Wetlands across WWF’s key natural landscapes in India were celebrated for their unmatched ecological and cultural values on World Wetlands Day (WWD) 2013 on February 2.
WWF-India Secretariat, New Delhi – On the occasion of World Wetlands Day (WWD), wetlands across WWF’s key natural landscapes were celebrated for their unmatched ecological and cultural values on February 2, 2013, keeping in mind this year’s theme of ‘Wetlands Take Care of Water’. This theme set by the Ramsar Convention and UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme, reflects the inter-dependence between water and wetlands, and the key role that wetlands play. Making the link between wetlands and water is critical: without water there will be no wetlands – and without wetlands there will be no water!
Every year, World Wetlands Day is celebrated the world over to mark the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. It is an inter-governmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits and the convention have been taken since 1997 by government agencies, NGOs, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community.
This year, highlighting the theme of ‘Wetlands Take Care of Water’, a number of events and activities were organised across the country.
WWF-India, in collaboration with SAMVEDI and Chakrata Forest Division, Uttarakhand Forest Department (UKFD), organised a full-day event for school children from nine Dehradun-based schools at Asan Barrage, Dehradun. This included a bird watching excursion and a painting competition on the theme of ‘Wetlands, Biodiversity and Water Management’ as part of WWF’s efforts to raise awareness on the importance of wetlands and biodiversity. In addition, a WWF-India and UKFD report called ‘Wetlands of Uttarakhand: A Documentation’ and a poster on ‘Medicinal Plants of Uttarakhand’ were also released.
In Uttarakhand, under the Saving Wetlands Sky-High! initiative, WWF-India is working with the community at Aghora village and local authorities to conserve Dodital wetland.
Harike Wildlife Sanctuary
At Harike Wildlife Sanctuary, WWD was celebrated right from January 29 to February 2.
It began with a documentary screening and group discussion on better agricultural practises with 30 farmers from Churian, Sudhian and Harike villages, followed by a documentary screening for Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and discussion on plans to make handicrafts from water hyacinth.
The next day had a story-telling competition for 50 students from 10 schools around Harike Wildlife Sanctuary followed by an exhibition of water hyacinth handicraft products made by local SHGs, winning stories and posters from students and photo stories on the theme of wetland and aquatic biodiversity.
Harike, a bird sanctuary in Punjab and a Ramsar site, located at the confluence of Beas and Sutlej rivers, attracts thousands of wintering birds from across the world. It has an excellent natural environment which provides favourable conditions for the migrant and resident birds. The highly endangered Indus Dolphin was rediscovered and sighted here in 2008. The WWF team has been presenting their findings and recommendations with respect to the dolphins and have extended all possible help to experts here.
An orientation programme on bird watching for a group of students was organised around Surajpur wetland after which they were taken for bird watching on WWD. A checklist of birds was provided to students to guide them.
Surajpur wetland lies in Gautam Budh Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) setting a perfect example of wildlife flourishing near urban areas. Interventions like creation of bunds around the wetland to ensure the availability of water, has brought about positive impacts like increase in number of migratory birds, as well as, enriching the local biodiversity.