HongHu and on to Wuhan – August 9th
World Wildlife Fund – Wetland Restoration Project
Posted by Kathryn Berry, Bisi Miao and Rui He
Today we woke up just before 7am and had a delicious breakfast at the hotel. At approximately 8am we met with the Mr Wen of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in Hubei Province. We drove to a local aquaculture lake (Hong Lake) to observe the restoration project, and to discuss the issues facing aquaculture farmers, such as the use of enclosure net pens. There were many net pens used in this area, which has destroyed much of the biodiversity in the lake. The surrounding wetlands are not regulated, and still use net pens. The efforts of the WWF have resulted in the increase in wetlands, the overall quality of the water, and the economic situation for the farmers. We also discussed methods of habitat assessment, and ways to measure data in the field. Since students in this course have a variety of backgrounds, it was great to have a long discussion on the merits of developing a regulated aquaculture area. We identified several local species and thought about some of the impacts of invasive species on aquaculture farms. In the end, we left with a deeper understanding of what it meant to truly assess a habitat and develop sustainable management regulations for an area.
One of the topics that we covered was the impact of the Conservation area on the local fish, crab, and vegetation farmers. When the government decided to create this reserve the farmers were given several options: they could relocate their practice, alter their methods, or they could sell their entire property and supplies to the government in return for a job in the service sector. Jobs in the service sector generally include tourism and restaurant work. Obviously, farmers had mixed feelings when this project first began. Over time, however, the overall quality of the product increased.
We observed the stretch of the Yangtze River from Hong Hu to Wu Han and thought about the changes in amount of flow and flow regime due to the Three Gorges Dam Project. The project actually allows for regulation of floods, making them less severe and more predictable. The surrounding area is actually lower than the river bed, which made floods detrimental to the local farms in the past. Nowadays, the dykes act as an artificial barrier between the Yangtze and the flood plain.
While on our trip to Wu Han we were stopped by a road blockage. After the recent floods, the locals started to protest the small amount of compensation given to them by the government. These protests have lead to some arrests, and they decided to block the main road as a form of protest. Despite our disappointment, the fact that there is a protest is truly amazing here. This could not have happened ten years ago. Yet another sign of China’s developing society. We have witnessed incredible things here, and certainly the remainder of the trip will promise more great experiences.