Thane creek should be made a Ramsar site, BNHS says
The bio-diversity rich Thane Creek has been sought to be designated as one of the wetland sites of international significance as per the Ramsar Convention on the occasion of the World Wetlands Day on Thursday. The Creek was recently declared as a Flamingos Sanctuary by the Government of Maharashtra and hosts more than 30,000 to 40,000 Greater and Lesser flamingos for nearly six months every year. Besides flamingos, the creek is the winter refuge for many species of migratory birds including large number of Pied Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Common Redshanks, stints and sand plovers, different species of fishes, crabs and other small organisms living in the wetlands here.
Such wetlands offer a variety of ecosystem services like they harbour a variety of plants, support a number of animal and bird species, attract migratory birds, help avoid floods by soaking up excess rain water, and purify water. The state forest department had identified and proposed five prominent wetlands including Aurangabad's Jaikwadi Bird Sanctuary, Pune's Ujni Reservoir, Mumbai's Sewri Creek or Mahul-Sewri Mudflats, Nashik's Nandur Madhmeshwar Bird Sanctuary, and Buldhana's Lonar Lake Sanctuary to be declared as Ramsar sites back in 2013.
The rampant deforestation of mangroves, pollution, poaching of the rare birds and urgent need for conservation of the biodiversity rich Thane creek and Jalgaon's Hatnur Damn pushed the Bombay Natural History Society to add them to this proposed list, on Thursday. "Wetlands have been ignored as useless wastelands, and have always lost the battle with development and construction. These wetlands, marshlands, grasslands and salt pans along the Thane creek have been suffering from rampant construction activities, pollution and degradation of the green zone. The entire cycle of ecosystem they host from small micro-organisms, fish and plant life to birds which feed on them have faced repercussions as well. Maharashtra doesn't comprise even one Ramsar sites till today, and it is high time that sites like the Thane creek are put on that list," said Clara Correia, Thane based zoologist and bird watcher.
"Maharashtra has a number of wetlands among which a few have been declared as Important Bird Areas (IBAs) by BNHS owing to the huge number of birds congregating here. Among the five sites that were already proposed by the forest department, four are IBAs. We studied the Thane Creek area and the Hatnur Dam and realised that they too deserve to be on this Ramsar list, and submitted it to the convention," said Deepak Apte, director of BNHS.
"The Ramsar convention is an international treaty which focuses on conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, recognizing their ecological functions along with economic, cultural and scientific values. The proposed sites easily qualify for being declared as Ramsar sites as they fulfil the nine specific criteria listed by the Ramsar convention," Apte added.
If the proposal is accepted, the Thane Creek will feature among the first few Ramsar sites of Maharashtra and join the 26 other prestigious wetland sites or Ramsar Sites across the nation.
"India is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention. The declaration of these seven sites as Ramsar sites would help garner global recognition to these wetlands. It would also promote the conservation of the wetlands as a habitat, in turn conserving the varied biodiversity they harbour as well as ensure water security of the region," added Apte.
Source: Times of India