The Uttar Pradesh forest department has decided to develop one wetland in every district as an ecotourism site under the ‘One District One Wetland’ (ODOW) initiative, which is similar to One District One Product (ODOP) scheme of the state government.
Minister of state for environment, forest and climate change (independent charge) Arun Kumar Saxena has asked the officials to prepare a proposal in this regard.
Wetlands should be developed to promote ecotourism in every district. While there are a lot of wetlands and Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in the state, those which lie outside protected areas will be conserved under the ODOW initiative.
As per a conservative estimate, there are around 1. 2 lakh wetlands that lie outside the forest and around 500 inside it.
According to satellite data from 2020, of 1.2 lakh wetlands, at least 23,800 are in more than 2.2-hectare area, and need conservation.
Revenue records, however, peg the number of such wetlands around 26,000 in the state.
The state government in 2019 had notified the UP Wetlands Authority to prepare wetland atlas for the state, including the ones lying outside forest.
Ramgarh Taal of Gorakhpur, which lies outside forest, was the first wetland on the lines of ODOP which was notified in 2020.
The wetlands that are notified will be protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.
UP has at least ten wetlands which are Ramsar sites. Bakhira sanctuary was declared the tenth Ramsar site from the state in February this year.
Nawabganj in Unnao, Parvati Aranga in Gonda, Saman in Mainpuri, Samaspur in Rae Bareli, Sandi in Hardoi, Sarsai Nawar in Etawah, Keetham lake in Sur Sarovar sanctuary in Agra and Upper Ganga River, the stretch from Brigghat to Narora, which was the state’s first Ramsar site declared in 2005, are the others.
A Ramsar site is a wetland designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention signed in Iran in 1971.