Wetland Conservation

While you follow the story on wetlands in India – catch up on a quick trivia wrt. farming systems which received global recognition.

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.

Try this PYQ:

Q.With reference to the wetlands of India, consider the following statements:

  1. The country’s total geographical area under the category of wetlands is recorded more in Gujarat as compared to other states.
  2. In India, the total geographical area of coastal wetlands is larger than that of inland wetlands.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

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.

Wetland Conservation

Wetland’ status for Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake

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.

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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