Wetland Conservation

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

Wetland Conservation

10 more wetlands from India get the Ramsar site tagIOCRPriority 1

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.
Wetland Conservation

Explained: India’s policies for ‘Urban Lakes’Explained

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.
Wetland Conservation

Wetland’ status for Chandigarh’s Sukhna LakePrelims Only

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sukhna Lake

Mains level : Wetland conservation in India



  • The Chandigarh administration had issued a draft notification for declaring Sukhna Lake as a wetland under the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rule, 2017.

Sukhna Lake

  • Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh, India, is a reservoir at the foothills (Shivalik hills) of the Himalayas.
  • This 3 km² rainfed lake was created in 1958 by damming the Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream coming down from the Shivalik Hills.
  • Sukhna is a sanctuary for many exotic migratory birds like the Siberian duck, storks and cranes, during the winter months.
  • The lake has been declared as a protected national wetland by the Government of India.

How will the wetland status help Sukhna?

  • Declaring Sukhna a wetland will help preserve the lake and conserve its ecological and biodiversity.
  • A major threat to Sukhna is the discharge of pollutants from neighbouring areas.
  • The catchment area of Sukhna Wetland spreading over 10,395 acres as finalised by the Survey of India includes 2,525 acres of Haryana and 684 acres of Punjab.
  • With this, various activities will be prohibited/regulated/ promoted both in the wetland as well catchment areas.
Wetland Conservation

Blue revolution a bane of KolleruPriority 1


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geographical Features of Kolleru Lake and its Biodiversity

Mains level: Shrinking size of Kolleru Lake and various other wetlands is a matter of concern


News

Pisciculture at Kolleru Lake is a bane

  1. The blue revolution converted the lake into a centre mainly for pisciculture.
  2. Operation Kolleru was launched to clear the lake of unauthorised fish tanks.
  3. But this would reduce the protected area of the lake from +5 to +3 contours (that is by 538 sq.km) and AP govt even had a resolution to that effect passed in the Assembly and forwarded it to the Centre.
  4. The huge yields with relatively low expenditure made it the primary destination for aquaculture making it the target of the worst kind of encroachment.

Defining the boundary

  1. The lake’s boundary varies depending on the seasonal inflows like in all inland wetlands.
  2. Towards the end of the monsoon, it used to extend right up to +10 feet contour with a water-spread area of 901 sq. km.
  3. According to the Ramsar records the lake, till contour +10 ft, is protected as per the international convention.

Issue over Boundary

  1. In the summer, the area covered by water reduces to 135 sq.km (Con.+3 ft).
  2. The present government’s decision to “denotify” 20,000 acres from the wildlife sanctuary as per the recommendations of the Sukumar Committee will lead to further encroachment of the shrinking lake and make it more vulnerable.

Centre’s stance over the issue

  1. In response to the State resolutions, the Centre appointed two expert committees — the UPA appointed the A. Azeez Committee and the NDA government the Sukumar Committee — to advise them about reducing the size.
  2. While the Azeez committee said there was very little benefit in reducing the size and recommended alternate land be provided to holders of private land.
  3. The Sukumar committee suggested that the private land be removed from the sanctuary.
  4. The present government’s decision to “denotify” 20,000 acres from the wildlife sanctuary as per the recommendations of the Sukumar Committee will lead to further encroachment of the shrinking lake and make it more vulnerable.

Back2Basics

Kolleru Lake

  1. Kolleru Lake is a freshwater lake and is known as Ramsar site no. 1209.
  2. It is located between Krishna and Godavari deltas of Andhra Pradesh
  3. As a haven for a wide variety of water birds, the Forest Department has declared 673 sq.km (Con.+5) as the Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary.
  4. It is an Important Bird Area on the Central Asian Flyway.
  5. It is important habitat for resident and migratory birds, including the grey or spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis). Many birds migrate here in winter, such as the Siberian crane, ibis, and painted storks.
Wetland Conservation

Ramsar tag likely for Sunderbans


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sunderban Reserve Forest, Ramsar Convention, 2017 Forest Survey of India report

Mains level: Issues related to conservation of wetlands and mangroves


New Ramsar site

  1. The Sunderban Reserve Forest having mangrove forests and creeks is likely to be declared a Ramsar Site soon
  2. The West Bengal government gave its approval to the State Forest Department to apply for recognition under the Ramsar Convention
  3. Sunderbans is already a World Heritage Site

Impact of declaration as Ramsar site

  1. This will bring a lot of international scientific attention and intervention to the area
  2. It will be the largest protected wetland in the country
  3. The Indian Sunderbans, with 2,114 sq. km. of mangrove forests comprise almost 43% of the mangrove cover in the country according to a 2017 Forest Survey of India report

Current status

  1. There are currently 26 sites in India recognised as Ramsar wetland sites of international importance

Back2Basics

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

  1. The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources
  2. The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975
  3. It is NOT a legally binding treaty
  4. The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans
  5. Every three years the Parties meet at the Conference of the Contracting Parties (the COP), where they adopt decisions to administer the Convention and guide its implementation
  6. Between the COPs, the Parties are represented by the Standing Committee, which meets yearly
  7. The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference
  8. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List
Wetland Conservation

[op-ed snap] Reconsider the Rulesop-ed snap


Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Ramsar sites and wetlands

Mains level: Issues related to the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017


New framework on Wetlands

  1.  The Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017
  2. It will replace the earlier Rules of 2010
  3. The 2010 and 2017 Rules for wetlands both emphasise that the ecological character of wetlands ought to be maintained for their conservation
  4. ‘Ecological character’ refers to processes and components which make the wetland a particular, and sometimes unique, ecosystem

SC’s direction to states

  1. This year, the Supreme Court passed an order directing States to identify wetlands in the country within a stipulated timeframe

Why are the experts criticizing the 2017 Wetland Rules?

  1. In the 2010 Rules, some related criteria were made explicit, such as natural beauty, ecological sensitivity, genetic diversity, historical value, etc.
  2. These have been omitted in the 2017 Rules
    WHY IS THIS PROBLEMATIC?
  3. First, there is multiple interest around wetlands. Multiple interests also have governance needs, and this makes it absolutely necessary to identify and map these multiple uses
  4. Second, it is crucial to identify ecological criteria so that the wetlands’ character can be maintained
  5. The key to wetland conservation is not just understanding regimes of multiple use — but conserving or managing the integrity of the wetland ecosystem
  6. Finally, restriction of activities on wetlands will be done as per the principle of ‘wise use’, determined by the State wetland authority
  7. Whether wise use will include maintaining ecological character remains to be seen
  8. Under the new Rules, no authority to issue directions, which are binding in nature to desist from any activity detrimental to wetland conservation, has been prescribed to State wetland authorities

Omission of salt pans from the 2017 rules

  1. Salt pans as ‘wetlands’ have been omitted from the new Rules
  2. They were identified as wetlands in the 2010 Rules, as they are often important sites of migratory birds and other forms of biodiversity
  3. The omission in the 2017 Rules suggests that while saltpans do exist as wetlands, they do not require any conservation or ecological balance

Observations of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the case of Deepor Beel

  1. The case: Issue of wetlands being multiple-use areas — and subsequently being abused due to clashes of interest
  2. Deepor Beel is a Ramsar site and a part of it is also wildlife sanctuary in Guwahati, Assam
  3. 26 storks died, due to ‘dumping of waste’ related issues
    Conversion of a wetland to a dry ecosystem
  4. In an inspection done by the judicial member of the Tribunal, it was noted that waste was being dumped “not beyond the site but within it,” and “demarcations are made by drying out areas or cutting off water sources”
  5. These are classic ways of killing a wetland and turning it from a wet to a dry ecosystem; or from a lake to a garbage dump or cesspool
  6. The Tribunal has now asked for the “traditional” spread of the wetland

The way forward

  1. Understanding the historic spread and ecological character will be an important bulwark for the way forward
  2. Setting clear governance systems would be the next
  3. Without either, we are looking at a complete dilution of wetlands in the country

Back2basics

Everything that you need to know: Wetlands, Ramsar Convention, Montreux Record

Wetland Conservation

Central control out, subjective aspects in: why new wetlands Rules are different


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Wetlands, Ramsar Convention, etc.

Mains level: Wetland are very crucial for coastal areas, the SC’s comment on their conservation has made them more important for the mains paper.


News

SC’s comment on wetland conservation

  1. The Supreme Court has expressed grave concern over the disappearance of the country’s wetlands
  2. It said, “If there are no wetlands left, it will affect agriculture and several other things. It is a very, very important issue”

SC’s observation on funds allocated for wetland conservation

  1. The court has observed that even after Rs 900 crore was spent on works related to wetlands, the activities shown were extremely general in nature
  2. SC has asked the Centre to provide a status report on funds disbursed to states, and the manner of their utilisation

Government’s response on the issue

  1. The government has informed the court that the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017, had been notified to replace the earlier set of guidelines that came into effect in 2010

New rules on wetlands conservation

  1. The 2010 Rules specifically included in the definition of wetlands “all inland waters such as lakes, reservoir, tanks, backwaters, lagoon, creeks, estuaries and man-made wetland and the zone of direct influence on wetlands”
  2. These have not been spelt out in the 2017 Rules

Difference between the old and new Rules

  1. The differences between the old and new Rules are also apparent in their applicability
  2. The 2010 Rules listed six points describing protected wetlands; the new Rules have done away with them
  3. And instead state that wetlands are limited to and do not include wetlands under forest and coastal regulation zones
  4. They apply to
    (a) wetlands categorised as “wetlands of international importance” under the Ramsar Convention and
    (b) wetlands as notified by the central government, state government and UT administration
  5. Restriction on activities in wetlands now no longer includes reclamation
  6. The Rules provide no timelines for phasing out solid waste and untreated waste from being dumped into wetlands
  7. The restrictions on “any other activity likely to have an adverse impact on the ecosystem of the wetland”, are not specified in the Rules
Wetland Conservation

States to get greater role in wetland management


  1. The Centre has started revising the regulatory framework on wetlands.
  2. As water and land are State subjects, the new framework will ensure greater role and ownership by States in wetland management.
  3. The environment ministry will lay emphasis on conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  4. The National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) provides the policy framework and support to States.
Wetland Conservation

Conservation of Malabar wetlands remains a far cry


  1. The frequent alerts by environmental organisations and field studies show increasing threat faced by the major wetlands in north Kerala.
  2. There has been no concrete measures on the part of the local bodies or the govt to address the concerns.
  3. The activities mainly include the illegal land reclamation activities and dumping of solid and non-degradable waste in the wetland area.
Wetland Conservation

Chennai paid the price for loss of wetlands and open spaces: study


Encroachments on buffer around rivers will have consequences, say experts.

  1. Chennai’s resilience to the recent deluge has taken a severe beating as nearly a quarter of its wetlands, open space and floodplains have given way to concrete structures.
  2. Researchers at the Centre for Ecological Sciences in IISc, Bengaluru, tabulated the “worrisome” growth patterns of the coastal city.
  3. The research shows that since 1991, the city’s concrete structures have increased nearly 13 times.
  4. Correspondingly, floodplains and open areas have been reduced by a fourth.
  5. In cities like Chennai and Kolkata, marshes and floodplains play a very important role in draining out overflowing rivers.
Wetland Conservation

MoEF focuses on Yamuna wetland


  1. The Yamuna wetland is situated in Greater Noida and is home to rare birds.
  2. One of such rare birds is – Sarus Crane, the state bird of UP.
  3. NGT orders declaring Dhanauri and Parasol as wetland to protect this species.
  4. The main threat to the Sarus crane in India is habitat loss and degradation due to drainage and conversion of land for agriculture.

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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