SHILLONG, Feb 5 � Assam ranks third in the country and the number one position in the North East in terms of areas under wetland, but, these vital ecosystems are under constant threat from climatic change and human interference.
Assam has 9.74 per cent of its total geographical area under wetlands. There are major 7,731 wetlands and another 11,736 minor ones covering a total area of 78,438 square kilometres.
The figures were provided by scientists at the North Eastern Space Application Centre recently from the first Atlas on Wetlands Studies of the North East.
In fact, Assam ranks third in the country after West Bengal and Gujarat in terms of wetland cover. The total wetland area in India is 7.8 million hectare of which the Northeastern States have a share of 1.6 million hectare.
Deepor Beel in Assam is one of the important wetlands of the country, however, rapid infrastructure development and human encroachment is threatening the existence of this important ecosystem.
Deepor Beel is also an important bird sanctuary where migratory birds from different parts of the globe come here annually. Various aquatic life forms are also found in this wetland. �These wetlands form an important lifeline for aquatic creatures and migratory birds,� said TS Singh, scientist from Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad during release of the atlas.
Apart from Deepor Beel, Rudrasagar in Tripura and Loktak Lake are the other important wetlands found in the region.
Meanwhile, with global warming being a realistic concern, scientists say, it�s important to monitor these vital ecosystems from time to time to help their preservation as these wetlands also help in carbon reduction.
�Regular update of the status of these wetlands is significant in view of the immense pressure on the existence of these ecosystems due to development activities and human interference,� the scientist said.
North Eastern Council secretary, UK Sangma who released the atlas said the study would go a long way in understanding these wetlands and help in conservation efforts.
�Wetlands are an integral part of our ecosystem and it�s important that all the stakeholders are educated about these water bodies,� Sangma said.