1. Question for UPSC Mains-GS3
  2. Introduction: Define Wetland
    1. Body-1: “Wise use concept” of Wetland conservation
    2. Body-2: Ramsar Sites in India
  3. Conclusion: Summerize
  4. Afterthoughts / Mistakes / Pitfalls

Question for UPSC Mains-GS3

Q. What is wetland? Explain the Ramsar concept of ‘wise use’ in the context of wetland conservation. Cite two examples of Ramsar sites from India. (150 words, 10 marks, asked in UPSC Mains-2018)

आन्द्रभूमि क्या है ? आंद्रभूमि संरक्षण के संदर्भ में ‘बुद्धिमत्तापूर्ण उपयोग’ की रामसर संकल्पना को स्पष्ट कीजिए । भारत से रामसर स्थलो के दो उदाहरणो का उद्रण दीजिए।

Relevance to Syllabus of UPSC GSM3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation.

Introduction: Define Wetland

  • Wetlands are ecotones between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They get periodically get inundated with water. They support a flourishing community of aquatic organisms including frogs and other amphibians. Swamps, marshes and mangroves are examples of wetlands. (Definition from NIOS) OR
  • Wetlands include a wide variety of habitats such as marshes, peatlands, floodplains, rivers and lakes, and coastal areas such as saltmarshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds, also coral reefs and other marine areas no deeper than six metres at low tide. Wetland also includes human-made wetlands such as waste-water treatment ponds and reservoirs. (Definition from Ramsar Convention Agreement.)

UPSC Model Answer for Ramsar Wetland

Body-1: “Wise use concept” of Wetland conservation

Ramsar “Wise use concept” requires that wetlands’ ecological character should be maintained within the framework of sustainable development. This concept recognizes that:

  • Developmental activities are inevitable in wetland areas such as construction of roads, electricity infrastructure, schools and hospitals for poor families.
  • Economic activities are also inevitable in wetland areas such as fisheries, farming and tourism.
  • Such activities aid in human development and economic development in a wetland area.
  • And for these activities, wetland’s land, water and bio-resources will have to be used.
  • However, these resources should not be used in a manner that wetland’s ecological character is harmed.

The practical applications of “Wise Use” concept are as following:

  • Use of Water: Farmers in wetland region require freshwater for cultivation of paddy, fruits and vegetables. But, it should not lead to overexploitation of freshwater else wetland’s regenerative capacity will suffer. Fish, reptiles and amphibians will die. Therefore, Government may impose legal ‘upper limits / ceiling’ on water use.
  • Use of Land: Wetlands purify air and water, they moderate adverse weather impacts and thus protect human health. However, mining, infrastructure and transportation services harm wetlands, and thereby indirectly harm human health. Hence, the ‘land’ of wetland should be generally not used for such activities.
  • Use of Biomass: Fishing is one of the primary occupation of people in Wetland area. But excessive fishing, especially during reproduction season will harm wetland’s foodweb. Hence, government may impose restriction and encourage aquaculture and ‘rice-fish’ management practices.

“Wise use” is a bolbachchan Liberal Arts like Agreement without any concrete bullet points in serial number. Difficult to memorize and reproduce in real exam. So just elaborate the few things with your own ‘made-up’ examples to fill the word limit- just like how I’ve done above.

Body-2: Ramsar Sites in India

  • Ramsar convention entered into force in India in the early 80s. [1 February 1982 to be precise].
  • India currently has 26 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites). [For this question, you’ve to mention any two, and read the remaining 24 for next prelims!]
Site State Significance
Ashtamudi Wetland Kerala Fifth largest site in India, 2nd largest in Kerala
Bhitarkanika Mangroves Orissa The site’s Gahirmatha beach is said to host the largest known Olive Ridley sea turtle nesting beach in the world. highest density of saltwater crocodile in the country. Higher mangrove biodiversity than Sundarbans
Bhoj Wetland Madhya Pradesh Kolans river passes through
Chandertal Wetland Himachal Pradesh Snow leopart, Red Fox found.
Chilika Lake Orissa Saltwater lake. Irrawaddy dolphins found
Deepor Beel Assam Suffers from infestation by water hyacinth
East Calcutta Wetlands West Bengal It uses city’s waste water and utilizing the treated water for pisciculture and agriculture.
Harike Lake & Bird sanctury Punjab Migratory ducks, geese, swans
Hokera Wetland J&K Waterfowl bird species
Kanjli Punjab Kali Bein stream associated with Guru Nanak Saheb
Keoladeo National Park Rajasthan Also a bird sanctury here. invasive growth of the grass Paspalum distichum negatively affected Siberian Cranes.
Kolleru Lake Andhra Natural Eutrophic Lake between Godavari and Krishna rivers.
Loktak Lake Manipur Infestation of water hyacinth
Nalsarovar lake and Bird Sanctury Gujarat Lapwing, Sarus Crane bird, Wild ass
Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary Tamil Nadu Greater and Lesser Flamingos
Pong Dam Lake Himachal Pradesh Dam on Beas river
Renuka Wetland Himachal Pradesh Area wise smallest. Giri river. Renuka was Hindu sage Parshuram’s mother.
Ropar Punjab Humanmade wetland using Sutlej River
Rudrasagar Lake Tripura Gomti river. IUCN redlisted Three-striped Roof Turtle Kachuga dhongka.
Sambhar Lake Rajasthan Saline Lake. Flamingos
Sasthamkotta Lake Kerala Largest freshwater lake of Kerala. a larva called “cavaborus” abounds and eliminates bacteria in the water, hence water is exceptionally pure
Surinsar-Mansar Lakes Jammu, Kashmir State Rainfed without permanent discharge. Fishing is discouragd due to Hindu significance from Mahabharat period.
Tsomoriri Eastern Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir the only breeding ground outside of China for Black necked crane. Tibetan wildass also found. Korzok Buddhist monastery.
Upper Ganga River Uttar Pradesh IUCN Red listed Ganges River Dolphin, Gharial, Crocodile
Vembanad-Kol Wetland Kerala State Area wise largest
Wular Lake Jammu & Kashmir State Largest freshwater lake of India.

Conclusion: Summerize

  • (1) Wetland conservation is crucial for protecting biodiversity and mitigating the adverse impacts of climate change.
  • (2) At the same time, due to high level of poverty & population, it’s not possible for developing countries & Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to keep wetlands in pristine conditions completely free from human activities.
  • The “wise use” concept of Ramsar convention is a notable attempt made to strike balance between these two opposing aspects.

Afterthoughts / Mistakes / Pitfalls

  • Ramsar was signed long before the SDG goals. So, Although SDG Goal #15 requires protection of terrestrial ecosystems including Wetlands but it’ll be a poor conclusion that “…To achieve SDG goals we must abide by Ramsar wise use.”
  • Avoid negative tone that “In India “wise use concept” is not implemented in letter and spirit. Wetlands are destroyed by illegal mining and timber mafia.” You’re asked to explain ‘wise use concept’, not asked to “critically examine India’s compliance with it.”
  • Digressing into a long essay on how climate change, global warming and population growth harms the Wetlands. or How Wetlands is important for biodiversity conservation. Just stick to the premise of the question that is “wise use of Wetland resources (land, water, air, biomass, fishes, timber etc.)”

Visit Mrunal.org/Mains for more on the Art of Answer-Writing