China will spend 16.5 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion) to protect
and restore its wetlands during the 11th five-year-plan period
Addressing a recent forum on the Yangtze River held in Changsha,
the capital of central China's Hunan Province, Zhu Lieke, deputy
head of the State Forestry Administration, said China has made an
inventory of 173 wetlands, most of which are in northeast China and
the Yangtze River Valley.
Thirty of the country's wetlands are listed in the international
wetland catalogue, and one third of them are situated along the
"Phenomena such as the rapid drop in the number of lakes and
fast shrinkage in lake area got worse as China's economy tears
through resources," said Zhu, who warned that wetlands in the
Yangtze River Valley face unprecedented ecological threats.
"The problems that plague wetlands in the Yangtze River Valley
include pollution, ecological degradation and dwindling water
resources," said Zhu. "The protection of our wetlands is
The 6,300-km-long Yangtze, the country's longest, originates in
the Tanggula Range on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and passes through
Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Chongqing, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi,
Anhui, Jiangsu and Shanghai before emptying into the East China
Wetlands in the Yangtze River Valley include salty plateau lakes
and plateau marshlands, the galaxy of lakes on the middle reaches
of the Yangtze, and the coastal wetland near Chongming Island at
the estuary of the river.
Dongting Lake, which flows into the Yangtze River and also
serves as an important wetland, for instance, is shockingly
polluted. Marine life has been decimated and people are catching a
disease called schistosomiasis -- caught by swimming or wading in
water where there are parasitic worms.
The water area of Dongting Lake has shrunk from 4,350 sq km in
1949 to present 2,625 sq km as a result of silting and land
reclamation for farming.
According to Zhu, the country has already launched three
programs to protect the wetlands in the Yangtze River Valley,
including the national program for conservation of wildlife, plants
and nature reserves, and the program to protect the Sanjiangyuan
wetland in Qinghai Province. But much remains to be done.
(Xinhua News Agency April 20, 2007)