Listing has little impact on Ramsar wetlandsWhile the number of Nepal’s wetlands listed in the acclaimed Ramsar Sites increases, very little attention has been paid to conservation of these vital water systems.
While the number of Nepal’s wetlands listed in the acclaimed Ramsar Sites increases, very little attention has been paid to conservation of these vital water systems. Coinciding with the World Wetland Day, the nine-lake cluster of Pokhara Valley—Phewa, Begnas, Rupa, Dipang, Gunde, Maidi, Neurani, Kamal and Khaste—will be formally listed on the Ramsar Sites on Tuesday.
With this latest addition to the list, Nepal is now home to 10 Ramsar Sites under the Ramsar Convention, an inter-governmental treaty that came into force in 1970 for conservation and sustainable management of wetland such as marshes, lakes and swamps.
But the existing Ramsar Sites located in Tarai plains, including Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Ghodaghodi Lake Complex, Beeshazari Taal and Jagdishpur Lake are facing a grim situation. Problems including encroachment, sedimentation and eutrophication are putting these sites at risk. Similarly, the Mai Pokhari in Ilam, listed in Ramsar Site in 2008 is witnessing decreasing water level and the lake is drying out due to sedimentation and spreading of water hyacinths and other invasive plant species in the recent years. The high-altitude Ramsar Sites, including Gokyo, Gosaikunda, Phoksundo and Rara Lake, face conservation challenge due to their remoteness and increasing developmental activities such as road construction.
“Though the declaration of some wetlands as Ramsar Sites has provided some attention, many Ramsar Sites are facing degradation and need immediate protection,” said Rajendra Khanal, programme coordinator from the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN).
Conservationists say that inclusion in the Ramsar Site alone is not enough as the situation of thee existing wetlands, including those of international importance are in dire condition due to lack of proper management and monitoring from the concerned bodies.
But government officials see the listing as a first important step.
“The international listing of our lakes is a great achievement. This gives a much-needed attention and investment in wetland conservation,” said Maheshwar Dhakal, under-secretary at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), the implementing organisation for the Ramsar Convention.
“It is also true that if we don’t work on garnering international attention like the Ramsar listing for some important wetlands, these sites would never get conservation even at local level,” Dhakal added. Koshi Tappu Reserve was the first Ramsar Site listed from Nepal in 1987.