New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS): The Haiderpur Wetland abutting the Madhya Ganga barrage, about 10 km from Bijnor in western Uttar Pradesh, has been recognised under the 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, bringing the total number of such designated areas in the country to 47, Ministry of Environment and Forests posted on Twitter on Thursday.
The Ramsar Site status was notified late on Wednesday night (Indian Standard Time).
The aim of the Ramsar list is "to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits."
Located within the boundaries of Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary, this Wetland of International Importance (no. 2463 on the 'Ramsar List') is human-made wetland covering an area of 6,908 hectares and was formed in 1984 after the construction of the Madhya Ganga Barrage on the floodplains of Ganga.
Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation. They are, in fact, are a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater.
Haiderpur Wetland provides habitat for numerous animal and plant species, including more than 30 species of plants, over 300 species of birds, including 102 waterbirds, more than 40 fish and more than 10 mammal species.
This diverse habitat supports more than 15 globally threatened species, such as the critically endangered gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and the endangered hog deer (Axis porcinus), black-bellied tern (Sterna acuticauda), steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis), Indian skimmer (Rynchops albicollis) and gold mahseer (Tor putitora).
The Site supports more than 25,000 waterbirds, serves as a breeding site for the near-threatened Indian grassbird (Graminicola bengalensis) and provides refuge to the northern subspecies population of the vulnerable swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii) during its seasonal flood-driven migration. The site also regularly supports more than one per cent of the population of greylag goose (Anser anser) and bar-headed goose (Anser indicus).
"Haiderpur Wetland also helps to support the livelihoods of the local communities and contributes to the maintenance of hydrological regimes and to hazard reduction. It is used for recreation and tourism, and scientific and educational activities are also associated with the Site," the authorities noted on the Ramsar website after designating Haiderpur as Ramsar Site.
Birder and environmental activist Ashish Loya, who has been working for improving the conditions around the wetland along with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department, said, "Now the actual work of conserving and wise management of the wetland will begin. The tag will help get proper resources, focus and attention in order to make wise use of the wetland, and for the conservation and preservation of biodiversity here and for creating eco-tourism facilities. This is a commitment India is making by declaring it as Ramsar Site. Hopefully we will all live up to our promise."