• The West Bengal government gave its approval to the State Forest Department to apply for recognition under the Ramsar Convention.
• The State Forest Department through the Government of India, will apply to the Ramsar Convention Secretariat.
• Being conferred the status of a wetland of international importance will not only be a matter of pride for the Sunderbans but also bring a lot of international scientific attention and intervention to the area.
=> Sunderban Reserve Forest
• The Sunderban Reserve Forest, spread over 4,260 sq. km. with over 2,000 sq. km. of mangrove forests and creeks, is likely to be declared a Ramsar Site soon.
• The Indian Sunderbans comprise almost 43% of the mangrove cover in the country according to a 2017 Forest Survey of India report.
• Other than the forests, home to about 100 Royal Bengal tigers, the creeks and river systems of the Sunderbans are also part of the reserve forest and once conferred a Ramsar site status, it will be the largest protected wetland in the country.
• There are currently 26 sites in India recognised as Ramsar wetland sites of international importance, including the East Kolkata Wetlands also in West Bengal.
=> About Ramsar Site
• A Ramsar Site is a wetland site designated of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
• The Convention on Wetlands, known as the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO, and coming into force in 1975. It provides for national action and international cooperation regarding the conservation of wetlands, and wise sustainable use of their resources.
• Ramsar identifies wetlands of international importance, especially those providing waterfowl habitat.
• In 2016 there are 2,231 Ramsar Sites, protecting 214,936,005 hectares (531,118,440 acres). 169 national governments are currently participating.