Ecosystem Dynamics of India's Largest Freshwater Lake (E)

Lake Wular in Kashmir is the largest freshwater wetland of India. This unique high altitude lake is home to wide variety of biodiversity. Rich source of fish and aquatic vegetation, including wide swaths of naturally growing trapa or water chestnut, make the lake a source of livelihood for the neighbouring villages. It is a habitat of significance for migratory water birds in Central Asian Flyway as they fly down south from Siberia and back. The massive 130 square kilometre plus water body is a natural buffer against floods. The area of Wular Lake, has shrunk over years due to encroachments and accumulation of thousands of tonnes of silt that comes through the river Jhelum. In this context, the Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WCMA) is carrying out a massive dredging operation to remove the accumulated silt. The WCMA has also verified the boundaries of Wular by geotagging its pillars. Over the last century, the wetland has been subject to series of interventions for reclamation of shorelines and marshes for flood control, agriculture and willow plantation. More recently, the spread of the invasive weeds has been a cause of concern. There has been a significant decline in wetlands inherent capabilities to act as a buffer against rising and falling flood waters, hence the downstream valley region becomes vulnerable to floods and droughts. An integrated management plan for the recovery of the pristine habitat of this wetland is being implemented. Managing a wetland ecosystem of this magnitude poses its own special challenges. All this and more in this episode of Life in Science with Pallava Bagla, only on India Science.

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