Ramsar Sites – Wetlands in India

Ramsar Sites – Wetlands in India

Wetlands in India plays a major role in providing a healthy habitat for for fish and wildlife. Most of the Indian states have Wetlands. Wetlands occur naturally on every continent except Antarctica.

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Wetlands in India

In competitive exam point of view, Wetlands in India is a major topic under General Knowledge. It is very important to know about Ramsar Convention, function & uses of Wetlands, World Wetland Day, and importance of Wetlands.


What are Wetlands?

Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year. In simple words, wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands support both aquatic and terrestrial species. Wetlands are also known as Ramsar sites.

What is the relation between Wetlands and Ramsar?

Ramsar is a major city in Iran. An international treaty for conservation and sustainable use of wetlands was signed at Ramsar during 1971. The Convention on Wetlands is also known as Ramsar Convention. Martha Rojas Urrego, a biologist, ecologist and humanitarian was appointed as the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

How does the Wetlands work?

Wetlands provide a link between watershed and water. Wetlands filter the water running into the stream, river or ocean, cleaning it of toxins that could cause pollution in major waterways.

What are the major functions of the Wetlands?

  • Flood control
  • Erosion control
  • Wildlife support
  • Maintain good water quality in rivers
  • Recharge groundwater
  • Helps in Biodiversity
  • Habitat for fish and wildlife, including endangered species.
  • Commercial benefits

What is the main effect of Wetland loss?

Increased flooding events – A wetland temporarily stores floodwater by trapping it and slowing the water down as it passes through the wetland.

How do we affect Wetlands?

Human activities which can have lasting effects on wetland ecosystems include stream channelization, dam construction, discharge of industrial wastes and municipal sewage (point source pollution) and runoff urban and agricultural areas (non-point source pollution).

Wetlands in India

India currently has 26 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 689,131 hectares.

S. NoWetlands in IndiaState/Union TerritoryDesignated Year  Additional     Information
01Ashtamudi Wetland (614 km2)KeralaAugust 2002A natural backwater in Kollam district.
02Vembanad-Kol Wetland (1512.5 km2)KeralaAugust 2002 Largest lake of Kerala, spanning across Alappuzha, Kottayam , and Ernakulam districts.
03Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary (385 km2)Tamil NaduAugust 2002One of the last remnants of Dry Evergreen Forests.
04Bhoj Wetland (32 km2)Madhya PradeshAugust 2002The Bhoj Wetland consists of two lakes – the Bhojtal and the Lower Lake.
05Chandra Taal (49 km2)Himachal PradeshNovember 2005A high altitude lake on the upper Chandra valley.
06Chilika Lake (1165 km2)OdishaOctober 1981Chilka Lake (Chilika Lake) is a brackish water lagoon. Largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world.
07Deepor Beel (40 km2)AssamAugust 2002Permanent freshwater lake in a former channel of the Brahmaputra river.
08East Kolkata Wetlands (125 km2)West BengalAugust 2002World-renowned as a model of a multiple use wetland.
09Harike Wetland (41 km2)PunjabMarch 1990An important site for breeding, wintering and staging birds.
10Hokera Wetland (13.75 km2)Jammu and KashmirNovember 2005Located in the northwest Himalayan biogeographic province of Kashmir, back of the snow-draped Pir Panchal.
11Kanjli Wetland (1.83 km2)PunjabJanuary 2002The stream is considered to be the most significant in the state from the religious point of view, as it is associated with the first guru of the Sikhs, Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
12Keoladeo National Park (28.73 km2)RajasthanOctober 1981Placed on the Montreux Record in 1990 due to “water shortage and an unbalanced grazing regime”.
13Kolleru Lake (901 km2)Andhra PradeshAugust 2002Bird sanctuary
14Loktak Lake (266 km2)ManipurMarch 1990 Loktak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the north-eastern region of the country. Placed on the Montreux Record.
15Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary (123 km2)GujaratSeptember 2012A natural freshwater lake (a relict sea) that is the largest natural wetland in the Thar Desert Biogeographic Province.
16Pong Dam Lake (156.62 km2)Himachal PradeshAugust 2002A water storage reservoir created in 1975 on the Beas River in the low foothills of the Himalaya on the northern edge of the Indo-Gangetic plain.
17Renuka Lake (2 km2)Himachal PradeshNovember 2005A natural wetland with freshwater springs and inland subterranean karst formations, fed by a small stream flowing from the lower Himalayan out to the Giri river.
18Ropar Wetland (13.65 km2)PunjabJanuary 2002 A human made wetland of lake and river formed by the 1952 construction of a barrage for diversion of water from the Sutlej River for drinking and irrigation supplies.
19Rudrasagar Lake (2.4 km2)TripuraNovember 2005Also known as Rudijala. Potential important bird area and attracts a large number of waterfowl in winter.
20Sambhar Lake (240 km2) RajasthanMarch 1990India’s largest inland salt lake.
21Sasthamkotta Lake (3.73 km2)KeralaAugust 2002Largest freshwater lake in Kerala, situated in Kollam district.
22Surinsar-Mansar Lakes (3.5 km2)Jammu and KashmirNovember 2005The lake supports CITES and IUCN Redlisted Lissemys punctata, Aspideretes gangeticus, and Mansariella lacustris.
23Tsomoriri (120 km2)Jammu and KashmirAugust 2002A freshwater to brackish lake lying at 4,595 m above sea level, with wet meadows and borax-laden wetlands along the shores.
24Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora Stretch) (265.9 km2)Uttar PradeshNovember 2005The river provides habitat for IUCN Red listed Ganges River Dolphin, Gharial, Crocodile, 6 species of turtles, otters, 82 species of fish and more than hundred species of birds.
25Wular Lake (189 km2)Jammu and KashmirMarch 1990The largest freshwater lake in India.
26 Bhitarkanika Mangroves (650 km2)OdishaAugust 2002It is famous for its salt water crocodiles and Olive ridley sea turtle.

What is Montreux Record?

  • The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.
  • It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
  • At present, 48 sites are listed in Montreux Record. Two Wetlands in India are listed under it. They are Keoladeo National Park and Loktak Lake.

Source : www.ramsar.org

What type of soil is found in Wetlands?

Wetland soils, also known as hydric soils, are soils which are saturated, flooded, or ponded long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions in the upper part that favor the growth and regeneration of hydrophytic vegetation.

What are the uses of Wetlands?

  • Wetlands prevent flooding by holding water much like a sponge. By doing so, wetlands help keep river levels normal and filter and purify the surface water.
  • Wetlands accept water during storms and whenever water levels are high. When water levels are low, wetlands slowly release water.
  • Trees, root mats and other wetland vegetation also slow the speed of flood waters and distribute them more slowly over the floodplain.

Importance of Wetlands

Wetlands are a critical part of our natural environment. They protect our shores from wave action, reduce the impacts of floods, absorb pollutants and improve water quality. They provide habitat for animals and plants and many contain a wide diversity of life, supporting plants and animals that are found nowhere else.

World Wetland Day

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on February 2 each year to mark the day the Convention on Wetlands adopted in the Iranian City of Ramsar in 1971. India is a party to the Convention since 1982 and committed to the Ramsar approach of wise use of wetlands.

The theme of World Wetlands Day for 2017 is ‘Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction’.

World Wetlands day is observed to make aware the public, discus the value of wetlands, its beneficial aspects as well as to promote its conservation and use for enhancing the overall level of the human health, growth and development. It is observed to promote the proper use of wetlands and their resources.

Interesting Facts about Wetlands
  • Currently there are more than 2300 Ramsar Sites around the world.
  • The World’s first designated wetland site was Australia’s Cobourg Peninsula.
  • The largest wetlands are Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Queen Maud Gulf in Canada.
  • United Kingdom (170) has the more number of wetland sites followed by Mexico (142)
  • Around the World, there are 6 Ramsar Regions and 18 Transboundary Ramsar Sites.
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