Wetlands are considered ‘liquid treasures’ of a country. India is blessed with a multitude of rivers and natural wetlands, scattered all over the country, except perhaps in very dry parts of Rajasthan. By definition, wetlands are transitional areas between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems where the water table is usually at or near the surface, or the land is covered under swallow water. In a country like India where nearly 80% of the population depends on agriculture, rainwater, wetlands, rivers, wells and canals are important to sustain agricultural activities. Wetlands are also important for biodiversity conservation because some of the most endangered species survive in wetlands. With increasing depletion of ground water and threats of climate change, wetlands have become very important for the ecological security of India . Recent studies indicate that natural wetlands help in Carbon sequestration.
In India , the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency for implementing the conservation programme on wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs. Started in the 1980s, the programme is guided by the National Committee on Wetlands, Mangroves and Coral Reefs, constituted to advise the government on appropriate policies and programmes for the conservation of these ecosystems, to suggest specific sites for conservation action, and to identify research and training priorities. Several wetland sites in the country have been selected on a priority basis for conservation and management action, financial support for which is being extended by the Ministry.
Since India became a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention in 1981, only 25 wetlands in the country have been internationally designated as Ramsar sites. This is in site of the richness of aquatic ecosystem types in the country. The 25 Ramsar sites in India do not represent even a fraction of the diversity of wetland habitats existing in the country.
The book describes 160 sites which qualify Ramsar Criteria, including the existing 25 Ramsar Sites. Most of the potential Ramsar sites and many existing Ramsar Sites are important for biodiversity conservation. About 144 are Important Bird Areas (IBAs), and 79 are protected areas (sanctuaries, national park, conservation reserve). While selecting the potential sites (135), an attempt has been made to cover all the biogeographic areas, expect Andaman and Nicobar.
The book is profusely illustrated with 220 pictures and 155 maps. Anyone interested in biodiversity conservation, particularly wetlands, should have a copy of this book.
The list price of the book is Rs.1,500/- and for BNHS members it is available for Rs.1,125/-.