Wular Lake Travel

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Wular Lake in Srinagar

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Location: in the Kashmir Valley, 40 km northwest of Srinagar, Baramulla district, Jammu & Kashmir
Area: 2400 ha
Altitude: 1580 m
Biogeographical province: 2.38.12
Wetland type: 13,14

Description of site: A large freshwater lake and associated marshes on the floodplains of the Jhelum river in Kashmir Valley, considerably larger and deeper than the other lakes in the region. Originally occupying an area of 20,200 ha, it has now shrunk to a mere 2400 ha. Sudden and furious storms frequently sweep across the lake which is bound by hills in the northeast and northwest. Jhelum river drains the lake westwards, through the Pir Panjal Range into the Indus. Other small streams draining into the lake are Erin, Madhumati, Pohru, Harbhuji, Arrah, and Ninghal. The maximum depth is 5.8 m but there is rapid siltation in the southeast where the Jhelum enters. The water is highly alkaline and has a concentrated calcium content

Climatic conditions: Sub-mediterranean climate with very warm and relatively dry summers, and cold (minimum temperature 1.8°C), wet winters with some precipitation in the form of snow. Average annual precipitation is 692 mm

Principal vegetation: Extensive areas of submerged, floating, and emergent macrophytes of species such as Ceratophyllum demersum, Myriophyllum spicatum, Nymphoides peltata, Nelumbo nucifera, Trapa bispinosa, and Phragmites communis on the southeastern margin of the lake where the Jhelum river forms a large deltaic tract. Phytoplankton include more than 72 taxa representing six classes of algae, dominated by Bacillariophyceae. Shallow areas are covered with willow (Salix albs) plantations. Macrophytic vegetation is relatively sparse in the deeper zones

Land tenure: The lake and surrounding forests are state-owned, whereas the agricultural lands are private ownership

Conservation measures taken:
Wular Lake was designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsay Convention in 1990. It has also been selected as a national wetland by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, and funds have been sanctioned for soil conservation, natural regeneration, contour bunding, bench terracing, and construction of check dams

Land use: Fishing, water supply for irrigation and domestic use, and outdoor recreation. Livestock grazing and agriculture in surrounding areas

Disturbances and threats: The Lake has shrunk to about a quarter of its original size. It is silting up rapidly due to run-off from its denuded catchment. Encroached upon by human settlements all around, it is also seriously contaminated with domestic and industrial wastes flowing in from peripheral areas and carried down from Srinagar, 40 km to the southeast, by the Jhelum river. There is evidence of organic pollution of animal origin in the lake waters. Due to human interference, there has been severe depletion of some important endemic and endangered plants

Economic and social values: The Lake supports an important fishing industry (mirror carp and Schizothorax are among the fishes harvested) and is a valuable source of water for irrigation and domestic use. Trapa nuts and Nelumbo nucifera stems are harvested. Weeds in the marshes are a source of fodder for domestic livestock

Fauna: The Lake was known to be an important staging and wintering area for migratory ducks, particularly Aythyafuligula, in the 1960s but no recent information is available

Special floral values: No information

Research and facilities: Kundangar, Sarwar, and Shah have conducted detailed limnological studies on Wular Lake (1989-92) under the research project Ecology and conservation of wetlands of Wular Lake, sponsored by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. The hydrological features have been studied by Akram (1992), and distribution of diatoms and nutrient dynamics by Majid and Sarwar (1992). Hussain (1992) has investigated species composition and population dynamics of zooplankton

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