India Adds 5 New Ramsar Wetland Sites, Expanding List to 80

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India has recently included five additional Wetlands of International Importance, bringing its total Ramsar Sites count to 80. These new designations underscore the country’s commitment to conserving vital wetland ecosystems.

Context

  • India has recently declared five new Wetlands of International Importance, expanding its count of “Ramsar Sites” to 80.
  • Situated in South Indian States, these wetlands are recognized for their diverse birdlife and overall biodiversity.
  • Each site possesses unique features, including an estuary, human-made bird conservation areas, Tamil Nadu State’s largest lake, and a distinctive forest-wetland complex in southern India with a high level of species endemism.

List of 5 New Ramsar Wetland Sites In India

Ramsar Wetland SiteLocationUnique Features
Ankasamudra Bird Conservation ReserveKarnatakaHuman-made Village Irrigation Tank supporting Painted Stork and Black-headed Ibis.
Aghanashini EstuaryKarnatakaFormed at the confluence of Aghanashini River with the Arabian Sea, supporting traditional fish farming and diverse waterbird species.
Magadi Kere Conservation ReserveKarnatakaHuman-made wetland harboring vulnerable and near-threatened species, designated Important Bird Area (IBA).
Karaivetti Bird SanctuaryTamil NaduOne of the largest inland wetlands of Tamil Nadu, hosting a variety of waterbird species.
Longwood Shola Reserve ForestTamil NaduForested wetlands serving as habitats for globally endangered and vulnerable bird species.

Details about the 5 New Ramsar Wetland Sites

Aghanashini Estuary

  • Located where the Aghanashini River meets the Arabian Sea in Karnataka State, this site offers habitats for over 80 fish species, 115 bird species, and 45 mangroves and mangrove-associated species.
  • Supporting the livelihoods of more than 6,000 households engaged in activities like fishing, agriculture, and aquaculture, it has recorded significant bird populations, including 10% of the regional population of black-headed ibis.

Ankasamudra Bird Conservation Reserve

  • Originally constructed for irrigation in Karnataka, this reservoir is celebrated for its diverse bird population.
  • Hosting about 35,000 birds of 240 species, including 30 waterbird species breeding at the site, it is home to nine endemic fish species, three of which are globally endangered.

Magadi Kere Conservation Reserve

  • Recognized as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), this reserve in Karnataka provides a stable habitat for over 165 bird species.
  • It is a haven for rare and threatened species like the northern shoveler, garganey, and common pochard, with around 30,000 waterbird individuals regularly recorded.

Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary

  • Situated in Tamil Nadu, this sanctuary, one of the state’s largest inland freshwater lakes, serves as a crucial stopover and foraging ground for birds migrating along the Central Asian Flyway.
  • Hosting 10,000 individuals of 14 colonial waterbird species, it provides nesting grounds for threatened species like the spotted eagle, tawny eagle, and Indian darter.

Longwood Shola Reserve Forest

  • Located in Tamil Nadu, this reserve features intermittent freshwater marshes and streams within a tropical montane forest.
  • Boasting high species endemism, it is a key conservation area for endangered species like the black-chinned Nilgiri laughing thrush, Nilgiri blue robin, and vulnerable Nilgiri wood pigeon.

Five New Ramsar Sites in India – Key Points

  • India has designated five new Wetlands of International Importance, expanding its Ramsar Sites count to 80.
  • The additional sites make India the fourth-largest country globally in terms of Ramsar Sites, following the UK (175), Mexico (144), and China (82).
  • The newly designated wetlands include Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary and Longwood Shola Reserve Forest in Tamil Nadu, along with Magadi Kere Conservation Reserve, Ankasamudra Bird Conservation Reserve, and Aghanashini Estuary in Karnataka.
  • These wetlands play a crucial role in the hydrological cycle, flood control, water supply, and providing essential resources like food, fibre, and raw materials.
  • Tamil Nadu has the highest number of Ramsar Sites in India with 16, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 10.
  • The global celebration of World Wetlands Day on February 2 commemorates the adoption of the Ramsar Convention in 1971.
  • The theme for World Wetlands Day 2024 is ‘Wetlands and Human Wellbeing,’ emphasizing the vital role wetlands play in enhancing human lives and contributing to flood protection, clean water, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities.
  • India continues to actively contribute to wetland conservation, with proposals for six more sites under consideration for the Ramsar designation.
  • Over the last ten years, the number of Ramsar Sites in India has increased from 26 to 80, with 38 additions in the last three years.
  • Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav envisions a systematic management evaluation system for Ramsar Sites to ensure their conservation and serve as models for other wetlands.
  • The Ramsar Convention, adopted in 1971 in Iran, provides a framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands globally, with India being a signatory since 1982.

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