WWF Suggests to Suspend the Poyang Lake Water Control Project
WWF was recently informed that the Poyang Lake Water Control Project (hereinafter referred to as the dam project) has been submitted to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) for approval. WWF has been highly concerned about the demonstration process of the dam project, and now it is the time for WWF to further clarify its position toward the dam project.
WWF holds the view that, before the scientific research of Poyang Lake’s ecological function and a sufficient demonstration of the environmental impacts of the construction is excuted, the dam project should be suspended. In the meantime, a dam-free project is supposed to be the best option for Poyang Lake to sustain a healthy ecological system.
Poyang Lake is China’s largest freshwater lake. It is also one of the only two large lakes that are still naturally connected to the Yangtze River. In the year of 1992, the lake was put into The List of Wetlands of International importance as an ecological wetland, which made it the only Chinese lake to be included in the World Living Lake Net.
Poyang Lake not only serves a critical ecological function for both the local ecological system of Jiangxi Province and its migratory birds, but also plays a critical role sustaining the ecological quality of the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River. Critically Endangered Siberian Crane Grus Leacogeranus and the endangered species of white stork mainly pass the winter here, which makes Poyang Lake an important habitat for migratory birds. At the same time, the fish species found in Poyang Lake account for one third of those found in Yangtze River, which serves as an important gene pool of freshwater fish. Additionally, Poyang Lake is also the habitat of the Neophocaena Asiaeorientalis, commonly known as river porpoise the only freshwater mammal in Yangtze River. Currently, almost half of the existing Neophocaena Asiaeorientalis are living in Poyang Lake.
The ecological diversity of the Yangtze basin and the sustainable utilization of wetlands are always prioritized by WWF. Based on the working accumulation of the last 15 years, WWF believes that the dam project will irreversibly and unpredictably impact the water quality, fish diversity, the living habitat of the Neophoceana Asiaeorientalis, the living habitat of migratory birds and the silt quantity in the lower reaches of Yangtze River. The current level of research and demonstrations are insufficient to support the approval and construction of the dam project. As for the claims of the Poyang lake drought period lasting long and having normalised drawdown, WWF does not agree conclusions as such can be made on the basis of the current statistics. The change of the water levels has not significantly influenced the quantity of migratory birds nor the size of the Neophocaena Asiaeorientalis population. Therefore, the conclusion of ecological degradation is not valid to be the basis for the dam project.
Furthermore, the dam project is also expected to solve problems such as the lack of water supply and the decreased fish catch. WWF believes that there is no sufficient research on the topic, thus the dam project is definitely not the key solution to these problems.
Under these circumstance, WWF calls for a scientific research on Poyang Lake’s ecological function and a sufficient demonstration of the environmental importance of the construction based on objective, transparent, and justified principles.
WWF is always willing to cooperate with relevant organizations to contribute to the sustainable development of the whole Poyang Lake ecological and economic zone.