Goa got its first Ramsar site after the Union environment ministry announced that the Nanda lake in Curchorem is one of ten new wetlands in India to get that status, conferred on wetlands of international importance.
The lake in South Goa had already been notified as a wetland last October under the Union government’s Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017. This means that development activities within the waterbody as well as within its zone of influence are already regulated.
However, being designated a Ramsar site means that the Nanda lake is now on the global map for its importance in providing ecological services. With an area of 42 hectares, it is one of Goa’s largest wetlands.
Ramsar gets its name from the Ramsar convention, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, to which India is a contracting party.
“Nanda lake was approved as a Ramsar site after it stood the test across nine criteria, including its services as a habitat from several species of birds,” said a state official. Among the bird species for which the lake is a habitat are the black-headed ibis, common kingfisher, wire-tailed swallow, bronze-winged jacana, brahminy kite, intermediate egret, redwattled lapwing, little cormorant and lesser whistling duck.
“Nanda lake is considered to be critically significant for its ecosystem services and biodiversity values for the local communities and society at large. The majority of the area is intermittent freshwater marshes that lie adjacent to one of the major rivulets of the Zuari river. This enables the locals to store the water during the off-monsoon season,” the ministry has said in its announcement.
The water stored in the lake is also utilised to cultivate paddy downstream and supports fishing and recreation. In the monsoon, the sluice gate is opened and the water is released which changes the character of the lake into a marshland. During this time too, the marshland is utilised to grow paddy by locals.
“Designation of these sites would help in conservation and management of wetlands and wise use of their resources,” the ministry has said.
On Wednesday, the minister announced that ten more sites in India were designated as Ramsar sites, taking the total number of such sites in India to 64, with a combined area of 12.5 lakh hectares.
The 10 new sites include six in Tamil Nadu and one each in Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha