The arboretum (tree garden) near the Ooty Lake was in focus on Thursday with the Public Awareness Association of Udhagamandalam choosing it as a venue for the observance of the World Wetlands Day.

With participants including students of the C.S.I. Gell Memorial School and the C.S.I. Matriculation School being familiarised with various aspects of the arboretum which itself was one of the few remaining wetlands in this hill station, the Assistant Director of Horticulture M. Pragasam who presided over the programme pointed out that wetlands were habitats of birds and if they disappear it would pave the way for the extinction of many species of birds.

Preservation of wetlands is of considerable importance as they played a key role in the maintenance of the ecological balance.

President of the Association G. Janardhanan cautioned that if action was not taken forthwith to check the exploitation of ground water by private water sellers, the consequences would be catastrophic and posterity will not forgive the present generation.

In all the wetlands boards bearing messages relating to their importance should be displayed prominently.

It would prevent them from being used as dumping grounds by people who are not aware of their role in protecting their ecology.

The Managing Trustee Nilgiri Environment and Socio-Cultural Trust (NEST) V. Sivadass said that swamps were the home of several herbal plants. The President, Greens Association Gerrard regretted that tourists were littering swamps and grasslands with plastic bottles and plates. Retired headmaster Rajubettan said that pollution was a major problem in wetlands.

The President, Gudalur Consumer, Environment and Human Rights Protection Society Sivasubramaniam also spoke.

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