India has added 10 more Ramsar sites, or wetlands that are of international importance, taking the number of such sites to 64.
- The 10 new sites — six in Tamil Nadu and one each in Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha — encompass an area of 1,51,842.41 hectares, bringing India’s total wetland area to 1.2 million hectares.
- The sites are Koothankulam Bird Sanctuary, Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve, Vembannur Wetland Complex, Vellode Bird Sanctuary, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary and Udhayamarthandapuram Bird Sanctuary, all in Tamil Nadu, Satkosia Gorge in Odisha, Nanda Lake in Goa, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary in Karnataka, and Sirpur Wetland in Madhya Pradesh.
- Ramsar wetlands now comprise around 10% of the total wetland area in the country.
- Being designated one, however, doesn’t necessarily invite extra international funds but that States —and the Centre — must ensure that these tracts of land are conserved and spared from man-made encroachment. Acquiring this label also helps with a locale’s tourism potential and its international visibility.
About Ramsar Convention –
- It is an intergovernmental environmental treaty that calls for international cooperation and national action to safeguard and sustainably use wetlands.
- The Convention came in to force in 1975 (signed in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar). It is officially known as ‘the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat’ (or, more recently, just ‘the Convention on Wetlands’).
- 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”.
- 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”.
- Three pillars of the Convention are – Work towards the wise use of all their wetlands; Designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management, and; Cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.
- Currently, India has 64 Ramsar Sites which are the Wetlands of International importance.
- The world’s first Site was the Cobourg Peninsula in Australia, designated in 1974.
- The countries with the most Sites are the United Kingdom with 175 and Mexico with 142.
- It is important to note that the Ramsar Convention is not legally binding i.e. it has no punitive sanctions for violations upon treaty commitments. It is also not part of the United Nations and UNESCO system of environmental conventions and agreements.