Flyway and more than 320 bird species can be found here.
  • 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.

(4) Wadhvana Wetland

  • Wadhvana Wetland from Gujarat is internationally important for its birdlife as it provides wintering ground to migratory waterbirds, including 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.

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide fresh water and food and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals, and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

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Wetland Conservation

[pib] Species in news: Avicennia Marina

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Avicennia marina

Mains level: Mangroves and their significance

Scientists at the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) have reported for the first time a reference-grade whole genome sequence of a highly salt-tolerant and salt-secreting true-mangrove species Avicennia Marina.

Avicennia marina

  • Avicennia marina is one of the most prominent mangroves species found in all mangrove formations in India.
  • It is a salt-secreting and extraordinarily salt-tolerant mangrove species that grows optimally in 75% seawater and tolerates >250% seawater.
  • It is among the rare plant species, which can excrete 40% of the salt through the salt glands in the leaves, besides its extraordinary capacity to exclude salt entry to the roots.

Why in news?

  • The A. marina genome assembled in this study is nearly complete and can be considered as a reference-grade genome reported so far for any mangrove species globally and the first report from India.
  • This study assumes significance as agriculture productivity globally is affected due to abiotic stress factors such as limited water availability and salinization of soil and water.

Its significance

  • Availability of water is a significant challenge to crop production in dryland areas, accounting for ~40 per cent of the world’s total land area.
  • Salinity is prevalent in ~900 million hectares globally (with an estimated 6.73 million ha in India), and it is estimated to cause an annual loss of 27 billion USD.
  • The genomic resources generated in the study will pave the way for researchers to study the potential of the identified genes for developing drought and salinity tolerant varieties of important crop species.
  • This is particularly important for the coastal region as India has 7,500m of coastline and two major island systems.

Try these PYQs:

Q.Which one of the following is the correct sequence of ecosystems in the order of decreasing productivity? (CSP 2013)

(a) Oceans, lakes, grasslands, mangroves

(b) Mangroves, oceans, grasslands, lakes

(c) Mangroves, grasslands, lakes, oceans

(d) Oceans, mangroves, lakes, grasslands

 

Q.The 2004 Tsunami made people realize that mangroves can serve as a reliable safety hedge against coastal calamities. How do mangroves function as a safety hedge? (CSP 2011)

(a) The mangrove swamps separate the human settlements from the sea by a wide zone in which people neither live nor venture out

(b) The mangroves provide both food and medicines which people are in need of after any natural disaster

(c) The mangrove trees are tall with dense canopies and serve as an excellent shelter during a cyclone or tsunami

(d) The mangrove trees do not get uprooted by storms and tides because of their extensive roots.


Back2Basics: Mangroves

  • A mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water.
  • Mangroves occur worldwide in the tropics and subtropics, mainly between latitudes 30° N and 30° S, with the greatest mangrove area within 5° of the equator.
  • Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees, also called halophytes, and are adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions.
  • They contain a complex salt filtration system and complex root system to cope with salt water immersion and wave action.
  • They are adapted to the low-oxygen conditions of waterlogged mud.
  • They are a unique group of species found in marshy intertidal estuarine regions and survive a high degree of salinity through several adaptive mechanisms.
  • They form a link between marine and terrestrial ecosystems, protect shorelines, provide habitat for a diverse array of terrestrial organisms.

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Chilika Lake

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Chilika Lake

Mains level: Ramsar wetlands in India

The Chilika Lake in Odisha, Asia’s largest brackish water lake, was once part of the Bay of Bengal, a study by the marine archaeology department of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, has found.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. In India, the Himalayas are spread over five States only.
  2. Western Ghats are spread over five States only.
  3. Pulicat Lake is spread over two States only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

Chilika Lake

  • Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha.
  • It is located at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal, covering an area of over 1,100 km2.
  • It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the largest brackish water lagoon in the world after The New Caledonian barrier reef.
  • It has been listed Ramsar Site as well as a tentative UNESCO World Heritage site.

Its formation

  • The process of the formation of the Chilika might have begun in the latter part of the Pleistocene epoch, around 20,000 years ago.
  • India’s peninsular river Mahanadi carried a heavy load of silt and dumped part of it at its delta.
  • As the sediment-laden river met the Bay of Bengal, sand bars were formed near its mouth.
  • These created a backflow of the seawater into the sluggish fresh water at the estuary, resulting in the huge brackish water lake.
  • Marine archaeological studies on the Odisha coast clearly show that the Chilika once acted as a safe harbour for cargo ships bound for Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.

Historical accounts on Chilika

The lake has been a useful centre for maritime activities since the third millennium before the Common Era (CE).

  • Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemy (150 CE) described Palur as an important port of Kalinga and referred to it as ‘Paloura’.
  • This port was situated close to the ‘point of departure’ located outside the southern tip of the lake at Kantiagarh, from where ships used to sail directly for Southeast Asia.
  • Stone anchors and hero stones from Manikapatna, Palur and the adjoining onshore regions of the Chilika suggest that the present brackish water lagoon was in fact a part of the Bay of Bengal.
  • Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (7th century CE) recorded ‘Che-li-ta-lo-Ching’ as a flourishing port.
  • This port was located at Chhatargarh on the banks of the Chilika.
  • The Brahmanda Purana (10th century CE approximately) says the Chilika was an important centre of trade and commerce, with ships sailing to Java, Malaya and Ceylon.
  • The famous Sanskrit poet Kalidas called the king of Kalinga ‘Madhodhipati’ or ‘Lord of the Ocean’.

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Wetland Conservation

[pib] India gets its first Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ramsar Convention, Wetlands

Mains level: Wetland conservation in India

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has announced the establishment of a Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM).

What are 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.

Ecological significance of wetlands

  • 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 fresh water comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.
  • Just as forests are called the ‘lungs of the earth’, wetlands are the ‘kidneys’ that regulate water and filter waste from the landscape.

About CWCM

  • WCM would serve as a knowledge hub and enable exchange between State/ UT Wetland Authorities, wetland users, managers, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners.
  • It would function as a part of the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), Chennai.
  • It would address specific research needs and knowledge gaps and will aid in the application of integrated approaches for conservation, management and wise use of the wetlands.

Why need such a centre?

  • India has nearly 4.6% of its land as wetlands, covering an area of 15.26 million hectares and has 42 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1.08 million hectares.
  • The year 2021 also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, celebrated annually as World Wetlands Day.

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide fresh water and food and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

Enthusiasts can read this document:

Faunal Diversity in Ramsar Wetlands of India

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Harike Wetland

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Harike Wetland

Mains level: Wetland conservation in India

Winter migratory waterbirds using the central Asian flyway have started making a beeline to Punjab’s Harike wetland, offering a delight for bird lovers.

Try this PYQ:

Q.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

Harike Wetland

  • Harike Wetland also is the largest wetland in northern India in the border of Tarn Taran Sahib district and Ferozepur district of Punjab.
  • The wetland and the lake were formed by constructing the headworks across the Sutlej River in 1953.
  • The headworks is located downstream of the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej rivers just south of Harike village.
  • The rich biodiversity of the wetland which plays a vital role in maintaining the precious hydrological balance in the catchment with its vast concentration of migratory fauna.
  • It was accorded as a wetland in 1990, by the Ramsar Convention, as one of the Ramsar sites in India, for conservation, development and preservation of the ecosystem.

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide fresh water and food and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

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Wetland Conservation

Places in news: Deepor Beel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ramsar Convention, Wetlands

Mains level: Ramsar wetlands in India

Assam has prohibited community fishing at Deepor Beel, a wetland on the south-western edge of Guwahati and it’s the only Ramsar site.

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

Deepor Beel

  • Deepor Beel is located to the south-west of Guwahati city, in Kamrup district of Assam, India.
  • It is a permanent freshwater lake, in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River, to the south of the main river.
  • It is a wetland under the Ramsar Convention which has listed since November 2002, for undertaking conservation measures on the basis of its biological and environmental importance.
  • Considered as one of the largest beels in the Brahmaputra valley of Lower Assam, it is categorised as a representative of the wetland type under the Burma monsoon forest biogeographic region.
  • It is also an important bird sanctuary habituating many migrant species.
  • Freshwater fish is a vital protein and source of income for these communities; the health of these people is stated to be directly dependent on the health of this wetland ecosystem.

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide fresh water and food and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

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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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Wetland Conservation

Mapping: Caspian Sea

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Caspian Sea

Mains level: Ecocides and their impact

The Caspian is actually a lake, the largest in the world and it is experiencing a devastating decline in its water level that is about to accelerate.

Note the countries bordering the Caspian Sea: Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan. Or else remember the acronym ‘TARIK(h)’ (Hindi word for date).

You can frame a mnemonic statement of your choice. Do similarly for major lakes and inland seas. But dont let it move over TARIK pe TARIK!

Caspian Sea

  • The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water, variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea.
  • As an endorheic basin, it lies between Europe and Asia.
  • An endorheic basin is a drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans, but converges instead into lakes or swamps, permanent or seasonal that equilibrates through evaporation
  • Its level is the product of how much water is flowing in from rivers, mostly the mighty Volga to the north, how much it rains and how much evaporates away.
  • At the end of the century, the Volga and other northern rivers will still be there.
  • However, a projected temperature rise of about 3℃ to 4℃ in the region will drive evaporation through the roof.

Now try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following has/have shrunk immensely/ dried up in the recent past due to human activities?

  1. Aral Sea
  2. Black Sea
  3. Lake Baikal

Select the correct option using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

Why in news?

  • By the end of the century, the Caspian Sea will be nine metres to 18 metres lower. That’s a depth considerably taller than most houses.
  • The Caspian’s surface is already dropping by 7 cm every year, a trend likely to increase.
  • It means the lake will lose at least 25 per cent of its former size, uncovering 93,000 sq km of dry land.
  • If that new land were a country, it would be the size of Portugal.

Past strides in its level

  • The Caspian Sea has a history of violent rises and falls.
  • In Derbent, on the Caucasus coast of Russia, submerged ancient city walls testify to how low the sea was in medieval times.
  • Around 10,000 years ago, the Caspian was about 100 metres lower.
  • A few thousand years before that it was about 50 metres higher than today and even over spilt into the Black Sea.

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Wetland Conservation

World Heritage Irrigation Structure (WHIS) Sites

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: World Heritage Irrigation Structure (WHIS)

Mains level: Old irrigation systems in India

Four sites in India have received the World Heritage Irrigation Structure (WHIS) tag this year.

Try this PYQ:

Q.The FAO accords the status of ‘Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)’ to traditional agricultural systems. What is the overall goal of this initiative?

  1. To provide modern technology, training in modern farming methods and financial support to local communities of identified GIAHS so as to greatly enhance their agricultural productivity.
  2. To identify and safeguard eco-friendly traditional farm practices and their associated landscapes, agricultural biodiversity and knowledge systems of the local communities.
  3. To provide Geographical Indication status to all the varieties of agricultural produce in such identified GIAHS.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 3 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

World Heritage Irrigation Structure (WHIS)

  • The International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID) annually recognizes irrigation structures of international significance like UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
  • The recognition is aimed at recognizing and tracing the history of and understanding the evolution of irrigation in civilizations across the world.
  • It also aims at understanding the philosophy and wisdom on sustainable irrigation from these structures and to preserve them for posterity.

Criteria for consideration

  • Major criteria for WHIS entail that a structure should be more than 100 years old, should be functional, achieving food security and have archival value.
  • Each site is evaluated based on its merits first by the state government.
  • The proposal is then sent to the Centre and a team from CWC carries out an on-ground survey to verify details.

Which are the Indian sites?

  • The sites are Cumbum Tank, Kurnool-Cuddapah Canal, Porumamilla Tank (Anantharaja Sagaram) in Andhra Pradesh and 490-year-old Dhamapur Lake in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district.
  • In 2018, Pedda Cheru Tank in Kamareddy district and Sadarmat Anicut in Nirmal district, both in Telangana, were named as WHIS sites.

Other sites

  • The rest include Tianbao Weir in China at number one followed by Longshou Canal and ancient Luohe river irrigation district, China.
  • It also includes Zarch and Moon Qanat both in Iran and Tenguiwa, Bizenkyo and Jyosai Gokuchi irrigation systems in Japan with Goseong Dumbeong in the Republic of Korea.

About ICID

  • The ICID, established in 1950 is a leading scientific, technical, international not-for-profit, non-governmental organization.
  • It is a professional network of experts from across the world in the field of irrigation, drainage, and flood management.
  • The main mission is to promote ‘Sustainable agriculture water management’ to achieve ‘Water secure world free of poverty and hunger through sustainable rural development’.
  • ICID mission covers the entire spectrum of agricultural water management practices ranging from rainfed agriculture to supplemental irrigation, land drainage, deficit irrigation to full irrigation, etc.

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Wetland Conservation

Peatlands and their importance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Peatlands

Mains level: Ecological significance of Peatland conservation

Sustainably managing peatlands — peat-swamp forests found around the tropics — can protect humans from future pandemics, according to a new study.

What are Peatlands?

  • Peatlands are terrestrial wetland ecosystems in which waterlogged conditions prevent plant material from fully decomposing.
  • Consequently, the production of organic matter exceeds its decomposition, which results in a net accumulation of peat.
  • Over millennia this material builds up and becomes several metres thick.
  • They occur in almost every country on Earth, currently covering 3% of the global land surface.
  • Peatland landscapes are varied – from blanket bog landscapes with open, treeless vegetation in the Flow Country of Scotland – a tentative World Heritage site – to swamp forests in Southeast Asia.

Their importance

  • Peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store. This area sequesters 0.37 gigatonnes of CO2 a year.
  • In their natural, wet state peatlands provide vital ecosystem services.
  • By regulating water flows, they help minimise the risk of flooding and drought and prevent seawater intrusion.
  • In many parts of the world, peatlands supply food, fibre and other local products that sustain local economies.
  • They also preserve important ecological and archaeological information such as pollen records and human artefacts.

Try this PYQ now:

In the context of mitigating the impending global warming due to anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide, which of the following can be the potential sites for carbon sequestration?

  1. Abandoned and Uneconomic coal seams
  2. Depleted oil and gas reservoirs
  3. Subterranean deep saline formations

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Why conserve peatlands?

  • The protection and restoration of peatlands are vital in the transition towards a low-carbon and circular economy.
  • Damaged peatlands contribute about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from the land-use sector.
  • CO2 emissions from drained peatlands are estimated at 1.3 gigatonnes of CO2 annually.
  • This is equivalent to 5.6% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
  • Draining peatlands reduces the quality of drinking water due to pollution from dissolved compounds.

What is the new study?

  • Peatlands were rich in biodiversity, including many potential vertebrate and invertebrate vectors, or carriers of disease, the study said.
  • These included numerous vertebrates known to represent a risk of spreading zoonotic diseases, such as bats, rodents, pangolins and primates.
  • These areas also faced high levels of habitat disruption such as wild or human-made fires and wildlife harvesting that was perfect conditions for potential emerging zoonotic diseases.
  • The first reported case of Ebola in 1976 was from a peatland area.
  • The cradle of the HIV/AIDS pandemic was believed to be around Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, another area with extensive peatlands.

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Wetland Conservation

Lonar Lake, Sur Sarovar declared as Ramsar sites

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ramsar sites in India

Mains level: Wetland conservation in India

The Lonar Lake in Maharashtra and Sur Sarovar, also known as Keetham lake, in Agra, have been added to the list of recognised Ramsar sites.

Make a note of all freshwater and saltwater lakes in India.

Lonar Lake

  • Lonar Lake, also known as Lonar crater, is a notified National Geo-heritage Monument, saline (pH of 10.5), Soda Lake, located at Lonar in Buldhana district, Maharashtra.
  • It was created by an asteroid collision with earth impact during the Pleistocene Epoch.
  • It is one of the four known, hyper-velocity, impact craters in basaltic rock anywhere on Earth.
  • It sits inside the Deccan Plateau—a massive plain of volcanic basalt rock created by eruptions some 65 million years ago.

Sur Sarovar

  • It is a scenic lake just outside Agra on the Agra – Delhi highway (NH 2) and a declared bird sanctuary.
  • The riverine belt of River Yamuna surrounds the area of Sur-Sarovar.
  • It is today home to more than 165 species of migratory and resident birds.
  • It is the same place that inspired the famed poet Soordas to compose the “Bhakti Kavya” one of the finest pieces of devotional poetry.

Two amongst many

  • India now has 41 wetlands, the highest in South Asia, with two more added to the list of recognised sites of international importance under the treaty of Ramsar Convention.
  • Recently, Kabartal in Bihar’s Begusarai district was recognised as a wetland of international importance, the first such wetland in the State, under the Ramsar Convention.
  • The Asan Conservation Reserve in Dehradun, the first wetland from Uttarakhand to be recognised by Ramsar convention, was added to the list in October this year.

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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Wetland Conservation

[pib] Mansar Lake

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mansar Lakes, Ramsar Sites

Mains level: Wetland conservation in India

Mansar Lake Development Plan is getting fulfilled after a long wait of 70 years.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to a conservation organization called Wetlands International, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. It is an intergovernmental organization formed by the countries which are signatories to Ramsar Convention.
  2. It works at the field level to develop and mobilize knowledge, and use the practical experience to advocate for better policies.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

About Mansar Lake

  • Situated at about 37 km from Jammu, Mansar is a lake fringed by forest-covered hills, over a mile in length by half-a-mile in width.
  • Surinsar-Mansar Lakes are designated as Ramsar Convention in November 2005.
  • With all religions belief and heritage behind the Mansar Lake is also picking up its fame among the tourists with all its flora & fauna.
  • The lake has cemented path all around with required illumination, with projected view decks to enjoy flickering of seasonal birds, tortoise and fishes of different species.
  • There is a wildlife Sanctuary housing jungle life like Spotted Deer, Nilgai etc. besides other water birds such as Cranes, Ducks etc.

Back2Basics: Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide freshwater and food and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

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Wetland Conservation

Etosha Salt Pan, Namibia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Etosha Salt Pan and its location

Mains level: NA

NASA has recently captured images depicting the wet and dry cycles of Etosha Pan in Africa’s Namibia through the year.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following has/have shrunk immensely/ dried up in the recent past due to human activities?

  1. Aral Sea
  2. Black Sea
  3. Lake Baikal

Select the correct option using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 2 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

Etosha Salt Pan

  • The Etosha pan is hollow in the ground, wherein water may collect or in which a deposit of salt remains after the water has evaporated.
  • The 120-kilometre-long dry lakebed and its surroundings are protected as Etosha National Park, Namibia’s second-largest wildlife park.
  • The pan is mostly dry, but after a heavy rain, it acquires a thin layer of water that is heavily salted by the mineral deposits on the surface.

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Wetland Conservation

What is Khazan Farming System?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Khazan farming, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Mains level: Integrated Farming System, Khazan etc.

The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in low-lying floodplains of Goa is characterized by an estuarine agricultural system called Khazan farming.

Try this question from our AWE initiative:

How far is the Integrated Farming System (IFS) helpful in sustaining agricultural production? (10 Marks)

Khazan Farming

  • The low-lying floodplains of Goa host an estuarine agricultural system called Khazan farming.
  • This system is a carefully designed topo-hydro-engineered agro-aquacultural ecosystem mainly based on the regulation salinity and tides.

How does it work?

  • Centuries ago, people in this region reclaimed low-lying brackish coastal floodplains and mangrove forests.
  • They constructed bunds using locally available material to prevent the ingress of saltwater, which killed the halophilic mangroves.
  • To control the flow of tidal waters, they built openings in bunds fitted with one-way gates.
  • These channels would fill in with the oncoming tide and bring with them fish, crab and shrimp, and the gates would automatically shut when the water level was equal on both sides.
  • This prevented the water from overflowing into the fields used to grow paddy and which has a low tolerance to salt.
  • When the tide receded, these gates would open outwards automatically, allowing the water to drain out.
  • During this time, a bag net was set at the gate to catch fish that had entered in earlier.

Benefits of Khazan

  • Every bit of space was precious and used efficiently — the bunds were used to grow a variety of vegetables.
  • The Khazan system allowed for the farmer and the fisher to harmoniously coexist and was the key to sustaining what is considered Goa’s staple — fish, curry and rice.

Why is it neglected these days?

  • Today, for various reasons, but primarily due to post-independence agrarian reforms of 1961, these lands largely lie fallow and are in a state of decay.
  • Lack of cultivation and maintenance of the bunds and sluice gates is leading to their breaching and the natural reclamation of these fallow lands by mangroves.
  • Moreover, mangroves are protected by law and it is illegal to cut them.
  • Areas that have these trees growing on them also come under the purview of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ); according to the 2011 notification, the mangrove areas are classified as CRZ I and cannot be developed upon.

Back2Basics: Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

  • The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is Goa’s smallest protected area — it comprises barely two square kilometres of lush mangrove forests.
  • The sanctuary is located on Chorão, one of Goa’s estuarine islands in the Mandovi river approximately five kilometres from capital Panaji.
  • The sanctuary and its surrounds are home to marsh crocodiles, smooth-coated otter, the unique glossy-marsh snake that feeds on crabs, mud lobsters, sap-sucking sea slugs, among others.

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Wetland Conservation

Protecting Peatlands can help attain climate goals

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Peatlands

Mains level: Significance of peatlands

 

Peatlands, which play a crucial role in regulating global climate by acting as carbon sinks, are facing degradation and need to be urgently monitored, according to the FAO. 

What are Peatlands?

  • Peatlands are a type of wetlands that occur in almost every country on Earth, currently covering 3% of the global land surface.
  • The term ‘peatland’ refers to the peat soil and the wetland habitat growing on its surface.
  • They are formed due to the accumulation of partially decomposed plant remains over thousands of years under conditions of water-logging.
  • In these areas, year-round waterlogged conditions slow the process of plant decomposition to such an extent that dead plants accumulate to form peat.
  • Over millennia this material builds up and becomes several metres thick.

Why are peatlands significant?

  • Large amounts of carbon, fixed from the atmosphere into plant tissues through photosynthesis, are locked away in peat soils, representing a valuable global carbon store.
  • Peatlands are highly significant to global efforts to combat climate change, as well as wider sustainable development goals.
  • The protection and restoration of peatlands are vital in the transition towards a low-carbon and circular economy.

1) Better sinks of Carbon

  • Damaged peatlands contribute about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions from the land-use sector.
  • CO2 emissions from drained peatlands are estimated at 1.3 gigatonnes of CO2 This is equivalent to 5.6% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions.
  • However, at the same time, peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store. Worldwide, the remaining area of near-natural peatland contains more than 550 gigatonnes of carbon.
  • This represented 42% of all soil carbon and exceeds the carbon stored in all other vegetation types, including the world’s forests. This area sequesters 0.37 gigatonnes of CO2 a year.

2) Vital ecosystem services

  • By regulating water flows, peatlands help minimize the risk of flooding and drought and prevent seawater intrusion.
  • In many parts of the world, peatlands supply food, fibre and other local products that sustain local economies.
  • They also preserve important ecological and archaeological information such as pollen records and human artefacts.
  • Draining peatlands reduces the quality of drinking water due to pollution from dissolved compounds. Damage to peatlands also results in biodiversity loss.

Other benefits

  • Peatlands occur in different climate zones.
  • While in a tropical climate, they can occur in mangroves, in Arctic regions, peatlands are dominated by mosses. Some mangrove species are known to develop peatland soils under them.
  • Besides climate mitigation, peatlands are important for archaeology, as they maintain pollen, seeds and human remains for a long time in their acidic and water-logged conditions.
  • In many countries, pristine peatlands are important for recreation activities. These areas also support livelihood in the form of pastoralism
  • The vegetation growing on pristine peatlands provide different kinds of fibres for construction activities and handicrafts.
  • Many wetland species produce berries, mushrooms and fruits, often economically important to local communities.
  • Peatlands also provide fishing and hunting opportunities. It is also possible to practise paludiculture or wet agriculture on rewetted peatlands.

Various threats

  • Their degradation due to drainage, fire, agricultural use and forestry can trigger the release of the stored carbon in a few decades.
  • Peatlands contain 30 per cent of the world’s soil carbon. When drained, these emit greenhouse gases, contributing up to one gigatonne of emissions per year through oxidation.

Way forward

  • In India, peatlands occupy roughly 320–1,000 square kilometres area.
  • To prevent further degradation, these areas should be urgently mapped and monitored.

With inputs from: https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/peatlands-and-climate-change

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Wetland Conservation

10 more wetlands from India get the Ramsar site tag

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ramsar sites in India

Mains level: Ramsar Convention

Ramsar has declared 10 more wetland sites from India as sites of international importance.

News Ramsar Wetlands

With this, the numbers of Ramsar sites in India are now 37 and the surface area covered by these sites is now 1,067,939 hectares.

  1. Maharashtra gets its first Ramsar site (Nandur Madhameshwar) ,
  2. Punjab which already had 3 Ramsar sites adds 3 more (Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve, Nangal) and
  3. UP with 1 Ramsar site has added 6 more (Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and Sarsai Nawar).

Why conserve wetlands?

  • 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, are a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.

Back2Basics

Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (better known as the Ramsar Convention) is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
  • Traditionally viewed as a wasteland or breeding ground of disease, wetlands actually provide freshwater and food, and serve as nature’s shock absorber.
  • Wetlands, critical for biodiversity, are disappearing rapidly, with recent estimates showing that 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have vanished since 1900.
  • Major changes in land use for agriculture and grazing, water diversion for dams and canals and infrastructure development are considered to be some of the main causes of loss and degradation of wetlands.

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Wetland Conservation

Private: Asian Waterbird Census (AWC)

  • AWC, the largest such census in Asia, is organised by Wetlands International, is an international programme that focuses on monitoring the status of waterbirds and wetlands.
  • The data collected each year is shared by Wetlands International with global conservation organisations such as IUCN and Ramsar Convention, while state coordinators share data with local wildlife departments to ensure conservation and sustainable management of wetlands in the region.
  • It also aims to increase public awareness on issues related to wetland and waterbird conservation.
  • The census is carried out each January as a voluntary activity at national and local level.
  • The AWC is co-ordinated by Wetlands International as part of global programme, the “International Waterbird Census”.
  • The AWC was started in 1987, and many birders were initiated into bird counting and monitoring through this project.
  • To take part one simply has to visit a wetland and count the birds he/she see there.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/wetland-bird-count-to-begin-on-january-11/article30497641.ece

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Wetland Conservation

India’s policies for ‘Urban Lakes’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Urban lakes in India

Mains level: Wetland conservation in India

Context

  • Historically, cities were built along waterways or lakes.
  • Over time, human settlements near water bodies and lakes have transformed the natural environment into the towns and cities we see today.
  • Urban lakes are an important part of city ecosystems as they play a major role in providing environmental, social and economic services.

Famous Urban Lakes in India

Carambolim (Goa), Chilika (Odisha), Dal (Jammu and Kashmir), Deepor Beel (Assam), Khabartal (Bihar), Kolleru (Andhra Pradesh), Loktak (Manipur), Naini (Uttrakhand), Nalsarovar (Gujarat), and Vembanad (Kerala)

Threats to these Lakes

These lake ecosystems are presently endangered due to anthropogenic disturbances caused by Urbanisation as they have been heavily degraded due to pollution from disposal of untreated local sewage or due to encroachment, resulting in shrunken lakes.

Why conserve them?

  • Lakes in urban areas provide us with prime opportunities for recreation, tourism and domestic purposes.
  • They hold historical and traditional values and at places are a source of water supply for a municipality.
  • Appropriate lake function can ease the impact of floods and droughts by storing large amounts of water and releasing it during shortages.
  • Lakes also help in replenishing groundwater level as they are essential receptors for groundwater recharge, positively influencing water quality of downstream watercourses and preserving the biodiversity and habitat of the surrounding area.
  • Lakes in urban areas are also used as a source of water for industries, irrigation and agriculture.

Defining Urban Lakes

  • There is no specific definition for ‘urban lakes’ in India.
  • According to the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP), a water body having a minimum depth of three metres, spread over more than 10 hectares, and having no or very little aquatic vegetation, is considered as a lake.

The definition provided by NLCP is based on broad hydrological and morphometry criteria of a lake:

  • The apparent definition of urban lakes seems to those located entirely within city limits (census town) and directly surrounded by urban developments, with some recreation facilities limited to the shoreline area (parks, playgrounds).

OR

  • The lakes which are predominantly affected by urban human populations and their drainage basin is dominated by urbanisation, rather than geology, soils or agriculture. Such lakes are situated only partially within city limits, or attached but not necessarily surrounded, entirely by city development.

Issues with the definition

  • One of the obstacles for effective protection of these interlinked lakes in cities is the lack of a clear definition of an ‘urban lake’ in the Indian context.
  • The definition provided under the guideline of NLCP acknowledges only broad hydrological criteria to define a water body as a lake.
  • This definition ignores the fact that the water depth and spread keep changing every year, depending on various environmental factors.
  • In fact, there are very few urban lakes that fit into this definition since most of them occupy a small area (<10 ha), are seasonal and shallow.

Various policy measures

Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act in 1974

  • Planning interventions for water bodies started as early as 1927.
  • In the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act in 1974, directions were given to control the flow of sewage and industrial effluents into water bodies.

Ramsar Convention

  • The need for lake conservation was felt when India became a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 1982.
  • The Convention called for the conservation and wise use of wetlands (including water bodies).
  • Twenty-six Ramsar sites, covering an area of 689,000 ha, were identified in India.

National Wetland Conservation Programme

  • The Indian government operationalised the Programme in closed collaboration with concerned state governments during 1985-86 under the MoEFCC notification.
  • Recognising the importance of lakes, the Ministry launched NLCP, a centrally sponsored scheme exclusively aimed at restoring the water quality and ecology of lakes in different parts of the country.
  • Under the programme, 115 wetlands were identified, which required urgent conservation and management initiatives.
  • The selection of lakes was on hydrological (Lake size over 10 acres or 3 acres if of religious and cultural importance and lake depth more than three metres), scientific and administrative criteria.
  • The scheme was approved by the Union government during the Ninth Plan (June 2001) as 100 per cent central grant.
  • From 100 per cent central funding, the costs are now shared according to a ratio of 70:30 between the Union and the concerned state government.

Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Waterbodies’ Scheme

  • In continuation with the NLCP, the Centre had launched this Scheme in 2005,
  • The objectives of the scheme were comprehensive improvement and restoration of traditional waterbodies, including increasing tank storage capacity, ground water recharge, etc.

National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA)

  • Later, in 2016, the National Lake Conservation Plan was merged with National Wetlands Conservation Programme to form NPCA.
  • The principal objectives of NPCA are holistic conservation and the restoration of lakes and wetlands through an integrated and multidisciplinary approach with a common regulatory framework.
  • All lakes that were a part of NLCP, were brought under this scheme, and are being restored till date.

Why Urban Lakes still needs more attention?

  • Even after 26 years of pollution abatement works, only ten per cent of waste water generated in the country is treated.
  • The rest collects as cess pools or is discharged into the 14 major, 55 minor and several hundred other rivers.
  • It is quite clear that the overall status of quality of water in rivers, lakes and its links to groundwater has not been adequately addressed.
  • Out of the 43 Indian guidelines passed by the central and state government, 41 per cent of those talk about conservation and restoration of waterbodies but only 10 per cent exactly describe the conservative measure.
  • Only 22 per cent of the guidelines are on subjects related to policies to be adopted by state government, urban local bodies etc.
  • This clearly identifies the missing links and marks the future prospects that India should adopt for the preparation of better and sustainable lake management plans.

Need for a comprehensive Lake Management Plan

  • ‘Lake management planning’ is an approach for different stakeholders to come together with a common interest in improving and protecting their lake.
  • Focusing on planning process rather than quick-fix solutions makes lake rejuvenation a manageable process.
  • Moreover, it guides how time and resources are utilised, keeping future sustainability of the lake in account.  It includes:
  1. Encourages partnerships between concerned citizens, special interest groups, government body and water resources management practitioners
  2. Identifies the concerns regarding the catchment/watershed of the lake
  3. Sets realistic goals, objectives, and (short, medium and long-term) actions, and identifies needed funds and personnel.

Conclusion

  • Under the Jal Shakti mission and AMRUT, the revival /rejuvenation of water bodies is in piecemeal approach, with short-term measures like beautification, enhancing recreational activities, addressing immediate solid waste dumping into waterbody etc.
  • Although cities have initiated to work towards water bodies’ rejuvenation, the long-term approach is still missing.

Way Forward

  • Since a lake is a reflection of its catchment area, it is essential to first understand the significant changes or trends concerning the primary land uses within the catchment area / watershed draining into the lake.
  • There is no approach which defines the planning process for preparation of short, medium and long-term action plans for lake rejuvenation, considering its watershed area.
  • It is essential to have a document with clear understanding of the lake’s watershed area, with specific goals, objectives, producing time-bound action plans.
  • Conservation of Lakes and wetlands through an integrated and multidisciplinary approach with a common regulatory framework should be carried out.

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Sustainable farming systems receive global recognition

Four traditional farming systems in Bangladesh and Japan have been designated today by FAO as “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems” for innovation, sustainability and adaptability. Let’s know it in brief.

Let’s take a glance on 4 traditional farming systems

Bangladesh’s floating gardens, a unique hydroponics production system constructed with natural grasses and plants, which have been developed in flood areas.

A trio of sites in Japan: the sustainable river fisheries utilizing Sato-kawa system in Gifu, the Minabe-Tanabe Ume approach to growing apricots on nutrient-poor slopes in Wakayama.

The Takachihogo-Shiibayama mountainous agriculture and forestry system in Miyazaki which allows agricultural and forestry production in a steep mountainous area.

These new designations bring the number of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) systems to a total of 36 sites located in 15 countries in Africa, Latin America, Near East and Asia.

But first, Let’s know about Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)?

  • It was launched by UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2002 during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • The GIAHS Initiative promotes public understanding, awareness, national and international recognition of Agricultural Heritage systems.
  • The initiative fosters an integrated approach combining sustainable agriculture and rural development.
  • The GIAHS initiative has project interventions in Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic), Japan, Kenya etc.
  • In these countries, adaptive management approaches will be developed and implemented, to assist national and local stakeholders in the dynamic conservation of their agricultural heritage systems.

Now, back to main topic of ‘new GIAHS sites’?

The new GIAHS sites include three in Japan and one in Bangladesh –

Japan – Ayu of the Nagara River System

Ayu of the Nagara River System Japan


  • The Nagara River is one of the cleanest rivers in Japan that provides a number of ecosystem services.
  • Various components of the system such as river, forests and farmlands are closely linked to each other.
  • The sustainable inland fisheries of a specific type of fish (Ayu) benefit from clean waters of the Nagara River which are maintained through upstream forest management.
  • Local communities have lived within this linked ecosystems and have developed their livelihoods and cultural practices.

Japan – Minabe-Tanabe Ume System

Minabe-Tanabe Ume System Japan


  • Minabe-Tanabe Ume System allows for the production of high-quality Ume (Japanese apricots) and various kinds of fruits on nutrient-poor slopes.
  • Local communities have created a thriving Ume fruit production environment by maintaining upper coppice forests for landslide prevention and maintenance of water, and Japanese honeybee for pollinators.
  • By permitting the production of a diverse range of products, the system ensures stable livelihoods and makes communities more resilient to disasters.

Japan – Takachihogo-Shiibayama Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry System

Takachiho・Shiibayama Mosaic view of forests


  • This site is located in a steep mountainous area where flat land is extremely scarce.
  • In this severe environment, local people have established a sustainable system of agriculture and forestry which balances timber production with diverse farming activities.
  • Such as terraced rice growing, shiitake mushroom cultivation, beef cattle raising, or tea cultivation.
  • The forest is maintained as a “mosaic” of conifers and broadleaf trees using traditional practices.

Bangladesh – Floating garden Agricultural Practices

Floatingagri


  • Farmers in some parts of Bangladesh where flood waters can remain for a prolonged period of time have developed a unique hydroponics system in which plants can be grown on the water on floating organic bed of water hyacinth, algae and other plant residues.
  • This environmentally friendly traditional cultivation technique utilizes the natural resources of wetlands to grow vegetables and other crops almost all year round.
  • Providing numerous social, economic, agricultural and ecological benefits to the local population.

If you would like to watch GIAHS 2013 video, it provides an introduction to GIAHS and takes you on a journey through some of the GIAHS sites around the world.


 

Source - FAO features | Pic - Floating Gardens
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