Ramsar Convention on Wetland
Ramsar Convention on Wetland
Minutes and Notifications
National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP), Ramsar Convention on Wetland and Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON)
Wetlands are areas where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. They occur where the water table is at or near the surface of the land, or where the land is covered by water. Once treated as transitional habitats or seral stages in succession from open water to land, the wetlands are now considered to be distinct ecosystems with specific ecological characteristics, functions and values.
According to most widespread definition wetlands are defined as: “lands transitional between terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems where the water table is usually at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water”.
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands define wetlands as: “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 metres”.
Wetlands, natural and manmade, freshwater or brackish, provide numerous ecological services. The density of birds, in particular, is an accurate indication of the ecological health of a particular wetland. However, unsustainable use of wetland without reckoning of their assimilative capacity constitutes major threat to the conservation and management of these vital biodiversity rich areas.
1. National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP)
Government of India opertionalized National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP) in closed collaboration with concerned State Government during the year 1985/86. Under the programme 115 wetlands (Table 1) have been identified till now by the Ministry which requires urgent conservation and management initiatives.
Aim of the Scheme
Conservation and wise use of wetlands in the country so as to prevent their further degradation.
Objectives of the Scheme
The scheme was initiated with the following objectives:-
- to lay down policy guidelines for conservation and management of wetlands in the country;
- to undertake intensive conservation measures in priority wetlands;
- to monitor implementation of the programme; and
- to prepare an inventory of Indian wetlands.
Proposed funding pattern under the Scheme
Financial assistance under NWCP is provided for two components i.e. Management Action Plan (MAP) and Research Projects. Under the Scheme, 100% assistance is provided for activities. Conservation and management of wetlands is primarily vested with the State/UTs, who are in physical possession of the area. After identification of wetlands under the Scheme, the State/UTs are to submit long-term comprehensive Management Action Plans (MAPs) for a period of 3-5 years, preferably 5 years, coinciding with the Plan period.
The State Governments are advised to define objectives taking into consideration factors responsible for degradation of the wetland. The MAP should also have short-term objectives to cater to immediate problems confronting wetlands and to go in for immediate rectification measures. The comprehensive MAP should be based on integrated and multi-disciplinary approach. These are scrutinized and approved by the Central Government with such changes as necessary in accordance with the Rules, procedures, and priorities of the particular area and availability of funds. After the approval of MAP, funds are released annually to the State/UTs as per Annual Plan of Operation (APOs) submitted to the Central Government.
Under the Scheme, Ministry also sponsor multidisciplinary research projects by academic/ managerial/ research institutions on various aspects of wetland conservation to supplement execution of MAP in more realistic manner.
Detail of funding process under the scheme can be accessed in the guidelines (Approach & Guidelines[PDF](2.13 MB)).
Format for submitting purposals for identification of wetlands under National Wetland Conservation Plan (NWCP).[PDF](9.7 KB)
2. Ramsar Convention on Wetland
The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 158 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1758 wetland sites, totaling 161 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. Ramsar Convention is the only global environment treaty dealing with a particular ecosystem.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was developed as a means to call international attention to the rate at which wetland habitats were disappearing, in part due to a lack of understanding of their important functions, values, goods and services. Governments that join the Convention are expressing their willingness to make a commitment to helping to reverse that history of wetland loss and degradation.
In addition, many wetlands are international systems lying across the boundaries of two or more countries, or are part of river basins that include more than one country. The health of these and other wetlands is dependent upon the quality and quantity of the transboundary water supply from rivers, streams, lakes, or underground aquifers. This requires framework for international discussion and cooperation toward mutual benefits. The text of the Convention and other details can be accessed on Ramsar Convention’s website ( www.ramsar.org)
Major obligations of countries which are party to the Convention are:
Designate wetlands for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
Promote, as far as possible, the wise use of wetlands in their territory.
Promote international cooperation especially with regard to transboundary wetlands, shared water systems, and shared species.
Create wetland reserves.
Montreux Record under the Convention is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List. The Montreux Record was established by Recommendation 4.8 of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (1990). Resolution 5.4 of the Conference (1993) determined that the Montreux Record should be employed to identify priority sites for positive national and international conservation attention. Sites may be added to and removed from the Record only with the approval of the Contracting Parties in which they lie. As of September 2007, 59 Ramsar sites are present in the Montreux Record 23 sites which had been listed on the Montreux Record have since been removed from it
World Wetland Day
World Wetlands Day which is celebrated each year on 2 February, marks 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. World Wetlands Day was celebrated for the first time on February 2, 1997, on the 16th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.
The necessity for the study and conservation of birds in particular, and wildlife and biodiversity in general, prompted the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to establish the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History as a public – NGO partnership between the MoEF, and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) under the Centre of Excellence Scheme vide MoEF letter No 1(2)/BNHS/87-CSC dated 1/11/1988. The Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History (SACON) is a Society registered in 1990 under the Societies registration Act, with the object of establishing and developing a Centre of Excellence to assist, institute, conduct and promote scientific research in ornithology, and of species, habitats and ecosystems with and within which avifauna coexist, and developing scientific solutions to species, habitat and landscape conservation problems that are sensitive to the socio-economic realities and
aspirations of the people.
SACON commenced functioning in 1992, and is situated at Anaikatty, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. A brief account of the organisation is given below:
Governance: The President of the SACON Society is the Hon’ble Minister for Environment and Forests, GOI. The Centre is administered by a Governing Council, whose Chairperson is the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests. Research, education and extension activities are monitored by a Research Monitoring and Advisory Committee whose Chairperson is an ornithologist / wildlife biologist of eminence, and the finances of the Centre are supervised by a Finance Sub-committee whose Chairperson is the Financial Advisor to the MoEF (Appendix 1).
Staff: SACON has a sanctioned staff strength of 22 scientists. It presently has eight scientists and 37 research fellows, and 15 administrative and support staff. The Centre is divided into the functional divisions of Conservation Ecology, Landscape Ecology, Eco-toxicology, Environmental Impact Assessment, Nature Education, Library, Administration and Finance.
Research Projects Undertaken: Since 1992, SACON has undertaken 174 Research and Environment Assessment Projects with a financial value of approximately 12 crores.
Publications: The outputs of SACON include 161 reports, 263 papers in scientific / professional journals, 409 presentations in seminars / symposia and workshops, 35 articles in News Letters, 11 Chapters in Books, and two Books. The Centre is affiliated to the Bharathiar University, Coimbatore and so far 25 PhD degrees have been awarded or the dissertations submitted, five MPhil degrees have been awarded, and the faculty have co-guided 22 MSc dissertations.
Infrastructure: SACON functions from a 55 acres campus at Anaikatty about 25 km west of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The Centre has 6 blocks: central, east, library, laboratory, hostel, kitchen & dining room, with a built up area of 3,746.91 m2 (40,333 ft2). The library has 3145 books, subscribes to 74 periodicals (43 International and 31 Indian) with 2508 back volumes and 2706 maps and subscribes to online archives such as JSTOR The laboratory is equipped to examine environmental contamination in species and ecosystems, and the instrumentation includes a UV spectrophotometer, HPLC, flame atomic absorption spectrophotometer, with graphite furnace and mercury hydride generator, dissolved oxygen and biochemical oxygen demand incubators, high volume air sampler and a water quality analyzer.
Annual Report of SACON for the year 2008-09.[English]
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