Poyang Lake health and watershed conservation
Poyang Lake is China’s largest freshwater lake, playing a critical role in regulating floods in Yangtze River. In July 2020, historical floods ravaged Jiangxi province, affecting more than 7 million people in Poyang Lake Basin causing a direct economic loss over 3.2 billion USD. The impact of the flooding of both the Poyang Lake Basin and the Yangtze River Basin, has made people think more deeply about the health of freshwater ecosystems and its connection to human well-being.
On August 22 and 23, 2020, the first Freshwater Health Index (FHI) and Watershed Conservation workshop on the Poyang Lake was held in Nanchang. More than 70 experts and representatives from government, nature reserves, universities and scientific research institutions, businesses, local NGOs, and communities, participated in robust discussions of the Lake’s freshwater health.
Freshwater Health Index
The Freshwater Health Index is a scientific tool developed by Conservation International (CI) to assess the health status of a river basin, like a doctor’s check for a person. CI and partners have successfully used this tool to deliver health reports for 11 river basins in 11 countries to support sustainable freshwater management decisions.
The Poyang Lake meeting engaged multiple stakeholders in sharing knowledge on local water and wetland resources and conservation priorities. Learned about the FHI assessment, and how the index is weighted. This was discussed in groups, and stakeholders were surveyed to directly contribute to the Poyang Lake FHI assessment.
The Cl Poyang Lake Freshwater Health and Wetland Conservation Advisory Committee was established in Nanchang. Liu Xiaohai, Executive Director of Conservation International China, awarded the appointment letter to the members. Dr. Lei Guangchun, Chairman and Chief Expert, Dean of the School of Ecology and Nature Conservation of Beijing Forestry University, presided over the first meeting.
Eleven experts on wetland and watershed conservation and community development gave valuable suggestions on the application of FHI tool in Poyang Lake.
Additionally, academic officials from relevant government departments, senior managers of Poyang Lake nature reserves, experts on enterprise water risk management, and opinion leaders also contributed.
In recent years, China has paid greater attention to the conservation freshwater and wetland ecosystems as demonstrated by the State Council issued ‘Action Plan on Restoring and Conserving Wetlands’. Also, Jiangxi province has made wetland conservation its own overall goal. According to Mr. Peng HUANG, Deputy Director of the Wetland Conservation Management Office of Jiangxi Provincial Forestry Bureau, the protection rate of Jiangxi province increased from 35.83% in 2016 to 59.45% in 2019.
Mr. Xiuping NI, Chief Engineer of the Jiangxi Provincial Forestry Bureau and consultant for CI Poyang Lake Freshwater Health and Wetland Conservation project, expressed his sincere hope for the FHI tool to be successfully applied in Poyang Lake to guide decision-making on watershed level conservation and development. Ni also envisions a lively Poyang Lake for humans, wildlife, and water under joint and common efforts from society.
Sustainable use of small and micro wetlands in Sichuan
Small wetlands (usually less than 8 ha) play a significant role in purifying water, reducing rural and agricultural pollution, connecting wildlife habitats, conserving biodiversity etc., the Chinese government proposed the Resolution on Small Wetlands Conservation.
Building on existing expertise and partnership, Conservation International is surveying on small wetlands in rural areas of Minjiang River Basin in Sichuan Province. Minjiang River is a critical tributary of Upper Yangtze River, whose health is closely related to benefits of lives in this region and in lower reaches of the river.
In August, we have finished the survey in Pingshan county as the selected site at Lower reach of Minjiang River based on the survey plan developed by our partner, Chongqing University.
This contributes greatly to the final survey report on the status and ecosystem services of small wetlands in all three selected sites, and science-based recommendations and suggestions on the restoration, conservation, and sustainable utilization of small wetlands in rural areas of Minjiang River Basin.
Empowering local communities to manage their water
Local communities have the closest relationship with their surrounding natural ecosystems. Empowering them to manage local resources in a sustainable way is one of the best ways to protect these ecosystems.
In August, communities in Xinhuilong Town established two water environment management teams to lead on the preparation, construction, and maintenance of artificial wetlands for sewage treatment. Conservation International and partners provided technical and managerial trainings for the two teams, who are now developing management plans for the wetlands. This is the first of its type to introduce community-based approach in water environment management in Guangdong province, targeting at some practical water challenges in rural water source areas.