The Paulson Institute, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Hebei Provincial Forestry Department and Hebei Luannan County Government signed a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today for cooperation among the four parties, aiming to protect Nanpu coastal wetland, one of the most important habitats for migratory waterbirds along Bohai Bay in China. The four parties will work closely to conserve and manage the site and establish a provincial nature reserve (PNR) at Nanpu wetland within the next year. According to the MoU, the Paulson Institute and WWF will support the planning and application of the proposed provincial nature reserve; and continue to work with other partners to support follow-up conservation and management, development, and environmental education efforts. The objective is to enhance biodiversity conservation at Nanpu wetland and promote a harmonious relationship between local people and nature.
Located in Luannan County of Hebei Province and north of Bohai Bay, Nanpu wetland consists of natural intertidal mudflats, aquaculture ponds, and salt pans. Its unique geographic location and wetland resources make Nanpu Wetland one of the most important stopover sites for migratory water birds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), serving as a key stopover site for rare and endangered species such as Red Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, and Spotted Greenshank. Each year, as many as 350,000 water birds stage and refuel here. Among the water birds at the Nanpu wetland, the population of 22 species exceeds 1 percent of their global population sizes or their population sizes along the EAAF, making it a wetland of international importance according to criteria determined by the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation of wetlands and their resources.
“Over the past three years, with financial support from the Lao Niu Foundation, the Paulson Institute, the State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, among others, have jointly completed the Blueprint of Coastal Wetland Conservation and Management in China (Blueprint project), which has conducted a systematic assessment of the current status and threats of coastal wetlands and their biodiversity in China. As one of the key deliverables, the Blueprint project defined 11 key habitats that are urgently needed to be protected for migratory water birds, including the Luannan Nanpu coastal wetland in Hebei,” said Jerry Yu, chief representative of the Paulson Institute Beijing Office.
Overall, coastal wetlands in China are facing great pressure from economic development. Over the past 50 years, China has lost more than 60 percent of its natural coastal wetlands. Although Nanpu wetland is arguably a site that is being kept largely intact in China’s Bohai Bay area, it is facing many threats, such as reclamation, over-fishing and invasion of Spartina alterniflora, an rapidly spreading grass that kills off ecosystems, just like many other coastal wetlands across the country. This may have a serious negative impact on the survival of many water birds staging and living at the Nanpu wetland, and adversely affect local sustainable socio-economic development. Studies show that there has been a steady decrease in population of some migratory water birds that depend highly on Nanpu wetland for refueling. For instance, over the past decade, the population of Red Knots that overwinter in New Zealand and Australia along the EAAF has been declining at an annual rate of 9 percent. IUCN claims that if no further conservation measures are taken, few Red Knots might remain ten years from now.
At present, governments at various levels in Hebei Province and relevant organizations are working closely to protect Nanpu wetland. At the International Symposium on Coastal Wetland and Waterbird Conservation and Management in the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea held in Beidaihe in October 2016, the former governor of Hebei Province stated that efforts should be made to enhance protection of key coastal wetland sites in Hebei, including Luannan wetland. The Luannan County government decided to establish a nature reserve at Nanpu wetland and take stricter protection measures. As conservation organizations that have been paying attention to and advocating for the protection of the Nanpu wetland, the Paulson Institute and WWF appreciate this action, and will provide best domestic and international nature reserve construction and management practices in the process of planning, approving, building, and managing Nanpu Wetland Nature Reserve, so as to build, protect and manage it in an effective and efficient manner.
The Paulson Institute would like to thank Heren Charity Foundation for its generous financial support in terms of Luannan wetland protection.