STRATEGIES FOR THE PROTECTION OF CATCHMENTS/WATERSHED AREAS AND WETLANDS IN TRIPURA
Wetlands are the link between the land and the water. They are transition zones where the flow of water, the cycling of nutrients, and the energy of the sun meet to produce a unique ecosystem characterized by hydrology, soils, and vegetation – making these areas very important features of a watershed. Wetlands is the collective term for marshes, swamps, bogs, ponds, lakes and similar areas, which filter sediments and nutrients from surface water and support all life forms through extensive food webs and biodiversity. They are fragile ecosystems that are susceptible to changes even with little change to the composition of their biotic and abiotic factors. Interfacing between land and water systems, the wetlands are highly productive and biologically rich ecosystems, and are also the most endangered.
By virtue of being blessed with numerous rivers and streams, Tripura supports a rich diversity of inland wetland habitats. According to the satellite data of 1992-93 there are 408 Wetlands inTripura covering an area of 98.58 ha. These wetlands vary in site from 2.5 ha. and above. All these wetlands falls in following 6(six) categories:
Distribution of various categories of inland wetlands in Tripura
As recorded in the above table, the State has got more waterlogged areas but the reservoirs cover larger areas. Besides the above wetlands, there are large number of water harvesting structures in different Forest Divisions which also qualify as wetland areas. These wetlands also support diverse birds and fish species. Of the total fish fauna of the wetlands, 2 are ranked as endangered and 12 as vulnerable species. Among the birds, one species is ranked as threatened. These Wetlands also support different species of aquatic vegetation
Of the total wetlands, following 7 Wetlands are important from the point of view of biodiversity conservation and as centers of socio-economic values (through water supply, fisheries, fuel wood, medicinal plants, livestock grazing, agriculture, energy resource, wildlife resource, transport, recreation and tourism, etc.) and potential sources for eco-tourism in the state.
Prioritized list of the main wetlands of Tripura
Considering the importance of wetlands following strategies and action points are proposed in the Perspective Plan.
To undertake a watershed-based approach to wetland protection for providing protection to the whole system, including land, air, and water resources.
To undertake detailed survey of flora & fauna and other features of the Wetlands for the preparation of the management Action Plan (MAP) for each important wetland
To protect the catchments of the Wetlands by means of Afforestation, aided natural re-generation etc., using suitable mix of tree species. The division-wise targets will be fixed for treatment of catchments which will be integrated into the normal afforestation programmes under given Annual Plan Operation for each division.
To undertake specific eco-tourism based activities for Gumati, Rudrasagar, Sepahijala and Trishnawetlands. The details of such activities have been incorporated under the Head ‘Eco-tourism inTripura’ in this Perspective Plan.
To promote livelihood /employment generation options for the local communities through formation of JFMCs and Self Help Groups. These communities / groups will undertake activities which will help them earn their livelihoods besides imparting protection to the Wetlands.
To lay special emphasis on cane plantations over an area of 700 ha. (100 ha. per year) covering wetland areas in all the divisions/sanctuaries. The cane plantation will help in protection of key wetland areas besides helping generation of income for the local people.
To promote education and awareness among the different stakeholders.
All the above strategies and activities have been incorporated and integrated into the differentProgrammes of the Perspective Plan (I to IV). Both physical and financial targets including the budgetary requirements for the said strategies/activities have also accordingly been incorporated in the main Perspective Plan under the appropriate Programmes.