Two new wetlands in Tamil Nadu have been added to Ramsar sites list

Ramsar site-nilgris-Ariyalur-Tamil Nadu

Longwood Shola Reserve Forest in Nilgiris and Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary in Ariyalur have been recognized as Ramsar sites, taking the total number of Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu to 16, the highest in India. The state government had sent proposals for the two sites to be declared Ramsar sites, and they were accepted by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change and the Ramsar Secretariat on January 31, 2024. The recognition of these two sites is important because it opens up new opportunities for hill wetlands conservation. The addition of these two sites to the Ramsar list is expected to promote tourism in Tamil Nadu. This article provides detailed information on the addition of these two important sites to the list of Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu.

Longwood Shola Reserve Forest
Longwood Shola Reserve Forest

What is the Ramsar Site?

A Ramsar site is a wetland site that is recognized as being of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. It is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil or is present at or near the surface of the soil for all or part of the year. Tamil Nadu has the highest number of Ramsar sites in India, with a total of 16 sites.

Ramsar Sites in Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu has the highest number of Ramsar sites in India, with a total of 16 sites. The Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu are important wetlands of international significance. The two most recent additions to the list are Longwood Shola in the Nilgiris and Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary in the Ariyalur district. The Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu are as follows:

S.No     DISTRICT           SITE NAME
01 Ramanathapuram Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve
02 Ramanathapuram Kanjirankulam Bird Sanctuary
03 Tirunelveli Koonthankulam Bird Sanctuary
04 Thiruvarur Udayamarthandapuram Bird Sanctuary
05 Tiruvarur Vaduvur Bird Sanctuary
06 Chennai Pallikaranai Marshland
07 Chengalpattu Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
08 Chengalpattu Karikili Bird Sanctuary
09 Cuddalore Pichavaram Mangrove
10 Erode Vellode Bird Sanctuary
11 Kanniyakumari Suchindram – Theroor wetland complex
12 Kanyakumari Vembanur Wetland complex
13 Ramanathapuram Chitrangudi Bird Sanctuary
14 Nagapattinam The Point Calimere (Kodiakkarai) Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary
15 Nilgiris Longwood Shola
16 Ariyalur Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary

These sites are recognized for their ecological importance and are protected under the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu are important wetlands of international significance that play a major role in supporting biodiversity and providing various ecosystem services.

Longwood Shola Reserve Forest:

Longwood Shola Reserve Forest

Longwood Shola Reserve Forest is a forest patch located in the Kotagiri taluk of Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris district. It is the only urban shola forest in the Nilgiris and is a typical shola found in the higher ranges of the Western Ghats. Sholas are patches of evergreen tropical rainforests in the valleys. The Longwood Shola Reserve Forest covers an area of 116.007 hectares and is home to more than 700 species of flora and fauna, including 14 endemic bird species, including the Black-chinned Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri Blue Robin, and Nilgiri Wood Pigeon. The Longwood Shola is a major source of water for Kotagiri, supplying water to 18 villages. Longwood Shola has been recently recognized as a Ramsar site, which is a wetland of international importance.

Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary:

Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary

The Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary is a protected area located in the Ariyalur district of Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the largest inland freshwater lakes in the state. The sanctuary is home to a variety of bird species, including the bar-headed goose, northern pintail, white stork, and osprey. It was declared a sanctuary in 1999 and is recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) of Tamil Nadu. The sanctuary’s recent addition to the Ramsar list in 2024 shows its global importance as an important habitat for birds. This recognition highlights the need for bird conservation and sustainable water management. The sanctuary attracts hundreds of thousands of birds every year due to its freshwater lake fed by the Pullambadi and Kattalai canals.
Significance of adding longwood shola reserve forest and karaivetti bird sanctuary to Tamil Nadu Ramsar sites: The addition of the Longwood Shola Reserve Forest in Nilgiris and the Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary in Ariyalur as Ramsar sites in Tamil Nadu may impact tourism and the local environment. These sites are important for biodiversity and serve as habitats for various species, including endangered ones. As a result, their addition as Ramsar sites may lead to increased conservation efforts and restrictions on certain human activities to protect the ecosystems. This, in turn, can lead to increased awareness and support for the preservation of these wetlands. These places are not only of ecological importance but also have the potential to attract tourists and contribute to the promotion of sustainable tourism in the region.

Ramsar Sites are special areas that need to be protected because they are important for various bird species and other forms of wildlife. The government is taking steps to conserve and restore these wetlands through initiatives like the Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission. The Tamil Nadu government has launched the Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission for the conservation and restoration of 100 wetlands at a cost of Rs 115.15 crore. As the government of Tamil Nadu continues to focus on conservation, it is setting an inspiring example for the rest of the country to protect our heritage for future generations.

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