Table of Contents
Wetlands in India
Wetlands are regions where water plays a major role in regulating the surrounding ecosystem, along with the plant and animal life that it supports. Where the water table is at or close to the surface of the land, or where the land is submerged in water, they develop.
Wetlands are characterized as “lands bridging terrestrial and aquatic eco-systems when the water table is typically at or near the surface or the land are covered by shallow water.”
List of Wetlands in India
Here is the List of Wetlands in India
|Year of identification
|Great Rann of Kachh
|Thol Bird Sanctuary
|Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary
|Little Rann of Kachh
|Jammu & Kashmir
|Tisgul Tso & Chisul Marshes
|Chushul & Hanley
|Gudavi Bird Sanctuary
|Hidkal & Ghataprabha
|K.G. Koppa wetland
|Wetland of Ken River
|National Chambal Sanctuary
|Denwa Tawa wetland
|Kanha Tiger Reserve
|Pench Tiger Reserve
|Khechuperi Holy Lake
|Tembao Wetland Complex
|Phendang Wetland Complex
|Saman Bird Sanctuary
|Patna Bird Sanctuary
|Taal Gambhirvan & Taal Salona
|Aadi jal Jeev Jheel
|Ban Ganga Jhilmil Tal
|East Kolkata Wetland
|Puducherry ( UT)
Types of Wetlands in India
Coastal wetlands can be found in places like shorelines, beaches, mangroves, and coral reefs that are between the land and the ocean but are not affected by rivers. The mangrove wetlands that can be found in protected tropical coastal locations are a good example.
Shallow lakes and ponds
These wetlands are regions with little flow and persistent or semi-permanent water. Vernal ponds, spring pools, salt lakes, and volcanic crater lakes are among them.
These are characterised by herbaceous (non-woody) flora that is acclimated to moist soil conditions and are occasionally saturated, flooded, or ponded by water. Tidal marshes and non-tidal marshes are further classifications for marshes.
Trees and shrubs predominate above them, which are mostly nourished by surface water sources. Swamps can be found in saltwater or freshwater floodplains.
Bogs are wet peat soils found in former lake basins or other natural depressions. Bogs receive almost all of their water from rainfall.
A very diverse range of biodiversity can be found in the region where rivers meet the sea and the water transitions from fresh to salt. These wetlands consist of salt marshes, tidal mudflats, and deltas.
Total Number of Wetlands in India
On the occasion of Independence Day, India classified 11 additional wetlands under the Ramsar Convention or the Convention on Wetlands, increasing the country’s total number of Ramsar Sites from 64 to 75 with a 13,26,677-hectare area coverage (ha).
Wetlands in India Map
Classification of Wetlands in India
There are two main classifications for wetlands:
Inland wetlands are bodies of water and other areas that are frequently or continuously submerged in water as a result of poorly draining soils. Inland wetlands include places like marshes, ponds, lakes, fens, rivers, floodplains, and swamps.
The term “coastal wetlands” refers to all wetlands within coastal watersheds, which is the region from which tidal streams flow into the ocean or inland seas. Here are a few instances of coastal wetlands:
- Salt marshes
- Freshwater marshes
- Seagrass beds
- Mangrove swamps
- Forested swamps
Importance of Wetlands in India
Nearly two thirds of the world’s fish are caught in wetlands, which are very productive environments. The ecology of the watershed depends heavily on wetlands. The formation of organisms that serve as the foundation of the food web and provide food for numerous species of fish, amphibians, shellfish, and insects is made possible by the combination of shallow water and high amounts of nutrients.
Microbes, plants, and wildlife found in wetlands are involved in the world cycles of water, nitrogen, and sulphur. Instead of releasing carbon dioxide into the sky as carbon monoxide, wetlands store carbon within their plant communities and soil. Wetlands serve as natural barriers that hold back and gradually release floodwaters, rainwater, snowmelt, and surface water. Additionally, wetland vegetation minimizes soil erosion and flood heights by slowing down flood flows.
The survival of humans and the world depends on wetlands. 40% of all species on earth live and breed in wetlands, and more than a billion humans rely on them for their livelihood. Food, raw materials, genetic resources for pharmaceuticals, and hydropower are all crucially dependent on wetlands. They are crucial for transportation, tourism, and people’s cultural and spiritual wellbeing.
Many of them maintain a broad variety of life, supporting plants and animals that are unique to that area, and they serve as habitat for both animals and plants. Many wetlands are important to Aboriginal people and are regions of natural beauty that encourage tourism. Wetlands benefit industry in a significant way as well. For instance, they are essential to the commercial and recreational fishing sectors and provide as nurseries for fish and other freshwater and marine organisms.
Functions of Wetlands in India
Source of Water
Our principal source of fresh water comes from wetlands. Over 95% of all available freshwater is contained in aquifers, making it the most significant source of drinking water and agriculture. Numerous wetlands support groundwater recharging and precipitation absorption. Freshwater is utilized for irrigation, drinking, and residential purposes.
Flood and Storm Buffer Zone
Wetlands serve as a drought barrier and a flood buffer. In the upper reaches of a basin, wetlands function like sponges, soaking precipitation and snowmelt and allowing water to slowly seep into the soil. Coastal wetlands including mangroves, coral reefs, mudflats, and estuaries can act as physical barriers to reduce storm surges and tidal waves.
River floodplains serve as a kind of natural storage facility, distributing extra water across a wide area and lowering the depth and speed of the water. The shoreline is stabilized and erosion is prevented by coastal wetlands and mangroves. The entire coastline was devastated by the 1999 Kalinga super storm, which hit Odisha. Villages with mangroves were found to have fewer casualties when compared to those with little to no mangroves.
Fish, one of the most significant sources of animal protein, is produced by nearly two-thirds of coastal wetlands. A variety of plants, animals, and minerals can be found in well-managed wetlands. More than 75 percent of Asia’s rice comes from wetlands. The Sundarbans are one of many mangrove swamps that generate honey. There are many different wetlands plants, and many of them have medicinal properties. Many people, especially those who live along their shorelines, depend on wetlands as a source of income.
Wetlands help to purify water by encasing pollutants in plants and sediments. High levels of pollutants, such phosphorus and nitrogen, which are commonly linked to agricultural runoff, can be significantly reduced by wetlands.
Many wetland plants can get rid of the toxic substances that come from pesticides, industrial waste, and mining. Water hyacinth, duckweed, and azolla are examples of floating plants that can store iron and copper from wastewater in their tissues. On the other side, continual rubbish discharge that exceeds wetlands’ carrying capacity may cause environmental disasters.
Wetland for Research and Education
Wetlands are important locations for study and learning about aquatic ecosystems. They are perfect for multidisciplinary studies of nature-society connections due to their diversity of habitats, complexity of ecosystems, and wide-ranging social and cultural ties. Example: The Bhoj wetlands in Madhya Pradesh and the Bhitarkanika Mangroves in Odisha.
Recreation Property of Wetlands
Because of their natural beauty and variety of plant and animal life, wetlands provide ideal getaways. A recreation area is Mandawali village in New Delhi.
Combat Climate Change
Along with other ecosystems, wetlands are threatened by climate change. On the other hand, these ecosystems can assist in limiting and adapting to climate change. Some wetlands, like mangroves and salt marshes, act as carbon sinks, limiting the atmospheric influx of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.
For the habitat of aquatic creatures affected by climate change, wetland conservation is especially important. Future predictions indicate that the water supply in wetlands will fluctuate more frequently. Wetlands’ essential capacities to absorb and store water as well as control floods and storms can help lessen the effects of climate change. Ashtamudi Wetlands in Kerala, Chilika Lake in Odisha, etc..
Habitats of Migratory Birds
Migratory birds stop over at wetland areas for feeding, resting, and building their nests. To avoid the harsh winters of the arctic and temperate zones, about 2,000 bird species regularly move thousands of kilometres between breeding and non-breeding locations throughout the year. Wetlands in India connect the East Australasian and Central Asian Flyways. Example: Ashtamudi marshes and Bakhira Wildlife Sanctuary Kerala.
A diversity of endemic and nearly extinct species can be found in certain wetlands. The grasslands and marshes of Assam are home to Kaziranga National Park, where more than 70% of the Great Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) population, which is endangered, is found. The Brow-antlered Deer’s sole known natural habitat is Keibul Lamjao, a floating national park south of Loktak (Rucervus eldii).
One of only two lagoons in the world where the endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins may be found, Chilika is home to a sizable number of them (Orcaella brevirostris). The largest remaining populations of the critically endangered Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) can be found in Central India along the River Son, Girwa, and Chambal. For instance, Tamil Nadu’s Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary.
The term “wetland plants” refers to plant species that are found in all forms of wetlands, either in or on the water’s surface or where the soil has been inundated or saturated for long enough for anaerobic conditions to arise in the root zone. Here is an illustration of a wetland plant:
- Swamp mahogany
- Swamp paperbark
- Swamp she-oak
- Shrubs like the swamp banksia,
- Tea trees and ferns
Threats to Wetlands in India
Wetlands close to metropolitan centers are increasingly being developed for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes. Urban wetlands are crucial for maintaining the availability of public water.
Numerous wetlands have been transformed into paddy fields. The hydrology of the nearby wetlands was considerably changed by the construction of numerous reservoirs, canals, and dams for irrigation purposes.
Natural water filters are provided by wetlands. However, they are only able to remove fertilizers and pesticides from agricultural runoff and not other types of pollutants, such as mercury from industrial sources. Concern over how industrial pollution affects wetlands’ biological variety and drinking water supplies is on the rise.
Wetlands may also be impacted by rising sea levels, changes in precipitation patterns, more frequent storms, droughts, and floods, as well as increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.
The removal of debris from a riverbed or marsh. The water table in the area is decreased and nearby wetlands is dried up by stream dredging.
By digging ditches into the earth, which collect and convey water out of the marsh, water can be removed from wetlands. The wetland dries up and the water table drops as a result.
Indian wetlands are at danger from invasive, introduced plant species like salvinia and water hyacinth. They obstruct rivers and out compete local plants.
Stalinization was brought on by excessive groundwater extraction.
Wetlands in India FAQs
Q How many wetlands are in India?
Ans. India adds 11 more wetlands to the list of Ramsar sites to make total 75 Ramsar sites covering an area of 13,26,677 ha in the country in the 75th year of Independence.
Q How many wetlands are there in India 2022?
Ans. On the occasion of Independence day, India has designated 11 more wetlands under the Ramsar Convention or the Convention on Wetlands, taking the total number of Ramsar sites in India to 75 from 64 with area coverage of 13,26,677 hectare (ha)
Q Where is the largest wetland in India?
Ans. The largest wetland in India is the Sunderbans. Sunderban Wetland is also a part of the largest mangrove forest in the world. It consists of hundreds of islands, a maze of rivers, creeks nestled in the delta of the Ganga River and Brahmaputra on the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh.
Q Which is the 47th wetland in India?
Ans. Haiderpur Wetland in Uttar Pradesh has been added as the 47th Ramsar Site in December 2021
Q Which state has highest wetland?
Ans. India has 19 types of wetlands. Gujarat has the maximum area followed by Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal
Other Indian Geography Topics
Other Fundamental Geography Topics