World Wetlands Day 2023 being observed across the country

The World Wetlands Day 2023 is being observed across the globe including in Nepal today with a variety of programmes. The theme for the Day is ‘It’s Time for Wetlands Restoration’. The Day aims to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and the planet, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

On the occasion, various programmes at the national and regional and local levels will be organised across the country including in the Chitwan National Park, said the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

On their importance, the Department’s Director General Dr Maheshwor Dhakal said wetlands protect ecology by reducing the impact of climate change and soil loss. They provide opportunities for tourists to have recreational activities like swimming and rowing boats, bird watching, and savour natural beauty, he said.

However, they have faced conservation and management challenges due to climate change, human encroachment, pollution, illegally construction of structures and a lack of maintenance, according to him.

Similarly, the Ministry of Forest and Environment has come up with policies and launched various programmes in coordination with the province and local levels to conserve wetlands.

Around nine percent of the world’s space and approximately five percent of Nepal’s area are covered by wetlands. There are 163 wetlands in the Tarai and 79 in mountainous and hilly areas.

Wetlands are habitat for various birds, fishes, insects, animals, vegetation, and around 172 endangered vegetation and animals are dependent on them in Nepal, according to available data. Out of 878 bird species found in the country, 193 are dependent on them. Similarly, 17 of 20 animal species with backbone, 25 percent of 7,000 types of vegetation and 246 types of flowering plants are dependent on them.

The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) was signed in Iran on 1 February, 1971 with the aim of conserving and protecting wetlands globally. Since then, the Day is being observed globally on February 2 in memory of the Day when the international treaty was signed.

It works for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. So far, 170 countries are signatories to the treaty, and 2,314 wetlands globally are listed on the Ramsar site.

Nepal became a signatory to the treaty on 17 April, 1988 by enlisting the Koshitappu Wildlife Reserve on the Ramsar site on 17 December, 1987.

Other Ramsar sites listed are the Ghodaghodi Lake, Jagadishpur Reservoir, lakes in and around Bishajari, Rara Lake, Shey Phoksundo Lake, lakes in and around Gosainkunda, lakes in and around Gokyo, Maipokhari and various lakes in Pokhara. The wetlands cover 60,561 hectare of lands.

Shedding light on their importance, the Department Deputy Director General Ajaya Karki stressed the need for all to conserve and protect wetlands.


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