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Guangyang Isle is the largest green island in the Yangtze River’s upper stretch and a rare ecological treasure island in Chongqing. The treasure island innovates the ecological restoration theory and technology system, product material construction method system, organization, and implementation management system, systematically promoting ecological restoration. At present, more than 500 species of plants have been restored, and the vegetation coverage rate has reached more than 90%. At the same time, the number of fish species has increased to 154, and the number of birds has increased to 191 species.

The panorama of Guangyang Isle (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The ecological restoration practice of Guangyang Isle follows the logic of the ecosystem, implementing the measures of “protecting mountains, managing water, planting forests, dredging fields, clearing lakes, fertilizing grasses, and protecting riparian zone.” Meanwhile, the island coordinates the promotion of ecological restoration and governance for mountains on both sides of a river, wetlands of water systems, riparian zone, and so on, constructing a lively community of landscapes, forests, fields, lakes, and grasses.

The island before ecological restoration (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Protecting mountains to make them green

Guangyang Isle comprehensively uses a variety of suitable technologies to control and eliminate soil pollution sources and increase soil microorganisms to restore soil to a high-quality natural cycle state. Also, the island tries to improve its ability to cultivate forests and grasses, ecologically productive, and self-repair.

Restoration measures contain ecological soil consolidation and vegetation replanting for mountains whose natural state is incomplete and damaged, therefore forming ecological slope protection and terrace gardens. Other measures include restoring bare mountains to create green ecological landscapes and improving mountain water conservation and vegetation animal carrying capacity.

The renderings of ecological restoration (Photo provided to iChongqing)

For example, according to the previous direction of mountain ranges and surrounding vegetation environment, the gaps formed by the excavation are filled with mountain stones so that the steep mountains become gentle. After the mountain has been relatively flat and stable, trees and other vegetation will be planted to restore the damaged mountain to its previous natural ecology.

At the top of the mountain, problems of thin mountain soil stratum, thick shale, barren soil, intricate water network, perennial interruption of some streams, and poor water quality of lakes and ponds have been broken through to achieve natural restoration, creating a good growth environment for vegetation. Until now, Guangyang Isle has restored 18 streams’ ecological landscape.

Managing water to make it appealing

The water sources of paddy fields, which is in front of the Guangyang Isle Ecological Station, are laborious and mind-spending. At the beginning of the development of the paddy fields, a honeycomb-shaped underground reservoir was arranged underground. The rainwater penetrates the reservoir through the soil for storage on rainy days. In this way, the stored groundwater avoids pollution and reduces evaporation. Besides, this paddy field still has enough water supply even in arid climates.

Straws at Guangyang Isle Ecological Station (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The ecological restoration of Guangyang Isle comprehensively applies measures such as “infiltration, stagnation, storage, purification, utilization, and drainage” to build a complete mountain urban sponge system. Following the natural storage law of surface runoff, water resources and water ecological water environment technology are comprehensively applied to restore the natural storage, natural infiltration, and natural purification capabilities of rainwater on the island, thus resolving the impact of mountain torrents, optimizing and upgrading existing flood control projects, and combine with the management of falling and falling areas, and build an ecological coastline.

Planting forests to make them splendid

Guangyang Isle implements native plant protection, allowing sufficient time for natural recovery and biodiversity protection. Meanwhile, the island carries out measures and programs of forest tending, the transformation of pure forests (forests in which at least 80 percent of the trees are of the same species), restoration of degraded forests, returning farmland to forests, enhancing the ecological functions as well as soil and water conservation functions of mountain forest ecosystems.

Woods on the island (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Also, Guangyang Isle uses appropriate fields and local soils for tree planting and restores vegetation species to increase the coverage, therefore forming a stable and healthy vegetation community of trees, shrubs, and woody vines and improving the ability of soil and water conservation, water conservation, and animal habitats throughout the island.

In addition, Guangyang Isle tries to create a near-natural vegetation style with semi-natural as the base and artificial vegetation landscape inlaid and build a stable ecological vegetation pattern.

Dredging fields to make the soil better

The land of Guangyang Isle can be described as elaborate cultivation. The land that has just been sorted out has to be cleaned several times, including removing stones, deep plowing, and adding microorganisms.

The land, named the Big Field, with an area of ​​200 mu (about 133333.3 square meters), is a unique farmland management case on Guangyang Isle. In spring, rape flowers bloom here while it is full of sorghum in autumn, compositing a beautiful natural painting of seasons.

Rape flowers on the island (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Guangyang Isle adopts a natural arrangement of farmland structure and reproduces the original paddy field’s texture structure and ecological conditions. At the same time, the island adopts measures for cultivation in the right place, restoring the planting of some of the original crops such as rice, cauliflower, citrus, and sunflower. Besides, the island improves farmland ecological conditions, increases farmland quality, enhances the capacity of farmland soil and water conservation, and strengthens the irrigation, drainage, collection, and storage capacity.

Sorghum on the island (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Building a planting and breeding agricultural recycling system and a comprehensive waste utilization system to recycle organic wastes after a safety assessment, thus fermenting into organic fertilizer for returning to the field and strengthening the management and control of soil spatial distribution to prevent new soil and groundwater pollution from construction activities effectively. Meanwhile, Guangyang Isle develops the control and treatment of sources of polluted vegetables such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides and uses green organic fertilizers. The island increases soil microorganisms to restore soil and groundwater to a high-quality natural cycle.

The demonstration base of the island (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Clearing lakes to make them cleaner

The water of Yuanyang Lake babbles from the mountain, and aquatic plants such as reeds suitable for local growth are planted along the stream. During the flow of the stream, the water is naturally filtered and purified by the aquatic plants and flows into the lake. A variety of aquatic plants are planted on the shore of the lake, while aquatic organisms are placed in the lake. Therefore, aquatic organisms and aquatic plants work together to purify the lake water again to achieve the effect of green water and clear lakes.

One lake on Guangyang Isle (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The mainly seasonal and naturally formed lakes and ponds on Guangyang Isle are originally 110,000 square meters. They’re mainly concentrated in many valleys and gullies. The island re-evaluates and monitors the original lake and pond ecological environment comprehensively. Specifically, Guangyang tries to adopt water environment governance and ecological restoration measures, such as cleaning the lake bottom, preventing leakage, restoring revetment, and purifying lake water. Consequently, lakes and ponds have the ability to store rainwater and farmland, irrigate, and protect biodiversity, enhancing the ecological value of lakes.

A worker was cleaning dead leaves and litter in the lake (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Fertilizing grasses to make them green

According to the investigation, there are 185 species of herbs and five kinds of herbaceous vines on Guangyang Isle. These local plants of Chongqing are naturally selected to best adapt to the climate and soil conditions here, which helps to reduce subsequent manual management during the growth process. At the same time, these plants can naturally replace each other more quickly, forming a plant community that is more suitable for local insects to build their own habitats. With the increase of insect species, more birds will settle down here, and the food chain will naturally take shape, thus enriching the biodiversity in this place.

A beautiful bird on the island (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Meanwhile, local plants also add rural elements, creating a rural atmosphere and enriching the idyllic experience of cultural tourism.

Hairawn muhly and Pacific Island silver grass on Guangyang Isle (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Restoring the riparian zones to wetland

Guangyang Isle has four square kilometers of riparian zones, and the Tu’erping Wetland is a typical one. Currently, staff members on the island will clean litter and rubbish regularly. Consequently, many wild ducks and egrets choose Tu’erping Wetland as their home because the protections of riparian zones provide wild animals with a perfect place to inhabit.

Tu’erping Wetland (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Moreover, Guangyang Isle researches the protection methods for four types of riparian zones to achieve their natural recovery. The ecological community protection method breaks through the three major problems – soil consolidation and bank protection, plant communities restoration, and biodiversity enrichment, effectively restoring the riparian zones. In the meantime, the appropriate amounts of flood-resistant plants are introduced to stabilize the bank, purify the incoming water, and optimize the landscape.

The ecological restoration of Guangyang Isle focuses on the relationship between people and nature. The project, which was launched in October 2019, is Chongqing’s pilot project for the restoration of landscapes, forests, fields, lakes, and grasses. At present, the main part of the project has been completed. The restored part of Guangyang Isle will be maintained and managed as a mode of integrating agriculture, forestry, pasture, fishing, and subsidiary business.

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