The loss of wetlands is increasing at an alarming rate in Tamil Nadu and hence an integrated management action plan is required to conserve wetlands and wetland bio-diversity, Forest Minister N. Selvaraj said on Wednesday.
Lack of a comprehensive wetland policy, with each department having its own developmental priorities, works against the interests of conservation of wetlands aggravating the problem further, Mr. Selvaraj said.
Inaugurating a two-day national workshop on “Management issues of Ramsar Sites in India and prioritisation of identified potential Ramsar Sites in Southern States,” organised jointly by the Forest Department and the Bombay Natural History Society here, Mr. Selvaraj said wetlands had come under extreme pressure from human activities with vast areas having been drained for agriculture and urban development.
“In India, particularly in Tamil Nadu the rate of degradation and the loss of wetland are increasing at an alarming rate. Therefore, a concrete management plan to conserve wetlands is required for bio-diversity conservation.”
Stating that management of wetlands required an integrated approach in terms of planning, execution and monitoring, the Minister said effective tie-ups of trained academicians and professionals must be linked with local expertise for overall management of wetlands.
Wetland systems directly and indirectly supported lakhs of people providing goods and services to them. Drinking water source for most cities in Tamil Nadu was from wetlands, the Minister pointed out.
Highlighting the other benefits of wetlands, the Minister said it helped in checking floods besides preventing coastal erosion; mitigating the effects of natural disasters such as cyclones and tidal waves and recharging groundwater aquifers. The Minister said the coastal ecosystem was greatly disturbed by siltation, erosion, flooding, damage to aquifers, pollution and conversion to various industrial and agricultural uses and for construction.
The Bombay Natural History Society and the Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology had identified 13 more wetlands in Tamil Nadu which had the potential to be declared as Ramsar Sites, the Minister said.
Mr. Selvaraj released a book “Flora of Tropical Dry Ever Green Forest in Point Calimere” brought out by the Forest Department and launched a website www.pointcalimere.org on the occasion.
The Chief Wildlife Warden, Tamil Nadu, R. Sundararaju, said the country had tremendous wealth of wetlands which needed to be conserved. About two to three per cent of wetlands were disappearing every year owing to urbanisation, he said adding that loss of wetlands leads to ecological problem. The Tamil Nadu government had taken efforts to conserve wetlands, he added.