What the Yangtze needs: the future of China's longest river

Posted on 18 April 2009

Beijing, China - How climate change and major construction projects will impact the future of the Yangtze River are among the topics discussed in the Yangtze Conservation and Development Report 2009, an important paper released April 18, 2009 in Beijing.

Updated from a version issued two years ago, the report sheds light on the progress made in Yangtze conservation and what steps need to be taken to ensure the river adapts to climate change and major development initiatives.

With the long-term effects of climate change on major rivers still leaving many experts guessing, the Yangtze Conservation and Development Report 2009 (YCDR 2009) launches a preemptive strike by suggesting a road map be drawn to help better understand the river's future needs. Yang Guishan, chief editor of the report, points out that efforts need to be comprehensive:

"In the YCDR 2009, we found that multi-disciplinary simulation studies on possible impacts and long-term observation are needed to help us better understand what climate change will do to the Yangtze. But it doesn't end there--integrated watershed planning is another area that needs work. The report also suggests increasing environmental awareness though public campaigns, as well as encouraging enterprises and individuals to make greener choices," he said.

Sea level rises are yet another area covered in the report. Saltwater intrusion is already affecting the quality of Shanghai's drinking water, a problem that will only continue to worsen if not properly addressed. Development in the Yangtze River Delta region is also emphasized, as is optimizing regional integration processes. Other suggestions include strict protection of arable land and ecological sites to improve land use resources.

The impact of large-scale flood control projects including the Three Gorges Dam as well as other major initiatives such as the South-North Water Diversion Project are analyzed to determine their effectiveness and what lies ahead under the conditions of climate change.

"The report evaluates the impact the Three Gorges Project has had, both in the reservoir and further downstream. Additional studies are devoted to the interaction between major water projects and Yangtze River fish resources," said Yang Guishan.

"We also examined how natural disasters including the Wenchuan earthquake, south China blizzard, and pollution in Taihu Lake have impacted the river. Resource conservation, water quality, atmospheric pollution control, and the construction of an ecological security system network to protect important areas are also addressed," he continued.

The YCDR 2009 was jointly produced by WWF, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and China Development Bank. The Climate Change Center of China Meteorological Administration, Grain to Green Program Management Center of the State Forestry Administration, Yangtze River Academy of Sciences of the Ministry of Waster Resources also made big contributions. Meanwhile, 30 experts in Yangtze conservation and development from colleges and universities across the country helped with the draft.

Since its release in 2007, the Yangtze Conservation and Development Report has had a significant impact on decisions being made about the future of conservation in the Yangtze. Referred to as the Yangtze River's first medical report, government ministries, the scientific community, major media and the public have used many of its findings to ensure one of China's most important rivers has was it needs to survive.

For more information, please contact:

Chris Chaplin, Communications Officer, WWF China
Tel: +86 10 6511 6237, email: cchaplin@wwfchina.org

Notes to editors:

The Yangtze Conservation and Development Report is a biennial publication, first released in 2007. After reading the report, Premier Wen Jiabao instructed the Office of the State Council to distribute it to relevant ministries and commissions for reference. CCTV, People抯 Daily and other mainstream media have conducted an interview and follow-up reports.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is the national academy for the natural sciences of the People's Republic of China. As the main sponsor of the report, CAS attaches great importance to Yangtze River Basin resources, as well as environmental and development research. With over 10 specialized research institutes and 20 field observation and research stations in the Yangtze River Basin, the past two years has seen the academy set up a Boyang Lake wetland observation and research station as well as ecological research stations at Dongting Lake to further strengthen monitoring and research as well as the protection and development of the Yangtze River.

China Development Bank (CDB) is a financial institution under the direct jurisdiction of the State Council. It is one of the three policy banks in the People's Republic of China, primarily responsible for raising funds for large infrastructure projects, including the Three Gorges Dam and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The bank was established in 1994.

About WWF China
The first international conservation organisation invited to work in China, WWF has been active here since 1980, when Dr. George Schaller arrived to work with Chinese scientists on giant panda conservation. Today, WWF CPO (China Program Office) has about 80 staff working on over 40 projects, from restoring the Yangtze river wetlands to environmental education and panda conservation.