BNHS study shows 135 potential sites in India qualify the Ramsar Criteria

BNHS study shows 135 potential sites in India qualify the Ramsar Criteria

Emphasizes need to conserve water bodies on World Wetlands Day

Mumbai: 1 February: Every year 2nd February is observed as the World Wetlands Day globally as it marks the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2nd February 1971, in the city of Ramsar in Iran . This year is special for the Ramsar Convention since it completes 40 years. Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has identified 135 wetland sites in India that have the potential to qualify for the Ramsar Criteria. Till now 25 sites have already been designated as Ramsar Sites in India. On World Wetlands Day, BNHS strongly emphasizes on the need to conserve India’s wetlands that are home to thousands of water birds.

Dr Asad Rahmani, Director, BNHS and co-author of the book ‘Potential and Existing Ramsar Sites in India’, said, “In a country like India, which is so vast and geographically diverse, we have identified a total of 135 wetlands as potential Ramsar Sites. Till now 25 sites have got recognition as Ramsar Sites. This highlights the need to make wetland conservation a priority. Wetlands not only support huge bird populations, but also serve as the vital source of drinking water, irrigation and ground water recharge. Water pollution, dumping of waste and debris, reclamation and poaching are some of the major threats to wetlands and birds in India.”

Identifying Ramsar Sites

Identification of wetlands as Ramsar Sites involves assessing the potential wetland sites on the following criteria – 1) Should have Globally Threatened bird species, 2) Should be a Congregatory area for birds, 3) Should have Assemblages of Restricted-Range bird species and 4) Should have Assemblages of Biome-Restricted bird species. A site should meet at least one of these criteria. Discussion with local stakeholders and government is also an important aspect. BNHS has also identified 466 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) across India .

Potential Ramsar Sites in India

Of the 135 potential plus 25 designated Ramsar Sites in India, seven sites are from the Trans-Himalaya region, five are from Himalayas, 31 from the Gangetic Plains, 14 from the Semi-Arid region, five from the Desert region, 38 from Deccan, one from Western Ghats, 20 from the North-East, 10 from the Coastal region and three from the Islands region.

Some of the potential Ramsar Sites from Maharashtra and Gujarat are Vengurla Rocks (Sindhudurg district), Jaikwadi Sanctuary (Aurangabad), Mahul-Sewri mudflats (Mumbai), Nandur Madhmeshwar Sanctuary (Nashik), Thane creek, Ujani dam (Pune), Flamingo City (Kutch district), Kaj lake (Junagadh), Khijadiya Sanctuary (Jamnagar), Nal Sarovar (Ahmedabad), Bhavnagar salt pans, Thol lake (Mehsana) and Kheda wetlands. Caramboli lake in Goa is also a potential site.

Some of the potential Ramsar sites from northern India are Okhla Sanctuary (Delhi), Sultanpur National Park (Gurgaon), Chandertal wetland (Lahul and Spiti districts – existing site), Chushul marshes (Leh), Haigam Reserve (Baramulla), Barna reservoir (Raisen), Bhoj wetland (Bhopal – existing site), Harike lake (Amritsar), Alniya dam (Kota), Bardha dam (Bundi), Asan barrage (Dehra Dun), Bakhira Sanctuary (Sant Kabir Nagar), Katerniaghat Sanctuary (Bahraich) and Lakh Bahosi Sanctuary (Farrukhabad).

The potential Ramsar Sites in eastern India include Bordoibam-Bilmukh Sanctuary (Lakhimpur district), Chandubi lake (Kamrup), Chaurs (Darbhanga and Begusarai districts), Kursela river (Kathiar), Udhuwa lake (Sahebganj), Loktak lake (Bishnupur – existing site), Palak Dil (Saiha), Bhitarkanika (Kendrapara), D’ering Sanctuary (East Siang), Farakka barrage (Malda) and Kulik Sanctuary (Uttar Dinajpur).

In southern India, the major potential Ramsar sites include Coringa Sanctuary (East Godavari district), Kolleru lake (West Godavari – existing site), Gudavi Sanctuary (Shimoga), Karanji tank (Mysore), Ashtamudi lake (Kollam – existing site), Vembanad lake (Ernakulam – existing site), Peria Kanmai (Ramanathapuram) and Kaliveli tank (Cuddalore).

-- Public Relations Officer, BNHS