Two more Ramsar sites, Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary and Longwood Shola Reserve Forest, have been approved by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC). With this, the total number of Ramsar sites in the State has increased to 16, the highest in the country.

A Ramsar site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, also known as The Convention on Wetlands. It is an international environmental treaty signed on February 2, 1971, in Ramsar, Iran, under the auspices of UNESCO.

The two new sites in Tamil Nadu were approved on Tuesday, according to a release issued by Tamil Nadu’s Environment, Climate Change & Forest Department.

The approval of the two Ramsar sites comes on the eve of World Wetlands Day, celebrated on February 2 to raise awareness about the critical role wetlands play on the planet.

The Karaivetti bird sanctuary is located in Ariyalur District, 310 km south of Chennai, covering an area of 453.7 ha. The site serves as the home to more than 500 species of flora and fauna. The sanctuary lies in the Central Asian Flyway and is an important breeding and foraging ground for water bird species. The wetland also helps in irrigation and recharging of the groundwater of the area.

The Longwood Shola Reserve Forest is located in the Nilgiris District, covering an area of 116.007 ha. It serves as the home for more than 700 species of flora and fauna. Out of 177 bird species found in the site, 14 species are endemic to the Western Ghats. The area is rich in herpetofauna diversity, with several species being endemic to the Western Ghats and also considered threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The Longwood Shola is an integral part of the very fragile Nilgiris ecosystem. This sylvan retreat serves as a major water source for Kotagiri by supplying water to 18 villages downstream. Tamil Nadu’s Department of Environment, Climate Change & Forest has undertaken the task of preparing the Integrated Management plans for its Ramsar sites in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India, the release said.

The Government of Tamil Nadu is committed to protecting its wetlands through a comprehensive conservation and management plan. It has also launched the Tamil Nadu Wetlands Mission for the protection, conservation, and restoration of 100 wetlands at a cost of ₹115.15 crore, the release said.