India adds 11 more wetlands to Ramsar List


75 Ramsar sites in India: India recently added 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites to make total 75 Ramsar sites.

Key Points:

The Ramsar sites covers an area of 13 lakh 26 thousand 677 Hectare in the country in the 75th year of Independence.

The 11 new sites include,

  • 4 in Tamil Nadu,
  • 3 in Odisha,
  • 2 in Jammu and Kashmir and
  • 1 each in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The new Ramsar Sites are: -

  1. Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu;
  2. Suchindram Theroor Wetland Complex in Tamil Nadu;
  3. Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu;
  4. Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu;
  5. Tampara Lake in Odisha;
  6. Hirakud Reservoir in Odisha;
  7. Ansupa Lake in Odisha;
  8. Yashwant Sagar in Madhya Pradesh;
  9. Thane Creek in Maharashtra;
  10. Hygam Wetland Conservation Reserve in Jammu and Kashmir;
  11. Shallbugh Wetland Conservation Reserve in Jammu and Kashmir.

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

The Ramsar Convention:

  • The Ramsar Convention was signed on 2nd February, 1971.
  • It is one of the oldest inter-governmental accords signed by member countries.
  • Its main objective is to preserve the ecological character of their wetlands of international importance.
  • It is named after Ramsar, the Iranian city where the treaty was signed.Places chosen for conservation under it are given the tag ‘Ramsar site’.

What is the aim of the Ramsar list?

  • 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".

India and Ramsar Convention:

  • India is one of the Contracting Parties to Ramsar Convention, signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971.
  • India signed it on 1st February 1982.
  • During 1982 to 2013, a total of 26 sites were added to the list of Ramsar sites.
  • However, during 2014 to 2022, the country has added 49 new wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites.
  • A total of 28 sites have been declared as Ramsar sites this year.

What are wetlands?

  • A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently or seasonally, where oxygen-free processes prevail.
  • It is an area 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, including during the growing season.
  • Water saturation (hydrology) largely determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil.
  • Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species.
  • The prolonged presence of water creates conditions that favour the growth of specially adapted plants (hydrophytes) and promote the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils.

Different Types of Wetlands:

Five major wetland types are generally recognized:

1. Marine (coastal wetlands including coastal lagoons, rocky shores, and coral reefs);

2. Estuarine (including deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps);

3. Lacustrine (wetlands associated with lakes);

4. Riverine (wetlands along rivers and streams); and

5. Palustrine (meaning “marshy” - marshes, swamps and bogs).

Significance of Wetlands:

  • Wetlands play a critical role in maintaining many natural cycles and supporting a wide range of biodiversity.
  • They purify and replenish our water, and provide the fish and rice that feed billions.
  • They serve as a natural sponge against flooding and drought, protect our coastlines and help fight climate change.

Note: About one quarter of the Earth's rain runs off as flood water, causing loss of life and billions of dollars in damage.