Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

World Wetlands Day: India Adds Two Ramsar Sites

The 49 Ramsar sites in the country together cover 10,93,636 ha, the highest area under wetlands in South Asia.
February 2, 2022
Sunderbans Wetland in West Bengal covering 4230 Sq. km is the largest wetland in India. Photo Credit- Wikimedia Commons

Two new Ramsar sites, Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh were announced and a National Wetland Decadal Change Atlas was released on the occasion of World Wetlands Day 2022.

Wetlands contribute to the environment in many ways, including regulating the amount of water, replenishing groundwater, protecting the ecosystem from floods and droughts, controlling erosion and transporting sediment. It is also an important habitat for migratory birds and other species. However, threats such as wetland drainage, construction, climate change and landfills are all contributing to the degradation of these natural habitats.

All 49 Ramsar Sites together now cover 10,93,636 ha, the highest in South Asia. Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary provides a safe wintering and staging ground for a large number of special Central Asian Flyway, while Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary is a coastal wetland with rich avifaunal diversity providing a safe habitat to endangered and vulnerable species.

Union Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav said, “Development and environment should walk together in a perennial manner; 40 per cent of biodiversity comes from the wetland.” Furthermore, while stressing the importance of wetland day, he said, “Today is International Wetland Day. There are more than two lakhs of small ponds in India but there are also a few that need to be preserved. India has 52 national tiger forests in India. There are two blue tag beaches in India. We have added two Ramsar sites today.”

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, said, “There are 18,000 ponds in Haryana, now at least 6,000 ponds are overflowing and are full of dirt. We have formed Pond authority to take care of it. This authority this year aims to preserve/maintain 1,900 ponds.”

The aim of the Ramsar list is “to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands, which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.”

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 or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season. Water saturation (hydrology) largely determines how the soil develops and the types of plant and animal communities living in and on the soil. Wetlands may support both aquatic and terrestrial species. Situated in the heart of South America, the Pantanal is the world’s largest tropical wetland. At 42 million acres, the Pantanal covers an area slightly larger than England and sprawls across three countries—Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay.

How many wetlands are there in India?

With the announcement of Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh as the latest Ramsar sites, i.e., wetlands of international importance, India now has 49 Ramsar Sites. Sunderbans Wetland in West Bengal, covering 4230 sq. km, is the largest wetland in India.

Also Read: Four more sites of India added to Ramsar list as wetlands of international importance

List of Ramsar sites in India 

Ramsar Sites in India State
Haiderpur Wetland Uttar Pradesh
Sultanpur National Park Haryana
Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary Haryana
Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary Gujarat
Wadhvana Wetland Gujarat
Ashtamudi Wetland Kerala
Beas Conservation Reserve Punjab
Bhitarkanika Mangroves Odisha
Bhoj Wetlands Madhya Pradesh
Chandra Taal Himachal Pradesh
Chilika Lake Odisha
Deepor Beel Assam
East Kolkata Wetlands West Bengal
Harike Wetlands Punjab
Hokera Wetland Jammu & Kashmir
Kanjli Wetland Punjab
Keoladeo National Park Rajasthan
Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve Punjab
Kolleru lake Andhra Pradesh
Loktak lake Manipur
Nalsarovar Bird sanctuary Gujarat
Nandur Madhameshwar Maharashtra
Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary Punjab
Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
Parvati Agra Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary Tamil Nadu
Pong Dam lake Himachal Pradesh
Renuka lake Himachal Pradesh
Ropar Wetland Punjab
Rudrasagar Lake Tripura
Saman Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
Samaspur Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
Sambhar lake Rajasthan
Sandi Bird Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh
Sarsai Nawar Jheel Uttar Pradesh
Sasthamkotta lake Kerala
Surinsar- Mansar lakes Jammu & Kashmir
Tsomoriri Ladakh
Upper Ganga river Uttar Pradesh
Vembanad Kol Wetland Kerala
Wular lake Jammu & Kashmir
Sunderban Wetland West Bengal
Asan Barrage Uttarakhand
Kanwar Lake or Kabal Taal Bihar
Lonar Lake Maharashtra
Sur Sarovar Uttar Pradesh
Tso Kar Wetland Complex Ladakh
Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary Gujarat
Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary Uttar Pradesh

Why World Wetlands Day is celebrated?

World Wetlands Day is an environmentally related celebration that dates back to the year 1971 when several environmentalists gathered to reaffirm the protection and love for wetlands. The World Wetlands Secretary Department is originally from Gland, Switzerland and in accordance with the beginning of World Wetlands Day, the Ramsar convention first attributed this recognition to the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on the second day of February every year. This day serves to recognise the influence and positive production that wetlands have had on the world and brings communities together for the benefit of nature. This day also raises global awareness on the impact of wetlands on people and planet.

Theme of World Wetland Day 2022

The theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day is Wetland’s Action for People and Nature, showing the actions required to ensure the conservation and sustenance of wetlands.