Wetlands, forests and oceans are known as three globally important ecosystems. Wetlands are life-supporting systems providing fish, water, biomass, erosion buffering, water storage, groundwater recharging, wildlife, recreation and tourism, besides playing an important role in flood control.. They are important repositories of aquatic species particularly endangered & threatened ones and play a critical role for the rural poor as they impinge on their health, livelihood and economic prospects. Wetlands are also important breeding ground for migratory birds. Yet of late they are being greatly exploited. The state of Punjab has been left with less than 1% of the area under wetlands.
There are three Ramsar sites (wetlands of International importance) in Punjab- Harike, Kanjli and Ropar. These wetlands are important habitats for waterfowl, fish and diversity of other flora and fauna including endangered and vulnerable species.. Two other wetlands- Ranji Sagar and Nangal are National wetlands. Ranjit Sagar is an interstate wetland spreading over in three states (Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and J&K) .There are 5 small wetlands considered as state wetlands owing to their rich biodiversity and ecological characters. These are - Keshopur-Miani Jheel, Kahnuwan Chhamb ,Jastarwal Jheel, Mand Bharthala and Dholbaha Reservoir.
In all, Punjab has 12 important natural and 9 manmade wetlands.
The Council is coordinating the scheme “National Wetland Conservation Programme (NWCP)” sponsored by Ministry of Environment & Forests, GOI. Under the scheme, conservation activities were initiated in 1987-88 at Harike wetland, in 1988-89 at Kanjli and in 1998-99 at Ropar. Conservation measures at Nangal were initiated in 2008-09. The activities are taken up through various executing departments which include afforestation of native tree species for habitat improvement, soil conservation to prevent siltation, conservation of wildlife and fisheries, weed control, water quality monitoring and public awareness, etc. Ranjit Sagar National wetland (which is an interstate wetland of H.P., Punjab and J&K) is being managed by Ranjit Sagar Dam Design Organisation under Deptt. of Irrigation.
Harike was included in the list of Ramsar sites in 1990 and subsequently Ropar & Kanjli were also added in the Ramsar list during 2002. Ranjit Sagar was declared National wetland in 2006 and Nangal wetland in 2008.
Wetlands of National & International Importance are:
- Harike Wetland
- Ropar Wetland
- Kanjli Wetland
- Ranjit Sagar Wetland
- Nangal Wetland
- Keshopur Miani Wetland