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China to spend $2.1B to protect wetlands

China to spend $2.1B to protect wetlands

China to spend $2.1B to protect wetlands
Rhett A. Butler,
April 25, 2007

China says it will spend more than $2.1 billion (16.5 billion yuan) to protect and restore its highly endangered wetlands over the next five years.

Addressing a recent forum on the Yangtze River last week, Zhu Lieke, deputy head of the State Forestry Administration, said that China’s lakes and wetlands are suffering from pollution, soil erosion, water shortages, and development.

“The problems that plague wetlands in the Yangtze River Valley include pollution, ecological degradation and dwindling water resources,” said Zhu. “The protection of our wetlands is urgent.”

Zhu cited Dongting Lake, which has shrunk from 4,350 sq km in 1949 to 2,625 sq km today as a result of siltation and land reclamation for farming. He said that the lake is “shockingly polluted” and infested with snails that carry schistosomiasis, a debilitating disease when left untreated.

The news comes shortly after environmental groups announced the extinction of the Baiji, the Yangtze’s famous river dolphin; though Chinese officials have been unwilling to concede the species’ disappearance.

WWF says that roughly 300 cities in China face water shortages while untreated sewage and industrial waste pollute around 70% of China’s rivers.

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