Unseen Passage: Convention of Wetlands

On February 2, 1971, the convention of wetlands was adopted in Ramsar, Iran, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Also called the Ramsar Convention, the World Wetland Day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands.

World Wetland Day was celebrated for the first time in 1997. The day is observed to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular. Since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat provides outreach materials to help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands. For World Wetlands Day in 2016, the theme is ‘Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods’. As per the Ramsar Convention, this theme is selected to demonstrate the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity and specifically their relevance towards achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals. More than a billion people make a living from wetlands. Livelihoods ranging from fishing and rice farming to travel, tourism and water provision all depend on wetlands. Wetlands also host a huge variety of life, protect our coastlines, provide natural sponges against river flooding and store carbon dioxide to regulate climate change.

Water purification, flood control and releasing vegetative matter into the rivers are some of the key roles played by the wetlands. The world is fast losing its mangroves, swamps and marshes and it’s not a good sign. Since 1900, 64 per cent of our wetlands have disappeared. The US has lost more than half of its wetlands to drainage and conversion to farmland. As per National Wetland Atlas, 15.26 million hectares are under wetlands in India. The list of Ramsar sites in India comprises Indian wetlands deemed to be of ‘international importance’ under the Ramsar Convention.

India has around 26 wetlands of international importance as defined by the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands. Dal Lake, Wular Lake, Harike Lake, Sunderban and Chika Lake are a few threatened wetlands in India.

Q. On the basis of your reading and understanding of the above passage, answer the following :

  1. ___________ is the convention of wetlands adopted in Ramsar, Iran, on the shores of the Caspian Sea on February 2, 1971.
  2. World wetland Day is observed to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular. (True/False)
  3. Why was the theme ‘Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods’ selected to observe the World Wetland Day 2016 ?
  4. Give three examples of wetlands.
  5. Reason which led to the loss of wetlands in the US are
    1. drainage
    2. construction of buildings
    3. conversion of wetlands to farmland
    4. both (1) and (3)
  6. Wetlands are
    1. home to many flora and fauna.
    2. sources of livelihood to billions.
    3. regulators of climate change.
    4. all of the above
  7. Wetlands in India are spread across
    1. 15.26 million hectares
    2. 15.26 billion hectares
    3. 15.26 trillion hectares
    4. 15.26 thousand hectares
  8. India has around 26 wetlands of international importance as defined by the Ramsar Convention for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands. (True/False)

Answer

  1. Ramsar convention.
  2. True
  3. To demonstrate the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity.
  4. mangroves, marshes and swamps
  5. both (1) and (3)
  6. all the above
  7. 15.26 million hectares
  8. True

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