CIFRI National Conference on Wetlands Report

CIFRI National Conference on Wetlands Report

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The National Conference on Wetlands organized by South Asian Forum for Environment [SAFE] and Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute [CIFRI] under the aegis of Indian Council of Agricultural Research [ICAR] on the theme, 'Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies in Wetlands; a Community Leadership Perspective', held on March 1st and 2nd, created a long awaited most important platform for discussing, policies, innovations, and conservation challenges, planning and action towards the wetlands, in the context of changing climate scenario. The Conference also received support from the State Fisheries Development Corporation Ltd. and Department of Science & Technology, DST, Government of West Bengal.

The scientists, policy managers, technologists, educators, ecologists and activists participating in this National Wetlands Conference discussed heart and bone issues on wetlands and expressed deep concern and unanimously recommended for a National Wetlands Policy.

Dr. S. Ayyappan, Director General (DG), ICAR and Secretary (ICAR), Department of Agriculture Research and Education (DARE) said, “Legislation and instructive guidelines are not sufficient. Building public awareness about efficient use and benefits of wetlands; and involvement of people are imperative requirements”.

The ultimate objective of the national Conference was to bring wetlands issues upfront and discuss at length for the possible solutions. It is increasingly evident from discussions that rules and regulations are not enough in conserving the vulnerable wetlands, what is required is a complete framework of plan and guidelines under a National Wetlands Policy, which has provision of treating the issues as per case and have a participatory holistic plan and program for nation's future sustainability.

We gratefully acknowledge the valuable deliberations made by Dr.A.P Sharma, Director, CIFRI, Dr.Dipayan Dey, Chair, SAFE, Dr. Vijayan, Founder member, Salim Ali Foundation, Dr.V.V Sadamate, FAO, Country Director, Dr.Dilip Kumar ,Dr. Amalesh Choudhury, Dr.Sanjay Deshmukh, Mumbai University, Dr.V.R Suresh, Sr.Scientist, CIFRI, Dr. B.K Mondal, GM (Tech), SFDC, and eminent wetlands experts like Dr. Pradeep Kumar and Dr.Sashidulal Ghosh, and many other participants.

The brief summary of the outcome of the deliberations at the National Wetlands Conference:

  1. National Wetlands Policy is the need of the hour, for bridging policy gaps and it needs to be developed with technical assistance from multiple stakeholders active in the matter and guidelines need to be framed precisely to facilitate preparing community communications.

  2. A significant time and resource have been spent in conservation of wetlands, but proper collection and validation of data, its scientific quality and consistency has not yet been ensured by established guidelines. Though it needs to be framed under a National Wetlands policy, which is currently missing, the National Wetland Atlas is also incomplete in information.

  3. Strengthening the preparation of wetland inventory at a national scale with proper validation through in-depth review interpretation and disseminate information.

  4. Theparticipatoryapproachneedstobeprioritizedindevelopinganintegratedimplementation plan, keeping in view the adaptive capacity building of wetland dwellers, stakeholders for sustainable usage.

  5. Developmentofindigenoustechnologyforeffectivenationalwetlandmanagementstrategy,in order to assess future vulnerability and long-term policy at regional and local level is urgently required.

  6. Indentifyingpriorityareaswithimmediateaction,place-basedandflexibleinterventionshasto be made for developing climate smart conservation paradigms in wetland management.

  7. Aswetlandsareofthefundamentalimportanceandprovidevitalhouseforfishcultivation,they should be given highest conservation priority, and a proper cost benefit analyses as per case should therefore be performed before any large scale decisions are taken.

  8. Further, with special emphasis on the only Ramsar site of West Bengal, the East Kolkata Wetlands, EKW, the Fisheries Department from Govt. of WB, and NGOs represented that declining fisheries, illegal encroachment and gaps at policy level have lead to immense damage to the endangered sewerage fed EKW, A platform is required to specially address to such important issues, with adequate participation of allied experts and stakeholders, and let the recovery plan for EKW be more emphasized.

The ultimate objective of the national Conference was to bring wetlands issues upfront and discuss at length for the possible solutions. It is increasing evident from discussions that rules and regulations are not enough in conserving the vulnerable wetlands, what is required is a complete framework of plan and guidelines under a National Wetlands Policy, which has provision of treating the issues as per case and have a participatory holistic plan and program for nation's future sustainability.

(The detail proceedings of the National Conference on Wetlands, will be published by 30th May, 2014)