About Ramsar Convention
- The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance signed in 1971, is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
- It is named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the Caspian Sea.
- It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem (wetlands).
- At present, 171 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.
Why in News?
- Four more Indian sites, two each from Haryana and Gujarat have been recognised as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, taking the number of such sites in the country to 46.
- The 46 Ramsar sites in India include the Chilika Lake in Odisha, Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, Harike Lake in Punjab, Loktak Lake in Manipur and Wular Lake in Jammu and Kashmir.
Recently included sites
Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary
- It is the largest human-made freshwater wetland situated in Jhajjar, Haryana.
- Over 250 bird species use the sanctuary throughout the year as a resting and roosting site.
- The site supports more than 10 globally threatened species including the endangered Egyptian Vulture, Steppe Eagle, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, and Black-bellied Tern.
Sultanpur National Park
- It is located in Sultanpur village, Gurgaon district in Haryana.
- The site supports more than 220 species of resident, winter migratory and local migratory waterbirds at critical stages of their life cycles.
- The site supports more than 10 globally threatened species including the critically endangered sociable lapwing, and the endangered Egyptian Vulture, Saker Falcon, Pallas’s Fish Eagle and Black-bellied Tern.
Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary
- The Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat lies on the Central Asian Flyway hosting more than 320 bird species.
- 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.
- The Wadhwana Wetland in Gujarat 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.
- They include some threatened or near-threatened species such as the endangered Pallas’s fish-Eagle, the vulnerable Common Pochard, and the near-threatened Dalmatian Pelican, Grey-headed Fish-eagle and Ferruginous Duck.