- Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present either at or near the surface of the soil all year or for varying periods of time during the year, including during the growing season.
- Wetlands vary widely because of regional and local differences in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation and other factors, including human disturbance.
- Wetlands are found from the tundra to the tropics and on every continent except Antarctica.
- Many wetlands are seasonal i.e. they are dry one or more seasons every year, in the arid and semiarid regions. These wetlands are wet only periodically.
Importance of Wetlands:
- The frequency of disasters worldwide has more than doubled in just 35 years, driven by climate- and weather related hazards like flooding, tropical cyclones and droughts. UN Water estimates that 90% of all natural hazards are water-related.
- Wetlands play an important role in reducing the impact of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and cyclones.
- Wetlands act as a natural sponge, absorbing and storing excess rainfall and reducing flooding. During the dry season, they release the water stored, delaying the onset of droughts and reducing water shortages.
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
- The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
- The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
- The convention entered into force in India on 1 February 1982.
- India currently has 26 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 689,131 hectares.