In terms of the proportion of the geographical area, Gujarat has the highest proportion (17.5%) and Mizoram has the lowest proportion (0.66%) of the area under wetlands.
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- Wetlands are amongst the most productive ecosystems on the Earth.
- Wetlands exhibit enormous diversity according to their genesis, geographical location, water regime and chemistry, dominant species, and soil and sediment characteristics
One of the first widely used wetland classifications systems categorized wetlands into below categories based on their hydrological, ecological and geological characteristics.
- Marine (coastal wetlands),
- Estuarine (including deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps),
- Lacustarine (lakes),
- Riverine (along rivers and streams), and
- Palustarine (‘marshy’ – marshes, swamps and bogs)
- The wetlands are distributed in different geographical regions ranging from Himalayas to Deccan plateau.
- Wetlands in India account for 4.7% of the total geographical area of the country.
- Out of this, area under inland wetlands accounts for 69%, coastal wetlands 27%, and other wetlands (smaller than 2.25 ha) 4%.
- In terms of average area under each type of wetland,5 natural coastal wetlands have the largest area.
- In terms of the proportion of the geographical area, Gujarat has the highest proportion (17.5%) and Mizoram has the lowest proportion (0.66%) of the area under wetlands.
- Among Union Territories in India, Lakshadweep has the highest proportion (around 96%) and Chandigarh has the least proportion (3%) of geographical area under wetlands.
Importance of wetlands:
- Ecosystem goods provided by the wetlands mainly include: water for irrigation; fisheries; non-timber forest products; water supply; and recreation.
- Major services include: carbon sequestration, flood control, groundwater recharge, nutrient removal, toxics retention and biodiversity maintenance.
Growing threat to wetland ecosystem:
- Reasons for wetlands loss in India are urbanization, land use changes and pollution.
- There is no proper regulatory framework for conservation of wetlands in India.
- It has been found that management of wetlands has received inadequate attention in the national water sector agenda.
- As a result, many of the wetlands are subject to anthropogenic pressures, including land use changes in the catchment; pollution from industry and households; encroachments; tourism; and over exploitation of their natural resources.
- Further, majority of research on wetland management in India relates to the limnological aspects and ecological/environmental economics of wetland management.