Wetlands and Climate Change

Dr. Ganesh Ch. Kund
There is hardly any disagreement on the effects of climate change influencing all our lives. From Amazon forest fire to Chennai floods/water logging, the world has been experiencing accelerated devastating effects of climate change. While the world is going to celebrate the world wetland day on 2nd February
to raise awareness about the conservation and importance of wetlands, it is proven that wetlands are effective in mitigating climate change impacts. Wetlands are the anchor for the nature based solution to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. Wetlands can act as storing the carbon, reducing the greenhouse gasses, providing resilience to natural hazards such as flooding, storm surge and coastal inundation and so on. Wetlands are defined as,according to Ramsar Convention (Convention on
Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat), “Areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing,
fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six
meters”. World Wetland Day is also the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands, which was adopted as an international treaty in 1971. The wetlands are highly vulnerable to climate change due to their position that is in between the land and water body. 4.6% of the land area has been covered with wetlands
and they have a huge environmental effect, mainly regarding the ecological balance by acting as a breeding ground for various species, maintaining the soil carbon level, storing flood water and melting of glaciers. So here is a clearance that can be predicted that it has a huge contribution to maintaining the biological diversity and edge effect. But due to growing urbanization and increasing intensification of agriculture has put the wetlands in the ‘endangered category’. Metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi Hyderabad, have destroyed 71%, 38%.55% of their surrounding wetlands respectively. Importance of wetlands in dealing with climate changes is highly significant. Not only does it curb the pollution level by trapping carbon emissions but also helps in the flourishing of natural flora and fauna, control soil erosion, and restoration of groundwater. These all aspects are significant in the conservation of nature and tackling climate changes. The increasing urbanization in a country is now considered as a parameter of economical upliftment ,but no one is concerned about the matter that these are becoming the hub of natural hazards like uncertain rainfall in Mumbai, poor air quality of Delhi, frequent flooding in Chennai etc. As it has been discussed above the wetlands can be used as an important parameter regarding climate change, it can be estimated that conserving the wetlands around the metropolitan cities can reduce the adverse effect of climate change to some extent. They can be used as resilience for natural disasters like uncertain rainfall and flood conditions. By storing the excess rain water this can be acted in the direction of avoiding the water crises and drought conditions mainly in the dry seasons. The wetlands are the dynamic natural resources, for which it has been described as the ‘blue carbon ecosystem’ by the UN General Assembly and Ramser convention. Thus, the Union government has notified wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules in 2017. The government should also have to take steps towards the conservation of the wetlands; those are present in the periphery of the metropolitan cities. This also can be suggested to increase the number of man made wetlands around the urban areas, but it may not be as significant as the natural one. Conserving the wetlands present on the periphery of the urban area also can be used as a tool to promote the ‘climate smart agriculture as well as aquaculture’. From international cooperation to unilateral measures, there have been several strategies existing. Recently, India has been taking several wetland conservation measures to restore and protect the wetlands with States and Union Territories. To furthering successful revival and protection of wetlands, holistic and multidisciplinary approaches are needed.
Lecturer, College of
Fisheries (OUAT)
Rangeilunda, Berhampur-7

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