Gangtey-Phobji wetlands area in Wangduephodrang, has been included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar List). This brings the total Ramsar site in the country to three. The other two sites are Bumdeling in Tashiyangtse and Khotakha in Wangduephodrang.
Wetlands in Bhutan constitute an extensive array of ecosystems, such as lakes, rivers, streams, glaciers, marshes, peat bogs and fens. Functional wetlands are critical segments of the watershed, as they support a high level of biological productivity and diversity, provide habitat for flora and fauna, including rare and threatened communities and species, maintain local and regional hydrological regimes, remove nutrient and pollutants, act as stores for rain/flood water and support human activities and values. Wetlands are recognised to provide fundamental ecosystem services, such as water regulation, filtering and purification, as well as numerous scientific, cultural and recreational values. Wetlands are also important for the maintenance of the broader ecosystem health.
The inclusion of the new site in the Ramsar list is the Department of Forests and Park Services’ effort to conserve and promote the sustainable use of the important wetlands area that is home to the vulnerable Black-necked Cranes(Grus nigricollis). The aim of the Ramsar list is “to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits/services”.
The Ramsar Convention, adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in February 1971, is the oldest global environment agreement. It promotes the wise-use and conservation of water and wetland resources through national action and international cooperation. Bhutan became the 161st contracting party to the Ramsar Convention in 2012. Along with the overall management of all the wetlands areas in Bhutan, the Watershed Management Division of the Department of Forests and Park Services, coordinates the management of the Ramsar sites, promoting the wise use of wetlands.
The total area of the Gangtey-Phobji Ramsar site is 974.65 ha. It is the biggest Ramsar site in Bhutan.
-Watershed Management Division