Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Restored Watershed and Rivers that can Sustain Aquatic Life

                                                                       Leisure and fishing on a river that was once heavily polluted.

As they now see more blue-sky days and clear rivers, Shandong residents are finding that their living environment has greatly changed.

The province has put great effort into improving the environment while developing its economy. Combined energy consumption per unit of GDP during the five years from 2006 to 2010 fell by 22.1 percent, while sulfur dioxide emissions were reduced by 20 percent and chemical oxygen demand decreased by 18 percent.

"The province's aim is to make the sky blue and the rivers healthy enough to raise edible fish," said Shandong Governor Jiang Daming.

To meet those goals, the province jointly issued a protocol on environmental protection with China's Environmental Protection Ministry last year that calls for Shandong to be a demonstration base for rehabilitating lakes and rivers.

Shandong has shut down out-of-date shaft kilns capable for producing 75.96 million tons of cement, furnaces that before made 8.2 million tons iron annually and equipment that generated 7.17 million kW of electricity.

According to Zhang Bo, head of the Shandong Environment Protection Bureau, the province built 211 treatment facilities by the end of 2011 that can handle 90.4 percent of the sewage produced in urban areas.

Partly due to the efforts, all 59 rivers under the province's control were able to sustain fish by the end of 2010.

Last year, the State Council listed Shandong at the top of eight provinces and cities that contributed the most to the country's work on cutting emissions.

The Nansi Lakes Project - which includes Weishan, Zhaoyang, Dushan and Nanyang lakes - in southwest Shandong is a model of lake rehabilitation, the local government said.

Dozens of years ago, more than 4,000 factories in the Nansi region discharged 540,000 tons of untreated effluent every day.

Conditions began to change in 2000 when the Shandong government began rehabilitation efforts.

The province has since shut down 500 factories lining the lakes that made products ranging from paper to starch and monosodium glutamate.

Since 2005, Shandong has spent 500 million yuan ($78.7 million) on lake wetlands, which now stretch across 10,000 hectares.

Due to the efforts, the ecosystem in Nansi has been restored enough that pollutant-sensitive freshwater jellyfish can be found.

This year, Weishan Lake is listed as one of the top priorities for protecting lakes in China, while the province will emphasize managing the 11,000 square kilometer Xiaoqinghe River basin.

Shandong is also moving to improve air quality.

The provincial environmental bureau will include PM2.5 readings - particulates smaller than 2.5 microns, which are considered even more dangerous - in its daily monitoring of air quality.

The province also plans to intensify control over waste gases from manufacturing and other industrial processes, vehicle exhaust and dust in urban areas.

Shandong now has 41 national-class ecological zones, one national-class ecological city, 217 national-class ecological towns and 6 national-class ecological villages. 

"Hope in a Changing Climate" demonstrates that it is possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems, to restore ecosystem functions in areas where they have been lost, to fundamentally improve the lives of people who have been trapped in poverty for generations and to sequester carbon naturally. This approach has been dramatically proven on the Loess Plateau in China, the highland area spanning some 640,000 square km in north central China. It is the birthplace of the Han Chinese, headwaters of The Yellow River and home to a new environmental and economic paradigm: A degraded ecosystem of more than 35,000 square km of land now teems with life and supports the sustainable economic, social and agricultural activities of its people.

"Hope in a Changing Climate" is the latest documentary produced by the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP), an organization dedicated to placing ecosystem restoration at the center of the global discussions on climate change, poverty and sustainable agriculture.

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