Wherever we go, we are all surrounded by resources of water and plants. Water makes our life possible. From the fast-flowing rivers to the silent and static pond, lakes and wetlands, water gives life and soul to earthly beings. Wetland conservation priority has risen significantly in recent time frames.
Wetlands are the lands with waters and are also sometimes called ‘kidney of the landscapes’. Maintaining and performing the required hydrological and chemical cycle.
In Nepal, wetlands cover 5% of the total area – 7,43,500 hectares of the country. The Terai consists of large numbers of wetlands (163) followed by hills and the mountains (79) extended from Mechi in the east to Mahakali in the west. Among Twenty seven recognized global freshwater wetlands types, twenty are found in Nepal. But at present, only nine wetlands are included in the Ramsar sites namely Koshi Tappu, Beeshazari, Jagadishpur, Ghodaghodi, Gokyo, Gosaikunda, Rara, Phoksundho, Mai Pokhari and Lake Clusters of Pokhara Valley (Phewa, Begnas, Rupa, Dipang, Maidi, Khaste, Neurani, Kamalpokhari and Gunde).
Wetlands are not just the waters but an important part of an ecosystem. It has a unique role in maintaining the food chain. Wetlands are an important source of groundwater recharge and nutrient retention. It purifies static water, its storage and conservation minimize floods and landslides. It also has an important cultural and recreation values and supports in soil formation, nutrient cycling and pollination.
Not only scientifically, but also wetlands have both social and cultural values. Over 21 ethnic communities completely rely on them for their subsistence as their livelihoods. Besides, the vast groups of biodiversity rely on the wetland for their existence as almost 193 bird species, 11 flora and 59 fauna are dependent on wetlands. Various migratory birds such as Ruddy Shelduck, Mallard, Gadall, Eurasian teal, Green shank, thrushes etc. starts arriving in winter in these wetlands for survival. Wetlands are the habitat for several species of plants and animals, which provides food and water along with the shelter. Wetland has always protected the beautification of the environment that attracts many people around.
Despite the various imposition of laws and regulation for its protection, wetlands are in great threat.
We have already lost 87% of wetlands in the past 300 years and 35% since 1970. As ongoing construction, unplanned developmental works, urbanization, growing human population, climate change, livestock grazing, increasing demands of resources whereas land encroachment, overconsumption of resources and unsustainable development are several reasons for the threats to the wetlands. In Koshi Tappu, we can see that due to overgrazing and overexploitation the nearby local plants and resources are in extreme danger of extinction or threatened.
Therefore, attention is much needed to preserve these wetlands. Strict rules and regulations and its execution in law is needed to preserve the wetlands and its beauties around. Well-planned urbanization development can also manage land encroachment and destruction in and around wetlands.
I believe community involvement can encourage wise consumption of resources and reduce the exploitation. More involvement means more opportunities for the people as well.