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Importance of wetlands

Date: 03 February 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous


February 2 is celebrated as World Wetlands Day. It was on this date in 1971 that the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was adopted in Ramsar, Iran. This year’s Wetlands Day theme is Wetlands and Biodiversity.



Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had announced that the Ramsar Convention had declared 10 wetlands from India as sites of “international importance”, taking the total number of Ramsar Sites in the country to 37.



  • The Ramsar Convention definition for wetlands includes marshes, floodplains, rivers and lakes, mangroves, coral reefs and other marine areas no deeper than 6 metres at low tide, as well as human-made wetlands such as waste-water treatment ponds and reservoirs.

  • The IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) the global assessment identified wetlands as the most threatened ecosystem.

  • This impacts 40% of the world’s plant and animal species that live or breed in wetlands. Thirty per cent of land-based carbon is stored in peatland, one billion people depend on wetlands for their livelihoods and wetlands provide $47 trillion in essential services annually.

Wetlands status in India

  • Wetlands are regulated under the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. The 2010 version of the Rules provided for a Central Wetland Regulatory Authority but the 2017 Rules replace it with state-level bodies and created a National Wetland Committee, which functions in an advisory role.

  • The newer regulations removed some items from the definition of “wetlands” including backwaters, lagoon, creeks, and estuaries.

Ramsar site designation

  • The designation is for “Wetlands of International Importance”and is recognised as being of significant value not only for the country or the countries in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole.

  • The inclusion of a wetland in the list shows the government’s commitment to take the steps necessary to ensure that its ecological character is maintained. The Convention includes various measures to respond to threats to the ecological character of Sites.

  • In India, the 10 new wetlands declared Ramsar Sites are Nandur Madhameshwar in Maharashtra; Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve and Nangal in Punjab; and Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and Sarsai Nawar in UP.

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