Each year, on February 2nd, World Wetlands Day is commemorated. It is observed to promote global awareness of the importance of wetlands to people and the environment. This day also commemorates the adoption of the Wetlands Convention on February 2nd, 1971, in the city of Iran called Ramsar on the Caspian Sea’s coasts.
Wetlands can be found in all countries and in all climatic zones, from the poles to the tropics, from high elevations to coastal locations, and even in parched and dry deserts. Wetlands are one of India’s most endangered ecosystems, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) India. The country’s wetlands have been harmed by vegetation loss, salinization, extreme inundation, water contamination, invasive species, unsustainable development, and road construction. In India, there are 42 Ramsar sites certified as of December 2020.
The topic has a high probability of being asked as a Current Affairs Question or as Environment and Ecology Questions in IAS Prelims and Mains.
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World Wetlands Day 2023
On World Wetlands Day 2023, supporting the theme of the restoration of wetlands, India launched the “Save Wetlands Campaign”. The campaign aims to adopt a “whole of society” approach to wetlands conservation. Over a year the campaign will help sensitize the communities regarding the importance of the wetlands, increase the numbers of “Wetland Mitras” and create citizen partnerships for the conservation of the wetlands.
What are Wetlands?
All ponds and river systems, groundwater aquifers, marshes and swamps, wet grasslands, peatlands, oasis, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangrove swamps as well as other coastal regions, coral reefs, and all human built sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and salt pans are included in a broad definition of wetlands. Wetlands are one of the most productive and diverse ecosystems on the planet. They provide vital services and provide us with all of our fresh water. They are, however, being deteriorated and transformed to various applications. “The maintenance of their ecological status, achieved via the deployment of ecosystem strategies, within the framework of sustainable development,” according to the smart use of wetlands. Wise usage might thus be defined as the conservation and long term use of wetlands as well as the services that they provide for the benefit of both people and nature.
Know more about wetlands in the linked article.
Wetlands in India
India has a diverse range of wetlands, including high altitude wetlands in the Himalayas, floodplains of powerful rivers like the Brahmaputra and Ganges, lagoons and mangrove swamps along the coast, and reefs in the ocean. According to the National Wetland Atlas, wetlands cover roughly 4.6 percent of India’s land area, or 15.26 million hectares. India joined the Ramsar Convention in 1982 and has 42 spots designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites) with a total surface area of 1.08 million hectares as of January 2021.
Since 1985, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has been aiding State Governments in the creation and execution of integrated management plans as the nodal ministry for wetlands protection. State governments have received financial support to implement management strategies for 180 wetlands. In 2017, the Ministry also published the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, which serves as the country’s regulatory framework for wetlands. Wetland authority and acts and regulations for conservation and smart use of wetlands have also been notified in some states.
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The Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental convention that establishes a framework for national action and global collaboration to conserve and wisely utilise wetlands and their resources.
The Contracting Parties agree to work toward the sensible use of all their wetlands, designate appropriate wetlands for the Ramsar List and make sure of their effective management, and cooperate globally on transborder wetlands, shared wetland systems, and shared species under the Convention’s “three pillars.”
Note: Visit the linked article to read in detail about the Ramsar Convention.
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