This article talks about a List Of Ramsar Sites In India and Indian Wetlands With Map for UPSC [Environment & Ecology Notes].
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.
The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatland, 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.
Significance of Wetlands
- Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment. They mitigate floods, protect coastlines and build community resilience to disasters, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality.
- Wetlands are critical to human and planet life. More than 1 billion people depend on them for a living and 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands.
- They are a vital source for food, raw materials, genetic resources for medicines, and hydropower.
- 30% of land-based carbon is stored in peatland.
- They play an important role in transport, tourism, and the cultural and spiritual well-being of people.
- Many wetlands are areas of natural beauty and many are important to Aboriginal people.
- As per the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services)’s global assessment wetlands are the most threatened ecosystem.
- Wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than forests due to human activities and global warming.
- According to UNESCO, the threat to wetlands will have an adverse impact on 40% of the world’s flora and fauna that live or breed in wetlands.
- Major threats: Agriculture, development, pollution, and climate change.
- IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body established to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being, and sustainable development.
- It was established in Panama City (US), in April 2012.
- It is not a United Nations body.
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
The term was coined when the International Treaty for the Conservation and Sustainable use of Wetlands was signed at a city of Iran called Ramsar in 1971.
It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands.
Ramsar Convention is a convention on wetlands that was signed in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. The negotiations for the convention started in the 1960s by the different countries and NGOs for the protection of wetland habitats of migratory waterbirds. Finally, it came into force in 1975.
February 2 is celebrated as International Wetlands Day as the Ramsar Convention was signed on February 2, 1971.
The Ramsar Convention works with the collaboration of the following organizations:
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- Birdlife International.
- International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
- Wetlands International.
- Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)
- WWF International
Under the “three pillars” of the Convention, the Contracting Parties commit to:
- work towards the wise use of all their wetlands;
- designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management;
- cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems, and shared species.
Any Wetland site which has been listed under the Ramsar Convention that aims to conserve it and promote sustainable use of its natural resources is called a Ramsar Site.
At the time of joining the Convention, each Contracting Party undertakes to designate at least one wetland site for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
The inclusion of a “Ramsar Site” in the List embodies the government’s commitment to take the steps necessary to ensure that its ecological character is maintained.
The Ramsar sites are maintained in Montreux Record to track any major ecological changes that might affect any of the wetland sites positively or in a reverse way.
- The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Ramsar 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. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
- At present, two wetlands of India are in Montreux Record:
- Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and
- Loktak Lake (Manipur).
- Note: Chilka Lake (Odisha) was placed in the record but was later removed from it.
There are currently over 2,400 Ramsar Sites on the territories of 171 Ramsar Contracting Parties across the world. They cover over 2.5 million square kilometers, an area larger than Mexico.
- India is a party to the Ramsar Convention. India signed under it on 1st February 1982.
- Sundarbans is the largest Ramsar Site of India.
- Chilika Lake (Orissa) and Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) were recognized as the first Ramsar Sites of India.
- Renuka Wetland (Area – 20 ha) in Himachal Pradesh is the smallest wetland of India.
- World’s First Ramsar site was identified in 1974, which was the Cobourg Peninsula in Australia.
Ramsar Sites in India
- The Ramsar convention entered into force in India on 1 February 1982.
- All wetlands, irrespective of their location, size, ownership, biodiversity, or ecosystem services values, can be notified under the Wetlands Rules 2017, except river channels, paddy fields, human-made waterbodies specifically constructed for drinking water, aquaculture, salt production, recreation, irrigation purposes, wetlands falling within areas covered under the Indian Forest Act, 1927, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011.
- India has over 7 lakh wetlands, covering 4.5% of the country’s area, yet none of the wetlands has been notified under domestic laws.
- Wetlands are regulated under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017.
As of August 2021, there are 46 Ramsar Sites in India.
List of Ramsar sites in India
|S.No.||Ramsar Sites in India||State – Location|
|2||Beas Conservation Reserve||Punjab|
|4||Bhoj Wetlands||Madhya Pradesh|
|5||Chandra Taal||Himachal Pradesh|
|8||East Kolkata Wetlands||West Bengal|
|10||Hokera Wetland||Jammu & Kashmir|
|12||Keoladeo National Park||Rajasthan|
|13||Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve||Punjab|
|14||Kolleru lake||Andhra Pradesh|
|16||Nalsarovar Bird sanctuary||Gujarat|
|18||Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary||Punjab|
|19||Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|20||Parvati Arga Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|21||Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary||Tamil Nadu|
|22||Pong Dam lake||Himachal Pradesh|
|23||Renuka lake||Himachal Pradesh|
|26||Saman Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|27||Samaspur Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|29||Sandi Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|30||Sarsai Nawar Jheel||Uttar Pradesh|
|32||Surinsar-Mansar lakes||Jammu & Kashmir|
|33||Tsomoriri||Jammu & Kashmir|
|34||Upper Ganga river||Uttar Pradesh|
|35||Vembanad Kol Wetland||Kerala|
|36||Wular lake||Jammu & Kashmir|
|37||Sunderban Wetland||West Bengal|
|38||Asan Barrage (Asan Conservation Reserve)||Uttarakhand|
|39||Kanwar Taal or Kabartaal Lake (Kabartal Wetland)||Bihar, Begusarai|
|40||Sur Sarovar Lake||Uttar Pradesh, Agra district|
|41||Lonar Lake||Maharashtra, Buldhana district|
|42||Tso Kar Wetland Complex||Ladakh, Leh district|
|43||Sultanpur National Park||Gurugram, Haryana|
|44||Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary||Jhajjar, Haryana|
|45||Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary||Mehsana, Gujarat|
|46||Wadhwana Wetland||Vadodara, Gujarat|
Ramsar sites in India with International importance
1. Ashtamudi Wetland
- It is a natural backwater in the Kollam district.
- River Kallada and Pallichal drain into it.
- It forms an estuary with Sea at Neendakara (a famous fishing harbor in Kerala).
- National Waterway 3 passes through it.
2. Beas Conservation Reserve
- It is a 185-kilometer stretch of the Beas River.
- The stretch is dotted with islands, sand bars, and braided channels.
- The Reserve hosts the only known population in India of the endangered Indus river dolphin.
- In 2017, a program was initiated to re-introduce the critically endangered gharial.
3. Bhitarkanika Mangroves
- It is part of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and designated as Ramsar Wetland of International Importance in 2002.
- Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary is adjacent to the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary.
- It is famous for its saltwater crocodiles and Olive ridley sea turtle.
- The core area of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary was declared Bhitarkanika National Park.
- Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary includes Gahirmatha Marine Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Bhitarkanikais located in the estuary of Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra& Mahanadi river systems.
4. Bhoj Wetland
- The Wetland consists of two lakes located in the city of Bhopal.
- The two lakes are the Bhojtal and the Lower Lake.
- It is a humanmade reservoir.
- The largest bird of India, the sarus crane is found here.
5. Chandra Taal
- It is a high-altitude lake. Tso Chikgma or Chandra Taal (meaning the Lake of the Moon), or Chandra Tal is a lake in the Lahaul part of the Lahul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
- Chandra Taal is near the source of the Chandra River (a source river of the Chenab).
- It supports IUCN Red-listed Snow Leopard.
- Migratory species such as the Ruddy shelduck are found in summer.
6. Chilika Lake
- It is a brackish water lagoon at the mouth of the Daya River.
- It is the largest coastal lagoon in India.
- Birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea, and other remote parts of Central Asia, Ladakh, and the Himalayas come here.
- In 1981, Chilika Lake has designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
- Nalbana Bird Sanctuary is the core area of the Ramsar designated wetlands of Chilika Lake.
- The Irrawaddy dolphin (critically endangered) is the flagship species of Chilika lake.
- Chilka is home to the only known population of Irrawaddy dolphins in India.
- Chilika Lake is claimed to have 20% of India’s seagrass distribution, which plays a vital role in oxygen production and absorption of carbon dioxide and acts as a purifier in aquatic ecology.
7. Deepor Beel
- A permanent freshwater lake in a former channel of the Brahmaputra river.
- It is a few kilometers to the left of Guwahati whereas Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is around 35 km to the right.
8. East Kolkata Wetlands
- It is multiple use wetland that serves the city of Kolkata.
9. Harike Wetland
- It is a shallow water reservoir at the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej rivers.
- It is an important site for breeding, wintering, and staging birds, supporting over 200,000 Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.) during migration.
- The Punjab government has planned to introduce amphibious vehicles which can run both on water and land at Harike wetlands.
- Reintroduction of wild gharials in the Beas river area of Harike wetlands.
10. Hokera Wetland
- It is only 10 km from Srinagar.
- It is a natural perennial wetland contiguous to the Jhelum basin.
11. Kanjli Wetland
- Kanjli Wetland, a man-made Wetland, which subsumes the Kanjli Lake, located in the Kapurthala district of Punjab was created by constructing the headworks across the perennial Bien River, a tributary of the Beas River to provide irrigation facilities to the hinterland.
- The stream is considered to be the most significant in the state from the religious point of view, as it is associated with the first guru of the Sikhs, Shri Guru Nanak.
12. Keoladeo National Park
- Formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
- A complex of ten artificial, seasonal lagoons, varying in size.
- Vegetation is a mosaic of scrub and open grassland that provides habitat for breeding, wintering, and staging migratory birds.
- The invasive growth of the grass Paspalum distichum has changed the ecological character of large areas of the site, reducing its suitability for certain waterbird species, notably the Siberian crane.
- It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
13. Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve
- The Site is an example of wise use of a community-managed wetland, which provides food for people and supports local biodiversity.
- Threatened species present include the vulnerable common pochard and the endangered spotted pond turtle.
14. Kolleru Lake
- A natural eutrophic lake situated between the river basins of the Godavari and the Krishna in Andhra Pradesh.
- The lake serves as a natural flood-balancing reservoir for the two rivers.
- It was previously a lagoon, but now it is several kilometers inland due to the coastline of emergence and delta formation.
- It was notified as a Wildlife Sanctuary in 1999 under India’s Wild Life Protection Act,1972.
- It was declared a wetland of international importance in 2002 under the Ramsar convention.
The Atapaka Bird Sanctuary at Kolleru Lake has become a safe breeding ground for two migratory species namely, Grey Pelicans and Painted Storks.
- The present water level in Kolleru Lake, including Atapaka Sanctuary, is posing a slight challenge for the birds to hunt their prey in the deep waters.
- Grey Pelican and Painted Stork both are near-threatened species under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Eutrophic water body
- The eutrophic waterbody, commonly a lake or pond, has high biological productivity.
- Due to excessive nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, these water bodies are able to support an abundance of aquatic plants.
- Usually, the water body will be dominated either by aquatic plants or algae. When aquatic plants dominate, the water tends to be clear. When algae dominate, the water tends to be darker.
15. Loktak Lake
- Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the north-eastern region of the country.
- Keibul Lamjao the only floating national park in the world floats over it.
16. Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary
- A natural freshwater lake (a relict sea) that is the largest natural wetland in the Thar Desert.
- The wetland is a lifeline for a satellite population of the endangered Indian Wild Ass.
17. Nandur Madhameshwar
- Construction of the Nandur Madhameshwar Weir at the confluence of the Godavari and Kadwa Rivers helped create a thriving wetland.
18. Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary
- Located in the Shiwalik foothills of Punjab.
- It supports abundant flora and fauna including threatened species, such as the endangered Indian pangolin and Egyptian vulture.
- It occupies a human-made reservoir constructed as part of the Bhakra-Nangal Project in 1961.
- The site is of historic importance as the Indian and Chinese Prime Ministers formalized the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” there in 1954.
19. Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary
- It was renamed as Chandra Shekhar Azad Bird Sanctuary in 2015.
20. Parvati Arga Bird Sanctuary
- It is a permanent freshwater environment consisting of two oxbow lakes.
- The Sanctuary is a refuge for some of India’s threatened vulture species: the critically endangered white-rumped vulture and Indian vulture.
21. Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary
- One of the last remnants of Dry Evergreen Forests.
- Habitat: Dry Evergreen Forests, Mangrove & Wetlands.
22. Pong Dam Lake
- It is also known as Maharana Pratap Sagar.
- Pong Dam Lake is a water storage reservoir created in 1975 on the Beas River in the low foothills of the Himalaya on the northern edge of the Indo-Gangetic plain.
- The avian habitats formed by the creation of the Pong Dam assume great significance – given the site’s location on the trans-Himalayan flyway, more than 220 bird species have been identified, with 54 species of waterfowl.
- Fauna: Barking deer, sambar, wild boars, nilgai, leopards, and oriental small-clawed otters.
23. Renuka Lake
- A natural wetland with freshwater springs and inland subterranean karst formations.
24. Ropar Wetland
- A human-made wetland of lake and river formed by the construction of a barrage for diversion of water from the Sutlej River.
25. Rudrasagar Lake
- It is a reservoir fed by three perennial streams discharging to the River Gomti.
- It is an ideal habitat for IUCN Red-listed Three-striped Roof Turtle.
26. Saman Bird Sanctuary
- It is a seasonal oxbow lake on the Ganges floodplain.
27. Samaspur Bird Sanctuary
- It is a perennial lowland marsh typical of the Indo-Gangetic Plains.
- The Sanctuary harbours threatened species such as the endangered Egyptian vulture.
28. Sambhar Lake
- The Sambhar Salt Lake is India’s largest inland saltwater lake.
- It is a key wintering area for tens of thousands of flamingos.
29. Sandi Bird Sanctuary
- The wetland is typical of the Indo-Gangetic plains.
30. Sarsai Nawar Jheel
- It is a permanent marsh.
- It is an example of co-habitation of humans and wildlife.
- The site’s name is derived from the large non-migratory sarus crane.
31. Sasthamkotta Lake
- It is the largest freshwater lake in Kerala, situated in Kollam district.
- River Kallada had a unique replenishing system through a bar of paddy field.
- The lake is now depleting due to destruction of replenishing mechanism.
32. Sundarban Wetland
- Sundarban Wetland is located within the largest mangrove forest in the world.
- It is the largest Ramsar Site in India.
- The Indian Sundarban, covering the south-westernmost part of the delta, constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area and includes 90% of Indian mangrove species.
33. Surinsar-Mansar Lakes
- Freshwater composite lake in semi-arid Panjab Plains, adjoining the Jhelum Basin.
34. Tsomoriri (Tso Moriri)
- Tso Moriri or Lake Moriri or “Mountain Lake”, is a lake in the Changthang Plateau (literally: northern plains) in Ladakh
- Changpa Tribes or Champa are semi-nomadic Tibetan people found mainly in the Changtang in Ladakh and in Jammu and Kashmir.
- A freshwater to brackish lake lying at 4,595m above sea level.
- The site is said to represent the only breeding ground outside of China for one of the most endangered cranes, the Black-necked crane, and the only breeding ground for Bar-headed geese in India.
- The Great Tibetan Sheep or Argali and Tibetan Wild Ass are endemic to the region.
- With no outflow, evaporation in the arid steppe conditions causes varying levels of salinity.
35. Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora Stretch)
- The river provides habitat for IUCN Red listed Ganges River Dolphin and Gharial Crocodile.
36. Vembanad-Kol Wetland
- The largest lake of Kerala, spanning across Alappuzha, Kottayam, and Ernakulam districts.
- It is the second-largest Ramsar Site in India after Sundarbans.
- It is also the longest lake in India.
- It is below sea level and is famous for exotic fish varieties and Paddy fields that are below sea level.
- The ‘Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary’ is located on the east coast of the lake.
37. Wular Lake
- It is the largest freshwater lake in India.
- The lake basin was formed as a result of tectonic activity and is fed by the Jhelum River.
- The Tulbul Project is a “navigation lock-cum-control structure” at the mouth of Wular Lake.
38. Asan Conservation Reserve
- ACR is a 444-hectare stretch of the Asan River running down to its confluence with the Yamuna River in the Dehradun district of Uttarakhand. It is Uttarakhand’s first Ramsar Site.
- The damming of the River by the Asan Barrage in 1967 resulted in siltation above the dam wall, which helped to create some of the Site’s bird-friendly habitats.
- These habitats support 330 species of birds including the critically endangered red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis), and Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri).
- Other non-avian species present include 49 fish species, one of these being the endangered Putitora mahseer (Tor putitora). Fish use the site for feeding, migration, and spawning.
39. Kabartal Wetland
- Also known as Kanwar Jheel, it covers 2,620 hectares of the Indo-Gangetic plains in the Begusarai district of Bihar.
- It acts as a vital flood buffer for the region besides providing livelihood opportunities to local communities.
- Significant biodiversity is present, with 165 plant species and 394 animal species recorded, including 221 bird species. It is also a valuable site for fish biodiversity with over 50 species documented.
- It is an important stopover along the Central Asian Flyway, with 58 migratory waterbirds using it to rest and refuel.
- Five critically endangered species inhabit the site, including three vultures – the red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and Indian vulture (Gyps indicus) – and two waterbirds, the sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) and Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri).
- Major threats to the Site include water management activities such as drainage, water abstraction, damming and canalization.
- It is also known as Keetham lake situated within the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, which was declared as a bird sanctuary in the year 1991.
- This lake is situated alongside the river Yamuna in Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
- The Soor Sarovar bird sanctuary covered an area of 7.97 sq km.
- It is today home to more than 165 species of migratory and resident birds.
- It also has a Bear Rescue center for rescued dancing bears.
- The Lonar lake, situated in the Deccan Plateau’s volcanic basalt rock, was created by the impact of a meteor 35,000 to 50,000 years ago.
- The lake is part of Lonar Wildlife Sanctuary which falls under the unified control of the Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR).
- It is also known as a Lonar crater and is a notified National Geo-heritage Monument. Geo-heritage refers to the geological features which are inherently or culturally significant offering insight to earth’s evolution or history to earth science or that can be utilized for education.
- It is the second Ramsar site in Maharashtra after Nandur Madhmeshwar Bird Sanctuary in the Nashik district.
- The water in the lake is highly saline and alkaline, containing special microorganisms like anaerobes, Cyanobacteria, and phytoplankton.
42. Tso Kar Wetland Complex (Tso Kar Lake)
- Ladakh’s Tso Kar Wetland Complex has been recognized as a wetland of international importance, becoming India’s 42nd Ramsar site. This is the second Ramsar site in the Union Territory of Ladakh. It is a high-altitude wetland complex, found at more than 4,500 meters above sea level in the Changthang region of Ladakh.
- The Tso Kar Basin is a high-altitude wetland complex, which comprises two principal waterbodies– Startsapuk Tso and Tso Kar Lake situated in Ladakh’s Changthang region.
- Startsapuk Tso is a freshwater lake and Tso Kar is a hypersaline lake.
- The TSO Kar name means white lake and it was given because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins of the wetlands due to the evaporation of highly saline water.
- The TSO Kar basin is categorized as A1 Category Important Bird Area (IBA) as per BirdLife International and is also a key staging site in the Central Asian Flyway.
- The basin is one of the most important breeding areas of the Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis) in India.
- It is also a major breeding area for the Bar-headed Geese (Anserindicus), Great Crested Grebe (Podicepscristatus), Ruddy Shelduck (Tadornaferruginea), Lesser Sand-Plover (Charadriusmongolus) and Brown-headed Gull (Larusbrunnicephalus), and many other species.
Global Important Bird Area Criteria
Based on the criteria, the Global Important Bird Areas are classified as follows:
- A1 Category: Globally Threatened Species. The sites under this category hold bird population that is categorized as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- A2 Category: Restricted Range species
- A3: Biome Restricted Species
- A4: Congregations
43. Sultanpur National Park, Haryana
- Sultanpur National Park (formerly Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary) is located at Sultanpur village on Gurugram-Jhajjar highway, 15 km from Gurugram, Haryana, and 50 km from Delhi in India.
- More than 10 globally threatened, including the critically endangered sociable lapwing, and the endangered Egyptian Vulture, Saker Falcon, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, and Black-bellied Tern birds are found here.
- It is essentially a bird watcher’s paradise.
44. Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary
- It is a human-made freshwater wetland, located in Jhajjar district, Haryana.
- It is an important part of the ecological corridor along the route of Sahibi River which traverses from Aravalli hills in Rajasthan to the Yamuna.
- It shares its border with Khaparwas Wildlife Sanctuary (Haryana).
45. Thol Lake
- It is located in the Mehsana district of Gujarat. It is a shallow freshwater reservoir and a predominantly open water area. It is a man-made wetland.
- It lies on the Central Asian Flyway and more than 320 bird species can be found here.
- The wetland supports more than 30 threatened waterbird species, such as the critically endangered White-rumped Vulture and Sociable Lapwing, and the vulnerable Sarus Crane, Common Pochard, and Lesser White-fronted Goose.
46. Wadhvana Wetland
- It is located in Dabhoi Tehsil (Taluka), Vadodara district, Gujarat.
- River Orsang (which joins with the Narmada River at Chandod) flows into the lake.
- The red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), a duck that is otherwise rare in Western India, is regularly recorded here during winter.
- It is internationally important for its birdlife as it provides wintering ground to migratory waterbirds, including over 80 species that migrate on the Central Asian Flyway.
Criteria for Identification of Wetlands under Ramsar Convention
If a wetland –
- contains a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type.
- supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species; or threatened ecological communities.
- supports populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region.
- supports plant and/or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles or provides refuge during adverse conditions.
- regularly supports 20,000 or more water birds.
- regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of water birds.
- supports a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies
- is an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or migration path.
- is an important source of food and water resource, increased possibilities for recreation and eco-tourism, etc.
- Wetlands International is a global organization (NGO) that works to sustain and restore wetlands and their resources for people and biodiversity.
- Wetlands International’s work ranges from research, advocacy, and engagement with governments, corporate and international policy fora, and conventions.
National Wetlands Conservation Programme (NWCP)
- NWCP was implemented in the year 1985-86.
- Under the programme, 115 wetlands have been identified by the MoEF which require urgent conservation and management interventions.
- Criteria for identification of wetlands of national importance under NWCP are the same as those prescribed under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
- The Central Government is responsible for the overall coordination of wetland conservation programmes.
- It also provides guidelines, financial & technical assistance to state govt.
- Since the land resources belong to them, the State Governments/UT Administration are responsible for the management of wetlands.
- Conservation of wetlands to prevent their further degradation and to ensure their wise use for the benefit of local communities and overall conservation of biodiversity.
- to lay down policy guidelines for conservation and management of wetlands.
- to provide financial assistance for undertaking intensive conservation measures.
- to monitor the implementation of the programme.
- to prepare an inventory of Indian wetlands.
Wetland Conservation and Management Rules 2017 – Provisions
Wetlands are regulated under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. The 2010 version of the Rules provided for a Central Wetland Regulatory Authority, but new Rules of 2017 replaced it with state-level bodies and created a National Wetland Committee, which functions in an advisory role.
The newer regulations removed some items from the definition of “wetlands” including backwaters, lagoons, creeks, and estuaries. Under the 2017 regulations process to identify the wetlands has been delegated to the States.
- Constitution of State Wetland Authority: It has provisions for setting up of a State Wetland Authority (SWA) in every state and Union Territory to be headed by the Environment Minister of the respective state. It is to include a range of government officials. One expert each in the fields of hydrology, socioeconomics, landscape planning, fisheries, and wetland ecology. They will determine the ‘wise use principle’ that shall govern the management of wetlands. “Wise use” can be defined as the principles of sustainable use that are compatible with conservation. This has led to the decentralization of powers. The SWA shall:
- Develop a comprehensive list of activities to be regulated and permitted within notified wetlands and their zone of influence.
- Recommend additional prohibited activities for specified wetlands.
- Define strategies for better use of wetlands.
- Recommend measures for wetland conservation and for raising awareness among its stakeholders and local communities with respect to the importance of wetlands.
- Setting up of National Wetland committee: NWC will replace the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority and shall be headed by the secretary to MoEFCC.
National Wetland Committee (NWC)
National Wetland Committee (NWC) will be set up for
- Monitoring the implementation of rules
- Advising the central government on appropriate policies and action programs for conservation and wise use of wetlands.
- Recommending designation of Wetlands of International importance under the Ramsar Convention.
- Advice collaboration with international agencies on issues related to wetlands.
- Setting up a digital inventory: It is compulsory for all the state authorities to prepare a list of all the wetlands. Based on this, a digital inventory for wetlands will be created and updated every 10 years.
- Prohibited activities: The rules prohibit the discharge of unwanted waste from villages, towns, cities, industries, etc., and solid waste dumping into the wetlands. Conversion of wetland area for non-wetland purposes, construction of a permanent structure on notified wetlands is banned.
These rules shall apply to wetlands notified by the State government, Central government, Union territory Administrations, and those classified as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar convention.