India has designated five new wetlands of international importance, bringing the total number of Ramsar Wetla sites in the country to 54.
The new sites include Karikili Bird Sanctuary, Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest & Pichavaram Mangrove in Tamil Nadu, Pala wetland in Mizoram and Sakhya Sagar in Madhya Pradesh.
On World Wetlands Day on February 2, India Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh to the list of Ramsar sites in India.
Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Bhupendra Yadav said at the time that the government was taking positive steps involving communities and citizens to prevent erosion and damage to the area.
According to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands report, wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests, with 35% of wetlands lost between 1970 and 2015.
The alarming situation requires immediate attention as 40% of the world’s plant and animal species breed in wetlands. Wetlands are important feeding and breeding grounds for migratory birds.
India’s Ramsar wetlands are spread over 11,000 sq km — around 10% of the total wetland area in the country — across 18 States. No other South Asian country has as many sites though this has much to do with India’s geographical breadth and tropical diversity. The United Kingdom (175) and Mexico (142) — smaller countries than India — have the maximum Ramsar sites whereas Bolivia spans the largest area with 148,000 sq km under the Convention protection.