[Answered] What is wetland? Explain the Ramsar concept of ‘wise use’ in the context of wetland conservation. Cite two examples of Ramsar sites from India.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Ramsar concept of “wise use”. Ramsar sites from India.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Wetlands are areas intermediate in character between deep water and terrestrial habitats. They are ecosystems saturated with water, either seasonally or permanently. They include mangroves, marshes, rivers, lakes, deltas, floodplains and flooded forests, rice-fields, and even coral reefs. These habitats experience periodic flooding from adjacent deep water habitats and therefore support plants and animals specifically adapted to such shallow flooding or water logging of the substrate.

Ramsar concept of “wise use”

  1. According to Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, ‘Wise use’ of wetlands is the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the spirit of sustainable development.
  2. ‘Wise Use’ guidelines encourage Contracting Parties to:
    • adopt national wetland policies with legislations and institutional arrangements to deal with wetland;
    • develop programmes of wetland inventory, monitoring, research, training, education and public awareness; and
    • take actions involving the development of integrated management plans covering every aspect of the wetlands and their relationships with their catchments.
  3. Wise use can thus be seen as the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and all the services they provide, for the benefit of people and nature.
  4. India has 26 Ramsar Sites which are the Wetlands of International importance. The important Ramsar sites are: Chilika lake (Odisha), Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan), Loktak Lake (Manipur), Ashtamudi Wetland (Kerala) etc.

Ramsar sites from India:

  1. Loktak Lake, Manipur was included on the Montreux Record of Ramsar Convention in 1993, as a result of ecological problems such as deforestation in the catchment area, infestation of water hyacinth and pollution.
  2. Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan was placed on the Montreux Record in 1990 due to water shortage and unbalanced grazing regime around it.

Wetlands are vital for human survival as they are among the world’s most productive environments, cradles of biological diversity that provide water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival.

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