Reviving Lucknow’s ecosystem: 108 wetlands set for restoration - Hindustan Times
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Reviving Lucknow’s ecosystem: 108 wetlands set for restoration

By, Lucknow
Feb 02, 2024 10:37 PM IST

“Lucknow has 1370 wetlands identified via remote sensing, and among these, 108 have been earmarked for restoration work, for now,” said Prof Venkatesh Dutta.

The race against time to propel Lucknow with world-class commercial and residential infrastructure is coupled with efforts to restore 108 wetlands that serve as homes to native and migratory birds.

Ekana wetland in Lucknow. (Gaurav Saigal / Hindustan Times)
Ekana wetland in Lucknow. (Gaurav Saigal / Hindustan Times)

“Lucknow has 1370 wetlands identified via remote sensing, and among these, 108 have been earmarked for restoration work, for now,” said Prof Venkatesh Dutta, an environmentalist and professor at the school of earth & environmental sciences, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU) addressing the Wetlands Day event at Ekana Wetland on Friday morning.

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A wetland is defined as land covered by water or saturated with water. The water is usually groundwater, seeping up from an aquifer or spring.

“We have selected only those wetlands for restoration work that are over 2 hectares in area. Such wetlands are capable of sustaining rich biodiversity and are suitable for the stay and breeding of birds,” said Ravi K Singh, divisional forest officer (Awadh range). Singh also launched the calendar ‘Birds of Lucknow,’ featuring only birds from Lucknow.

Officials said that the 1370 wetlands are spread across Lucknow and have been duly marked. “We have designated Ekana Wetland as a forest area in revenue records. Thus, no one can lay claim to this land in the future,” said Singh.

Asad Rehmani, a member of the governing body of Wetlands International South Asia, said: “We know that 360 bird species are wetland-dependent, or they live in wetlands. Hence, conserving wetlands is like giving life to birds. And as Uttar Pradesh has 500 species of birds, wetlands are just as crucial to the state as other development.”

Sharing details of conserving the newly identified wetlands in Lucknow, officials said that no mechanical work will be conducted at these sites. Instead, only manual work to clear the area from brick and cement work will be undertaken, along with cleaning unwanted weeds.

“Wetlands are discharge zones where water comes naturally and not groundwater recharge pockets, as is commonly believed. Artesian wells fill water, and this keeps the land wet for birds. Hence, nothing mechanical is done on wetlands,” said Prof Dutta.

Experts stated that the identified wetlands will undergo natural revival. Initially, small pillars will be installed to demarcate the wetlands and ensure that no one encroaches on the land for any other purpose. The area will be allowed to develop with biodiversity suitable for birds to inhabit.

Speaking on the significance of birds for human life, experts mentioned that birds indicate the health of the environment for humans. “Some birds are indicator species of the quality of the habitat, for example, Sarus,” said Rehmani.

As far as the number of Ramsar sites is concerned, Uttar Pradesh comes second in the country with 10, after Tamil Nadu, which has 15 Ramsar sites. A Ramsar site is a wetland of international significance, under the Ramsar Convention, also known as The Convention on Wetlands signed on February 2, 1971.

A bird calendar has been released during the event.
A bird calendar has been released during the event.

A large number of bird lovers and wildlife photographers attended the event and the bird walk. In all, 18 bird species, including 10 breeding ones, were spotted within one hour of the bird walk. Indian Robin, Open bill stork, Honey Buzzard, spot-billed duck, oriental darter, and several other birds were observed by bird watchers.

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