About Keshopur & Shalapattan Wetland
Punjab is endowed with a very rich spectrum of picturesque landscapes, forests, wildlife, wetlands and cultural diversity. In Gurdaspur district of Punjab, WWF-India is working in two sites: Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve, India’s first community reserve and Shalapattan Wetland.The Shalapattan Wetland is privately-owned and the only one in Punjab that witnesses the wintering of common cranes. The sarus cranes, declared vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), inhabit this wetland all through the year.
Keshopur-Miani Community Reserve is a dynamic freshwater ecosystem in the district of Gurdaspur, Punjab. It is the first-ever notified community reserve of India under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (amended 2002). This community reserve is situated at an altitude of 245-250m. The reserve comprises freshwater marshes (natural wetlands) that cover an area of 340ha and is an important waterfowl habitat and migratory bird corridor during the winter season. The entire community reserve is on two marshes owned by five village panchayats – the major ones being Miani (400 acres), Dalla (152 acres), Keshopur (136 acres) and Matwa (51 acres) as a contiguous block and Magarmudian (111 acres) as a separate patch.
This area was declared as a community reserve following a Punjab Government Notification dated 25 June 2007. The community reserve management committee constituted under the Section 36 D of the legal provisions for protection under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended 2002) has been authorized to conserve, maintain and manage the community reserve. Since the land in which the five villages lie belongs to the panchayat, all the villages are represented by one nominee – a range officer from the forest department who is designated as the Member Secretary. Following the issue of the notification under sub-section (1) of Section C, it has been stated that no change in the land use pattern shall be made within the community reserve except in through a resolution passed by the management committee and the approval of the state government.
Shalapattan is located on Gurdaspur-Mukerian Road at an elevation of 240m. The wetland is 15km away from the city of Gurdaspur. It is an open marsh area which is privately-owned by sixteen villages. River Beas is 7km from the Shalapattan Wetland. It is home to the winter migratory birds such as common cranes. The sarus crane, a resident, can only be found in this part of Punjab. Apart from serving as wintering ground for various migratory birds, the wetland is used for farming. Rice is cultivated from June to October and from November to April fodder crops are mostly cultivated. Wheat cannot be cultivated in this area because of water-logging. Shalapattan is rich in biodiversity because it supports a number of unique fish, reptile and bird species.