China’s newest Ramsar Sites
The People’s Republic of China has designated five more Wetlands of International Importance, bringing that Party’s total to 46 Ramsar Sites covering over 4 million hectares. As summarized by Ramsar’s Ms Nessrine Alzahlawi, based upon the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheets, Dongfanghong Wetland (31,538 hectares, 46°18′34″N 133°44′57″E), located in the transition zone between the Wanda Mountains and the Ussuri River along the border with the Russian Federation, supports rare and globally threatened wildlife such as the critically endangered Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri and the endangered Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana and Tiger Panthera Tigris. More than 60 freshwater fish species are found at this site, which is also an important breeding and stopover site for several species of waterbirds. The reserve is important for recharging groundwater, storing water, and regulating river runoff.
The second new site, Hubei Chen Lake Wetland Nature Reserve (11,579 hectares, 30°20’01"N 113°49’34"E) is an Important Bird Area and Provincial Nature Reserve situated at the confluence of the middle reaches of the Huangsi and Tongshun River systems, regulating flood water in the Eastern Jianghan Plain and guaranteeing the safety of Wuhan City, 45km away. Large permanent freshwater marshes and freshwater lakes support a total of 140 species of birds, of which eight occur in internationally important numbers. The vulnerable Chinese Water Deer Hydropotes inermis can be found here. In addition to its important role in groundwater recharge, flood storage and fish production, the site is important for environmental education and tourism, with about 20,000 visitors annually.
Hubei Dajiu Lake Wetland (9,320 hectares, 31°28’14"N 110°02’51"E) is a rare representative of a typical subalpine sphagnum bog wetland located in subtropical central China. It lies in the watershed of Yangzte and Han Rivers, close to the Shennongjia Forest District, one of the “WWF Global 200”. The wetland represents the source of the Du River, a first level tributary of the Han, and has great value in the biogeographic region for flood control, climate regulation , groundwater recharge and water purification. Several threatened species of plants, waterbirds and mammals occur at the site, including the critically endangered Veitch’s Spruce Picea neoveitchii, the endangered Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana and Forest Musk Deer Moschus berezovskii.
Jilin Momoge National Nature Reserve (144,000 ha; 45°54'32”N 123°45'56"E), located in the transition zone between deserts and grasslands in the northwestern part of Jilin Province, supports wetland types that are representative of the biogeographic region, such as low plain wetlands, rivers, temperate meadow and shallow lakes. These habitats provide important refuge for a variety of fish and bird species. In spring 2012, 97% of the world’s population of the critically endangered Siberian Crane Leucogeranus leucogeranus were recorded at the site, and over 100,000 waterbirds were recorded in each year between 2010 and 2012. The site plays an important role in groundwater recharge, flood water storage, and local climate regulation. It is also important in supporting the local fisheries, livestock farming and agriculture.
And finally, Shandong Yellow River Delta Wetland (95,950 hectares, 37°42’18"N 119°09’02"E), located in the Yellow River National Reserve of Shandong Province, is composed of two units, with the northern part located at Diaokou River, referred to as the ‘Ancient Yellow River’, while the southern part is located along the course of the Yellow River and extends out to the Bohai Sea. The site is an almost naturally intact estuary wetland composed of shallow estuarine waters, tidal flats, marshes, reed swamps, canals and drainage channels, and aquaculture ponds at the mouth of Yellow River estuary. It has an annual accretion rate of 32.4 km2 which is one of the fastest rates in the world and is due to the large amount of sediment brought down by the Yellow River. The wetland is an important migratory waterbird staging and wintering area and supports 38 species in internationally important numbers, with a total waterbird count of between 80,500 and 248,600 in recent years. The large amount of reeds found in the wetland form the basis of the weaving and paper production industries in the area. In recent years, flow from the Yellow River has decreased, resulting in wetland degradation.
The Ramsar Convention’s 168 Contracting Parties have designated 2,168 wetlands for the Ramsar List, covering an area of 206,632,105 hectares.