World Wetland Day: Encroachment, pollution, poaching major challenges, says Wildlife Dept

‘3 lakh migratory birds present in Kashmir wetlands currently’

Wetlands aren’t wasteland but biodiversity hotspots which provide habitat for countless plants and animals and there is a need to preserve them for future generations, Wildlife department officials said on Thursday.

Officials told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), that the Wetlands are important because they protect and improve water quality, provide fish and wildlife habitats, store floodwaters and maintain surface water flow during dry periods.
“Wetlands are unique, productive ecosystems where terrestrial and aquatic habitats meet. Wetlands play a critical role in maintaining many natural cycles and supporting a wide range of biodiversity. They serve as a natural sponge against flooding and drought, protect our coastlines and help fight climate change,” they said.
Wetland performs numerous valuable functions such as recycle nutrients, purify water, attenuate floods, recharge ground water and also serves in providing drinking water, fish, fodder, fuels, wildlife habitat, control rate of runoff in urban areas, buffer shorelines against erosion and recreation to society, they said.
They said that there is a need to reduce, reuse, and recycle your waste and trash as protecting the environment helps protect the wetlands, especially since trash can make its way into the water and the best and easiest way to protect the environment is by limiting your household waste.
Ifshan Dewan Wildlife warden wetlands (Kashmir) while talking with KNO said that most people think that wetlands are wastelands but they must know wetlands are biodiversity hotspots.
She said that Water bodies are the most productive ecosystem and there is a need to protect and restore them, that is why this day is being observed to create awareness among the public.
She said that the basic challenges before them are to save these wetlands from encroachment mainly in urban areas, throwing of solid waste in them, silt and poaching.
“Besides the sanitation and dwelling are challenges as almost every wetland in J&K is full of silt,” Ifshan said.
She added that people must understand that poaching is a prohibited activity as poaching incidents are coming to fore and recently seven poaching guns were recovered from them.
Ifshan said that around a lakh birds are present in Hokersar and other nearby wetlands which includes some new species like long tailed duck and few species of Reed Bunting bird as well which were seen for the first time after several years.
She said that around 3000 kanals of wetland were freed from the public after one time amnesty to cut down trees was given to them due to which bird population has increased.
Efforts are on to restore channels used for navigation which were blocked and so far two have been restored while work is going on to restore others as well.
She requested people to cooperate in restoring wetlands as migratory birds are our guests and we must work together to protect them—(KNO)

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