Ramsar Sites in India, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands - Geography for You

Ramsar Sites in India, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

Ramsar logo
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance holds the unique distinction of being the first modern treaty between nations aimed at conserving natural resources. The signing of the Convention on Wetlands took place in 1971 at the small Iranian town of Ramsar. Since then, the Convention on Wetlands has been known as the Ramsar Convention.
The Ramsar Convention's broad aims are to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve, through wise use and management, those that remain. This requires international cooperation, policy making, capacity building and technology transfer.

What are Ramsar wetlands?

Under the Ramsar Convention, a wide variety of natural and human-made habitat types ranging from rivers to coral reefs can be classified as wetlands. Wetlands include swamps, marshes, billabongs, lakes, salt marshes, mudflats, mangroves, coral reefs, fens, peat bogs, or bodies of water - whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary. Water within these areas can be static or flowing; fresh, brackish or saline; and can include inland rivers and coastal or marine water to a depth of six metres at low tide. There are even underground wetlands.
The Ramsar Convention encourages the designation of sites containing representative, rare or unique wetlands, or wetlands that are important for conserving biological diversity. Once designated, these sites are added to the Convention's List of Wetlands of International Importance and become known as Ramsar sites. In designating a wetland as a Ramsar site, countries agree to establish and oversee a management framework aimed at conserving the wetland and ensuring its wise use. Wise use under the Convention is broadly defined as maintaining the ecological character of a wetland. Wetlands can be included on the List of Wetlands of International Importance because of their ecological, botanical, zoological, limnological or hydrological importance.
For a wetland to be designated to this list it must satisfy one or more of the criteria for identifying wetlands of international importance.


COP is the policy-making organ of the Convention which adopts decisions (Resolutions and Recommendations) to administer the work of the Convention.
Every three years, representatives of the Contracting Parties meet as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP)
COP12 was held in Punta del Este, Uruguay in 2015. COP13 took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2018.
Under the Convention, the Contracting Parties commit to:
Work towards the wise use of all their wetlands;
Designate suitable wetlands for the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management;
Cooperate internationally on trans boundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.

The fact of Ramsar Site

  • At the time of joining the Convention, each Contracting Party undertakes to designate at least one wetland site for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
  • The inclusion of a “Ramsar Site” in the List embodies the government’s commitment to take the steps necessary to ensure that its ecological character is maintained.
  • There are over 2,300 Ramsar Sites on the territories of 170 Ramsar Contracting Parties across the world.
  • The countries with the most Sites are the United Kingdom with 170 and Mexico with 142.
  • Bolivia has the largest area with 148,000 km2 under Ramsar protection.
  • The largest Sites are Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Queen Maud Gulf in Canada; these Sites each cover over 60,000 square kilometres.
  • The world’s first Site was the Cobourg Peninsula in Australia, designated in 1974.

International Organization Partners

The Ramsar Convention works closely with six organizations known as International Organization Partners (IOPs). These are:

  • Birdlife International
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  • Wetlands International
  • WWF
  • International Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

Other Partners

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD),
  • Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS),
  • World Heritage Convention (WHC) and
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • Project funding is done by various groups like multilateral development banks, bilateral donors, UN agencies such as UNEP, UNDP, Non-governmental organisations etc.

Ramsar Sites in India

Ramsar Sites in India, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

  • As of February 2019, there are 27 Ramsar Sites in India.

  • Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Punjab have three wetlands each.
  • West Bengal, Orissa and Rajasthan have two wetlands each.
  • Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur Jammu & Kashmir have one wetland each.
Sl. No.Name of SiteStateArea (in Sq. km.)
1Asthamudi WetlandKerala614
2Bhitarkanika MangrovesOrissa650
3Bhoj WetlandsMadhya Pradesh32.01
4Chandertal Wetland (Chandra Taal)Himachal Pradesh0.49
5Chilka LakeOrissa1165
6Deepor BeelAssam40
7East Calcutta WetlandsWest Bengal125
8Harike LakePunjab41
9Hokera WetlandJammu and Kashmir13.75
10Kanjli LakePunjab1.83
11Keoladeo Ghana NPRajasthan28.73
12Kolleru LakeAndhra Pradesh901
13Loktak LakeManipur266
14Nalsarovar Bird SanctuaryGujarat120
15Point CalimereTamil Nadu385
16Pong Dam LakeHimachal Pradesh156.62
17Renuka WetlandHimachal Pradesh0.2
18Ropar LakePunjab13.65
19Rudrasagar LakeTripura2.4
20Sambhar LakeRajasthan240
21Sasthamkotta LakeKerala3.73
22Sunderbans WetlandWest Bengal4230
23Surinsar-Mansar LakesJammu and Kashmir3.5
24Tsomoriri LakeJammu and Kashmir120
25Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora Stretch)Uttar Pradesh265.9
26Vembanad Kol WetlandKerala1512.5
27Wular LakeJammu & Kashmir189
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