Preserving the Yangtze River Basin's biodiversity

Yangtze River Basin faces a new round of challenges. Professor Chen Jiakuan has put forward suggestions on how to coordinate the protection of this ecosystem.
Preserving the Yangtze River Basin's biodiversity
Dong Jun / SHINE

The Yangtze River Basin has unique biodiversity due to its distinctive geological history, topography and geographical location. It has many key areas of biodiversity with international significance and is one of the birthplaces and cradles of Chinese civilization.

The Yangtze River Basin has unique biodiversity due to its distinctive geological history, topography and geographical location. It has many key areas of biodiversity with international significance and is one of the birthplaces and cradles of Chinese civilization.

However, the Yangtze River Basin faces a new round of challenges. Professor Chen Jiakuan has put forward several suggestions on how to coordinate the protection and development of this social-economic-natural complex ecosystem.

First, Chen suggests that the construction of the Yangtze River Basin protection management system should be improved, and the legislative process of the “Yangtze River Basin Management Law” should be launched as soon as possible.

Second, a number of nature reserves in the Yangtze River Basin should be set up, and corresponding coordination and management institutions should follow.

At present, the layout of nature reserves with aquatic organisms as the main objects of protection in the mainstream of the Yangtze River is still unreasonable and far from perfect.

The region between the Yangtze River estuary and the upper reaches currently boasts the Nature Reserve on Chinese Sturgeon in Shanghai; the Yangtze River Dolphin Nature Reserve in Zhenjiang of Jiangsu Province; the Freshwater Dolphin National Nature Reserve at Tongling in Anhui Province; the Yangtze River Chinese Sturgeon Nature Reserve, the Yangtze River Dolphin National Nature Reserve and the Yangtze River Dolphin National Nature Reserve, all in Hubei Province; as well as the Rare and Endemic Fish National Nature Reserve. These reserves have played a positive role in the protection of marine resources in the Yangtze River.

Preserving the Yangtze River Basin's biodiversity
Dong Jun / SHINE

Chen Jiakuan (left), professor of Fudan University, with his students at the Dongtan Reserve at the mouth of Yangtze River.

However, environmental pollution, overfishing and shipping construction in the Yangtze River Basin seriously endanger aquatic organisms, and many habitats have not been effectively protected. The nature reserve system of the whole basin is yet to be established. Therefore, a nature reserve group should be formed with the aim of rescuing and protecting the basin’s biodiversity.

Professor Chen said we should formulate plans for the ecological restoration of the wetlands in the Yangtze River Basin, carry out rescue protection of some of the Yangtze’s tributaries with good ecological and environmental conditions, and implement a slew of major projects for ecological restoration and environmental protection.

Chen added that we should apply the principles of watershed ecology, and rationally plan and unify the planning on wetland ecological restoration of the whole basin. In areas where hydropower projects have been constructed or proposed, and in the primary and secondary tributaries of the Yangtze, where fish and other species are rich in habitats or ecosystems, we should identify key areas for biodiversity conservation and analyze the space needs of ecosystems with typical biological characteristics and key species.

Chen suggested that we can even adopt special measures like banning fishing along the whole of the Yangtze for 10 years in order to protect and preserve the damaged habitat.

Click here for more information about millons of migratory birds in Chongming

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