Photo: Dr. A.K Mukherjee.

KEOLDEAO NATIONAL PARK, BHARATPUR, RAJASTHAN, INDIA.

The Role of Wetlands.

Suraj Mal, the Jat king of Bharatpur, probably did more for the planet and the species than environmental groups put together even if, and ironically, his intentions were quite the opposite. The twenty nine kilometers bird reserve, that is the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, with its patchwork of landscapes was once the personal hunting ground of the king’s successors and their guests. Now, it sustains over 44,000 diverse species of vegetation ranging from wild bamboo stalks to shady mangroves and is a noted avifauna sanctuary in the world with the wetland of the reserve making-up two thirds of the total area.

Wetlands are vital for the well being of the planet. They are cradles that nourish diverse organisms and nature’s law enforcers that imprison large amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse miscreant responsible for heating up the earth. Wetland plants can soak up 32% more carbon dioxide when the gas is present in increased levels.Unfortunately, the planet has lost nearly 50% of its wetlands. The ones left are too few in numbers to offset the balance of carbon emissions escaping into the atmosphere as more people take to burning fossil fuels.

Global warming is for real. Rising temperatures, sea levels and climatic changes are the evidence that the planet is simply not able to digest the excess. The worst is still to come.