Causes of Degradation of Wetlands
A Wetland is the geographic area with characteristics of both dry land and bodies of water. Wetlands typically occur in low-lying areas that receives fresh water at the edges of lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers, or salt water from tides in coastal areas protected from waves. In Wetlands, the surface of the water is usually above or just below the land surface. It promotes development of soil’s characteristics of a wet environment.
Causes of Degradation of Wetlands
- Population Growth: The rapid population growth, which is 1.35% per annum, is the most important factor for polluting wetlands. It is found that 81% of the people are actively participating in agriculture production and depend on the wetlands.
- Roads and bridges: Roads and bridges are frequently constructed across wetlands since wetlands have low land value. It is often considered to be more cost effective to build roads or bridges across wetland than around them. Roads can impound a wetland, even if culverts are used.
- Industry: Adverse effects of industry on wetlands can include: reduction of wetland acreage, alteration of wetland hydrology due to industrial water intake and discharge, water temperature increases, point and nonpoint source pollutant inputs, PH changes as a result of discharges, and atmospheric deposition.
- Illegal Hunting and Poaching: Wildlife poaching of rhino horn and bone is a common practice. Similarly, tigers are poached for bones and skin, sloth bear and Himalayan bear for gall bladders, musk deer for musk, and bird for meat which also affects the wetlands.
- Agriculture: Excessive amount of fertilizers and animal waste reaching wetlands in runoff agricultural operations, including confined animal facilities, can cause eutrophication.
- Toxic compounds: Irrigation ditching can increase contamination of wetlands receiving irrigation drainage water, particularly where soil is alkaline or contains selenium or other heavy metals. Untreated runoff containing extremely high concentrations of selenium led to mortally and deformities in bird, amphibian, and fish embryos and the disappearance of species from wetlands.
- Mining: Acid drainage from active and abandoned mines causes extensive ecological damage. Acid mine drainage introduces high levels of acidity and heavy metals into the wetland environment through runoff and through direct drainage from mines into wetlands.
- Marinas/ Boats: Marina construction and dredging activities add suspended sediments into waters adjacent to wetlands. Intense boating activity can also increase turbidity and degradation of wetlands.
- Apathy of the people: Due to the rapid growth of the population, the waste production from the household also increases. People throw their waste around the sources of water. Most of the people think just for short period. The waste thrown to the wetlands plays a vital role in the degradation of the wetlands.
Conservation of Wetlands: Wetlands loss results in greater flooding and erosion, reduced water quality, and reduced populations of many plants and animals. By 1991 over 60 countries had joined the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially known as the Ramsay Convention. Member countries are required to designate at least one wetland as a conservation project to add to the list of wetlands of international importance.
Wetlands is an indispensable part of the natural resources. This helps to conserve the ecosystem. Similarly, it helps to conserve various species of plants and animals on that ecosystem. Humans have crucial role in the conservation and management of wetlands.
Importance of conservation of Wetlands
The importance of wetland conservation is given below: –
- Wetland is a transitional zone of land ecosystem and aquatic ecosystem. Wetland provides shelter and food for living things. It helps to sustain various ecosystems.
- The quality of the wetlands had been degrading due to the lack of management in forestry, urbanization, industrialization, and awareness of the people.
- Wetlands are crucial for food production such as rice, vegetables, fish, etc.
- Wetlands helps in conserving the biodiversity as different plant species of a wetland provide habitat for varied animal communities.
- Wetlands have a special historical and cultural importance in Nepal. For instance, the river floodplains of Nepal are important sites of culture and history. In order to maintain such history and culture, people have to conserve wetlands.
- Wetlands provide many opportunities for recreational activities such as bird-watching, hunting, fishing, trapping, and hiking. They also provide educational opportunities for nature studies and scientific research.
Controlling Measures of Wetlands degradation
- Formulation of comprehensive national wetland policy and wetland legislation.
- Review of institutional arrangements to ensure clarity in tenure-wise use and conservation.
- Research on wetland resource to provide scientific data and information.
- Identification of critical wetland habitats and their protection, and directory and database on wetlands.
- Promotion of collaborative management of wetland resources.
- Implementation of demonstration projects to apply and promote the wise use of wetlands and their resources.
- Promotion of awareness and capacity programmes on the importance, use, function and management of wetlands and their resources.
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