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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 16 November, 2022

  • 5 Min Read

Conservation of Wetlands

Conservation of Wetlands

  • Every aspect of the Earth's environment has been impacted by humans in this Anthropocene period. The loss of Shallow Wetlands like lakes and ponds is becoming a serious worry as a result of these human-induced changes.
  • The most recent period in Earth's history when human activity began to have a significant impact on the planet's climate and ecology is referred to as the Anthropocene Epoch. This term refers to an unofficial unit of geologic time.

The Shallow Water Wetlands: What are they?

  • These wetlands are small-flowing, permanent, or semi-permanent water habitats. Vernal ponds, spring pools, salt lakes, and volcanic crater lakes are a few of them.
  • They are crucial for humans and the environment (such as drinking water and inland fisheries).
  • The water body's shallowness allows sunlight to reach the bottom.
  • Isothermal temperature and ongoing mixing are present (circulating top-to-bottom on a regular basis, especially in a tropical country like India).

Concerns:

  • Sediments from the catchment gradually fill these water bodies.
  • As a result, the water column's depth steadily decreases. It is evident that this type of water body would experience a cascade of ecological repercussions with even a slight change in the temperature and rainfall pattern.
  • India's average temperature increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius between 1901 and 2018. A 2020 report by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences attributes the increase to changes in land use and land cover as well as heat brought on by greenhouse gases.
  • The pattern of rainfall will be affected by such variations in regional temperature and heat dispersion. India's natural ecosystems, freshwater resources, and agriculture are thus under increasing threat. This has an effect on biodiversity, food security, public health, and society as a whole.
  • Surajpur Bird Sanctuary is an example of an urban wetland in the Yamuna River basin.
  • The Surajpur Wetlands had low water levels, significant algae production, and odour problems in October 2019.

About Wetlands:

  • Wetlands are regions where water plays a major role in regulating the environment and the plant and animal life that goes along with it. They manifest themselves where the land is submerged in water or where the water table is at or close to the surface of the ground.
  • "Lands transitioning between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems where the water table is typically at or near the surface or the land is covered by shallow water" is how wetlands are described.
  • Wetlands, sometimes known as "nature's kidneys" and "nature's grocery," provide food, water, and flood and storm surge control for millions of people.

Types:

Coastal Wetlands:

  • The areas between land and the ocean that are not influenced by rivers, such as shorelines, beaches, mangroves, and coral reefs, are known as coastal wetlands.
  • Mangrove wetlands, which can be found in protected tropical coastal settings, are an excellent example.
  • Marshes: These are characterized by herbaceous (non-woody) flora that is adapted to moist soil conditions and are seasonally saturated, flooded, or ponded by water. Tidal marshes and non-tidal marshes are further classifications for marshes.
  • Trees and bushes predominate in swamps, which are predominantly nourished by surface water sources. Swamps can be found in saltwater or freshwater floodplains.
  • Bogs: In historic lake basins or other natural depressions, bogs are wet peatlands. Bogs receive almost all of their water from rainfall.
  • Estuaries: The transitional zone between fresh and salt water where rivers meet the sea can support a very diverse range of biodiversity. These wetlands consist of salt marshes, tidal mudflats, and deltas.

What Function Do Wetlands Serve?

  • Wetlands are a type of highly productive environment that are responsible for roughly two-thirds of the world's fish harvest.
  • Integral Function in the Watershed's Ecology: The formation of organisms that serve as the foundation of the food web and sustain numerous species of fish, amphibians, shellfish, and insects is made possible by the combination of shallow water and high nutrient levels.
  • Carbon Sequestration: Microbes, plants, and animals found in wetlands are involved in the world cycles of water, nitrogen, and sulphur. Instead of releasing carbon dioxide into the sky as carbon monoxide, wetlands store carbon within their plant communities and soil.
  • Wetlands serve as natural barriers that progressively hold back and release flood waters, rainwater, snowmelt, and surface water, lowering flood levels and reducing soil erosion. Wetland vegetation also lessens soil erosion and slows the speed of flood flows, lowering flood heights.
  • Critical to Life on Earth and Humanity: 40% of all species on earth live and breed in wetlands, and more than a billion humans rely on them for their livelihood.

What are the Threats to Wetlands?

Urbanization:

  • The urge to create residential, industrial, and commercial facilities on wetlands close to urban centres is growing. Urban wetlands are crucial for maintaining the availability of public water.
  • According to estimates from the Delhi Wetland Authority, Delhi has more than 1,000 lakes, wetlands, and ponds.
  • However, the majority of these are endangered by invasive development (both intentional and accidental), contamination from the discharge of solid waste, and building debris.

Agriculture:

  • Huge wetlands stretches have been transformed into paddy fields. The hydrology of the nearby wetlands was considerably changed by the construction of numerous reservoirs, canals, and dams for irrigation purposes.
  • Wetlands serve as natural water filters, reducing pollution. However, they are only able to remove fertilizers and pesticides from agricultural runoff and not other types of pollutants, such as mercury from industrial sources.
  • Concern over how industrial pollution affects wetlands' biological variety and drinking water supplies is on the rise.

Climate Change:

  • Wetlands may be impacted by rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, more frequent storms, droughts, and floods, a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, and sea level rise.
  • Dredging is the process of removing soil from a riverbed or marsh. The water table in the area is decreased and nearby wetlands are dried up by stream dredging.
  • Wetlands are drained by digging canals into the earth that collect and move water away from the wetland. The wetland dries up and the water table drops as a result.

Wetlands are an important ecosystem that needs conservation efforts from all stakeholders for protecting biodiversity and preserving the effective ecosystem services it provides.

Read Also: Water Pollution: Yamuna Project

Source: News on air


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