4 more sites in India added to Ramsar list: All you need to know
India added another feather in its cap when four more sites - two each from Haryana and Gujarat - were recognised as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the development a matter of pride.
"It is a matter of pride for us that four Indian sites get Ramsar recognition. This once again manifests India's centuries old ethos of preserving natural habitats, working towards flora and fauna protection, and building a greener planet," PM Modi said on Twitter.
After the latest addition, India now has 46 such sites, the Union environment ministry said.
What is the Ramsar Convention?
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.
It came into force for India on February 1, 1982. Those wetlands which are of international importance are declared as Ramsar sites.
Last year, Ramsar declared 10 more wetland sites from India as sites of international importance.
What are the sites added to Ramsar Convention this year?
Sultanpur National Park in Gurgaon and Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary in Jhajjar (both in Haryana) have been added to the list this year. Apart from that, Thol and Wadhwana from Gujarat too have now become a paert of the convention.
According to environment ministry, the aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.
Why these sites have been added to the Ramsar Convention?
Haryana's Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary is a human-made freshwater wetland. It is also the largest in 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.
The Sultanpur National Park supports more than 220 species of resident, winter migratory and local migratory waterbirds at critical stages of their life cycles. More than 10 of these are globally threatened.
The Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat lies on the Central Asian Flyway and more than 320 bird species can be found here.
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.
Meanwhile, the Wadhvana 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.
World Wetlands Day
The World Wetlands Day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands (February 2, 1971). According to Union environment ministry, the theme this year is "Wetland and Water". The ministry said that with the theme, the intention is to bring the focus to the availability of water and its usage.
What are wetlands?
Natural wetlands are permanently or seasonally saturated in water and create habitats for aquatic plants. They retain large volumes of water and their slow release makes them important for combating extreme weather conditions like floods and droughts.
Termed 'kidneys of landscape', wetlands contribute to water purification, water regulation, biodiversity, aesthetics and recreation, according to the United Nations.
India has maximum wetlands in South Asia - 7.7 lakh - covering the country’s 4.6 per cent geographical area, according to a report of NGO Wetland International.
Some notable wetlands in India
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.