Guwahati, Sunday, February 9, 2020
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Importance of preserving wetlands underlined
Correspondent
 DOOMDOOMA, Feb 8 - World Wetland Day, which traces its origin to the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea, has since been observed in more than 100 countries all over the world.

  The programme was organised jointly in a wetland of Digboi Oil Field by the Department of Zoology, Eco-Club of Digboi College with Aaranyak, NSS Digboi College unit, IQAC of Digboi College, Digboi Forest Division and Assam Science Technology and Environment Council on Sunday morning.

According to the Ramsar Convention, “wetlands are areas of marsh, fern, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salty, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres.”

Fish ponds, paddy cultivation, depollution and stabilisation ponds, besides salt pans are human-made wetlands. Wetlands are vital for humans, for other ecosystems and for our climate, providing essential ecosystem services such as water regulation, including flood control and water purification.

Wetland biodiversity matters a lot with regard to our health, food supply, for tourism and for jobs as well. Wetlands also absorb carbon dioxide and helps to slow down global warming and reduce pollution. Not for nothing has it often been referred to as the ‘Kidneys of the Earth.’

Though they cover only around 6 per cent of the Earth’s land surface area, 40 per cent of all plant and animal species live or breed in wetlands. The worrying thing is that they are disappearing three times faster than forests due to thoughtless human activities and global warming.

Early in the morning, environmental activists, biologists, wildlife experts and students came to an old stretch of wetland in the heart of Digboi Oil Field area within Digboi Reserve Forest. The programme began with an introductory lecture by Rajib Rudra Tariang, Head of the Zoology Department of Digboi College. He addressed the students in particular and spoke about the importance of World Wetland Day, besides shedding light on the ‘do’s and don’ts.

This was followed by the entire group visiting the vast wetland. The group spotted Blyth’s kingfisher, which is rarely sighted, as well as white-winged wood duck, which is the State Bird of Assam, Indian leaf turtle along with many other migratory birds and some residential birds of the forest and the wetland area.

The group also saw a good number of lesser whistling teal, mallards, coots, little egrets, great egrets, Indian pond herons, jakanas, little cormonants, etc., along with other terrestrial birds like red jungle fowl, khalij pheasant, etc.

Mriganka Borah, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Digboi Division delivered a talk on the theme of ‘Wetland and Biodiversity’ while Kedar Nath Timsina, retired Vice Principal of Digboi College urged the students to come forward for conservation of wetlands. Dr Deborshree Gogoi, a noted birdwatcher helped the students to identify avian species found in the said wetland.

In the meantime, Digboi College expressed its sincere thanks to Oil India Limited, Digboi for granting necessary permission to visit the wetland under reference and also for allowing to organise the programme.

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