India's Ramsar Sites Tally Rises To 54 As Five More Indian Wetlands Get Recognition

Karan Kamble

Jul 26, 2022, 04:14 PM | Updated 04:14 PM IST

Pichavaram Mangrove Forest (Photo: Karthik Easvur/Wikimedia Commons)
Pichavaram Mangrove Forest (Photo: Karthik Easvur/Wikimedia Commons)
  • Three of the five new Ramsar inclusions are from Tamil Nadu; Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram account for the other two.
  • Now India has a total of 54 Ramsar sites.
  • India has added five wetlands to the List of Wetlands of International Importance.

    Union Cabinet Minister for Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav took to Twitter to make the announcement today (26 July), which happens to mark the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.

    “Delighted to inform that 5 more Indian wetlands have got Ramsar recognition as wetlands of international importance,” Yadav tweeted.

    “India's total of Ramsar sites now has risen from 49 to 54,” the Minister added, attributing the “marked improvement in how India treats its wetlands” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “emphasis… on environmental protection and conservation.”

    Three of the five new Ramsar inclusions are from Tamil Nadu; Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram account for the other two.

    The new sites are Karikili Bird Sanctuary, Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest, and Pichavaram Mangrove in Tamil Nadu; Sakhya Sagar in Madhya Pradesh, and Pala Wetland in Mizoram.

    • The Karikili Bird Sanctuary is located in Kanchipuram district, 86 km from Chennai.

    • The Pallikaranai Marsh is described as “one of the last remaining natural wetlands of Chennai city.”

    • The Pichavaram Mangrove Forest near Chidambaram, in Cuddalore district, is the world’s second largest mangrove forest.

    • Sakhya Sagar Lake is located in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh. It is surrounded by the Madhav National Park.

    • The largest lake in Mizoram, Pala Lake (called “Pala tipa” locally) is located near Phura village in Saiha district. The wetland is about 360 km from capital city Aizawl.

    This special global list of wetlands is called the “Ramsar list.”

    The Ramsar list was established in response to Article 2.1 of the Convention on Wetlands that called on “Each Contracting Party” (member country) to “designate suitable wetlands within its territory for inclusion” in the list.

    The Convention on Wetlands is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.

    “Wetlands included in the List acquire a new status at the national level and are recognized by the international community as being of significant value not only for the country, or the countries, in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole,” according to a recent document published by the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands.

    The vision for the Ramsar list reads: “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 ecological and hydrological functions they perform.”

    Wetlands are defined in Article 1.1 of the Convention on Wetlands 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.”

    About 40 per cent of the world’s plant and animal species depend on wetlands, including 30 per cent of all known fish species. Global inland and coastal wetlands cover over 12.1 million square kilometres (sq km) — for perspective, India occupies an area of 3.2 million sq km.

    Unfortunately, about 35 per cent of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since the 1970s.

    The Convention on Wetlands entered into force in India on 1 February 1982. Since then, India’s Ramsar tally has climbed up to 54.

    This map shows all published Ramsar Sites as on 26 July 2022. (Source: Ramsar Sites Information Service)
    This map shows all published Ramsar Sites as on 26 July 2022. (Source: Ramsar Sites Information Service)

    India’s 49 Ramsar sites — prior to the inclusion of the latest five — already spanned a phenomenal 1,093,636 hectares, the highest in Indian subcontinent. Now, the total area increases further to 1,098,518 hectares.

    A total of seven Indian wetland sites have been added so far this year. At the start of February, marking the occasion of World Wetlands Day, India named Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary as new Ramsar sites.

    • Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary is a freshwater wetland near the coast of the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat. It falls within Jamnagar district.

    • Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary is a freshwater marsh in the Sant Kabir Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh. It is the largest natural floodplain wetland of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

    “Excellent news! India having the largest network of Ramsar Sites in South Asia manifests the commitment of our citizens to protect flora and fauna and live in harmony with nature,” Prime Minister Modi had tweeted then.

    India aims to have a total of 75 Ramsar sites in the seventy-fifth year of Independence. The 26 wetlands proposed to be designated as Ramsar sites (when the count was 49) comprise 13 from Tamil Nadu, four from Odisha, three from Madhya Pradesh, two from Jammu and Kashmir, and one each from Maharashtra, Mizoram, Karnataka, and Goa.

    Five of these 26 have now come through. India will be looking to add another 21 this year.

    Globally, there are over 2,400 Ramsar sites covering a total surface area of more than 250 million hectares.

    Also Read: Migratory Monarch Butterflies Are Now Declared As 'Endangered' On IUCN's Red List

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