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International Wetland City! Chongqing's Answer to Wetland Conservation

By DENG, YANICHONGQING|Nov 15,2022

Chongqing – On Nov 10, Liangping District of Chongqing Municipality was listed as one of the 43 “International Wetland Cities” worldwide at the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP14) held in China’s Wuhan and Switzerland’s Geneva.

Liangping is the only place accredited by the Ramsar Convention as an international wetland city in southwestern China, which has set an international model for wetland protection and utilization in Chongqing.

Wetlands are the ‘kidneys’ regulating water and filtering waste from the landscape. They offer enormous ecological services such as fresh water supply, regional climate management, flood control, biodiversity preservation, and shelter for several notable migrating species.

“Chongqing has taken multiple measures in wetland protection and utilization, and the ecological function of the city’s wetlands has been significantly improved,” said the relevant person in the wetland management office of Chongqing Forestry Bureau.

“We have implemented measures such as wetland protection and restoration, ebb and flow zone management, and small and micro wetland pilot projects to strengthen the protection and management of wetland ecological resources,” he added.

The city has built ten wetland nature reserves, one rare and unique fish nature reserve, 26 wetland parks, and three important municipal wetlands. The types of restoration wetlands include small and micro wetlands, urban wetlands, and wetlands in the Three Gorges Reservoir area.

Solving the difficulty of protecting the riparian zone

After the water is impounded in the Three Gorges Reservoir, a riparian zone wetland with a vertical drop of 30 meters is formed on both sides of the reservoir area. The zone has brought many problems, including environmental pollution, soil erosion, and biodiversity reduction.

The wetland management in the riparian zone of the Three Gorges Reservoir area is particularly urgent.

To solve this problem, Chongqing has conducted technical research, exploring the different plantations of trees, shrubs, grasses, and other vegetation to restore the area. Finally, it has screened more than 20 types of vegetation and four improved tree species suitable for planting in riparian areas.

Wetland in the Wushan Section of the Three Gorges Reservoir Area in Chongqing. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

At present, the solution to the wetland conservation of riparian zone has shown some positive results. For example, Zhongxian, Yunyang, and other districts and counties have adopted the plantation combination method. They planted pond fir, water willow, bermudagrass, calamus, and other plants at different altitudes to improve the flood tolerance of vegetation in the riparian zone.

Carry out the ‘wetland +’ exploration

Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. Chongqing makes full use of the city’s advantages, such as wide distribution, large quantity, and good quality of small and micro wetlands constantly taps the multiple functions of wetlands, and develops wetland ecological and people-friendly industries.

Chongqing took the lead in exploring the combination of small and micro wetlands with environmental governance, organic industry, homestays, and health care in the ‘wetland+’ method. It developed wetland ecological industries, which promoted the deep integration of production, life, and ecology.

A typical example is Zhushan Town in Liangping District. The town uses the abandoned gypsum mining area to store water, reconstructs the Titang small and micro wetland group to improve the ecological environment, and develops rural homestays.

In addition, Fengdu County used wetland resources to build a beautiful rural demonstration site of Baojialou along the Longhe River. The exquisite ‘Flower Stream Kitchen’ has become an internet celebrity gathering spot for tourists to enjoy the Longhe River.

Qianjiang District planted green tree species such as cedar and aquatic plants like celandine in Guancun Village to create small and micro wetlands to develop eco-tourism.

Zhongxian Huanghua Island National Wetland Park. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Multiple measures to enrich biodiversity

Chongqing is the first city that issues an implementation plan for the provincial wetland protection and restoration system. It launched the Chongqing Wetland Protection Regulations and introduced ‘one park, one policy’ for 22 national wetland parks to standardize wetland protection management.

At the same time, Chongqing has established a wetland utilization management system to regulate the use of wetlands. It also led to the establishment of a provincial wetland ecological compensation system to increase social participation in wetland protection.

The improvement of the wetland ecological environment has attracted a large number of birds to inhabit and breed. For example, the Shuanggui Lake National Wetland Park in Liangping District has the national first-class protected wild animal green-headed pochard. The Chinese merganser, known as the ‘living fossil in water,’ has appeared in the Qihe River for nine consecutive years.

Chinese merganser ducks perched in Qihe River. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

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