A wetland is a place where the presence of land is covered by water. From marshes to ponds to the edge of a lake/ocean to Delta at the opening of a river to low-lying areas that are quickly and pretty often flooded is what composes the wetlands.
Though there are many wetlands all over the globe, only some of the wetlands are of immense international importance and are known as Ramsar sites.
The relationship between wetlands and them being called the ‘Ramsar sites’.
Ramsar is a city in Iran. In 1971, an international treaty that aimed at the conservation and sustainable use of the most influential wetlands around the world was signed at Ramsar. The Convention’s mission was to thoroughly conserve and use these wetlands wisely through various approaches ranging from local and national actions to international cooperation. This was done as a mode of contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.
As a result, more than 2300 wetlands of international importance have been recorded. The efforts have sparked much-needed changes, and today through the Ramsar List, it has established the world’s largest network of protected areas. The 2,300 Ramsar Sites worldwide cover a whopping 2.5 million square kilometers. Just to put to light, these areas combined are larger than that of Mexico. Here are some lesser-known facts about the Ramsar sites :
- The world’s first Ramsar Site was the Cobourg Peninsula in Australia. It was designated in 1974.
- The largest Sites are Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Queen Maud Gulf in Canada. These Sites are mammoth in size, covering over 60,000 square kilometers.
- The countries with the most number of Ramsar Sites are the United Kingdom with 175, followed by Mexico with 142.
- Bolivia has the largest area, with 148,000 km2 under Ramsar protection.
Ramsar sites (Wetlands) in India: State-wise compilation
- Kolleru Lake in Andhra Pradesh
- Deepor Beel in Assam
- Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary in Gujarat
- Chandertal Wetland in Himachal Pradesh
- Pong Dam Lake in Himachal Pradesh
- Renuka Wetland in Himachal Pradesh
- Hokera Wetland in Jammu & Kashmir
- Surinsar-Mansar Lakes in Jammu & Kashmir
- Tsomoriri in Jammu & Kashmir
- Wular Lake in Jammu & Kashmir
- Ashtamudi Wetland in Kerala
- Sasthamkotta Lake in Kerala
- Vembanad-Kol Wetland in Kerala
- Bhoj Wetland in Madhya Pradesh
- Nandur Madhameshwar in Maharashtra
- Loktak Lake in Manipur
- Bhitarkanika Mangroves in Orissa
- Chilika Lake in Orissa
- Harike Lake in Punjab
- Kanjli in Punjab
- Ropar in Punjab
- Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve in Punjab
- Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary in Punjab
- Beas Conservation Reserve in Punjab
- Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan
- Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan
- Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu
- Rudrasagar Lake in Tripura
- Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora Stretch) in Uttar Pradesh
- Saman Bird Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh
- Samaspur Bird Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh
- Sandi Bird Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh
- Sarai Nawar Jheel in Uttar Pradesh
- Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh
- Parvati Arga Bird Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh
- East Calcutta Wetlands in West Bengal
- Sundarban Wetland in West Bengal
Three pillars of the Ramsar Convention
Ramsar sites around the world
Unlike most other sites under international supervision and protection, the Ramsar sites also have their own “three pillars” of the Convention. The Contracting Parties commit to:
- 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.
- Cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems, and shared species.
The Montreux Record
The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance. In this list, the changes in ecological character and where they have occurred are monitored. Also, the sites where recent changes are occurring are kept on record and under supervision. The study of such changes is related to natural causes or several other unwanted factors like technological developments, pollution, or other human interference. It is then maintained as part of the Ramsar List.
Interesting facts about Ramsar Convention/Sites
(Ramsar sites in India)
- The number of contracting parties in total is 171.
- At the time of enlisting the Convention, each Contracting Party embarks on establishing at least one wetland site for inclusion in the list of Wetlands of International Importance.
- The inclusion of a “Ramsar Site” in the List embodies the government’s commitment towards conserving them and looking after them religiously. It is necessary to ensure that steps and measures are taken to preserve its ecological character.
- Wetlands included in the List acquire a new national and international status. Also, they are recognized as being of significant value for their country and countries worldwide, making them a boon for humanity as a whole.
- There are nine criteria for identifying wetlands of international importance.
- There are six Ramsar regions.
- The 2nd of February each year is World Wetlands Day. This day marks and celebrates the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971.
- The Ramsar Sites Information Service (RSIS) is a searchable database. This provides the latest information on each Ramsar Site.
- The Ramsar Convention works in close connection with six other organizations known as International Organization Partners (IOPs).
- Birdlife International.
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
- Wetlands International.
- WWF International.
- Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).