Chongqing - Recently, the integrated protection and restoration project in the hinterland of the Chongqing Three Gorges Reservoir area has been approved as a national environmental project during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, according to the Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Planning and Natural Resources. This project has received 2 billion yuan (about 298 million U.S. dollars) from the central government and a total planned investment of 5.5 billion yuan.
The newly approved project is located in the hinterland of the Three Gorges Reservoir area, involving six districts along the Yangtze River, including Wanzhou District, Fuling District, and Fengdu County. Three hundred thirty-eight kilometers of the Yangtze River runs across the whole area.
The construction and operation of the Three Gorges Reservoir can significantly change the hydrological regime, sedimentation, and ecosystem of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and alter the downstream river–lake interactions. Thus, it is important to realize the protection and restoration of the Three Gorges Reservoir area.
Previously, Chongqing and Hubei Province have implemented national pilot projects at the head and end of the Three Gorges Reservoir.
The head of the reservoir mainly solves the problems of soil pollution, shoreline occupation, and soil loss around the Three Gorges Dam, while the end of the reservoir mainly focuses on forest degradation, mountain barrier damage, and water pollution at the intersection area of the Yangtze River and Jialing River. This new project is located in the middle section, where water and soil loss and diffused pollution are the most prominent.
The implementation of this project is based on the principle of natural solutions without excessive engineering and artificial landscape. In the upstream of the project area, measures are mainly adopted to prevent and control the diffused pollution and improve the rocky desertification, including interception and reuse of farmland runoff from sloping farmland, land leveling, and transformation of inefficient forests.
In the midstream, preventing and controlling the diffused pollution, enhancing the buffer function of the shoreline, and improving the ecological part of the drawdown area are the main measures involving sewage pipe network reconstruction and reservoir bank renovation. The mission downstream of the project area is to improve water and soil conservation capacity.
"We will not over-engineer or create artificial landscapes," said Han Liesong, a party member and deputy director of the Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Planning and Natural Resources. "The implementation of this project is based on the principle of nature-based solutions to improve the quality of the regional ecosystem effectively."
"Exploring ways to realize the value of ecological products, driving the development of ecological industries with restoration projects, and promoting the transformation of ecological resources into ecological assets," Han continued, "this is to promote the well-being of the people in the immigrant districts and counties and generate ecological, social, economic and other comprehensive benefits."
Dating back to 2018, the Chongqing government has piloted the national project of ecological protection and restoration of mountains, rivers, forests, fields, lakes, and grasses in the central urban area, where the Yangtze River and Jialing River meet, in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River ecological barrier (Chongqing Section).
"After three years of hard work, we completed a series of ecological protection and restoration projects, including the construction of groundwater monitoring stations and the restoration of polluted soil," said an official from the Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Planning and Natural Resources. "We have solved the major environmental problems such as the deterioration of the water environment and the damage of mountain barriers in the central urban area."
With the newly renovated Tiaodeng river, Tongluo mountain, and Guangyang Island, more and more ecological protection and restoration project areas have become popular tourist sites for citizens. These projects not only restore the ecological barrier but also provide a good place for the citizens to relax and exercise.
( Ge Rongchen, as an intern, also contributed to this report.)
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