Wetland to be Saved for Birds

Shanghai plans to take the environment seriously into account when considering the development of land in the city.

"When the needs of development and the environment clash, environmental protection should win out," Cai Yutian, director of the Shanghai Municipal House and Land Administration, said on Wednesday to the standing committee of the local people's congress.

The reclamation plan attached to this report stated that the government would not reclaim the 46.7 square kilometres of wetland at the east end of Chongming Island (Chongming Dongtan) until 2006.

Instead, the administration will put more efforts into the reclamation of less controversial areas of land and will work to increase the unit value of brown field sites.

Chongming Dongtan is a rest place for birds migrating between Russia's Siberia and Australia. The area is an ecologically rich wetland abundant in wetland plants such as meadow rush, and it attracts thousands of migrating birds every year. Records show that out of the 400 species of birds found in Shanghai, 312 used to be commonly found at Dongtan. The number of migrating birds flocking to the spot every year often used to reach the million mark before 1988, according to a survey by biology undergraduates from the East China Normal University.

However, Shanghai is on the verge of losing this rich environment due to three large-scale reclamation projects that upset the ecological balance of the area between 1990 and 1998, and also due to the poaching of birds by local farmers. The too speedy reclamation of land has reduced both the number and the variety of birds visiting the site.

(Shanghai Daily)

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