A WWF nature conservancy program on China's third largest island of Chongming is aimed at preserving the precious ecosystem there.
The sub-program - called Communication, Equation and Public Awareness - is the first step in China for WWF's ongoing Yellow Sea Eco-region Program which also includes Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The program is one of the 238 sensitive eco-region projects that the WWF has implemented around the world and it is the only sea eco-region in China the WWF has worked on according to Chen Liwei, a staff member of the WWF China Program Office and also the coordinate of this program.
The program aims to protect and restore the ecosystem in this area which covers the waters of the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea, with the mouth of the Yalu River in the north and the mouth of the Yangtze River in the south.
"Dongtan Nature Reserve for Birds on the island has been nominated as the first demonstration spot of the program in China, mainly because of its rich and peculiar biodiversity," Chen said.
Dongtan, a well-known habitat for a large variety of shore birds, migrating birds, sea animals and fishes, is the largest wetland along the estuary of the Yangtze River.
To preserve wild species, Shanghai has enclosed the 326-square-kilometre wetland as a conservation area with a primary investment of 2.5 million yuan (US$30,270) rose through public financing.
"We want to foster a mature awareness of ecosystems among students, families, communities and the society in Shanghai," Chen said.
By 2005, WWF will work out an effective and long-term action plan to protect the ecosystem of the Yellow Sea area.
Dongtan was also chosen because Shanghai has a growing concern for nature and a strong capacity to implement policies after a comprehensive investigation of WWF, Chen added.
"WWF's efforts will help to pave the way for us to manage the conservation project, but there is still a lot more to do," said Tang Chendong at the Wildlife Conservation Department at the Shanghai Agriculture & Forestry Administration.
To date, bird poaching has been brought under control. Excessive fishing and random herding can also be well regulated with more efforts, Tang said. But land reclamation is the hardest part of the project, he added.
"We are working on ways to best balance protection and the utilization of the wetland," Tang said.
(China Daily November 28, 2002)