Publication Details

Nagabhatla, N., Wickramasuriya Denagamage, R., Prasad, N. & Finlayson, M. (2010). A multi-scale geospatial study of wetlands distribution and agricultural zones, and the case of India. Tropical Conservation Science, 3 (3), 344-360.


This paper highlights the global and the regional scale representation of wetlands ecosystems using geospatial tools and multiple data sets. At global scale, the Ramsar database is investigated for representation of the wetlands sites of international importance against the "global agricultural zones" derived from the thematic aggregation of Global Irrigated Area Map databases. The analysis of "Ramsar sites" under cultivation reflects the present trend in wetlands use for agriculture. The scenario is also compared with the historical pattern derived from Vavilov's food zones of 1926. Observed is an aggregate increase in cropped wetlands area from 25% (1926) to 43% (2006). The second component develops a regional partnership with Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History in India. The partnership reviews the thematic national database of inland wetlands and "priority wetlands habitats" (PWH) in comparison with the bio-geographic and agro-ecological factors (regions/sub-regions) and by means of geographical information system (GIS) tools. We elaborate the strength of spatial tools to better understand the relationship between wetlands distribution and agricultural zones, both historically and at the present time. The disseminated message states, though from a technical perspective, the understanding of scale and resolution in combining information from diverse sources is essential; the effective implementation of spatial analysis requires a true cross-disciplinary approach. Complementing that, relevant policy support and appropriate institutional arrangements are fundamental to advance the management work required for unification of wetlands conservation with the existing challenges of food and livelihood security.