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Wetland park to be built at Poyang Lake
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A wetland park will be set up at Poyang Lake, the country's largest freshwater lake, if a local government initiative is approved by central authority.

The national wetland park, to be set up in the Poyang Lake in the eastern province of Jiangxi, may cover some 400 square kilometers, consisting of a core preservation zone, a buffer zone and a sightseeing area, according to the initial plan released at a working conference on Wednesday.

Officials from the State Forestry Administration (SFA) and the provincial forestry authorities, professors and scholars of universities and research institutions will complete the compilation of the plan in two months, which is expected to be approved by the SFA in June, according to the government of Poyang County.

Poyang Lake is fed by five rivers in south China and empties into the Yangtze River, China's longest.

Covering 3,583 sq km with an average water depth of 8.4 meters, the lake is considered an internationally important wetland.

Nearly one million birds of 300 species have made Poyang Lake their permanent habitats as it lies along the migratory paths of many Asian avian species.

China has built a national-level nature reserve on the lake, but it did not prevent the lake from suffering problems such as deterioration of water quality and shrinkage of the wetland amid rapid human expansion.

In December Xinhua reported that more than 100,000 residents were suffering drinking water shortages around the lake in a drought and an expert has warned that the condition may blight the area for a further 10 winters, a direct result of climate change.

"The lake now covers less than 50 square kilometers, down from about 3,000 square kilometers in summer 2007. The water surface was 300 to 500 square kilometers last winter," said Tan Guoliang, director of the Hydrological Bureau in east China's Jiangxi Province, in December.

Scientists blame the lake's shrinking size on reduced rainfall on the Yangtze's upper reaches and on greater use of the lake's water supplies.

Construction of the wetland park will improve the protection of wetland resources, maintain ecological system and ensure safety of the water environment, said Hu Lingfeng, head of the county's tourist bureau.

In addition, people could also watch bird activities, enjoy the unique landscape, and learn about wetlands here, Hu said.

The park may also boost local tourist development and increase people's living conditions, according to Dan Xinqiu, official with a design section of SFA.

(Xinhua News Agency March 21, 2008)

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