Call to save wetlands from encroachment

Special Correspondent
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Students had an exposure in an eco-camp at Koonthankulam

ENVIRONMENTAL Concern:Students who participated in the eco-camp at Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary in Tirunelveli dIstrict.
ENVIRONMENTAL Concern:Students who participated in the eco-camp at Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary in Tirunelveli dIstrict.

: The Tirunelveli Forest Division recently celebrated the World Wetland Day by conducting ‘Eco-Camp’ at Koonthankulam, a small village in the district known for the migratory birds’ population, for students from five government schools from Nanguneri taluk.

The objective is to create an awareness among the public, especially amidst the younger generation, of the need to conserve the wetlands from being encroached upon or polluted by domestic and industrial effluents, which are the major threats to these water bodies that shelters a few thousands of birds.

Around 70 students from five schools participated in the ‘Eco Camp’ in which Conservator of Forest Rakesh Kumar Dogra, District Forest Officer C.H. Padma and ornithologist Robert Grubh interacted with the students, whose doubts on domestic and migratory birds, wetlands etc. were clarified by the experts.

The participants, who were given ‘wetland day caps,’ were shown pictorial identification of birds, wallpapers, taught how to watch birds with spot scope, binoculars etc.

Seventy-five students from Pattukottai also attended the camp as they were on a tour to Koonthankulam.

A wetland is an area of ground that is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally, which are categorized by their characteristic vegetation that is adapted to these unique soil conditions.

The water found in wetlands can be saltwater, freshwater or brackish. Wetlands include swamps, marshes and bogs among others.

According to Ms. Padma, ‘World Wetlands Day’ is celebrated internationally every year on February 2 that marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

It was celebrated first in 1997. It is done by undertaking actions to raise a public awareness of wetland values and benefits and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands.

These activities include seminars, nature walks, festivals, launch of new policies, identification and announcement of new ‘Ramsar Sites’, newspaper articles, radio interviews, wetland rehabilitation etc.

The Ramsar Convention (The convention on wetlands of international importance, especially as ‘Waterfowl habitat’) is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands i.e. to stem the progressive encroachment on and the loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific and recreational value. It is named after the town of Ramsar in Iran, Ms. Padma said.

The Ramsar Convention works closely with five other organisations known as International Organization Partners (IOPs).

The international theme for World Wetlands Day 2013 is ‘Wetlands and Water Management’ and aligns with the fact that 2013 is the UN International Year for Water Cooperation and an ideal opportunity for Ramsar to look at the connection between water and wetlands.

Out of 25 Ramsar sites in India, Point Calimer is a ‘Ramsar Site’ in Tamil Nadu declared on August 29, 2002. It is also a wildlife and bird sanctuary located along the Palk Strait in 3 districts of Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur covering an area of 38,500 ha.

This Ramsar site comprises of Point Calimer Sanctuary, Panchanadikulam Wetland, un-surveyed Salt Swamp, Thalainayar reserve forest and Muthupet mangroves.

It has recorded the largest congregation of migratory water birds in the country with the peak population exceeding 1 lakh birds.

A total of 269 species of birds has been recorded here, of which 103 are migratory water birds, Ms. Padma said.



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