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NEW DELHI: Four more sites from India have been recognized under the 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands bringing the total number of such designated areas in the country to 46, the environment ministry said on Saturday.

These sites are Thol and Wadhwana from Gujarat and Sultanpur and Bhindawas from Haryana, the ministry said in a statement.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then, almost 90% of UN member states, from all the world’s geographic regions, have acceded to the treaty to become “Contracting Parties".

The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands, which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits.

The addition of the four new sites increases the wetland area coverage in India to 1,083,322 hectares.

“Wetlands provide a wide range of important resources and ecosystem services such as food, water, fibre, groundwater recharge, water purification, flood moderation, erosion control and climate regulation," the environment ministry said.

“They are, in fact, a major source of water and our main supply of freshwater comes from an array of wetlands which help soak rainfall and recharge groundwater," it added.

While Haryana got its first two Ramsar sites on Saturday, in the case of Gujarat, it was an addition to an existing Ramsar site since Nalsarovar received its recognition in 2012.

The Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest wetland in Haryana is a human-made freshwater wetland. Over 250 bird species use the sanctuary throughout the year as a resting and roosting site. The site supports more than ten globally threatened species including the endangered Egyptian Vulture, Steppe Eagle, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, and Black-bellied Tern, the ministry said.

Sultanpur National Park from Haryana supports more than 220 species of resident, winter migratory and local migratory water birds at critical stages of their life cycles. More than ten of these are globally threatened, including the critically endangered sociable lapwing, and the endangered Egyptian Vulture, Saker Falcon, Pallas’s Fish Eagle and Black-bellied Tern, the ministry said.

Thol Lake Wildlife Sanctuary from Gujarat lies on the Central Asian Flyway and more than 320 bird species can be found here. The wetland supports more 30 threatened waterbird species, such as the critically endangered White-rumped Vulture and Sociable Lapwing , and the vulnerable Sarus Crane, Common Pochard and Lesser White-fronted Goose, the ministry said.

Wadhvana Wetland from Gujarat is internationally important for its bird life as it provides wintering ground to migratory water birds, including over 80 species that migrate on the Central Asian Flyway. They include some threatened or near-threatened species such as the endangered Pallas’s fish-Eagle, the vulnerable Common Pochard, and the near-threatened Dalmatian Pelican, Grey-headed Fish-eagle and Ferruginous Duck, it added.

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