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World Wetlands Day 2019

Topics covered: Conservation related issues.

World Wetlands Day 2019

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Significance of the day, wetlands conservation related issues.

 ContextWorld 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.

The theme for 2020 is ‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’.

Status of wetlands in India:

The bad news is that India’s cities have lost 25 ha of wetland for every one sq. km’s increase of built-up area in the last four decades.

The good news is that 10 more wetland sites around India have been added to the Ramsar Convention, rendering them sites of ‘national importance’.

Wetlands in India:

The country has over 757,000 wetlands with a total wetland area of 15.3 million ha, accounting for nearly 4.7% of the total geographical area of the country.

India has 37 Ramsar sites now, covering an area of 1.07 million ha. The latest additions include Maharashtra’s first Ramsar site, the Nandur Madhmeshwar bird sanctuary; three more from Punjab (in Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve and Nangal); and six more from Uttar Pradesh (in Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi and Sarsai Nawar).

Significance of wetlands:

Wetlands provide a wide range of important ecosystem services, such as food, water, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control, microclimate regulation, landscape aesthetics and, of course, livelihood opportunities. They are in fact a major source of water and the principal place from which India’s cities receive their freshwater.


  • Increasing urbanisation has significantly reduced the amount of area under wetlands.
  • According to an assessment undertaken by Wetlands International South Asia (WISA), between 1970 and 2014, cities have rapidly degraded wetlands, to the tune of 25 ha per sq. km of built-up area.
  • The biggest offenders were the metropolitans of New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad, which treat wastelands as their private dumping grounds.

Sources: the Hindu.