Prioritising and characterising the wetlands of Chhattisgarh – Framework for effective management as biodiversity rich commons and Ramsar designation
Among the relatively young states of India, Chhattisgarh was carved from the seven districts of eastern Madhya Pradesh. It is rich in natural resources, with over 40% forest cover and freshwater covering 13.5 million ha. It is also very rich in mineral resources, with some of the highest reserves of coal, limestone, bauxite and iron in the country. However, it is also among the most densely populated states (>220 persons/sq. km) and ranks very low in terms of HDI (#31 out of 36 in India).
Despite being very rich in terms of wetlands, the current ecological state of the wetlands is very poorly known. A 2011 report, based on satellite images from 2006, estimated a total of 6907 tanks and ponds, comprising about 11% of the total extent of wetlands within the state. However, so far, there is no systematic study of these wetlands to identify and prioritise them based on their ecological health, socio-economic contributions and refuge for biodiversity. Due to the lack of knowledge, the wetlands of Chhattisgarh are poorly protected and managed. There are no Ramsar sites within the state, and only one wetland is protected, namely Gidwha-Parasada Bird Sanctuary.