Feb 2nd each year is World Wetlands Day. It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general, and the Ramsar Convention in particular.
The World Wetlands Day theme for 2012 is Wetlands and Tourism and it is important that Mumbai too recognizes this need to promote tourism and also keep its mangroves intact.
On this Wetlands Day, Young Environmentalists Programme trust organized nature walks along mangrove and coastal areas in various parts of Bhandup east in Mumbai. The purpose of the walks is to expose the participants to the beauty of some of the rare wetland areas in the city and the dangers being faced by them.
Says Elsie Gabriel founder Young Environmentalists programme trust, “This year’s theme of Tourism and Wetlands for 2012 by Ramsar Convention is very valuable.
Wetland tourism has local and national benefits for people and wildlife – benefits such as stronger economies, sustainable livelihoods, healthy people and thriving ecosystems.
I have personally toured the mangroves in Indonesia, Bali, Langkawai – Malaysia, Mauritius, Thailand and Sri Lanka but the best ones were at the Chilka lakes in Orissa! I have literally dived into the mangroves in Malaysia and to get to see crabs, shrimps, huge roots surrounding oneself is magnificent. In Mumbai ofcourse whenever I take kids to Esselworld I make sure to show them the Mangroves in Manori and Gorai too. Through these eco-tourism escapades I have educated myself with very first hand learning experiences. India should also have eco tourism around wetlands to spread the knowledge and value of mangroves and how protective they are of inland shores.”
It is worth noting that tourism is only one of the services that wetlands deliver. Ensuring well-managed tourism practices in and around wetlands and educating tourists on the value of wetlands contributes to the health of the world’s wetlands and the long-term benefits that wetlands provide to people, wildlife, economics, and biodiversity.
Author: Swati Maheshwari
Swati is a Communications Consultant and is actively associated with Ek Titli. She loves to write and tries to sing at times. She feels strongly for sustainable living. You can reach her at email@example.com
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