“Wetlands are very important for the existence of our earth, because many birds and animals depend on them. Along with enriching Biodiversity, they also ensure flood control and groundwater recharge.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi
New Delhi: As the world is celebrating “World Wetlands Day” on Thursday (February 2) the government has announced “Amrit Dharohar” scheme in Union Budget 2023-24 to encourage optimal use of wetlands and enhance biodiversity.
According the statement by the Environment Ministry, this scheme will be implemented over the next three years to encourage optimal use of wetlands, and enhance bio- diversity, carbon stock, eco-tourism opportunities and income generation for local communities.
Wetlands are vital ecosystems which sustain biological diversity. Wetlands are the Earth’s most threatened ecosystems and disappearing three times faster than forests.
According to United Nations, in just 50 years, since 1970, 35 percent of the world’s wetlands have been lost.
Human activities that lead to loss of wetlands include drainage and infilling for agriculture and construction, pollution, overfishing and overexploitation of resources, invasive species and climate change.
WORLD WETLANDS DAY 2023 AND ITS IMPORTANCE
World Wetlands Day 2023 aims to raise awareness about wetlands to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them.
This year’s theme is “It’s Time for Wetlands Restoration,” which highlights the urgent need to prioritize wetland restoration. World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2nd February to raise awareness about wetlands.
This day also marks the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, which was adopted as an international treaty.
This intergovernmental treaty, called the Convention on Wetlands, was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
It provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Since then, almost 90 per cent of UN member states, from all the world’s geographic regions, have acceded to become “Contracting Parties.”
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.
There are currently over 2,400 Ramsar Sites around the world. They cover over 2.5 million square kilometres, an area larger than Mexico.
The Ramsar convention entered into force in India on February 01, 1982. Keoladeo National Park (in Rajasthan) and Chilika (in Odisha) were the first two sites to be placed on the Ramsar List by the Government.
India is now a land of 75 Ramsar Sites which is the largest network of Ramsar Sites for any country in South Asia. The network of Indian Ramsar Sites currently covers 1.33 million ha, which is approximately 8% of the known wetland extent of the country.
From the year 2014 till August 2022, 49 wetlands are identified as Ramsar Sites in India. On August 13, 2022 India added 11 wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites to make total 75 Ramsar sites in the country.
Wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, world economies and more.
It is urgent that we raise national and global awareness about wetlands in order to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them. World Wetlands Day is the ideal time to increase people’s understanding of these critically important ecosystems.