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World Wetlands Day celebrated at Bhoj Wetlands
 
Theme for this year is - ‘Wetlands for disaster risk reduction’ World Wetlands Day celebrated at Bhoj Wetlands

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on February 2 each year to mark the Day the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian City of Ramsar in 1971. India is a party to the Convention since 1982 and committed to the Ramsar approach of wise use of wetlands. This year World Wetland Day is being celebrated in collaboration with the Government of Madhya Pradesh at Bhoj Wetlands, Bhopal, which is one of the 26 Ramsar sites that India has designated under the Ramsar Convention.

Wetlands are guardians of human well-beingWorld Wetlands Day celebrated at Bhoj Wetlands


Continued functioning of wetlands has acquired a new meaning in the age of increasing water and food security. Wetlands are the life support for a range of plant and animal life and as wetlands degrade, the existence of these life forms would be under stress. At the same time, it is for the security of human well-being, that wetland conservation acquires prominence. Wetlands support human well-being in a number of ways. As ‘kidneys of landscape’, wetlands receive flows of water and waste from upstream sources. They help stabilise water supplies, cleanse polluted waters, protect shorelines and recharge groundwater aquifers. The extensive food chain and biological diversity in wetlands make them ‘biological supermarkets’. Wetlands have special attributes as cultural heritage of humanity, and have deep connections with our beliefs and practices. They are an important part of our natural wealth and “liquid assets”. Despite their tremendous value, wetlands are also one of the most rapidly degrading ecosystems.

Need to raise awareness on healthy wetlandsWorld Wetlands Day celebrated at Bhoj Wetlands


The theme of World Wetlands Day for 2017 is ‘Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction’. This theme has been selected to raise awareness on the vital roles of healthy wetlands in reducing the impacts of extreme events on communities and in helping to build resilience. The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA), Chennai, under the Ministry, has planned two events to spread public awareness about conservation of Wetlands. The first is a radio-outreach and awareness generation campaign. In partnership with a prominent radio station with a multi-city presence, NBA will run information snippets on wetlands, their role in disaster management, and ways and means to protect them, over the period of two weeks spread over a month (February 1 – March 2, 2017) in five cities across the country - Chennai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Thiruvanathapuram. NBA also planned a school outreach and awareness raising exercise.

Integration of wetlands with disaster risk reductionWorld Wetlands Day celebrated at Bhoj Wetlands


Wetlands are our natural buffers against increasing risk of floods, droughts and tropical cyclones. Wetlands can act as sponges, storing peak rainfall and releasing water gradually during lean season. The floods in Kashmir Valley in September, 2014 and Chennai city in December, 2015 are reminders of the ways wetland destruction can make lives vulnerable. Evidences from Super Cyclone Kalinga of 1999, Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 and Phailin of 2013 underline the role coastal wetlands as estuaries and mangroves can play in buffering communities from impacts of these cyclones and wave surges. Integration of wetlands within disaster risk reduction planning can be achieved by a series of collaborative actions between wetlands managers and those responsible for implementation disaster risk reduction actions. Assessment of wetland ecosystem health should be made a part of District level disaster planning processes.

Wetland authorities as nodal agencies for integrated policyWorld Wetlands Day celebrated at Bhoj Wetlands

Wetland management plans should have an in-built component of disaster risk reduction to address the likely impacts of disasters on ecosystem health. Wetlands conservation and restoration should be included within the suite of actions proposed for reducing disaster risk, particularly those related to water, food and climate security. States need to constitute Wetland Authorities as nodal agencies for integrated policy, planning and regulation of wetlands. Representation of Disaster Management Authorities should be ensured within the State Wetland Authorities. Mass awareness campaigns need be undertaken to educate stakeholders from all walks of society, particularly local communities on the value of wetland ecosystems.

 
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