World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February to raise awareness about wetlands.
This day also marks the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, which was adopted as an international treaty in 1971.
Background: On 30 August 2021 the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 75/317 that established 2 February as ‘World Wetlands Day’.
Need of the initiative:
Nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests.
Wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, and world economies.
It is urgent that we raise national and global awareness about wetlands in order to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them.
World Wetlands Day is the ideal time to increase people’s understanding of these critically important ecosystems.
Theme: Wetland Restoration the theme for 2023 highlights the urgent need to prioritize wetland restoration.
Organised by: The World Wetlands Day awareness campaign is organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands.
What are Wetlands?
According to the Convention, wetlands include almost any habitat where water is key to the environment and its wildlife.
Wetlands include swamps, marshes, billabongs, lakes, salt marshes, mudflats, mangroves, coral reefs, fens, peat bogs, or bodies of water - whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary.
Water within these areas can be static or flowing; fresh, brackish or saline; and can include inland rivers and coastal or marine water to a depth of six metres at low tide. There are even underground wetlands.
Anywhere from estuaries, lakes and rivers to underground aquifers, mangroves, coral reefs and rice paddies count.
The Ramsar Convention:
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
It is named after the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the Caspian Sea, where the treaty was signed on 2 February 1971.
Known officially as ‘the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat’ (or, more recently, just ‘the Convention on Wetlands’), it came into force in 1975.
Objective: 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.
The convention entered into force in India on 1 February 1982.
What is Montreux Record?
Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the Ramsar list, which are facing immediate challenges.
The listed sites are threatened by changes that affect their ecosystem components, processes, benefits and services which characterise the said wetland at a given point in time.
India’s two wetlands find a place in the Montreux Record. They are:
Keoladeo National Park, in Rajasthan, was designated a Ramsar site in 1981 and listed in the Montreux Record in 1990.
Loktak Lake in Manipur was declared a Ramsar site in 1990 and indexed in the Montreux Record in 1993.
Wetlands in India:
India currently has 54 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites).
The spread of Wetlands in India:
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) carried out a National Wetland Inventory and Assessment using Indian remote sensing satellites during 2006-2011 and subsequently brought out national- and state-level wetland inventory atlases.
The total wetland area estimated is 26 million hectares, which is around 4.63%of the geographical area of the country.
The largest wetland in India is the Sunderbans. Sunderban Wetland is also a part of the largest mangrove forest in the world.