Recently, India has added 10 more Ramsar sites, or wetlands that are of international importance, taking the number of such sites to 64.
Earlier, India designated five new wetlands of international importance – the Karikili Bird Sanctuary, Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest and Pichavaram Mangrove in Tamil Nadu, Pala wetland in Mizoram and Sakhya Sagar in Madhya Pradesh.
A Ramsar site is a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, which is also known as the ‘Convention on Wetlands’ — an intergovernmental environmental treaty established by UNESCO in 1971, and named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the convention was signed that year.
Which New Sites have been added?
Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary
This is the largest reserve for breeding resident and migratory water birds in South India.
It is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area forming part of the Central Asian Flyway.
Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve
It is the first Marine Biosphere Reserve in South & South -East Asia.
It is one of the most biologically diverse regions in India.
Vembannur Wetland Complex
It is a human-made inland tank.
It forms the southernmost tip of peninsular India further it forms part of the Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and hence part of BirdLife International Data Zone.
Vellode Bird Sanctuary
The wetlands have been evaluated and prioritized considering factors like the ecology of the wetland, earlier bird counts, records of breeding, and roosting colonies.
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
It is one of the oldest bird-protected areas in Tamil Nadu.
This site is also recognized internationally as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA).
Udhayamarthandapuram Bird Sanctuary
The site is an important staging and breeding ground for several species of waterbirds.
The notable species observed at the site are oriental darter, glossy ibis, grey Heron & Eurasian spoonbill.
It spreads along the magnificent gorge over the mighty river Mahanadi.
It was established in 1976 as a wildlife sanctuary and supports a rich ecosystem, representing a diverse population of floral and faunal species.
Satkosia is the meeting point of two biogeographic regions of India, the Deccan Peninsula and the Eastern Ghats, contributing immense biodiversity.
It is considered to be critically significant for its ecosystem services and biodiversity values for the local communities and society at large.
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
It has been enlisted as one of the Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Karnataka and India by Bombay Natural History Society.
It is an ecologically important riverine wetland of India, rich in biodiversity.
It is not only important for its aesthetic value but it provides immense ecological services such as being an important source of water and helping groundwater recharge in the downstream areas.
UPSC Civil Services Examination Previous Year Question (PYQ)
Q. If a wetland of international importance is brought under the ‘Montreux Record’, what does it imply? (2014)
(a) Changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring or are likely to occur in the wetland as a result of human interference.
(b) The country in which the wetland is located should enact a law to prohibit any human activity within five kilometres from the edge of the wetland.
(c) The survival of the wetland depends on the cultural practices and traditions of certain communities living in its vicinity and therefore the cultural diversity therein should not be destroyed.
(d) It is given the status of ‘World Heritage Site.’
The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interferences. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
Q. What is wetland? Explain the Ramsar concept of ‘wise use’ in the context of wetland conservation. Cite two examples of Ramsar sites from India. (2018)