Recently, Kabartal Wetland (Bihar) and Asan Conservation Reserve (Uttrakhand) have been designated as Ramsar sites, making them ‘Wetlands of International Importance’.
- Earlier in 2020, India designated 10 more wetlands as a Ramsar site, taking the total number from 27 to 37.
- With 2 more inclusions, the total number of Ramsar sites in India is 39, the highest in South Asia.
- Also known as Kanwar Jheel, it covers 2,620 hectares of the Indo-Gangetic plains in the Begusarai district of Bihar.
- It acts as a vital flood buffer for the region besides providing livelihood opportunities to local communities.
- Significant biodiversity is present, with 165 plant species and 394 animal species recorded, including 221 bird species. It is also a valuable site for fish biodiversity with over 50 species documented.
- It is an important stopover along the Central Asian Flyway, with 58 migratory waterbirds using it to rest and refuel.
- Five critically endangered species inhabit the site, including three vultures – the red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and Indian vulture (Gyps indicus) – and two waterbirds, the sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) and Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri).
- Major threats to the Site include water management activities such as drainage, water abstraction, damming and canalization.
Asan Conservation Reserve:
- ACR is a 444-hectare stretch of the Asan River running down to its confluence with the Yamuna River in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand. It is Uttarakhand's first Ramsar Site.
- The damming of the River by the Asan Barrage in 1967 resulted in siltation above the dam wall, which helped to create some of the Site’s bird-friendly habitats.
- These habitats support 330 species of birds including the critically endangered red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri).
- Other non-avian species present include 49 fish species, one of these being the endangered Putitora mahseer (Tor putitora). Fish use the site for feeding, migration and spawning.
- Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar, on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.
- It came into force for India on 1st February, 1982. Those wetlands which are of international importance are declared asRamsar sites.
- The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.
- The Montreux Record 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.
- At present, two wetlands of India are in Montreux Record: Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan) and Loktak Lake(Manipur).
Chilika Lake (Odisha) was placed in the record but later removed from it.