Climate change poses threat to wetlands

KATHMANDU: Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation today said the country's wetlands were facing problems as an impact of climate change and due to rampant encroachment.

"The wetlands are biodiversity hotspots but they are facing a lot of problems due to the lack of conservation efforts, fuelled by the adverse effects of climate change presently," said Gopal Prasad Upadhyay, Director General, DNPWC.

The wetlands are the habitat of many endangered species. Experts say the change in climate could degrade the habitat of the species enlisted as endangered. Animals like Asiatic Wild Buffalo, one-horned rhino, Gangetic dolphin, swamp dear and globally threatened migratory birds depend on wetlands, meaning its degradation will obviously increase the risk on the precious wildlife," said Bishnu Bahadur Bhandari, wetland specialist. The Wetland Inventory of Nepal 2009 states that about 45 per cent of the wetlands are in high altitudes, 34 per cent in mid-mountains whereas remaining 21 per cent lie in the Tarai region. Experts predict that impact of climate change on the wetlands in higher altitudes can be graver due to the rapid melting of snow in the Himalayas.World Wetland Day was observed today with the slogan: Caring for wetlands -- an answer to climate change.

Wetland data

• 891 major wetlands recorded

• 9 wetlands listed in the Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance: Koshi Tappu, Beesh Hazari Tal, Ghodaghodi, Jagadishpur, Gokyo Lake, Gosaikunda, Rara Lake, Shey Phoksundo and Mai Pokhari

• Koshi Tappu the first wetland in the Ramsar list (1998); Maipokhari the latest (2008)

Under threat

Types Number

Glaciers 202

Lakes (including ponds) 563

River and rivulets 104

Man-made sites 22

Total 891