New Delhi | Jagran Lifestyle Desk: Did you know wetlands can store 1.5 million gallons of floodwater in just an acre of land preventing floods to occur? Did you also know wetlands are house to up to 150 different types of birds that depend on them for their survival? On this World Environment Day, celebrated every year on June 5, we bring interesting facts about the wetlands in India and their importance.

What are wetlands and why are they important?

Wetlands are often termed as nature’s kidney or natural sink due to their ability to cleanse the environment and balance the water retention of land. It is an ecosystem that is flooded with water, either seasonally or permanently and has an anoxic environment which means they contain little or no oxygen. This wonderful naturally occurring form of land is rich in the vegetation of aquatic plants and hydric soil which makes them unique and beneficial in many ways.

Wetlands are considered to be a vital link between land and water that provides various services to different species. For example, wetlands are a source of fresh water, they habitat many unique plants and animals, and help in groundwater recharge along with climate change mitigation.

However, managing and protecting the wetlands have become a challenge globally. They have been disappearing steadily yet rapidly due to various reasons. Some of the major threats to wetlands are agricultural runoff with pesticides, construction of dams and barrages, and the dumping of garbage and domestic effluents in the water. As a result, not only plants and species suffer extinction, local communities living around wetlands also lack a source of livelihood.

How many wetlands are there in India?

India has over 42 Ramsar sites in the country. These are wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. Established in 1971 by UNESCO, this convention is a treaty that promotes the conservation and judicious use of wetlands. India joined the Ramsar Convention in 1982. It has wetlands spread across an area of 1,081,438 hectares.

Some of these wetlands in India are located in Chilika Lake, Loktak Lake, Kabar Taal Lake, Keoladeo National Park, East Kolkata Wetlands, Ashtamudi Wetland, and Bhitarkanika Mangroves among others.

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan