In China, Wolong Lake has been saved thanks to Biotope’s expertise

14/05/2019

Wolong Lake saved thanks to Biotope’s expertise

Climate change and inadequate land management are causing considerable damage to the environment everywhere in the world. That has especially been the case in China, in the north of the country, for Wolong Lake.

Disappearance of migratory birds from Wolong Lake

In 2009, the mayor of Kangping decided to store water to fight desertification. Therefore Wolong Lake was turned into a reservoir, but without considering the potential effects. Local authorities thought that it was necessary ti fill the lake with the maximum amount of water. Local ecologists were against that transformation, but their advice was not taken into account. As the water level started to rise in the lake, surrounding marshy areas  progressively disappeared.

The lake’s level rose and 98% of the migratory birds disappeared. Indeed, Wolong Lake used to be an international stopover for 50 million migratory birds, including Siberian cranes which are threatened with extinction (no more than 3,000 individuals in the world). Given the absence of appropriate management and a high level of water pollution, all the suitable habitats disappeared in a 5 year period.

 Biotope’s service to help migratory birds

Facing that catastrophe, China called on Biotope’s expertise to find a solution and restore Wolong Lake’s ecosystems. Xavier Rufray, director of Biotope China, implemented a management plan for saving the lake. That project, carried out between 2014 and 2018, concerns the ecological restoration of the entire lake and in particular, the quality of the water and the habitats that are home to thousands of migratory birds.

Biotope was commissioned by the WLMC/Agence Française de Développement to design the ecological restoration of the lake and to draw up a plan for ecological and hydraulic management.

The plan consisted in dividing the lake into two units. To the north, an existing dyke was strengthened, which made possible to store two metres of water over a reservoir of about 4,000 hectares.

To the south, the heart of the natural reserve, 2,000 hectares of wetland were preserved, restored with its original vegetation, and filled with less than a metre of water so that the birds can land and feed.

Not long after completion of the restoration plan, sudden and tremendous results have started to show Providing food and shelter, the natural reserve has become a corner of paradise the birds.

Since 2018, more than 100,000 water birds, including 1,500 Siberian cranes, have frequented the site each year during the migrations.

 

 

 

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