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Wetlands of Pakistan

What are wetlands? Wetlands, as the name suggests, are wet! They are basically areas of land covered with water either all or only part of the time. Further, wetlands include areas with water of different depths, from water several meters deep to water merely saturating the soil. Even when a wetland appears dry, waterlogged conditions often occur below the surface of the soil. The conditions in a wetland also vary over time, with changes daily, seasonally over a longer time period as wetlands evolve and fill with sediment to eventually become dry land. Wetlands encompass many different habitats including ponds, marshes, swamps, and peat lands.

Wetlands are found along the shorelines of oceans, lakes, rivers and in local depressions. The water in natural wetlands derives from tidal flows, lakes, flooding rivers, or connections to groundwater. The water table in wetlands is at or near the surface, and the land is often covered with shallow water. Wetlands have often been described as the kidneys of the landscape because of the role they play in water and chemical cycles. Wetlands filter out sediment and pollution from the surrounding environment so that the water they discharge is cleaner that which entered the wetland. In this manner, wetlands act as both a sink and source, storing and passing on vital resources to their local environment.

Defining wetlands
the definition for wetlands in the International Convention on Conservation of Wetlands, or the Ramsar Convention. This broadly defines wetlands as "areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres". It also says that wetlands "may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands". This broad definition means that the Ramsar Convention covers a wide variety of habitat types, including rivers and lakes, coastal lagoons, mangroves, and even coral reefs.

Wetlands are ecosystems typically found on the transition between terrestrial and aquatic systems. In order to be classified as a wetland, an area typically has at least one of the following 3 characteristics: a water table at or near the ground's surface during the growing season (including when the land is covered by shallow water) poorly drained or hydric soils be home to a unique diversity of wildlife and vegetation specifically adapted to thrive in wet environments

Important facts about wetlands

Wetlands occur in every country, from the tundra to the tropics. Roughly 6% of the Earth's land surface is estimated to be covered with wetlands, or about 570 million hectares (5.7 million km2) (World Conservation Monitoring Centre). 2% of wetlands are lakes, 30% bogs, 26% fens, 20% swamps, and 15% floodplains. Mangroves cover some 240,000 km2 of coastal area. An estimated 600,000km2 of coral reefs remain worldwide

Wetlands of Pakistan Pakistan is one of the God gifted countries which abounds in natural resources, beautiful and eye catching. Beside snow covered mountains, green plains, deserts, lakes and the coast line, Pakistan also has an estimated 780,000 ha of wetlands that cover 9.7% of the total surface area of the Pakistan. In excess of 225 significant wetlands sites are on record in the prototype Pakistan Wetlands GIS Database - of which 19 have been internationally recognized by the Ramsar Convention Bureau as being of global importance. The diverse assortment of natural freshwater and marine wetlands that occur within Pakistan support unique combinations of biodiversity. Pakistan's permanent and ephemeral wetlands are globally significant in terms of the intrinsic value of their indigenous biodiversity.

Pakistan Wetlands GIS

Pakistan possesses a great variety of wetlands distributed throughout the country whose number exceeds over 200 identified wetlands or wetland complexes. The information about these resources is patchy and has not been compiled and updated systematically except documentation of only 48 wetlands in the Asian Directory of Wetlands in 1989.

Wetlands types of Pakistan

Distribution of Significant Wetlands of Pakistan

In total, 220 Wetlands are categorized as Significant Wetlands by the programme which include 46 Protected Wetlands (1,479,794 ha); further designated as, 7 National Parks (128,563 ha), 25 Wildlife Sanctuaries (1,213,784 ha), 10 Game Reserves (137,447 ha); which also include 15 Ramsar Sites. There are 4 Ramsar Sites (60,646 ha) which don not have any other protected status. The total 19 Ramsar sites cover an area of 1,343,550 ha.

Major Wetlands of Pakistan

Wetlands can be divided into three categories: inland, riverine and coastal. These wetlands provide substantial economic benefits to local communities as they are a source of staple food, livestock grazing and fodder, fuelwood, transport, energy generation and irrigation. In addition, these ecosystems provide essential habitats for a number of important mammal species like the smooth coated otter, Indus dolphin, fishing cat, hog deer, and wild boar. the following are the major wetlands of Pakistan: Haleji, Hadero, kennjhar lake bufferzone Zangi Nawar Lake Ucchali, Khabbika, Jalar lake bufferzone Rawal Lake The Sind and Mekran coast Indus Delta and River system

World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2nd February each year, and was first held in 1997. The theme for World Wetlands Day 2000 is "Celebrating Our Wetlands of International Importance".