Revitalizing the Wetlands in ChinaFeb 23, 2017
A Snapshot on 2017 World Wetland Day in China
In July 2016, a dam between Liangzi Lake and Niushan Lake in Hubei Province was blasted, not by accident but due to a calculated effort to restore the natural environment by the provincial government.
The dam between Liangzi Lake and Niushan Lake in Hubei Province was built in 1980s to create more arable lands and to meet increasing demands on agricultural and fishery products. However the dam seriously impacted the quality of water and the function of the lake in flood-controlling. Subsquently, the Liangzi Lake, which ranged over 400 ha in the 1950s, was reduced to 60% of its total area by 2012.
With the fall of the 37-year old dam, the Niushan Lake was able reunited with Liangzi Lake, which expanded 100 ha in area. Hubei Province can therefore, better protects its people from severe flood disaster. After the blasting of the dam, wetlands around the Liangzi Lake area were restored to its function as a natural sponge, absorbing and storing excess rainfall and reducing flooding- a role that is particularly important in reducing the impact of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and cyclones. Therefore, the world wetland day on Feb 2nd was hosted with the theme “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction”.
On that day, a thorough monographic report on wetlands was posted on the Hubei Daily, the provincial CPC party newspaper. It provided information to the local policy makers on the wetlands’ role mitigated the risks of natural disasters, and introduced the importance of mainstreaming of wetland protection in to the local development process. It also highlighted the recent work of Hubei Provincial Government together with UNDP on introducing effective approaches from the policy, technical levels to enhance the wetland protection and management in this area.
At the same time, to raise awareness of how wetlands are connected to their daily life, a Nature Notes Contest was launched in the Shengjin Lake National Nature Reserve in Anhui Province, aiming to encourage primary and secondary students to walk into wetlands and get to know more about wetlands through observing wetland animals and plants.
“I think the kids and adolescents are like a glass of water that is not fully filled, a piece of drawing board which is not yet colored. They are very receptive to new things. “said Leng Fei, UNDP-GEF Anhui Wetland Project Manager, “but guiding them to understand the wetlands and see the importance, we hope can influence them, and their parents to build the awareness in protecting wetlands.”
Alongside engaging the public with wetlands, the wetland conservation professionals are continuing to work on identifying the species in the wetland ecosystem. Recently in Hainan Province during the 2017 winter water birds investigation, 5 Black-faced Spoonbills were observed at Ledong and Danzhou in Hainan Province for the first time. Experts pointed out that this is a record-breaking discovery! Previously, the distribution of Black-faced Spoonbill was relatively fixed and narrow. The discovery proved that wetlands on west coast of Hainan Province were important wintering ground for Black-faced Spoonbill.
In 2013, UNDP partnered with the State Forestry Administration and 5 provincial forestry departments to launch the UNDP-GEF wetland programme, aiming at strengthening the management effectiveness of wetland protected area systems in China. The five-year project will tackle the existing and emerging threats to the globally significant biodiversity and ecosystem, which in return will contribute to the economy, bringing ecological and social benefits to local residents.