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Wetlands And Montreux Record

Wetlands And Montreux Record

What Are Wetlands?

  • Wetlands are defined as: “lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water”.
  • Wetlands are areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. They occur where the water table is at or near the surface of the land, or where the land is covered by water.

Major Characteristics 

  • Soil Type: Wetlands are covered with hydric soils. In such soils, the spaces between each grain of soil are filled with water. These soils are anaerobic- the soil lacks oxygen.
  • Hydrology: There is the presence of water at or near the surface of the land for a particular amount of time in a year. The sources of water into wetlands include precipitation, surface water (from rivers and sea) and groundwater.
  • Biota: Plants that live in wetlands and are adapted to the hydric soil are called hydrophytes. Examples:  cypress, silver maple, mangroves.

Types Of Wetlands

  • Shallow lakes and ponds: These wetlands are areas of permanent or semi-permanent water with little flow. They include vernal ponds, spring pools, salt lakes and volcanic crater lakes.
  • Coastal Wetlands: Coastal wetlands are found in the areas between land and open sea that are not influenced by rivers such as shorelines, beaches, mangroves and coral reefs. A good example is the mangrove swamps found in sheltered tropical coastal areas.
  • Swamps: These are fed primarily by surface water inputs and are dominated by trees and shrubs. Swamps occur in either freshwater or saltwater floodplains.
  • Estuaries: The area where rivers meet the sea and water changes from fresh to salt can offer an extremely rich mix of biodiversity. These wetlands include deltas, tidal mudflats and salt marshes.
  • Marshes: These are periodically saturated, flooded, or ponded with water and characterized by herbaceous (non-woody) vegetation adapted to wet soil conditions. Marshes are further characterized as tidal marshes and non-tidal marshes.
  • Bogs: Bogs are waterlogged peatlands in old lake basins or depressions in the landscape. Almost all water in bogs comes from rainfall.

Importance of Wetlands | Wetlands And Montreux Record

  • Wetlands are an important resource for sustainable tourism.
  • Wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits or “ecosystem services” that they provide humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity, to flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation.
  • They act as a genetic reservoir for various species of plants (especially rice).
  • They carry out water purification, filtration of sediments and nutrients from surface water.
  • Wetlands are habitat to aquatic flora and fauna, numerous species of native and migratory birds.
  • They help in nutrients recycling, groundwater recharging and stabilisation of local climate.
  • Buffer (act as a riparian buffer) shorelines against erosion and pollutants.
  • Play an important role in flood mitigation by controlling the rate of runoff.

Threats to Wetlands

  • Agriculture: Vast stretches of wetlands have been converted to paddy fields. Construction of a large number of reservoirs, canals and dams to provide for irrigation significantly altered the hydrology of the associated wetlands.
  • Urbanization: Wetlands near urban centres are under increasing developmental pressure for residential, industrial and commercial facilities. Urban wetlands are essential for preserving public water supplies.
  • Salinization: Over withdrawal of groundwater has led to salinisation.
  • Pollution: Wetlands act as natural water filters. However, they can only clean up the fertilizers and pesticides from agricultural runoff but not mercury from industrial sources and other types of pollution.
    • There is growing concern about the effect of industrial pollution on drinking water supplies and the biological diversity of wetlands.
  • Dredging: The removal of material from a wetland or river bed. Dredging of streams lowers the surrounding water table and dries up adjacent wetlands.
  • Climate Change: Increased air temperature; shifts in precipitation; increased frequency of storms, droughts, and floods; increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration; and sea level rise could also affect wetlands.
  • Introduced Species: Indian wetlands are threatened by exotic introduced plant species such as water hyacinth and salvinia. They clog waterways and compete with native vegetation.
  • Draining: Water is drained from wetlands by cutting ditches into the ground which collect and transport water out of the wetland. This lowers the water table and dries out the wetland.

 

India’s effort in Wetland Conservation | Wetlands And Montreux Record

  • Wetland Mitras: Selected individuals for taking care of the 130 identified wetlands across India.
  • Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017: It prohibits conversion for non-wetland uses, setting up or expansion of industries in wetland areas and disposal of construction and demolition waste within the wetlands.
  • Wetland health cards: In 2019, the government identified 130 wetlands in the country to be restored in the next five years. Each wetland will be issued a health card, which will denote its health.
  • National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA):It was launched in 2015 by merging of the National Lake Conservation Plan and the National Wetlands Conservation Programme. It aims at holistic conservation and restoration of lakes and wetlands.

Ramsar Convention

  • The Convention came in to force in 1975.
  • The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.
  • Three pillars of the Convention are:
    • Work towards the wise use of all their wetlands.
    • Cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.
    • Designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management.
  • India has 27 Ramsar Sites which are the Wetlands of International importance.

Montreux Record

  • It is a register of wetland sites in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar List).
  • It includes all those wetlands where changes in ecological character are occurring/ have occurred or likely to occur due to anthropogenic activities.
  • The registered was established in 1990.
  • Keoladeo National Park and Loktak lake from India are included in the Montreux Record. Earlier Chilka Lake was part, but, it has been removed in 2002.

Conclusion | Wetlands And Montreux Record

  • To counter unplanned urbanization and a growing population, management of wetlands has to be an integrated approach in terms of planning, execution and monitoring.
  • Effective collaborations among academicians and professionals, including ecologists, watershed management specialists, planners and decision makers for overall management of wetlands.
  • Spreading awareness by initiating awareness programs about the importance of wetlands and constant monitoring of wetlands for their water quality would provide vital inputs to safeguard the wetlands from further deterioration.

 

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Environment & Biodiversity

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