China is one of the world’s 17 biodiversity hotspot countries. It is home to an eighth of total plant species and terrestrial wildlife and has 66 million hectares of wetlands, i.e. 10% of the world’s wetlands and 8% of China’s surface area. It consequently ranks 1st in Asia and 4th worldwide in terms of wetland surface area. These areas provide 55% of the country’s ecosystem services, contain 82% of freshwater resources, and shelter over 11,000 plant and animal species, including 54% of endangered birds in Asia. They are also a major migration route for a large number of birds.
In recent decades, China’s wetlands have experienced a rate of deterioration and disappearance of major concern, due to population pressure, urban sprawl, and detrimental territorial development policies.
The project concerns two major wetlands in Northern China, one adjacent to the city of Panjin on the delta of the Liao River, the main river in Liaoning Province, and the other, upstream, on Lake Wolong in Kangping (the least developed district in the city of Shenyang, the provincial capital). These two wetlands, the first of which is listed as a Ramsar site, ensure the continuity of the migration route of birds from East Asia and are major resources for the local economy (reeds, fisheries resources, tourism).
The Panjin site plays an essential hydrological and ecological role in the region and has a rich biodiversity (235 plant species, 411 animal species, 124 fish species and 269 bird species). The project comprises the following components:
- restoration of reed beds (rehabilitation of water infrastructure, remedial actions, depollution);
- conservation and restoration of nesting and resting sites for migratory birds;
- economic development of resources and sites (ecotourism, diversification);
- ecological monitoring, environmental education and concerted management of the territory.
The site of Wolong Lake plays an essential role as an ecological barrier against advancing deserts from Inner Mongolia. It covers a surface area of 126 km² and has been a protected area of provincial importance since 2001, sheltering a rich biodiversity (337 plant species, 481 animal species). Its intensive exploitation has, unfortunately, led to it drying up and a depletion of its resources. The project comprises the same components as the Panjin project with, in addition, the implementation of a lagooning system for wastewater treatment.
The project will restore two major wetlands in Northern China, including the largest reedbed in the world. It will restore their hydrological, ecological and biological functions and develop new environmentally friendly economic functions (fishing and aquaculture, ecotourism, sustainable exploitation of reeds for the paper industry) and social functions (places of discovery and education, local governance, employment). The works – civil engineering, remedial, lagooning and protective defence – for part of the delta and lake should generate long-term environmental and social benefits.
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