ASSESSMENT OF SOCIO-CULTURAL AND ECOLOGICAL CONSIDERATION IN CONSERVING WETLANDSÂ–A CASE STUDY OF PRASHAR LAKE IN MANDI DISTRICT, HIMACHAL PRADESH
The Ramsar Convention of IUCN held in 1971 in Iran attracted global attention regarding conservation and management of wetlands. Subsequently, 3 wetlands in the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh have been declared as wetlands of international importance. The lake Prashar is a high altitude lake located in Mandi district is an important lake although it is not an international importance. It is important because of socio-cultural and ecological values and services it provides. Presently lake is under threat due to anthropogenic pressures. There is almost complete breakdown of traditional management system and lack of appropriate and recognized property rights in the vicinity of the lake. The problem is further accentuated because their is loss of water quality data, ecological services, information etc. Thus it is necessary to reclaim and develop the high altitude wetlands for its optimum potential use, for this a reliable and accurate data base is required. Therefore, present study endeavour aimed to generate data base in terms of socio-cultural and ecological aspects i.e. physical aspects / land use, extent of water spread and its water quality, vegetation status of catchment area and surrounding of lake. Further objective of the study was to determine the importance of this wetland for the local people and to give an indication of the distribution of the benefits among various stakeholders. It was found that people are willing to participate in collaborative management initiatives with the state. In this study threats to the high altitude wetlands have been identified and adequate measures for their conservation and management suggested.