10 New Ramsar Sites in India

 Recently, The Ramsar Convention has declared 10 more wetlands in India as sites of international importance.

This brings the total number of Ramsar sites in India to 37 from 27. The details of newly included wetlands are described here

Three sites in Panjab state

1.Beas Conservation Reserve 

It is a 185-kilometer stretch of the Beas River majorly in Punjab. The river is dotted with islands, sand bars, and braided channels that support substantial biodiversity, creating a complex environment. 

The Reserve hosts the only known population in India of the endangered Indus river dolphin and threatened species include the endangered mahseer and hog deer as well as the vulnerable smooth-coated otter.A program was initiated to re-introduce the critically endangered gharial.

2. Nangal Wildlife Sanctuary

It is located in the Shiwalik foothills of Punjab which is highly eco-sensitive. It occupies a human-made reservoir constructed as part of the Bhakra-Nangal Project on Sutlej River in 1961.

The site is of historic importance as the Indian and Chinese Prime Ministers formalized the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” there in 1954.

3. Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve 

It is a mosaic of natural marshes, aquaculture ponds, and agricultural wetlands maintained by the annual rainfall runoff. It is heavily human-influenced and includes a series of managed fishponds and cultivated crops such as lotus and chestnut.

The Site is an example of the wise use of a community-managed wetland, which provides food for people and supports local biodiversity. Threatened species present include the vulnerable common pochard and the endangered spotted pond turtle.

Six sites in Utterpradesh state

4. Saman Bird Sanctuary (Mainpuri District)

It is a seasonal oxbow lake on the Ganges floodplain. The Saman Bird Sanctuary is particularly important as a wintering site for many migrants including the 
Greylag Goose, the Common teal, Great White, Northern Pintail, Pelican and species of stroks with over 1% of the South Asian population present during winter.

5. Sandi Bird Sanctuary (Hardoi District)

It is a freshwater marsh, also designated as Important Bird Area by Birdlife International. The Sandi Bird sanctuary is also known by its ancient name as “Dahar Jheel” (Jheel = Lake).

River Garra, formerly known as Garun Ganga, passes near the sanctuary. It is home to common teal, red-crested pochard, and ferruginous duck while vulnerable sarus crane has a population of 200 individuals within the Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary dried out leading to a subsequent collapse in waterbird populations from 2014 to 2015.

6. Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary (Unnao District)

It is a shallow marshland. Monsoon rains feed this diverse wetland while the Sarda Canal supplies additional water. The Sanctuary supports recreation and tourism activities as well as local biodiversity.

The highly invasive common water hyacinth poses a threat, as does the removal of timber from the forests. It is known to host Siberian cranes among migratory bird species that rest here during the winter months.

7. Parvati Arga Bird Sanctuary

It is a permanent freshwater environment consisting of two oxbow lakes. They are rain-fed lakes in a deep natural depression in the Gangetic plains of the terai region of Uttar Pradesh.

The Sanctuary is a refuge for some of India’s threatened vulture species: the critically endangered white-rumped vulture and Indian vulture and the Endangered Egyptian vulture have all been recorded.

Invasive species such as the common water hyacinth along with the development of roads and railways present significant threats.

8. Samaspur Bird Sanctuary (Raebareli District)

It is a perennial lowland marsh typical of the Indo-Gangetic Plains in Uttar Pradesh. These are six connected lakes that are heavily dependent on monsoon rains.

The Sanctuary harbors threatened species such as the endangered Egyptian vulture and Pallas’s fish eagle and more than 1% of the South Asian population of the vulnerable common pochard. A tall grass called “Sarpat” is also found in bunches at every spot.

9. Sarsai Nawar Jheel (Etawah District)

This typical wetland of the Indo-Gangetic floodplain in Uttar Pradesh is fed by precipitation run-off from the southwest monsoon rains.

It is an example of cohabitation of humans and wildlife: farming practices across most of the Sites play important roles in sustaining the waterbird habitats.

A particular beneficiary is the vulnerable sarus crane, with a population of 400 individuals making up the largest flock in the region. Other threatened species present include the critically endangered white-rumped vulture and endangered Woolly-necked stork.

It is recognized by Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area.

one site in Maharashtra state

10. Nandur Madhameshwar

It is a mosaic of lakes, marshes, and riparian forest on the Deccan Plateau. The establishment of the Nandur Madhameshwar Weir at the confluence of the Godavari and Kadwa Rivers helped create a thriving wetland.

Its diverse habitats contrast with the surrounding semi-arid conditions caused by the rain shadow of the Western Ghats mountain range. It provides sanctuary to critically endangered species including Deolali minnow (a fish), Indian vulture, and white-rumped vulture.

About Ramsar Convention

It is an intergovernmental treaty that provides a framework for the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation.

The oldest inter-governmental accords for preserving the ecological character of wetlands signed in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Total 171 Number of Contracting Parties in Ramsar convention.

The Convention has the “three pillars”, 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.
Montreux Record maintained as part of the Ramsar List is a register of wetland sites where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference.

The Ramsar Convention has 6 International Organisation Partners:
  1. Birdlife International
  2. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  3. International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  4. Wetlands International
  5. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
  6. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

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