Asan Conservation Reserve, home to many rare and endangered species and a significant wintering ground for migratory birds has been declared as a Ramsar site. The reserve spread over an area of 444.4 ha in Dehradun is the first Ramsar site in Uttarakhand. This biodiverse ecosystem located at the confluence of Asan and Yamuna Rivers was declared as a Conservation Reserve in 2005 under Section 36A of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Strategically located within the Central Asian Flyways (CAF), the reserve homes 330 species of birds, including critically endangered- white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis), Baer's pochard (Aythya baeri); endangered- Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis), black-bellied tern (Sterna acuticauda); and vulnerable- marbled teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris), common pochard (Aythya ferina), Indian spotted eagle (Clanga hastata) etc. It is one of the best-known sites for the congregation of ruddy shelduck. Other non-avian species present include 49 fish species, one of these being the endangered Putitor mahseer (Tor putitora). Fish use the site for feeding, migration and spawning.
The Uttarakhand Forest Department with the technical support from WWF-India (a knowledge partner to Ministry of Environment and Forest & Climate Change), completed the Ramsar Information Sheets (RISs), leading to the designation of the site as Ramsar Site. WWF-India is one of the CEPA (Capacity building, Education, Participation & Awareness) NGO Focal Points for India of the Ramsar Convention and has been actively engaging with the State Forest Departments of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Karnataka and Uttarakhand towards the conservation and wise use of wetlands through community mobilization, awareness raising, and scientific and technical interventions.
With two more Ramsar Site designations (Asan Conservation Reserve and Kabar Tal in Bihar) in October 2020, India now has 39 Ramsar Sites, the highest in South Asia, covering a surface area of about 10.7lakh hectares.
A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, they are nationally protected area and are legally protected under the national law. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands and was named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971, and came in force from 1975.