What are Wetlands?
Wetlands are known as the areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year. You can also call it the transitional lands between terrestrial and aquatic systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface, or the land is covered by shallow water. To declare any land as wetland, it must have one or more of the following three attributes:
- the land supports predominantly hydrophytes (at least periodically)
- the substrate is predominantly undrained hydric soil; and
- The substrate is saturated with water or covered by shallow water at some time during the growing season of each year.
Wetlands are a special kind of land that needs conservation and cooperation. To conserve these types of areas, there was a treaty signed in Ramsar i.e. Ramsar Convention. In today’s article, we will talk about Ramsar sites in India which is an important topic and asked in Banking,SSC , RBI, NABARD and SEBI exams. Let’s talk about Ramsar Convention in detail.
Introduction: Ramsar Convention
Ramsar Convention is an “Intergovernmental Treaty” established by UNESCO to provide the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. This treaty was adopted on February 02, 1971 in Ramsar, Iran and came into force on December 21, 1975. At present, there are 2,439 Ramsar sites in the world.
Wetlands as per Ramsar Convention
As per the Ramsar Convention, Under the text of the Convention (Article 1.1), wetlands are defined as: “areas of marsh, fen, peatland 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”.
In addition, for the purpose of protecting coherent sites, Article 2.1 provides that wetlands to be included in the Ramsar List of internationally important wetlands:
“may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands”.
Objectives of the Ramsar Convention
• Ramsar convention designates important wetlands in the list of Wetlands of International Importance.
• Maintenance & sustainable use of the Ramsar wetlands.
• Promotion of International Cooperation with regard to trans boundary wetlands, shared water systems, and shared species.
The Ramsar Sites Criteria
In order to include any wetland in the list, RAMSAR has a total of 9 criteria. If any area fulfills three or more criteria, it will be considered as the RAMSAR site and will receive cooperation from the organization.
Group A : Sites containing representative, rare or unique wetland types Criterion
1:- Wetland must contain a representative, rare or unique example of natural or near natural wetland type found within the appropriate biogeographic region.
Group B: Sites of international importance for conserving biological diversity
• Criterion 2:- The wetland must support vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities.
• Criterion 3:- The wetland must support populations of plant and or animal species important to maintain the biodiversity of a particular biogeographic region.
• Criterion 4:- The wetland must support plant and or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles, or provide refuge during adverse conditions.
• Criterion 5:- The wetland must support 20,000 or more water birds.
• Criterion 6:- The wetland must regularly support 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of water bird.
• Criterion 7:- The wetland must support a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies, species or families, life-history stages
• Criterion 8:- The wetland must be an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery
• Criterion 9:- The wetland must support 1% of the individuals in a population of one species of wetland dependent non-avian animal species.
Important facts about Ramsar sites in India
There are a total of 49 Ramsar sites in India with a surface area of 1,093,636 hectares. (as of February 2022).
- Chilika Lake (Orissa) and Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) were recognized as the first Ramsar Sites of India- [ October 01, 1981]
- Largest Ramsar Site of India – Sundarban Wetland – surface area 423000 hectares
- Smallest Ramsar wetland of India – Renuka Wetland in Himachal Pradesh – surface area of 20 hectares.
- Largest number of Ramsar Sites in India- Uttar Pradesh has the largest number of Ramsar Sites in India with 10 Indian Wetlands.
New Ramsar Sites in India (Ramsar in News)
On World Wetlands Day (February 02, 2022), 02 new Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance) were announced by Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav, thus increasing the total number of Ramsar sites to 49. These two new Ramsar sites are Khijadiya Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh. Here is the list of 07 New Ramsar sites that have been added in India in 2022.
Let’s talk about them in detail.
Khijadiya Wildlife Sanctuary (Gujarat)
Khijadiya Wildlife Sanctuary, a bird sanctuary loaced in Jamnagar Gujarat, has been established on 1984. It is a freshwater wetland near the coast of the Gulf of Kutch. The sanctuary is now part of Marine National Park, Jamnagar, Gujarat. About 300 migratory birds have been recorded here. More than 180 plant species are also present in here, including the critically endangered Indian bdellium-tree (Commiphora wightii), commonly called guggal. This wetlands site contributes to the maintenance of hydrological regimes, erosion protection and nutrient cycling.
Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary (Uttar Pradesh)
Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest natural flood plain wetland of India. It was established in 1980. The Bakhira Bird Sanctuary is a freshwater marsh, located in the Sant Kabir Nagar district. The wetland is internationally important for its birdlife as it supports over 80 species. It provides a wintering ground for over 25 species that migrate on the Central Asian Flyway.
Important Ramsar Sites in India
Tso Kar Wetland, Ladakh
The Tso Kar is a fluctuating salt lake, situated in the Rupshu Plateau and valley, Ladakh, India.It is also recognised as India’s 42nd Ramsar site on November,17,2020. Tso Kar wetland is a High-altitude wetland complex, consisting of two principal waterbodies namely, Startsapuk Tso, a freshwater lake of about 438 hectares to the south, and Tso Kar itself, a hypersaline lake of 1800 hectares to the north. It is located in the Changthang region of Ladakh.
Why is it called Tso kar?
It is called Tso Kar, meaning white lake, because of the white salt efflorescence found on the margins due to the evaporation of highly saline water.
Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) and Asiatic wild dog or dhole (Cuon alpinus laniger) endangered species are found here. One of the most important breeding areas in India for the black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis) happens here.
Sultanpur National Park
Sultanpur National Park, formerly Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is located at Sultanpur village on Gurugram-Jhajjar highway. It was designated as a ramsar site on May, 25, 2021. The shallow lake at the core of the Sultanpur National Park is fed by the overflow from neighbouring canals and fields, and replenished by saline groundwater. It supports more than 220 species of resident, winter migratory and local migratory waterbirds at critical stages of their life cycles.
Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary in Haryana
Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary is a human-made freshwater wetland, and is the largest wetland in Haryana. It was established as a Bird Sanctuary by the Government of India on June 03, 2009. Over 250 species use the Sanctuary throughout the year. It supports over ten globally threatened species including the endangered Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Pallas’s fish eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus, steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis), and black-bellied tern (Sterna acuticauda).
List of Ramsar Sites in India (49 wetlands in India)
|S.No.||Ramsar Sites in India||State|
|1.||Sultanpur National Park||Haryana|
|2.||Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary||Haryana|
|3.||Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary||Gujarat|
|6.||Beas Conservation Reserve||Punjab|
|8.||Bhoj Wetlands||Madhya Pradesh|
|9.||Chandra Taal||Himachal Pradesh|
|12.||East Kolkata Wetlands||West Bengal|
|14.||Hokera Wetland||Jammu & Kashmir|
|16.||Keoladeo National Park||Rajasthan|
|17.||Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve||Punjab|
|18.||Kolleru lake||Andhra Pradesh|
|20.||Nalsarovar Bird sanctuary||Gujarat|
|22.||Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary||Punjab|
|23.||Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|24.||Parvati Agra Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|25.||Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary||Tamil Nadu|
|26.||Pong Dam lake||Himachal Pradesh|
|27.||Renuka lake||Himachal Pradesh|
|30.||Saman Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|31.||Samaspur Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|33.||Sandi Bird Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
|34.||Sarsai Nawar Jheel||Uttar Pradesh|
|36.||Surinsar- Mansar lakes||Jammu & Kashmir|
|38.||Upper Ganga river||Uttar Pradesh|
|39.||Vembanad Kol Wetland||Kerala|
|40.||Wular lake||Jammu & Kashmir|
|41.||Sunderban Wetland||West Bengal|
|43.||Kanwar Lake or Kabal Taal||Bihar|
|45.||Sur Sarovar||Uttar Pradesh|
|46.||Tso Kar Wetland Complex||Ladakh|
|47.||Haiderpur wetland||Uttar Pradesh|
|48.||Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary||Gujarat|
|49.||Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary||Uttar Pradesh|
- World’s first Ramsar site (1974) – Cobourg Peninsula, Australia
- Largest number of Ramsar sites in the world- United Kingdom (175 Ramsar sites)
- February 2 is celebrated as International Wetlands Day as the Ramsar Convention was signed on February 2, 1971
- There are 49 Ramsar sites in India with a surface area of 1,093,636 hectares. (as of February 2022).
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