The Amrit Dharohar Initiative: Wetland ‘Nature Tourism’ gets a Fillip

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The Amrit Dharohar Initiative: Wetland ‘Nature Tourism’ gets a Fillip Blog Image

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why in News?
  • What are Ramsar Sites?
  • What is the Amrit Dharohar Initiative?
  • Implementation of the Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme 2023
  • Significance of the Amrit Dharohar Initiative
  • What is Nature Tourism and Who are High-Value Travellers?

Why in News?

  • The Central government has embarked on a mission - the Amrit Dharohar initiative - to promote tourism at ecologically-sensitive wetlands better known as Ramsar sites like Odisha’s Chilika lake and Haryana’s Sultanpur bird sanctuary.

What are Ramsar Sites?

  • A Ramsar site is a wetland designated to be of international importance under an environmental treaty signed in February 1971 at Ramsar, Iran under the auspices of UNESCO.
  • Ramsar identifies wetlands of international importance, especially those providing waterfowl habitat.
  • It provides for national action and international cooperation regarding the conservation of wetlands, and wise sustainable use of their resources.
  • India has 75 Ramsar sites - Odisha’s Chilka Lake and Bhitarkarnika Mangroves, West Bengal’s Sundarbans, Chitrangudi Bird Sancturary in Tamil Nadu are some of the well-known Ramsar sites in India.

What is the Amrit Dharohar Initiative?

  • The initiative is a part of the 2023-24 budget announcement and was launched during June 2023 to promote unique conservation values of the Ramsar Sites in the country.
  • The initiative to develop these sites has been taken by the Union Tourism Ministry and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change under the ‘Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme’ 2023.

Implementation of the Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme 2023

  • The scheme is being implemented in convergence with various Central govt ministries, State wetland authorities, and a network of formal and informal institutions, working together for a common cause.
  • As of now, 16 Ramsar sites have been identified out of which 5 have been taken up as a pilot project for skill development of the facilitators, tourism service providers, stakeholders in and around these sites.
    • These five wetlands are Sultanpur National Park (Haryana), Bhitarkanika Mangroves (Odisha), Chilika Lake (Odisha), Sirpur (Madhya Pradesh) and Yashwant Sagar (Madhya Pradesh).
  • A total of 30 participants have been trained at each of the Ramsar sites for 15 days each under the Alternative Livelihood Programme (ALP) at Sultanpur (Haryana), Yashwant Sagar and Sirpur (Madhya Pradesh).
  • At Bhitarkanika and Chilika in Odisha, two training programmes of 15 days each namely ALP and Paryatan Navik Certificate (boatman certification for tourism) will soon be completed.

Significance of the Amrit Dharohar Capacity Building Scheme 2023

  • Wetlands are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and services.
    • Hence, it is important that we focus on nature tourism at these Ramsar sites.
  • The focus would be to shift these fragile wetlands from high-value tourism to high-value nature tourism by -
    • Directly supporting conservation action and letting local communities and economies take the lead.
    • Generating employment opportunities and supporting local livelihoods through harnessing the nature-tourism potential of the Ramsar Sites across the country.

What is Nature Tourism and Who are High-Value Travellers?

  • Nature tourism is tourism based on the natural attractions of an area like birdwatching, photography, stargazing, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and visiting parks.
    • These are experiential tourists who are interested in a diversity of natural and cultural resources.
  • The tourism industry identifies high-value travellers as those who are likely to spend more, stay longer, and disperse beyond tourist hotspots.

Q1) Why are wetlands important?

Wetlands are highly productive and biologically diverse systems that enhance water quality, control erosion, maintain stream flows, sequester carbon, and provide a home to at least one third of all threatened and endangered species.

Q2) What is the MISHTI Scheme of the Government of India?

The Mangrove Initiative for Shoreline Habitats & Tangible Incomes (MISHTI) scheme is an initiative aimed at increasing the mangrove cover along the coastline and on salt pan lands.

Source: Wetland ‘nature tourism’ gets a fillip