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Treat wetlands as living bodies, urge experts

Feb 18, 2014

Governance played a crucial role in the conservation of lakes, said, Mansee Bal, Faculty, Erasmus University, Rotterdam Netherlands.

Bhopal: Wetlands including lakes and ponds are an integral part of the global ecosystem and play a very crucial role in providing stability to not only the natural environment but also human sustainability. The urgency for conservation of wetlands is heightened by the fact that 90 per cent of surface water is available in the impounded form including lakes and other wetlands.

Brij Gopal, Coordinator, Centre for Inland Waters in South Asia, said that it was very difficult to differentiate lakes and Wetlands. Talking on the session ‘Ecology and Science of Wetlands’ at the International Conference on Lakes and Wetlands in Bhopal, he said wetlands were crucial for maintaining biodiversity.

Drawing a difference between lakes and wetlands, he said that their classification depends on catchment area, be it desert or hills. He stated that wetland was a relatively new term which came into being since 1950s.

Bhopal District Collector Nishant Warvade said that administration had an important role in policy implementation. “The treasure of traditional wetlands is a heritage which we need to pass to our next generation without causing any further damage to it,” he said.

Talking to OneWorld South Asia, he said that people living in the vicinity of wetlands needed to be involved in the conservation process. “People surviving on the basis of a wetland ecosystem are the immediate stakeholders and it is they who bear the brunt in the wake of any imbalance in the natural surroundings of the reservoir,” Warvade said.

Dr Ram Booj, Programme Specialist, Natural Sciences, UNESCO, discussing the issue of ensuring sustainability of wetlands, globally, said that the world community was witnessing a defining moment of history with respect to environmental conservation.

He said that wetlands covered approximately seven per cent of earth surface and added that the Ramsar Convention was one of the oldest global environmental conventions focusing on wetlands. Around 2,177 wetlands of international importance have been certified as Ramsar sites, he stated.

Calling for the need to connect with the local people for the conservation of wetlands, he highlighted the importance of pollution and natural resource management for water sustainability. Talking about India, he said that the country had 18 biosphere reserves including the nine designated by UNESCO.

S P Gautam, Member, Public Service Commission, MP, said that earth was called blue planet because of surface water bodies. First rains should be inhabited to enter into the reservoirs for the preservation of lakes, he said. “Every ecosystem has its own nervous system as the environmental components are connected with each other. There is a need to treat environment as a living body,” he said.

Gautam said that every ecosystem had its own oxygenation system which helps in the self purification of water bodies including rivers. He called upon the local citizens to take care of morphology. He urged people for not allowing sweet water to flow beyond 10 meters of its rainfall position. “Resources like water are scarce, if you don’t know how to use them, they will never be enough,” he warned.

Gautam said that wetlands were kidneys of global environment and added that sustenance alone was not enough. Green technology is a symbol of a green plant which does not leave any residue, he said.

Mansee Bal, Faculty, Erasmus University, Rotterdam Netherlands, said that governance played a crucial role in the conservation of lakes. Talking about ambiguities in urban lake governance, she said that the need of the hour was to move from concept of government to governance.

Sandeep Joshi, Director, Shrishti Eco-Research Institute (SERI), Pune, talking on the ecological audit for the performance evaluation of ecological restoration projects, said that sustenance of life was the very basis of ecology of life. Joshi regretted that the downstream population had to live on grey water economy while the upstream population enjoyed the blue water economy.

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