Udaipur’s ‘bird village’ set to be declared wetland

Bird Village of Udaipur:  Recognised as the “bird village” following community-driven conservation efforts, Menar in Udaipur district in Rajasthan is set to be notified as the state’s new wetland.

Key Points:

  • This will pave the way for getting the Ramsar site status for this village.
  • The Forest Department of Rajasthan State Government has initiated the process for notification of Menar as a wetland, which will recognize its role in the storage of sediment and nutrients and enable the local authorities to maintain the Brahma and Dhandh lakes.
  • Currently, Rajasthan has two wetlands recognised as Ramsar sites – Keoladeo Ghana in Bharatpur district and Sambhar Salt Lake in Jaipur district.

About Menar:

  • Menar is a village located in Udaipur district, Rajasthan.
  • It is situated 45 km away from Udaipur.
  • It is recognised as bird village following community-driven conservation efforts.
  • The village has two lakes – the Brahma and Dhandh.
  • Lakes Brahma and Dhandh play host to a large number of migratory birds in the winter season every year.
  • Migratory and local birds include greater flamingo, white-tailed lapwing, bar-headed goose, common teal, greenshank, pelican, marsh harrier pintail, wagtail, green sandpiper and red-wattled lapwing.
  • These lakes are maintained as safe haven for birds by volunteers known as Pakshi Mitras (friends of birds).

About the wetland:

  • 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 favor the growth of specially adapted plants (hydrophytes) and promote the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils.

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 wetland:

  • Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment.
  • They mitigate floods, protect coastlines and build community resilience to disasters, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality.
  • Wetlands are critical to human and planet life.
  • More than 1 billion people depend on them for a living and 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands.
  • They are a vital source for food, raw materials, genetic resources for medicines, and hydropower.
  • 30% of land-based carbon is stored in peatland.
  • They play an important role in transport, tourism and the cultural and spiritual well-being of people.
  • Many wetlands are areas of natural beauty, and many are important to Aboriginal people.

The Ramsar Convention:

  • It 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’.
  • The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands that are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.

Significance of Ramsar Tag:

  • Ramsar tag makes it incumbent upon the authority to strengthen the protection regime there and creates defenses against encroachment.
  • It is like an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification.