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.

Salient features

  • Criterion 2 (Rare species and threatened ecological communities): supports many globally threatened species including the critically endangered white-rumped vulture, Baer's pochard, red-headed vulture; the endangered Egyptian vulture, steppe eagle, black-bellied tern, Pallas’s fish eagle; and the vulnerable marbled teal, common pochard, lesser white-fronted goose, Asian woollyneck, Indian spotted eagle, and greater spotted eagle.
  • Criterion 3 (Biological diversity): supports a variety of flora and fauna including 330 species of birds, 78 invertebrates, 49 fishes, 4 amphibians, 1 reptile and 20 mammal species.
  • Criterion 4 (Support during critical life cycle stage or in adverse conditions): each year, the wetland hosts a number of migratory bird species during their winter migration such as ruddy shelduck, red-crested pochard, common pochard, gadwall, Eurasian wigeon, northern shoveler, northern pintail, greylag goose, bar-headed goose and ferruginous duck.
  • Criterion 6 (>1% waterbird population): site regularly supports about 2.03% of the biogeographic population of ruddy shelduck and 1.02% biogeographic population of red-crested pochard.
  • Criterion 8 (Fish spawning grounds, etc.): a total of 49 fish species have been known to inhabit the site and it serves as feeding, migration path and spawning ground.

© Yaiphaba Akoijam/WWF India

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.

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