What’s the news?
- The Environment ministry notified that India has added 10 more Ramsar sites, or wetlands that are of international importance, taking the number of such sites to 64.
- The 10 new sites include six in Tamil Nadu and one each in Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha which encompass an area of 1,51,842.41 hectares, bringing India’s total wetland area to 1.2 million hectares.
- The 10 newly added sites are as follows:
- Tamil Nadu: Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary, Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve, Vembanur Wetland Complex, Vellode Bird Sanctuary, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Udayamarthandapuram Bird Sanctuary.
- Odisha: Satkosia Gorge
- Goa: Nanda Lake
- Karnataka: Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
- Madhya Pradesh: Sirpur Wetland
About Ramsar Convention
- The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance signed in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
- It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem (wetlands).
- At present, 172 nations are signatories (including India) to the Ramsar Convention. A contracting party agrees to nominate at least one wetland in its territory to the List of Wetlands of International Importance based on enumerated criteria.
- In addition, contracting parties agree to manage all their wetlands based on the concept of “wise use.” Wise use means the maintenance of the ecological character of the wetland and allowance of sustainable use for the benefit of people and the environment.
What are Wetlands?
- A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, and it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem
- The Ramsar Convention defines wetlands as “areas of marsh, fen, peatlands 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“.
- Five major wetland types are generally recognized:
- marine (coastal wetlands including coastal lagoons, rocky shores, and coral reefs);
- estuarine (including deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps);
- lacustrine (wetlands associated with lakes);
- riverine (wetlands along rivers and streams); and
- palustrine (meaning “marshy” – marshes, swamps and bogs).
- The definition of wetlands is very broad and includes ponds, water storage areas, low-tide coastal zones and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.
About Montreux record
- 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.
- Currently, Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and Loktak Lake (Manipur) are being kept under the record for taking appropriate steps for ecological restoration.
- Chilika lake (Odisha) was placed in the record but was later removed from it.