China progressing in wetlands conservation for high-quality development

Updated: Nov 8, 2022 Xinhua Print
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This aerial photo taken on July 19, 2020 shows a view of Buh River wetland at Qinghai Lake in Northwest China's Qinghai province. [Photo/Xinhua]

WUHAN/GENEVA - On a mid-lake island in Central China's metropolis of Wuhan, over 100 cormorants crowded on 10 fir trees. In a month, they will give a snow-white look to the isle even on a sunny, snowless day.

"There are so many migratory birds that their droppings will dye the trees as if covered in snow," said Shi Chenglu, a guide at the East Lake Scenic Area in downtown Wuhan. "Many bird watchers and ordinary residents will come to appreciate the view from the lakeside (without landing on the isle)."

Such a sight was unimaginable around the turn of the century when fish in the lake "smelt of kerosene" due to rampant industrial pollution and sewage discharge. But just like other water bodies in the capital city of Hubei province, the East Lake has benefited from decade-long efforts to restore the wetlands ecology, drawing back both migratory birds and human visitors.

"Many new birds are spotted, including greater flamingos that we have never seen before and Dalmatian pelicans that have not visited us for six years," said Wei Bin, vice head of Wuhan's bird-watching society. It testifies to the increasing number of migratory birds at Chenhu Lake, a "wetland of international importance" in Wuhan.

As China highlights the harmony between humanity and nature on its path to modernization, many rivers and lakes across the world's most populous nation have received government investments and legislative support that help them regain vitality and even expand in areas.

China, in 1992, became a party to the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental agreement dedicated to the conservation and rational use of wetland ecosystems.

Since then, China has established a legal framework for wetlands conservation and issued a series of policies to increase protection. Over the past decade, China has added or restored more than 800,000 hectares of wetlands, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

The country unveiled new ambitions for wetlands conservation during the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP14), held in Wuhan and Switzerland's Geneva. Addressing the opening ceremony via video, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China would promote high-quality development in the wetlands conservation cause.

China will designate a number of national parks, covering about 10 percent of the country's land area, and incorporate 11 million hectares of wetlands in the national park system. The country will promote international cooperation to protect the four bird migration routes passing China and to build an international mangrove center in Shenzhen, said Xi.

Calling for scaling up global action on wetlands conservation, Xi said: "It is important that we advance the global process on wetlands conservation, redouble efforts to preserve authenticity and integrity, include more important wetlands in nature reserves, improve cooperation mechanisms and platforms, and increase the coverage of wetlands of international importance."

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