Explain the importance of wetlands and discuss the measures taken by India in Protection of wetlands in India.
Wetlands are locations where water is the dominant force governing the ecosystem and the plant and animal life that inhabits them. They exist where the water table is at or near the land’s surface, or where the land is submerged in water.
Wetlands are defined as “lands that are transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems, with the water table generally at or near the surface or the land covered by shallow water.”
- Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems that supply about two-thirds of the world’s fish catch.
- Wetlands play an important part in the watershed’s ecosystem. The combination of shallow water and high nutrient levels is perfect for the growth of creatures that constitute the foundation of the food web and provide food for many kinds of fish, amphibians, shellfish, and insects.
- Microbes, plants, and wildlife in wetlands contribute to world water, nitrogen, and sulphur cycles. Wetlands retain carbon in their plant communities and soil rather than releasing it into the sky as CO2.
- They offer habitat for animals and plants, and many of them are home to a diverse range of life, including species and creatures found nowhere else.
- Many wetlands are natural regions of beauty that attract tourists, and many are important to Aboriginal people.
- Wetlands also bring significant economic benefits to business. They, for example, serve as nurseries for fish and other freshwater and marine species, and are vital to the commercial and recreational fishing sectors.
- Wetlands act as natural barriers, capturing and gently releasing surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater, and floods. Wetland vegetation also slows flood flows, lowering flood heights and reducing soil erosion.
- Wetlands are essential to human and environmental existence. More than one billion people rely on them for a living, and wetlands are home to 40% of the world’s biodiversity.
- Wetlands are an important source of food, raw materials, genetic resources for pharmaceuticals, and electricity.
- They play a significant role in transportation, tourism, and people’s cultural and spiritual well-being.
- Urbanization: Wetlands surrounding metropolitan areas are increasingly being developed for residential, industrial, and commercial purposes. Wetlands in cities are critical for safeguarding public water sources.
- Climate Change: Higher air temperature, precipitation changes, increased frequency of storms, droughts, and floods, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, and sea level rise might all have an impact on wetlands.
- Dredging is the process of removing debris from a marsh or river bed. Dredging of streams lowers the water table and dries off nearby wetlands.
- Wetlands are drained by digging canals into the earth that collect and convey water out of the wetland. This causes the water table to fall and the marsh to dry up.
- Exotic imported plant species such as water hyacinth and salvinia pose a threat to Indian wetlands. They obstruct drainage systems and compete with natural plants.
- Salinization: Excessive groundwater removal has resulted in salinization.
- Agriculture: Vast swaths of wetlands have been turned to rice paddies. The construction of a vast number of reservoirs, canals, and dams for irrigation changed the hydrology of the related wetlands dramatically.
- Wetlands operate as natural water filters, reducing pollution. They can, however, only remove fertilisers and pesticides from agricultural runoff, not mercury from industrial sources or other forms of pollution.
- 2017 Wetlands Conservation and Management Rules: It forbids conversion to non-wetland usage, as well as the establishment or extension of companies in wetland regions. Furthermore, each state and Union Territory will be required to establish a wetland authority to specify wetlands protection plans.
- National Inventory and Assessment of Wetlands: It was carried out by the Indian Space Research Organization between 2006 and 2011 utilising remote sensing satellites. It identified around 2 lakh wetlands in India.
- The National Plan for Aquatic Ecosystem Conservation: It is a unified conservation effort for both wetlands and lakes. It aims to improve synergy and eliminate administrative function overlap. The National Lake Conservation Plan and the National Wetlands Conservation Programme were combined to establish it in 2015.
- The creation of the Centre for Wetland Conservation and Management (CWCM) was announced in February 2021. Its goal is to address specific research requirements and knowledge gaps in wetland conservation and management.
- The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental convention that establishes a framework for national and international action to conserve and wisely utilise wetlands and their resources.
- The Montreux Record is a registry of wetland locations on the Ramsar List of Ramsar wetlands of worldwide significance. It identifies such locations where there have been or are anticipated to be negative ecological changes as a result of anthropogenic activity. Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and Loktak Lake (India) are among the Indian places included in the Montreux Record (Manipur).
Wetland management must be an integrated strategy in terms of planning, implementation, and monitoring to counteract unplanned urbanisation and a growing population. Effective cooperation between academics and professionals, including ecologists, watershed management specialists, planners, and decision makers, for overall wetlands management. Spreading knowledge by launching awareness campaigns on the importance of wetlands, as well as continuous monitoring of wetlands for water quality, will give critical inputs to protect the wetlands from further deterioration.
How to structure
- Give an intro about wetlands
- Explain the importance of wetlands
- Mention the measures taken by India in this
- Mention challenges faces and suggest way forward