“Wetlands and Biodiversity" is the theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day celebration, aiming at raising awareness about the importance of wetlands’ biodiversity.
Each year on 2 February, governments, non-governmental organisations and citizens around the globe celebrate World Wetlands Day to mark the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar (on the shores of the Caspian Sea). An intergovernmental treaty called ‘The Convention on Wetlands’ was signed in 1971 to provide framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It is also called Ramsar Convention, named after the city Ramsar in Iran where it was signed. Wetlands of international importance are identified and given the status of Ramsar sites, these sites are recognized as of significant value not only for the country or the countries in which they are located, but for humanity as a whole.
Wetlands are rich with biodiversity and are a habitat for a dense variety of plant and animal species and this year’s theme offers an opportunity to highlight wetland biodiversity, its status, why it matters and promote actions to reverse its loss.
Haiderpur Wetland Bird Festival
WWF-India in collaboration with National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), Ministry of Jal Shakti and Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh is organising a two-day bird festival event on the occasion of World Wetlands Day celebration in Haiderpur Wetland, Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh) from 2-3 February 2020.
During this event, activities such as bird watching, interactive session on bird identification and behaviour, drawing competition and quiz will be conducted focusing on this year’s theme “Wetlands and Biodiversity”. In addition, a technical session will also be conducted as a part of this event where subject experts representing governments, academia and NGOs will convene to discuss on the priorities for conservation and management of Haiderpur Wetland.
WWF India endeavours to work towards protection of the Haiderpur wetland by developing an integrated management plan. The Conservation Planning Workshop scheduled during this Bird Festival event will be an important agenda where experts and stakeholders combined will be discussing on the conservation and management aspects of the wetlands. The outcomes of this meeting will be a crucial element which will paved the way towards the development of an integrated management plan for Haiderpur Wetland.
With the support from the District Administration Moradabad and Nagar Nigam, WWF-India is organising a World Wetland Day event on February 3, 2020 at Panchayat Bhawan Moradabad. The half a day event is being organised to generate awareness on importance of wetlands amongst students and locals, and will witness expert lectures on wetland ecology, screening of a documentary film, and interactive games for young adults. Approximately 300-400 students are expected to participate in the event with District Magistrate as the Chief Guest, and the City Commissioner as the Guest of Honour.
WWF India in collaboration with the Ramganga Mitras has been working towards conservation and protection of the wetlands in Moradabad since 2014. Under the ‘Humare talaab Humare Dharohar” campaign, the first ever citizen led urban wetland survey was conducted in Moradabad, with its findings documented. WWF-India has completed the mapping of the wetlands in Thakurdawara block and the report of the same has been submitted and presented in last District Ganga Committee meeting. In order to continue this initiative and to assess the current status of the wetlands, WWF- India will be conducting a second round of citizen led wetland campaign in Moradabad City with participation from local universities, colleges, civil societies and Ramganga Mitras to map the status of 66 urban wetlands in 16 wards.
Upper Ganga Ramsar Site , Uttar Pradesh
The World Wetland Day event is being organised in partnership with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department. This event in Narora will witness Rangoli making and a drawing competition along with bird watching session and wetland quiz. About 300 students will participate.
The Upper Ganga Ramsar site in Uttar Pradesh (Narora to Brijghat), is home to the IUCN Red listed Ganges River Dolphin, Gharial, 12 species of turtles, otters, 82 species of fish and more than hundred species of birds. Conservation initiatives in this Ramsar site include regular reintroduction and monitoring of Gharials and Ganga River Dolphins, engagement with local stakeholders (Ganga mitras) in the river health monitoring , rescuing turtle eggs found around the riverbed and rehabilitating them in hatcheries and releasing the hatchlings back in the river. Through the Water School programme with thousands of students, WWF India is aiming to nurture youth as custodians of our freshwater resources
Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh
Student engagement and outreach plan, including eco trails, drawing competition, wetland quiz is being organised in WWF – India’s Interpretation centre at Hastinapur to commemorate World Wetlands Day 2020. The event is being organised in partnership with the Forest Department and endeavours to engage approximately 200 students from Meerut and nearby places.
Through WWF India’s conservation initiative, regular reintroduction and monitoring of Gharials with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department has been undertaking. Additionally, the team has been engaging local stakeholders in the monitoring of the Ganges River Dolphin, rescuing turtle eggs found around the riverbed and rehabilitating them in hatcheries and releasing the hatchlings back in the river.
A full day World Wetlands Day celebration is being organised in Madwala wetland with an Eco trail and Bird watching activities along with drawing competition, expert lectures on wetland biodiversity with school students. The event is being organised in partnership with the Forest Department, Lake Wardens and Madiwala Lake Tank Foundation (MLTF) on February 03, 2020. At Madiwala, WWF-India is working towards creating awareness on the biodiversity and threats facing the wetland through community engagement and public outreach. WWF-India has been closely working with the Forest Department on various wetland conservation activities like de-weeding, assessment of wetland health, Biodiversity surveys, developing management plan for the wetland, installation of floating fountains and floating islands etc.
This Community Bird Reserve will witness approximately 80 students from Kokkarebellur high school attending awareness programme on Wetlands and Biodiversity at WWF – India’s Interpretation centre on Februaru 04, 2020. WWF-India has taken up the conservation of this peri-urban wetland near Bangalore) to reverse the loss of biodiversity, and improve ecological conditions while improving the well-being of local communities through natural resource-based livelihood. WWF-India’s Aardhrabhumi Programme’s conservation initiatives in the region are designed to mitigate threats from various anthropogenic pressures like water intensive agricultural practices, over-abstraction of groundwater and felling of trees for infrastructural expansion, which are detrimental to the health of water sources and biodiversity in the region. The conservation initiatives also provide community engagement opportunities to rekindle the connection to the birds through regular awareness building programmes and the establishment of a revamped Nature Interpretation Center.
Awareness programme on wetlands & biodiversity through an eco- trail is being planned with 80 students from Jawahar Navodaya Vidyala, Bashetihalli. The event is being planned with Gram Panchayat and Karnataka Forest Department on February 05, 2020. WWF-India the committee has been working towards conserving the Bashettihalli wetland since 2016 in the State of Karnataka, through a multi-pronged approach including social mobilization, awareness creation and technical interventions. While wetlands across the country have been drying up due to a range of issues, the Bashettihalli wetland rejuvenation story highlights the impact that multiple stakeholders can have when they come together to address a common goal. This initiative in Bashettihalli is a pioneering example of positive impact achieved through diverse partnerships and collaborations.
Drawing competition with Water School students, along with Wetland Mitras interaction with senior officials from Ferozepur Forest Department is scheduled to commemorate the World Wetlands Day in Punjab. The Harike wetland in Punjab, supports rare, vulnerable and endangered species like the Indus River Dolphin, testudine turtle, the smooth-coated otter, Jerdon's Babler and rufous-vented Prinia. WWF – India’s multi-disciplinary programme engages with diverse stakeholders on issues around wetland conservation, sustainable agriculture, environmental flows and species (Indus River Dolphins, gharials and migratory birds) conservation supported by a strong capacity building and outreach component.
Keoladeo National Park
Painting competition, essay competition, bird identification and park visit along with bird watching with 150 students from nearby six schools is being planned for World Wetlands Day Celebration. The event is being organised in partnership with the Rajasthan Forest Department and Park officials on February 03, 2020.
WWF-India has been involved in the conservation of Keoladeo National Park for over a decade. In order to address key threats faced by the National Park, various projects have been undertaken in collaboration with the Forest Department towards enhancing scientific understanding of the habitat and species in KNP and assist the Forest Department to conserve and manage the Park, influencing relevant political and administrative bodies at the State and local levels to pursue water management practices that maintain the ecological integrity of KNP, motivate local children and their families to observe and promote sustainable water management practices and involve local/state and global media in developing a greater understanding about the importance and ecological needs of KNP.
WWF – India recognises the crucial role of wetlands in a basin for maintaining the hydrological, geomorphological and ecological health of river systems along with the rich biodiversity they support. Through its Rivers, Wetlands and Water Policy programme, WWF – India aims to mainstream wise use of wetlands through an integrated participatory approach, combining science, policy and on-ground research.
WWF – India’s Integrated Participatory Approach towards Wetland Conservation:
Additionally, WWF-India has been appointed as a focal point for Ramsar Convention’s Programme on communication, capacity building, education, participation and awareness (CEPA) in India. Through its outreach and awareness programmes, WWF – India aims to create an institutional mechanism, bringing together different water users to discuss and collaboratively contribute solutions regarding water risk. The ultimate aim is that the communities will have the capacity and empowerment to advocate for change and emerge as prime change agents. With its Wetland Mitra initiative, the programme is has established a platform for bring together individuals from all walks of life contributing towards conservation and protection of wetlands in their neighbourhood along with NGOs. CSOs and the Governments. The Water Schools programme aims at nurturing young school children in the riparian community towards becoming sustainable water users and enhance their relationship with nature and biodiversity.
Wetlands are land areas saturated or flooded with water, permanently or seasonally. They are one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet and render many ecosystem services such as improvement in quality and quantity of surface and groundwater, protection against floods and droughts, nutrient recycling, as well as economic services such as livelihoods from fishery, livestock and forestry. They are also important biodiversity habitat. They can be:
Wetlands are declining at an alarming rate with more than 35% lost in under 50 years, a rate three times greater than that of forests. Overall available data suggest that wetland-dependent species such as fish, waterbirds and turtles are in serious decline, with one-quarter threatened with extinction particularly in the tropics. Between 1970 and 2014, populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles declined by 60%. Since 1970, 81% of inland wetland species populations and 36% of coastal and marine species have declined. 25% of wetland species are threatened with extinction, including waterbirds, freshwater-dependent mammals, marine turtles, and coral reef building species.
Wetlands must be at the heart of national and global biodiversity discussions, decisions and actions in 2020 – and beyond. Crucially, it is time to acknowledge wetlands’ critical role for biodiversity and the solutions they provide on climate change and sustainable development.
WETLAND AND BIODIVERSITY
Wetlands are rich reservoirs of biodiversity with 40% of the world’s plant and animal species living or breeding in wetlands. Over 100,000 freshwater species have been identified in wetlands so far and coastal wetlands, especially, are among the most biologically diverse places. Biodiversity loss denotes the unprecedented disappearance, degradation and unsustainable use of the ecosystems on which we and all other living things depend on to survive and thrive. Healthy, functioning natural wetlands are critical to human livelihoods and sustainable development. They offer powerful solutions for health, poverty, climate change and sustainable development as a whole. The source of our clean water, the rice that feeds 3.5 billion people daily and much of our fish, wetlands provide one in seven people with a living.