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Wet-lands in India


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Wet-lands in India

A Land area whose soil gets saturated with moisture either permanently or temporally is called a Wet-land. These Wet-lands are separated from the Water-bodies based on the comparative level of water and the variety of species found there.

Technically speaking Wet lands are classified as both Biomes and Ecosystems. They are also defined as Ecotones that transit between water bodies and dry lands. Thus, simply put wet lands are lands with Hydric Soil. The Ramsar Convention that defines international standards on wetlands has defined them as:

“Wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.”

These Wet-lands are extremely important for sustaining a healthy environment as they help to retain water during dry-periods, keeping the water table level stable. They also help restrict the rise of water level during Flood times and are home to numerous species of birds and animals.

Since ages wetlands have been used to maintain the quality of water and water-purification. Woefully, due to their lacking of potential financial gains, Wetlands have been subjected to continuous draining or conversions into tourist purpose lakes. 

Wetlands Classification Scheme

 Inland Wetlands
  • Natural
  Ox-bow lakes/ Cut-off meanders
  Waterlogged (Seasonal)
  • Man-Made
  Abandoned quarries
  Ash pond/cooling pond
 Coastal Wetlands
  • Natural
  Backwater (Kayal)
  Tidal flat/Split/Bar
  Coral reef
  Rocky coast
  Mangroove forest
  Salt marsh/marsh vegetation
  Other vegetation
  • Man-Made
  Salt pans

The Wetland Ecosystem in India is spread over a wide range of varied climatic conditions, that is ranging from the wetlands in cold and humid Jammu and Kashmir to Hot and Humid conditions in Peninsular India there is a great variety of these Wetlands. Under the conservation of Wetlands in India, 71 wetlands have been recognized that are a part of national Parks and sanctuaries. The Mangrove area in India covers a total of 7% of World’s Mangroves. Prominent mangrove covers in India are located in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Sundarbans delta, the Gulf of Kutch and the deltas of the Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna rivers. Parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala also have large mangrove covers.

The Sunderbans Delta in India is home to World’s largest Mangrove Forest and is also identified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It also is a home to number of species including Bengal Tiger. The Rann of Kutch, a marshy region in Western Gujarat, is a large saltwater lagoon which was originally a part of Arabian Sea.

Following is a list of Ramsar Sites in India that is the Wetlands that have been declared as “Internationally Important”.

Name                                                                    Area (km2)
Ashtamudi Wetland, Kerala                                                          614
Bhitarkanika Mangroves, Orissa                                                   650
Bhoj Wetland, Madhya Pradesh                                                      32
Chandertal Wetland, Himachal Pradesh                                         0.49
Chilika Lake, Orissa                                                                     1165
Deepor Beel, Assam                                                                        40
East Calcutta Wetlands, West Bengal                                              125
Harike Lake, Punjab                                                                         41
Hokera Wetland, Jammu and Kashmir                                            13.75
Kanjli, Punjab                                                                                   1.83
Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan                                                 28.73
Kolleru Lake, Andhra Pradesh                                                           901
Loktak Lake, Manipur                                                                       266
Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu                     385
Pong Dam Lake, Himachal Pradesh                                                   156.62
Renuka Wetland, Himachal Pradesh                                                      0.2
Ropar, Punjab                                                                                    13.65
Rudrasagar Lake, Tripura                                                                     2.4
Sambhar Lake, Rajasthan                                                                     240
Sasthamkotta Lake, Kerala                                                                   3.73
Surinsar-Mansar Lakes, Jammu and Kashmir                                        3.5
Tsomoriri, Jammu and Kashmir                                                            120
Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora Stretch), Uttar Pradesh            265.9
Vembanad-Kol Wetland, Kerala                                                        1512.5
Wular Lake, Jammu and Kashmir                                                         189

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