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

All about managing wetlands- Ramsar Convention, Montreux Record, National Wetland Conservation Program of India

What is a wetland?

  • In simple words: Wetlands are areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life
  • Where? They occur where the water table is at or near the surface of the land, or where the land is covered by water
  • Most widespread definition: Lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water
  • Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres

 

Significance:

  • Wetlands, natural and manmade, freshwater or brackish, provide numerous ecological services
  • Earlier: Treated as transitional habitats or seral stages in succession from open water to land
  • Now: Considered to be distinct ecosystems with specific ecological characteristics, functions and values

Here, this comic might help you understand their importance more clearly…


Health:

  • The density of birds, in particular, is an accurate indication of the ecological health of a particular wetland
  • However, unsustainable use of wetland without reckoning of their assimilative capacity constitutes major threat to their conservation and management

Ramsar Convention on Wetland

  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971
  • Ramsar is a city on the shores of Caspian sea
  • It is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources
  • There are presently 158 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1758 wetland sites, totaling 161 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance
  • Ramsar Convention is the only global environment treaty dealing with a particular ecosystem

Need:

  • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was developed as a means to call international attention to the rate at which wetland habitats were disappearing
  • This was in part due to a lack of understanding of their important functions, values, goods and services
  • Governments that join the Convention are expressing their willingness to make a commitment to helping to reverse that history of wetland loss and degradation
  • In addition, many wetlands are international systems lying across the boundaries of two or more countries, or are part of river basins that include more than one country
  • The health of these and other wetlands is dependent upon the quality and quantity of the transboundary water supply from rivers, streams, lakes, or underground aquifers
  • This requires framework for international discussion and cooperation toward mutual benefits

Major obligations under the Convention:

  • Designate wetlands for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance
  • Promote, as far as possible, the wise use of wetlands in their territory
  • Promote international cooperation especially with regard to transboundary wetlands, shared water systems, and shared species
  • Create wetland reserves

Montreux Record:

  • It is a register of wetland sites on Ramsar List 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
  • It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List
  • It was determined that the Montreux Record should be employed to identify priority sites for positive national and international conservation attention
  • Sites may be added to and removed from the Record only with the approval of the Contracting Parties in which they lie

World Wetland Day:

  • It is celebrated each year on 2 February, marks the date of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971
  • It was celebrated for the first time on February 2, 1997, on the 16th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention
  • Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular

National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP)

  • Government of India opertionalized NWCP in closed collaboration with concerned State Government during the year 1985-86
  • Under the programme, 115 wetlands have been identified till now by the Ministry which requires urgent conservation and management initiatives

Aim: Conservation and wise use of wetlands in the country so as to prevent their further degradation

Objectives:

  • To lay down policy guidelines for conservation and management of wetlands in the country
  • To undertake intensive conservation measures in priority wetlands
  • To monitor implementation of the programme
  • To prepare an inventory of Indian wetlands

Funding pattern:

  • Financial assistance under NWCP is provided for two components i.e.
  • Management Action Plan (MAP) and Research Projects
  • Under the Scheme, 100% assistance is provided for activities
  • Conservation and management of wetlands is primarily vested with the State/UTs, who are in physical possession of the area

MAP:

  • After identification of wetlands under the Scheme, the State/UTs are to submit long-term comprehensive Management Action Plans (MAPs) for a period of 3-5 years, preferably 5 years, coinciding with the Plan period
  • The State Governments are advised to define objectives taking into consideration factors responsible for degradation of the wetland
  • The MAP should also have short-term objectives to cater to immediate problems confronting wetlands and to go in for immediate rectification measures
  • The comprehensive MAP should be based on integrated and multi-disciplinary approach
  • These are scrutinized and approved by the Central Government with certain necessary changes
  • After the approval of MAP, funds are released annually to the State/UTs as per Annual Plan of Operation (APOs) submitted to the Central Government

Research:

Under the Scheme, Ministry also sponsor multidisciplinary research projects by academic/ managerial/ research institutions on various aspects of wetland conservation to supplement execution of MAP in more realistic manner


Some questions for you:

  1. What are the major threats wetlands around the world face? Evaluate the role of Ramsar convention in addressing the issue of threat to wetlands

  2. Discuss the importance of conservation of wetlands, open space and flood plains for sustainable urban growth

Published with inputs from Swapnil

By B2B

Revisiting the Basics

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