Annual Report 2015: Mountain innovations and community practices

Action Research Supports Restoration of Chinese Wetlands 

Wetlands in the Erhai Lake basin of Yunnan Province are a rich habitat for plants and animals and play a key role in water purification for China’s second largest highland lake. Located near the scenic and populous city of Dali, it is one of Yunnan’s leading tourist destinations. But pollution from pesticides and other sources threaten the health of the Dali wetlands.

Action research in the wetlands is supporting restoration through a multi-pronged approach that includes understanding the change scenario through geospatial tools; analysing the ecosystem value of that particular lake and its wetlands; and working with local communities and Chinese authorities to develop and test effective management methods.

Wetlands help to control floods, reduce the velocity of water and sedimentation, promote aquifer recharge, and supply food, water and livelihood services to local people.  The research supports efforts by the central government of China and the provincial government of Yunnan, which have initiated a wetlands restoration project to improve the quality of water in Erhai Lake. 

If the model being tested in the Dali area is successful in bringing economic benefits to local people while maintaining wetlands quality, local provincial governments may adopt it elsewhere, improving the quality of similar ecosystems across China.