World Wetlands Day 2005 -- China


China celebrates WWD

On World Wetland Day, China's National Political Consultation Conference, China's State Forestry Administration and WWF jointly organized World Wetland Day celebration in Beijing, with more than 400 people participating.

The WWD activities included a ceremony for the new Ramsar site designations, awarding ceremony for the 16 team of "Wetland Ambassadors" from China, Cambodian and Vietnam, and the publication of "Wetlands: Homeland for Harmonious Co-existence of Human and Nature".

In the ceremony, the National Development and Planning Commission announced a major wetland conservation and restoration project, the Sanjiangyuan wetland project. Sanjiangyuan, the source of three rivers (Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow river) is the largest protected area in China, covers 15.23 million ha. In the next 6 years, the national government will invest 900 million USD to improve wetland conservation and management, including grassland management, restoration of wetlands, development of livelihood for the local communities.

Vice Chairman of the National Political Consultation Conference, the Minister of Forestry, and vice governor of Qinhai Province (where Sanjiangyuan locates), Ramsar's Senior Advisor for Asia and Pacific and WWF made a speech at the ceremony.

People from UNDP, World Bank, foreign governmental aid agencies, international conservation organization, national and local NGOs, universities, representatives from other ministries, and media attended the ceremony.

WWF: China commits to high-altitude wetlands protection

2 Feb 2005

Beijing, China - Wetland conservation in China received a boost as nine new sites, covering 400,000ha, were officially classified as Ramsar wetlands of international importance, thus protecting them from destruction and overuse.

Eight of the nine new sites are high-altitude marshes and lakes in the Qinghai and Yunnan Provinces, and the Tibet Autonomous Region, with one as high as 6,500m at the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Yalu Tsangpo / Brahmaputra Rivers. The ninth site is the Shuangtai Estuary on the Liao River in northeastern China, which makes up part of what has been called 'the world's largest reed bed'.

"This move will help safeguard the freshwater source of Asia's most important rivers," said Jim Harkness, WWF China's country representative, which assisted in the designation of the new wetland sites.

"We congratulate the government of China for its commitment to protecting these crucial areas for people, wildlife and water."

The designation of the sites is an important milestone in promoting 'Wetland Conservation and Wise Use in the Himalayan High Mountains', an international initiative supported by WWF, the Ramsar Convention and China.

Currently China has 3.43 million hectares of wetlands protected under the Ramsar Convention. By the end of 2003, the Chinese government had established 353 wetland protected areas with a total area of 1.45 million ha., covering 40 per cent of China's natural wetlands.

All of the new Ramsar Sites are important sites for migratory birds, including the endangered Black-necked Crane (Grus nigricollis). Local villagers in Shangri-la, Yunnan Province, are working with WWF to develop community-led ecotourism projects that will help conserve the habitat of the black-necked crane, while at the same time provide direct financial benefits for the local economy.

"This type of training is just what we need to help us develop ecotourism programs, but also to deepen our knowledge of the area we live in," said a Chinese conservationist who works at the local Baima Nature Reserve.

Bounded by Sichuan province to the north and Tibet to the west, the Shangri-la region is richin biodiversity. With elevations between 1500 and 5400m, the region is characterized by deep valleys and tall mountains, which have created extremely diverse climate, soil, and vegetation patterns, and unique and fragile ecosystems.

Over the last several decades, however, China's rapidly growing economy and population have been the root causes of wetland and vegetation degradation throughout the country. Planned hydropower stations, dams, roads, bridges, and tourism infrastructure such as hotels are also potential threats to the fragile ecosystem.

WWF is working to conserve the area through education programs, integrated community development and conservation, and integrated watershed management through partnership with all stakeholders.


* The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands - signed in 1971 in the city of Ramsar, Iran - is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are currently 144 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1,420 wetland sites, totalling close to 124 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

* Member countries of the treaty are obliged to manage all wetlands in a sustainable manner, promoting the wise use of all wetlands within their territory; consult with other Parties about the implementation of the Convention, especially with regard to trans-frontier wetlands, shared water systems, shared species, and development; and designate wetlands that meet the criteria for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance for conservation.

* Wetlands are defined to include rivers, lakes, swamps, and marine areas less than six metres in depth.

* World Wetlands Day is marked each year on February 2, the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits.

For further information:
Caroline Liou, Communications Manager
WWF China
Tel: +86 1370-120-4254

(Mr) Jamie Pittock
Director, Global Freshwater Programme
WWF International
15/71 Constitution Ave
Campbell ACT 2612
Phone: +61 (0)2 6257 4010
Fax: +61 (0)2 6257 4030
Mobile: +61 (0) 407 265 131

"There's wealth in wetland diversity
- don't lose it!"

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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