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Sundarbans became Ramsar Site

  • The Indian Sundarban was accorded the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention recently.

How did it qualify?

  • The Indian Sundarban met four of the nine criteria required for the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance.
    (a) Presence of rare species and threatened ecological communities
    (b) Biological diversity
    (c) Significant and representative fish
    (d) Fish spawning ground and migration path.

Why is this important?

  • The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, better known as the Ramsar Convention, is an international agreement promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • It is the only global treaty to focus on a single ecosystem.
  • The convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.

Related Information


  • The Indian Sundarban, also a UNESCO world heritage site and home of the Royal Bengal Tiger.
  • It is the home of a large number of “rare and globally threatened species, such as
    (a) Critically endangered northern river terrapin
    (b) Endangered Irrawaddy dolphin
    (c) Vulnerable fishing cat
  • The Sundarbans comprises hundreds of islands and a network of rivers, tributaries and creeks in the delta of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh.
  • Indian Sundarban constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area.
  • It is the 27th Ramsar Site in India and the largest protected wetland in the country.

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

  • International treaty for “the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands”.
  • It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands.
  • It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran.
  • The Convention was signed on 2nd of February, 1971.
  • The 2nd of February each year is World Wetlands Day.
  • Number of parties to the convention (COP) is169.
  • At the center of the Ramsar philosophy is the “wise use” of wetlands.
  • Wise use: maintenance of ecological character within the context of sustainable development.

Need for Such Convention

  • Wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits or “ecosystem services” that they provide humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity, to flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation.
  • 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared in the last century.

What is wetland

  • The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatland, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.


  • Conference of the Parties (COP) is the Convention’s governing body consisting of all governments that have ratified the treaty.
  • Every three years, representatives of the Contracting Parties meet as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP)
  • COP is the policy-making organ of the Convention which adopts decisions (Resolutions and Recommendations) to administer the work of the Convention.
  • The most recent COP12 was held in Punta del Este, Uruguay in 2015. COP13 will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2018.

Under the Convention, the Contracting Parties commit to:

  • Work towards the wise use of all their wetlands;
  • Designate suitable wetlands for the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management;
  • Cooperate internationally on trans boundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.

Ramsar Site

  • At the time of joining the Convention, each Contracting Party undertakes to designate at least one wetland site for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
  • The inclusion of a “Ramsar Site” in the List embodies the government’s commitment to take the steps necessary to ensure that its ecological character is maintained.
  • The List of Wetlands of International Importance included 2,231 Ramsar Sites in March 2016.
  • The country with the highest number of Sites is the United Kingdom with 170
  • The country with the greatest area of listed wetlands is Bolivia.

The Montreux Record

  • The Montreux Record is a register of wetland sites on the List of Wetlands of International Importance where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur as a result of technological developments, pollution or other human interference. It is maintained as part of the Ramsar List.

International Organization Partners

  • The Ramsar Convention works closely with six other organizations known as International Organization Partners (IOPs). These are:
  1. Birdlife International
  2. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  3. International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  4. Wetlands International
  5. WWF
  6. International Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

Other Partners

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD),
  • Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS),
  • World Heritage Convention (WHC) and
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Project funding is done by various groups like multilateral development banks, bilateral donors, UN agencies such as UNEP, UNDP, Non-governmental organizations etc.

Transboundary Ramsar Sites

  • Contracting Parties are designating their new and existing Ramsar Sites as Transboundary Ramsar Sites.
  • These are ecologically coherent, shared wetlands extending across national borders, which are managed collaboratively.

Criteria for Identification of Wetlands under Ramsar Convention

  • If it contains a representative, rare, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type.
  • if it supports vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species; or threatened ecological communities.
  • If it supports populations of plant and/or animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of a particular biogeographic region.
  • If it supports plant and/or animal species at a critical stage in their life cycles, or provides refuge during adverse conditions.
  • If it regularly supports 20,000 or more water birds.
  • If it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of water birds.
  • If it supports a significant proportion of indigenous fish subspecies
  • If it is an important source of food for fishes, spawning ground, nursery and/or migration path.
  • If it is an important source of food and water resource, increased possibilities for recreation and eco-tourism, etc.

Ramsar Sites in India

  • At present, there are 26 Ramsar Sites in India before Sunderbans (So,Now it is 27th) .


1 . Asthamudi Wetland – Kerala

2 . Bhitarkanika Mangroves – Orissa

3 . Bhoj Wetlands – Madhya Pradesh

4 . Chandertal Wetland – Himachal Pradesh

5 . Chilka Lake – Orissa

6 . Deepor Beel – Assam

7 . East Calcutta Wetlands – West Bengal

8 . Harike Lake – Punjab

9 . Hokera Wetland – Jammu and Kashmir

10 . Kanjli Lake – Punjab

11 . Keoladeo Ghana National Park – Rajasthan

12 . Kolleru Lake – Andhra Pradesh

13 . Loktak Lake – Manipur

14 . Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary – Gujarat

15 . Point Calimere – Tamil Nadu

16 . Pong Dam Lake – Himachal Pradesh

17 . Renuka Wetland – Himachal Pradesh

18 . Ropar Lake – Punjab

19 . Rudrasagar Lake – Tripura

20 . Sambhar Lake – Rajasthan

21 . Sasthamkotta Lake – Kerala

22 . Surinsar-Mansar Lakes – Jammu and Kashmir

23 . Tsomoriri Lake – Jammu and Kashmir

24 . Vembanad Kol Wetland – Kerala

25 . Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora Stretch) – Uttar Pradesh

26 . Wular Lake – Jammu & Kashmir

  1. Sundarban – West Bengal


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