Dal, covering an area of 18 square kilometres with a shoreline of 15.5 kilometers is the second largest Lake in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Dal Lake, as an important tourist destination is under the threat of pollution, siltation, encroachments and red algal growth.
Lakes experience succession, this change is a natural process but it takes millions of years. Due to human impact the process of succession is taking place at an increased pace. We can protect the lakes from human influence and this protection is important for ecosystem in general, however the natural transfiguration is inevitable.
The present scenario indicates change. There is prolific growth of water vegetation in all the four basins of the lake. Exotic plants are finding the Dal environs feasible for their growth. Shallow water-loving plants are showing gregarious growth over here. Wetland plants i.e., reeds and rushes have taken over considerable surface of the waterbody. Willows and Poplar grooves are reshaping the waterscape. Wetland birds are a common sight these days. Flocks of wader birds like Pond Herons, Little Egrets and Bitterns can be seen towards the eastern shore area and interiors of the lake. Waders are long legged birds, they walk in water in search of food. Other wetland birds like Dabchicks, Coots and Whiskered Terns have been seen thriving well in the shallow waters with plenty of underwater and surface-floating vegetation. At the other end of the spectrum, encroachment and lake destruction is going unabated.
Considering these indications, its appropriate to portray our Dal as a wetland and plead for its recognition as a "Ramsar site" of international importance. The watersite might attract international funding and help develop it as a bird resort for ecotourism.