In the past 35 years 35 per cent of the world’s wetlands have gone. For example, in India, wetlands in the state of Kashmir are almost on the verge of extinction due to the absence of conservation measures by the government, say reports. The topography of river Jhelum is such that it makes J&K’s summer capital Srinagar quite vulnerable to the phenomenon of flooding. Wetlands on the left as well as the right of Jhelum have lost their capacity due to their conversion into agriculture land or, on the other hand, concrete landscape over the past five decades.

Ecologically significant wetlands in the floodplains of the river Jhelum such as Bemina wetland, Hokersar, Narakara wetland, Rakh-e-arth, Batamaloo numbal, Anchar lake and Gilsar have also gotten quite substantially degraded due to fast encroachment as well as urbanization. The cumulative area of the major wetlands and swamps in the basin of the river Jhelum with area more than 25 hactares has markedly decreased from around 288.96 sq km in 1972 to 266.45 sq km at the present.

What is a wetland?

A wetland is a place where the land is covered by water, either seasonally or permanently. It functions as its own distinct ecosystem. You can distinguish wetlands from other types of land or bodies of water primarily by the foliage that has acclimated to the wet soil.
Wetlands take numerous other forms including rivers, mangroves, bogs, ponds, lagoons, lakes, as well as floodplains. Large swamp areas frequently include a combination of different types of brackish systems.

Benefits of protecting and restoring wetlands and swamps

Seven benefits of guarding and restoring wetlands
— Revival of biodiversity
— Replenishment of ground water levels
— Store Carbon
— Blunt the impact of storms and floods
— Provide for an improved livelihood
— Boost eco-tourism
— Improve health and well-being

Steps to restore wetlands
— Degraded areas need to be cleaned up
— Debris or other waste should be removed from wetlands
— Discourage people from purchasing property built on erected on swamps and wetlands
— Organize activities such as cleanup missions on the occasion of World Wetlands Day
— Maximise awareness of the World Wetlands Day and the urgency of the restoration of wetlands
— Highlighting the restoration of wetlands, particularly those which are depleting rapidly over the past several years
— Highlight the role of common man in preserving wetlands.

About Ushi Fatma

Author at I am a freelance journalist, environment activist, fashion blogger, and a short film and documentary maker. My association with Taru Mitra, an organisation working hard for the environment in India, taught me the value of nature preservation. I want to make the world a better place for future generations. Being a mother, I know how important it is to do that. I love nature, art and creativity.