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Lake Back to Health in 5 to 10 Years

The Dongting Lake area in Hunan Province will be restored to a sustainable biodiversity environment within five to 10 years.

Work on the lake's restoration is being carried out by a Sino-Norwegian team. Members of the team held a seminar yesterday in Changsha, capital of Hunan.

The Sino-Norwegian Project of Biodiversity Protection Management in Dongting Lake started in June 2005. The Norwegian government is paying 3.6 million yuan (US$479,000) toward it.

"The project is expected to serve as a model and provide experience for the protection of other major Chinese lakes such as Taihu Lake and Dianchi Lake," Song Xiaozhi, vice director of the international corporation department of State Environmental Protection Administration, said.

The second largest fresh water lake in China, Dongting is also one of the seven most important wetlands in the world.

"Dongting Lake is of both national and international importance when it comes to its biodiversity, especially the migration of birds, including some from Norway. And its ecosystem is related to the Yangtze River," Per W. Schive, environmental counselor of the Norwegian Embassy in China, told the seminar.

The lake area has more than 1,452 kinds of plants, 303 kinds of birds and 114 kinds of fish. A number of them are under State protection.

However, excessive sand and mud from the surrounding rivers have been piling up in the lake, endangering waterborne plants and animals, Wang Desheng of the Hunan provincial water resources administration, said.

Also, deteriorating water quality due to industrial discharge and agricultural wastewater, as well as illegal fishing, have depleted the number of fish in the lake in recent years.

The project is not only focused on restoring the area, but also promoting awareness of different government departments of biodiversity conservation and management.

"It is also a kind of awareness-raising project, as China has already has a good knowledge of the kind of animals and plants in the area," Schive said.

(China Daily September 28, 2007)

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