WWF urges China to adopt an integrated approach to river management

The WWF is urging China to adopt a Water Framework-style approach to river management, particularly for the Yangtze.

Attending the annual meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), a WWF task force on integrated river basin management (IRBM) presented the findings of a year long study, noting management difficulties as a result of different government ministries and provinces working separately when it comes to river management.

The IRBM task force recommendations are designed to provide Chinas State Council with a road map for implementing IRBM through a staged, incremental process, said Dr Li Lifeng, WWF Chinas Freshwater and Marine Programme Officer. This is the approach that is greatly needed for managing the Yangtze river.

Intensive land reclamation has created agricultural and urban settlements on former floodplains and lakes along the course of the Yangtze, while thousands of kilometres of dykes have cut off the rivers links to lakes which used to form a complex wetland network, fulfilling important natural functions such as spawning and feeding for fish.

Not only does this approach threaten many unique species such as the Yangtze dolphin, the engineering has not prevented Yangtze flooding.

WWF is advocating a move away from engineering solutions to water management to a more comprehensive view  one that takes into account land use, the effects of climate change, protected areas, and upstream protection, said Claude Martin, Director General of WWF. So much of Chinas economy and the biodiversity that it depends on is related to the way water is managed.

CCICED was established in 1992 and is currently chaired by Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan.



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