11 more wetland sites get Ramsar tag, tally rises to 75

Updated on Aug 14, 2022 05:10 AM IST

India has added 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites, marshes that are of international importance, bringing the country’s total tally to 75, environment minister Bhupender Yadav announced on Saturday.

Union minister Bhupender Yadav. (PTI)
Union minister Bhupender Yadav. (PTI)
By, New Delhi

India has added 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites, marshes that are of international importance, bringing the country’s total tally to 75, environment minister Bhupender Yadav announced on Saturday.

“Elated to inform that 11 more Indian wetlands have got Ramsar recognition. This takes our tally to 75 sites,” Yadav tweeted.

Of the 11 new sites, four are in Tamil Nadu, three in Odisha, two Jammu and Kashmir, and one each in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the environment ministry said in a statement.

“India adds 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites to make total 75 Ramsar sites covering an area of 1,326,677 ha in the country in the 75th year of Independence…During this year itself (2022), a total of 28 sites have been declared as Ramsar sites. Based on the date of designation mentioned on Ramsar certificate, the number is 19 for this year (2022) and 14 for previous year (2021),” the statement said.

Tamil Nadu has the maximum number of Ramsar sites at 14, followed by Uttar Pradesh, which has 10.

India in 1982 became a signatory to the 1971 Ramsar Convention, whose mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.

From 1982 to 2013, a total of 26 sites were added to the list of Ramsar sites in the country. From 2014 to 2022, another 49 additions were made.

The latest additions are Tampara Lake (300 hectares), Hirakud Reservoir (65,400 hectares) and Ansupa Lake (231 hectares) in Odisha; Yashwant Sagar (822.90 hectares) in Madhya Pradesh; Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary (260.47 hectares), Suchindram Theroor Wetland Complex (94.23 hectares), Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary (112.64 hectares) and Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary (96.89 hectares) in Tamil Nadu; Thane Creek (6,521.08 hectares) in Maharashtra; and Hygam Wetland Conservation Reserve (801.82 hectares) and Shallbugh Wetland Conservation Reserve (1,675 hectares) in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The new Ramsar sites are a great representation of the diversity of wetlands in India,” said Neha Sinha, wildlife biologist .

“The Hirakud reservoir is connected to the man-made Hirakud dam, showing how ecologically important even man-made wetlands can be,” she added. “Thane is also a sparkling example of rich avian life next to Mumbai, amongst the world’s largest metropolitan cities. And it’s important to turn the spotlight on more wetlands like Shallbugh from the hydrologically rich Kashmir.”

“Wetlands are disappearing at three times the rate of forests globally, but these sites show that wetlands can thrive in urban areas, and as man-made or natural entities,” Sinha said. “It would be great to take these examples as an opportunity to plan for Ramsar sites in most districts of every state.”

Tampara lake in Odisha’s Ganjam district is a depression on the ground that gradually filled with rainwater from catchment flow. The wetland supports at least 60 species of birds, 46 species of fish, at least 48 species of phytoplanktons, and more than seven species of terrestrial plants and macrophytes.

Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary in Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu is a protected area since 1989. It is an ideal habitat for migratory birds. Around 50 birds belonging to 30 families have been reported from the site. Of them, 47 are water birds and three terrestrial birds. Notable waterbirds spotted from the site are the spot-billed pelican, little egret, grey heron, large egret, open billed stork, purple, and pond herons.

Thane Creek in Maharashtra has several sources of freshwater, including the Ulhas river. It has been declared as the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary and is fringed by mangroves on both banks. The mangrove forest acts as a natural shelter belt and protects the land from cyclones, tidal surges, and saline ingress.

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