India backs Dhanauri for international wetland tag
The National Capital Region (NCR) may get a second wetland of international importance in Dhanauri, Greater Noida, if India’s proposal to declare the 100-hectare wetland a Ramsar site of international importance gets accepted.
On May 29, the environment ministry’s national river conservation directorate wrote to the principal secretary of the Uttar Pradesh forest department, asking them to propose Dhanauri for Ramsar site tag.
If accepted by the Ramsar Convention, which is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources, Dhanauri will get legal protection from land use change.
There are nine criteria for being accepted as a Ramsar site, including that the site should support vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities. A wetland can also be considered for the tag if it regularly supports 1% individuals of a species or subspecies of water birds.
Author and birder Anand Arya, who has been asking for legal protection of Dhanauri wetlands as it supports a fairly large population of the vulnerable Sarus crane population, had proposed to the environment ministry that the wetland meets two criteria to be declared a Ramsar site. One, it has more that 1% of the bio-geographic population of one species: the Sarus crane. Two, the area supports congregation of more than 20,000 waterfowl and other species.
“Dhanauri Wetland is the perfect place for Sarus cranes. This is why at the time of roosting, a flock of about 150 Sarus cranes can be seen there. During 2015-2017, four to eight nests were seen within the wetland and some in villages surrounding the wetland,” Arya, wrote in his
proposal to the environment ministry.
The ministry took note of these features of Dhanauri and asked the UP forest department to “take necessary action for submission of a proposal as per procedure of Ramsar Convention for declaring Dhanauri as a Ramsar site and as a Sarus crane
The proposal is to be submitted through the Ramsar portal.
Uttar Pradesh secretary, forests and wildlife, Sanjaya Singh, said, “We have received this communication from the ministry. It will be assessed by the official who specialises in wetlands. If the wetland does meet the criteria then we will proceed with submitting our proposal.”
“Environment ministry’s decision is of great significance. It will herald the beginning of recognition of wetlands that are so important for water security of the country, more so when we are experiencing such heat and water scarcity. A Ramsar Wetland and Sarus Sanctuary would be a jewel in the concrete jungle that NCR is becoming,” Arya said.
India has 27 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance or Ramsar sites, with a surface area of over one lakh hectares. Ashtamudi wetland in Kerala, Bhitarkanika mangroves in Odisha, Sunderban wetlands in West Bengal, and Wular Lake in Kashmir are some of India’s Ramsar sites.
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