Human Activities a Threat to Wetland Ecosystem

Published On: February 21, 2022 06:30 AM NPT By: Dr Subash Adhikari

Encroachment, irrational infrastructure development, and anthropogenic activities have all contributed to the degradation of Nepal's wetland region.

Wetlands are highly dynamic ecosystems that sustain biodiversity and environmental health by playing a key role in ecological processes. A wetland is an important ecosystem service provider as well as an ecological water corridor and biodiversity hotspot. World Wetland Day has been celebrated with various slogans every year since 1997, intending to commemorate the Convention held on February 2nd, 1971 in Ramsar, Iran to conserve and sustainably manage the wetland area. As a part of the Ramsar Convention, Nepal also celebrates World Wetlands Day every year. Last year, World Wetlands Day 2021 was celebrated with the slogan "Wetlands and Water". This year too, it was celebrated with various programs under the slogan "Wetlands Actions for People and Nature". Since the structure of the wetlands, flora, and fauna makes the earth's wastewater and mixed chemicals clean and hygienic, it is also called Earth's Kidney. It protects against floods, landslides, heavy rains, and droughts and approximately provides the rice that is consumed by over three billion people around the world. As a result, its annihilation appears to be a global invitation to famine. Therefore, it is a hotspot for scientific research.

Nepal, although being a landlocked country, has abundant water resources (rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.). Encroachment, irrational infrastructure development, and anthropogenic activities have all contributed to the degradation of Nepal's wetland region. It is particularly attractive for vegetation and shelter for endangered species, as well as a supply of water. According to the National Wetlands Policy, 2059, only 32 species of mammals, 461 species of birds (15 rare species), nie species of tortoises, 20 species of snakes, and 28 species of fish are found in the wetland areas of Nepal alone. Most of the wetland areas on earth are on the verge of extinction, most of which belong to Asia. The Ramsar Convention was signed in 1971 to safeguard globally-significant wetlands that have a direct bearing on human existence. The convention has been signed by 172 countries so far. Wetlands of international importance are listed in the Ramsar Convention as providing habitat for critically-endangered biological species or ecological systems. As many as 2,435 wetland areas of the world (area: 25.46 million 85 thousand 425 hectares) have been listed in the list of Ramsar. 

Recognizing the importance of wetland areas, Nepal has also revised the wetland conservation policy brought in 2059 BS to 2069 BS. On December 17, 1987, Nepal listed KoshiTappu Wildlife Reserve in the Ramsar site and became the party to the Ramsar Convention on April 17, 1988. Out of the total wetland area of ​​8 lakhs 19 thousand 277 hectares of Nepal, Ghodaghodi Lake, Koshitappu Wildlife Reserve, Jagdishpur Lake, Gosaikunda, Gokyo Lake, Phoksundo Lake, Bisahzari Lake, Maipokhari, and nine lake cluster of Pokhara (total wetland area of ​​60 thousand 561 hectares of ten wetland areas) have been mentioned in the World Ramsar List.

Gandaki Province can be predicted to contain appropriate wetlands due to its diversity in topography, climate, and biodiversity. According to the Lake Conservation and Development Authority of Gandaki Province's survey data, the province has 290 lakes (126 glaciers and 164 encompassing lakes, ponds, and adjacent regions). Wetland areas include rivers, reservoirs, swamps, and irrigated paddy fields, in addition to these lakes. However, effective protection, management, and long-term use have yet to be accomplished. For example, wetlands in Pokhara are diminishing and becoming endangered as a result of rising population, land encroachment, and infrastructure expansion. 

As a result, the extent of wetlands is shrinking. While community leaders and the government seek to promote business-friendly policies for short-term advantage, the legislation is unable to be enforced. It is our responsibility to leave a clean and safe Earth for future generations. As a result, it is vital to broaden the scope of the legislation and bring those who engage in such exploitation to justice. The conservation of the earth is essential; otherwise, the human community's existence will be jeopardized. We must take steps ahead to protect the wetland region.

Finally, to conserve the wetland region, numerous challenges must be faced, including the consequences of climate change, and the area must be linked to production. Nepal, as a signatory to the Ramsar Convention, has adopted the Convention's rules as well as the National Wetlands Policy to document the country's major wetland areas, including those in Gandaki Province. To remove the barriers to proper management and economic results, the laws should be vigorously applied at the political and policy levels. This will require support and cooperation from national and international bodies at all levels, as well as stakeholders, specialists, and the general public. To develop a policy for its conservation and long-term management, wetlands research across a wide range of disciplines such as wetlands biology, ecology, hydrology, water chemistry, soil and sediment characteristics, management, education, legislation, culture, sociology, and regulations is required.

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