What is the Importance of Wetlands in India?
The lagoon shelters a number of endangered species listed in the IUCN red list of threatened species. It is the wintering ground for more than one million migratory birds.
Rich fishery resources of the lagoon sustain the livelihood of more than 0.15 million fisher folk. Total number of fish species is reported to be 225 (Dean and Seal link, 1991).
Space Application Centre (SAC) of ISRO has mapped 3960 sites of coastal wetlands, covering a total extent of 40.230 sq. km. These wetlands are distributed in nine states and four Union Territories. Contribution of Gujarat is about 25,083 sq. km. (62.3%), which is the highest among all States of country.
Tamil Nadu (3,987 sp. km), West Bengal (3,604 sq. km), Orissa (1,854 sq. km), Andhra Pradesh (1855 sq.km.) and Andaman and Nicrobar (1,078 sq. km.) are other states, which have large area under coastal wetlands (Garg, et.al. 1998). Tidal mudflats (23,621 sq.km.) and mangrove (4,871 sq. km.) take major share.
Extent of estuaries (1,540 sq. km), lagoons (1,564 sq. km) sand beach (4,210 sq. km.) marsh (1.698 sq. km.), other vegetated wetlands (1,391 sq. km.), coral reefs (841 sq. km), creeks (192 sq. km.), back water (171 sq. km), rocky coastal (177 sq. km.), salt pan (655 sq. km) and aqua-culture ponds (769 sq. km) with 97 major estuaries, 34 major lagoons and 241 creeks, are important for conservation (Garg et al., 1998).
It is noteworthy that even a small country like UK could designate I6l wetlands as Ramsar sites, India being a mega diversity country, so far managed to delineate a mere 19 sites to date. Because wetlands are common property resources, it is difficult to conserve the ecosystems, unless the principal stakeholders are involved in this process.
Dynamic nature of wetlands necessitates the widespread and consistent use of satellite based remote sensors and low cost, affordable GIS tons for effective managements’ and monitoring.