China names wetland educational Ramsar site

China names wetland educational Ramsar site

9 September 2009

The State Forestry Administration, China’s Ramsar implementing authority, in collaboration with the Hangzhou Xixi Wetland Park Management Commission, the Institute of Subtropical Forest Studies, and Zhejiang University, has designated as China’s 37th Wetland of International Importance the fascinating Hangzhou Xixi Wetlands (325 hectares, 30º16’N 120º03’E), a National Wetlands Park just a few kilometers from the Hangzhou urban centre, southwest of Shanghai.

As summarized by Ramsar’s Ann Aldersey from accompanying data, the new site is acomplex of ca.400 permanent freshwater ponds connected by channels and rivers representative of both natural and humanmade wetlands in Eastern China. The ponds are dominated by floating plant communities (Azolla imbricate, Salvinia natans and Lemna minor), while herbaceous marshes connect the river and pond wetland areas. 126 species of bird have been recorded at the site, including 28 waterbirds. The site is important for nine threatened species of birds and provides breeding and feeding habitat for a large diversity of fish species, including 5 endemic species. Water within the wetland can be managed through a number of channels and sluices, for both flood control and fish habitat.

The wetlands have an important function for groundwater recharge and flood mitigation for downstream Hangzhou City, and they are valued for their importance for 2000 years of cultural history. A special wetland culture has developed over the past 1000 years which combines fish ponds, silk production and mulberry trees; with its sacred Autumn-Snow Temple, the site has long been an inspiration to famous writers and poets. The site receives an average 720,000 visitors per year and is an important centre for wetland education. It is managed in accordance with ecotourism and ecological management plans.

China now has 37 Ramsar sites covering 3,168,535 hectares.