Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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Conservation and restoration of degraded riparian wetlands of Yazihe in Sichuan Province

Local project coordinator: Kanghua Community Development Center, Guanghan

The Yazihe riparian wetlands are situated in the upper reaches of Tuojiang River, in northern part of the Chengdu Plain – the most productive and populated area in Sichuan province. Covering some 2,000 hectares, the wetlands not only provide habitat for many native plant species, but are vitally important for migratory and water birds in southwest China.

The area is under great pressure from habitat conversion, especially population expansion and intensification of agriculture. Recognising the ecological functions of this wetland and the potential it bears for tourism, the local government is considering to restore large areas of the wetland and declare it a Wetland Park; however, it is essential to prove that the wild habitat can be effectively conserved and harmful disturbances substantially eliminated to ensure the establishment of the Wetland Park goes ahead. Supporting this venture since 2014, BGCI is working with Kanghua Community Development Center, a local NGO, as well as the local and provincial forest departments and other agencies and organizations such as the Sichuan Provincial Wetland Management Center and the Chengdu Birds Association. A pilot restoration site was identified, vegetation surveys carried out and initial plans for habitat restoration trials elaborated. A number of outreach and environmental education activities for the public and schools in Guanghan city were also undertaken.

In 2015, BGCI aims to to initiate the practical restoration work in the trial site (3.3 ha) in close cooperation with local government agencies. This work is also expected to be influential with the local authorities in charge of the construction of the Wetland Park in Guanghan city who will seek the technical advice of the leader of this project to develop the park based on environmentally sustainable principles.