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In the central area of the Three Gorges Reservoir, a lake with verdant forests along the lakeshore serves as a paradise for many birds. It is Hanfeng Lake in Kaizhou District.

Hanfeng Lake has explored a series of governance models for the riparian ecological restoration zone. Meanwhile, according to local conditions, staff members of Hanfeng Lake construct more than 400 mu (about 27 hectares) of wetland forests and over 600 mu (about 40 hectares) of landscape base ponds. At the same time, more than 20 mu (about 1.3 hectares) of small and micro wetlands and 170,000 cubic meters of bird habitats are created, forming a beautiful picture of man and nature. The ecological restoration of Hanfeng Lake provides a technical method that can be promoted and replicated for the engineering application of ecological restoration in the riparian zone of large lakes and reservoirs in China.

Hanfeng Lake after the ecological restoration (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Hanfeng Lake is an urban inner lake with a dual water level adjustment function, which can eliminate the impact of off-season water storage on the ecology of the Kaizhou District. To better protect Hanfeng Lake and give full play to its various ecological functions as a wetland, Kaizhou Hanfeng Lake National Wetland Park was officially established in 2011.

More than 20,000 migratory birds come to winter

Hanfeng Lake, a famous scenic spot, is a model for the wetlands’ integration of conservation and development in Chongqing, with a large wetland area, abundant vegetation, and good ecology. According to the forestry department in Chongqing, Hanfeng Lake National Wetland Park has a planned area of 1,332.65 hectares, a wetland area of 1,151.09 hectares, and a wetland rate of 86.38%.

Hanfeng Lake before the ecological restoration (Photo provided to iChongqing)

There are national first-class protected animals, such as the Chinese merganser duck, Baer’s pochard (a diving duck), and 19 second-class national protected bird species, such as mandarin ducks, northern pintail duck, and tundra swan. In autumn and winter in recent years, local staff have observed and counted more than 20,000 migratory birds of more than 20 species, flying over mountains and rivers from northern China or Siberia to winter in Hanfeng Lake National Wetland Park.

Birds at the lake (Photo provided to iChongqing)

From November to February of the following year, it is the best season for bird watching in Hanfeng Lake. On the Bird Island of Hanfeng Lake National Wetland Park, various migratory birds, such as falcated ducks, Indian spot-billed ducks, and mallards, have started their winter parties. According to data, in the winter of 2021, more than 8,000 migratory birds of 14 species will inhabit here.

In Hanfeng Lake, in addition to enjoying the flock of birds, the scenery of the forest in the water is also gorgeous.

The Hanfeng Lake at sunset (Photo provided to iChongqing)

When autumn comes to the forest, the green leaves in Hanfeng Park National Wetland Park also gradually turn yellow and red. Nearly ten species of water-resistant tree species, such as swamp cypress trees, Zhongshanshan trees (a species of bald cypress trees), pond cypress trees, Chinese tallows, and so on, settle in the park, with several colors’ leaves, forming a picturesque painting.

A resource bank has been established

Behind the pleasant landscape of Hanfeng Lake National Wetland Park, some local people work for wetland restoration and protection day after day.

Since 2009, the Kaizhou District Forestry Bureau has screened out more than 40 species of flood-tolerant plants. A resource bank has been established, which the bank is suitable for plants in the riparian zone and adapted to water level changes and deep water submergence in winter.

Meanwhile, an ecological restoration project of 540,000 square meters has been implemented in the riparian zone around the lake. Hanfeng Lake National Wetland Park has also innovatively created the project of water forests and ponds based on landscape, habitat of bird islands, as well as small and micro wetlands. The project integrates several different functions, such as water purification, landscaping, soil and water conservation, and biodiversity enhancement. At the same time, Hanfeng Lake also created five technical systems for the ecological engineering of the riparian zone in the Three Gorges Reservoir.

The lake at sunset (Photo provided to iChongqing)

In 2015, Hanfeng Lake National Wetland Park was listed in the 21 Key Construction Wetland Parks in China. In 2017, it became one of the nine-member departments of the National Wetland Park Pioneering Alliance in China. In August 2019, it was awarded as the Advanced Department for the Protection of Forest and Wildlife Resources by the State Forestry and Grassland Administration of the People’s Republic of China. In 2021, the ecological restoration in the riparian zone of Hanfeng Lake was listed in Chongqing’s First Top Ten Cases of Ecological Protection and Restoration.

The night viewing of the lakeside corridor (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Besides, the wetland park also won five provincial and ministerial awards for Research and Application of Key Technologies for Ecosystem Restoration and Landscape Optimization in Urban Riparian Zones in the Three Gorges Reservoir. For example, the park won the first prize in the Chongqing Municipal Science and Technology Progress Award, the first prize in the Chongqing Social Science Award, and so on.

Forming a comprehensive ecological zone

The practice of ecological restoration of the riparian zone of Hanfeng Lake National Wetland Park has formed a comprehensive ecological zone of natural vegetation restoration regions in the riparian zones in areas of urban, lakeside, and lakeshore forests and water, and ponds. It effectively protects the wetland resources and biodiversity of the wetland park.

Also, the practice of ecological restoration there optimizes the structure and function of the wetland ecosystem in the reserves and the wetland park, maintaining the health and stability of the wetland ecosystem in the riparian zone.

The scenery of the lake and surrounding urban buildings (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The next step, focusing on A Land of Natural Beauty, A City of Cultural Appeal, Kaizhou District Forestry Bureau, will continue strengthening infrastructure construction and implementing and supervising the ecological restoration projects. Therefore, Hanfeng Lake Wetland Park can better conserve water sources, regulate climate, improve the environment, maintain biodiversity, and achieve other ecological functions. The ecological security of the Three Gorges Reservoir can be effectively ensured, and the quality of the urban living environment there can also be optimized and beautified.

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