Shillong, Feb 2 (PTI) Depleting wetlands in the NorthEast region has evoked concern among scientists who say thereis need to understand the causes for the problem that may alsobe linked to climate change.
Scientists at the North Eastern Space Application Centre(NESAC), where the first ever Atlas of the Northeast Wetlandswas released on the occasion of World Wetland Day today, saidthat out of the 15.9 Mha of total wetland areas in thecountry, the N-E accounts for 1.06 Mha, which is around 4.17per cent of the total geographic area of the region.
"If you compare the database of the 1990s and today, youwill see a drastic decrease in the area of wetlands. Wetlandslocated at altitude of 3000 mts in Arunachal are alsoshrinking and this depletion may be linked to climate change,"NESAC director S Sudhakar said.
He underlined the need to protect these wetlands as theyact as carbon sinks and purifier of various pollutants.
"There are 7731 wetlands in the N-E states. In addition,11736 very small wetlands exist. Major wetland types arerivers, streams, lakes, ponds, waterlogged areas, ox-bowlakes, high altitude lakes and reservoirs," informed TS Singh,a scientist.
As per available data derived from mapping of wetlands inthe region, Arunachal Pradesh has 434 wetlands amounting to 2per cent of total geographical area; Nagaland has 267 smallwetlands including Doyang Lake, Chthe Reservoir, Shilloi Lakeand parts of Tizu River; Manipur, which harbours unique freshwater Loktak Lake has 167 wetlands with total wetland areaestimated at 63616 ha, which accounts for about 2.85 per centof the geographic area; Mizoram has 88 wetlands; Tripura has432 wetlands while Meghalaya has 135 wetlands.
"In Assam, 5097 wetlands have been mapped and in addition6081 small wetlands have also been identified. Total wetlandarea in the state is estimated at 764372 ha, which is around9.74 per cent of the geographic area of the state," said ascientist adding that Assam can be divided into three distinctphysical units, Brahmaputra Valley in the north, Barak Valleyin the south and hilly region in Mikir and Cachar areas.
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems besidesbeing a rich repository of biodiversity, and are known to playa significant role in carbon sequestration.
"Regular updating of the status of wetlands is significantin view of accelerating pressure on the very existence ofthese resources due to developmental activities and populationpressure," a bulletin issued on the occasion emphasized. PTIRTJ RG