Nashik wetland may become the state’s first Ramsar site
In a boost to wetland protection, Maharashtra may get its first Ramsar site – 800-hectare Nandur Madhyameshwar in Nephad tehsil, Nashik – by next month. Another 366-hectare wetland site, Lonar Crater Lake in Buldhana that houses 109 bird species, is also likely to be declared a Ramsar site by February or March 2020, according to officials of the state forest department who were part of the International Conference on Wetlands and Migratory Waterbirds of the Asian Flyways in Lonavala.
Ramsar sites are wetland areas of international significance under the Ramsar Convention, 1971, an international treaty for conservation, sustainable utilisation and recognising the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands.
Nandur Madhyameshwar was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1986. The wetland complies with four Ramsar site criteria namely supporting threatened ecological communities, providing refuge to threatened species during adverse conditions, supporting 20,000 or more waterbirds, and supporting 1% of population of one (important) species or subspecies. “The paper work for Nandur Madhyameshwar Wildlife Sanctuary is completed, from the sanctuary to district, state and central level, and sent to the Ramsar secretariat. The declaration is expected very soon,” said N Vasudevan, additional principal chief conservator of forest (mangrove cell), Maharashtra forest department. “Work on documentation for Lonar is underway.”
A senior official from the Union environment ministry said, “Nandur Madhyameshwar was proposed to be a Ramsar site in August 2012. A decision on Nandur Madhyameshwar is expected in December and Lonar by February.”
“The secretariat carefully scrutinises recommendations, including those related to water quality, habitat security, local community development etc. but does not reject any proposal,” said Goldin Quadros, wetland ecologist.
Forest officials pointed out that there were a few threats to the wetland. “The Nasik Municipal Corporation and irrigation department have been releasing excess water and chemical effluents in the wetland zone,” said Bharat Shinde, assistant conservator of forest, Nandur Madhyameshwar wildlife sanctuary.