Environmental Flows and River-Lake Floodplain Connections in the Yangtze River Basin

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 2:40 PM
Marriott Ballroom B (The Marriott Little Rock)
Lin CHENG , Wuhan Programme office, WWF-Beijing office, Wuhan, China
Gang LEI , Wuhan Programme office, WWF-Beijing office, Wuhan, China
Jinyu LEI , Wuhan Programme office, WWF-Beijing office, Wuhan, China
With an area of nearly 20×10 km2, lakes in the Central & Lower Yangtze are regarded as China’s second largest freshwater lake group, and a typical river-lake complex ecosystem in the world. In the recent five decades, especially in 1950s-1970s, people have constructed many dams and levees between most of the floodplain lakes and Yangtze for agricultural reclamation due to the shortage of food supply with the increasing population. After that, the natural hydrological connectivity between most lakes and the river was lost. This resulted in lake isolation and the fragmentation of river-lake complex ecosystem which accounts for the great changes to the water cycle and water levels fluctuation in the lakes. Moreover, Three Gorges Dam and other water and engineering facilities on the Yangtze have resulted in dramatic changes to the Yangtze's flow regime. This has resulted in, large negative impacts on the ecosystem of the Central and Lower Yangtze.

To mitigate the negative impacts and restore the regime of the Yangtze River, the floodplain lakes and estuarine ecosystem so the Yangtze can meet the sustainable social and economic need of those in the basin, WWF initiated the programme of "Restore the Web of life in the Yangtze" and "HSBC Climate Partnership" to implement a series of initiatives such as green hydro-electricity certification, the ecological regulation of the Three Gorges Dam, river and lake reconnections, and opening of sluice gates to address the alterations to lake hydrological regimes and associated impacts in the Yangtze under the support of HSBC. And as the impacts of climate change and economic loom in China, environmental flows research, development of demonstration sited, communications and policy advocacy have become primary components of WWF's freshwater adaptation work.