Indian Wetlands Portal: Single Access to All Wetlands Information
Bhupender Yadav, Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, launched the “Wetlands of India” portal on October 2, 2021. The portal was launched as part of Azadi ka Amrit’s Signature Week Mahotsav from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) from October 4 to 10, 2021.
The portal will be a single point of access to all kinds of information relating to wetlands.
About the portal
The web portal, http://indianwetlands.in, provides details on the country’s wetlands. It is a dynamic system for processing information and making it available to stakeholders in an efficient and accessible manner. In addition, the portal also hosts capacity building material, data repository, videos and related information for students.
On the portal, each State and UT has a dashboard, through which it can access information on wetlands in their administration. Soon, the portal will host additional features.
The portal aims to involve citizens. Currently, citizens can register and download images related to wetlands on different themes. It also allows them to commit to becoming Wetland Mitra and indicate their State / UT and areas of interest. The initiative would help the respective states and UT administration to contact the person for various programs and initiatives related to wetland conservation.
Status of wetlands in India
According to the Ramsar Convention, wetlands are land areas saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally. Inland wetlands include marshes, ponds, lakes, rivers, floodplains, and swamps. Coastal wetlands include saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons and coral reefs. And man-made wetlands include fish ponds, rice paddies, and salt marshes. For example, Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest wetland in Haryana, is an artificial freshwater wetland. Over 250 species of birds use the sanctuary throughout the year as a resting and resting site
India has nearly 4.6% of its land in wetlands which covers an area of 15.26 million hectares. In addition, 42 sites are designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites), with an area of 1.08 million hectares.
45% of Sunderbans National Park is a wetland ecosystem in the form of tidal rivers, streams and canals that inhabit many rare animal species, including endangered aquatic mammals such as the Irrawaddy, Ganges dolphins and the largest population of tigers.
However, according to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands report, wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests, with 35% of wetlands lost between 1970 and 2015. This is an alarming situation that requires urgent attention, because 40% of the world’s plant and animal species breed in wetlands. Wetlands are also vital feeding and breeding grounds for migratory birds.
In India, due to massive industrialization and increasing urban population, many wetlands are subject to anthropogenic pressures including land use changes in the watershed; pollution from industry and households; encroachments; tourism; and overexploitation of their natural resources.
All of this has contributed significantly to the depletion of vital wetland ecosystems in India which was reflected in the foaming of Lake Bellandur in Bangalore, the shrinking of Lake Kolleru in Andhra Pradesh from 1000 to 250 km² , and the narrowing of Dal Lake, Srinagar by 50%.
Why are wetlands important?
Wetlands are vital not only for ecosystems but also for our climate, providing essential services such as water regulation, flood control and water purification. The biodiversity of wetlands is important for ensuring good health, food supply, scenic views facilitating tourism and therefore related jobs.
Wetlands are also capable of absorbing carbon dioxide, thereby reducing global warming and pollution, and are often referred to as the “kidneys of the Earth”.
Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fiber, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation. They are a major source of water and the main source of fresh water comes from a collection of wetlands that help absorb precipitation and recharge groundwater.
Wetlands are also important for the survival of flora and fauna. Several endangered migratory birds come to Indian wetlands. It provides wintering grounds for migrating waterbirds such as the endangered Pallas’s eaglefish, the vulnerable pochard and the nearly endangered Dalmatian pelican, gray-headed eagle and rusty duck.
The wetlands project
The Wetlands of India portal was developed as part of a technical cooperation project “Wetlands Management for Biodiversity and Climate Protection” (Wetlands Project) of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change ( MoEFCC) in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Likewise, India has undertaken several wetland conservation projects to restore and protect important wetlands in India which are the basis of the lives of many.
Four-pronged wetland rejuvenation projects: The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate undertook the restoration and rejuvenation of 130 wetlands as part of a four-pronged strategy, in which nodal agents of these wetlands have been trained to prepare targeted management plans and work on wetland health. For the first time in the country, wetlands have been classified between A and E according to their state of health.