Healthy marine ecosystem for the well-being of planet Earth

IUCN China was invited to participate in a media field reporting campaign named “Travel across Ecological Marine Territory” sponsored by the State Oceanic Administration of China, and visited Jue Hua Island and Pan Jin municipality in Liaoning province, exploring successful cases and best practices in marine protection and restoration in China.

Photo: IUCN China

Astonishing view of Jue Hua Island

Marine is the raddle of life, coastal area is natural niche for thousands of organisms, intertidal area and wetlands are habitats for many water birds…according to data from China in 2013, there were 35.1 million people who works in marine related field, created more than 5400 billion RMB GDP.

Marine ecosystem restoration and protection are one hot topic in 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress hold in Hawaii. Successful protection of marine ecosystem and sustainable use of marine resources, are critically related to climate change resilience.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) China Office  was  invited to participate in a media field reporting campaign named “Travel across Ecological Marine Territory” sponsored by the State Oceanic Administration of China, and visited Jue Hua Island and Pan Jin municipality in Liaoning province, exploring successful cases and best practices in marine protection and restoration in China.

Jue Hua Islands: Bringing in mutual benefits to marine economic development and ecosystem protection by ecological management of natural resources

Hu Lu Dao municipality connects north-east and northern of China, is one important harbor city with the second longest coast line (261 km) in Liao Ning province. With 3200 km2 maritime area and 33 docks in total, marine resources and marine transport provide vigorous supports to economic development of Hu Lu Dao. Hu Lu Dao intend to on one hand seize opportunity of revitalization of the northeast China, on the other hand to build ecological livable city strengthening Eco-civilization competence. People of this area understand that their livelihoods depend on marine, and it’s their responsibility to protect it.

Thanks to SOA and local marine and fishery departments, a series of regulations and laws were published, established solid legal scheme for effective and sustainable management of marine area; “Blue Sea Action” led by vice mayor of Hu Lu Dao city, sets their mind to safeguard marine ecosystem with scientific measures and effective management; meanwhile law enforcements was strengthened, inland pollution control has been recognized as critical in protecting healthy marine environment, major companies including HuLuDao Nonferrous Metals Group, Bohai Shipbuilding Industry Corporation etc., in coastal areas were investigated and requested to remediate inappropriate practices; several restoration projects were initiated, such as coastal wetland restoration project, marine protected area, and ecological sea farming etc., ocean parks became an innovative measure in promoting marine eco-civilization in Hu Lu Dao.

Jue Hua Island is a successful example in developing ecological tourism while restoring biodiversity and marine ecosystem. Jue Hua Island lies to the southeast of Hu Lu Dao city, covers 13.5 km3 with 27 km coastal line. 54% of the island is covered by forest, total forest land area reaches 6.43 km2 now, making the island a natural “Oxygen Bar”. Besides, Jue Hua Island has many historical legacies, it is a Buddhist holy island, Jue Hua Temple on the island  is worshiped by Buddhist followers. Master Tsing Yun visited the island and planted one linden himself on 2013. Due to its beautiful natural environment and rich historical heritage, Jue Hua island was voted as one of the ten “China most beautiful island” in 2015.

Given its exceptionally good conditions, Jue Hua Island has set its goal of developing green economy. Several measures were applied to fulfill the mission:

Strengthening afforestation along with Buddhist culture revival. Robust forest ecosystem is the foundation of tourist, local oceanic and fishery department established comprehensive strategy to maintain and extend its forest coverage rate. Seedling nursery built on island can supply 16 kinds of local trees, and linden project was launched in 2010 aiming at cultivating 1 million linden on this island. In the future, more efforts will be put into biodiversity conservation and environmental friendly facilities construction.

Exploring historical heritage and developing eco-tourism. With it profound origin with Buddhism, Jue Hua island values very much cultural relics and monuments. Jue Hua Temple and  Tang Wang Cave have become famous scenic spot, as well as Stone Beach natural scenic spot etc., receiving 350,000 guest every year. Tourism contributes to more than 30% of GDP increase, provides more than one third of employment on the island. Local livelihoods also been greatly improved by tourism income, people can enjoy affluent life while maintaining beautiful insular environment.

Pan Jin Municipality: Setting extraordinary example of intertidal restoration and management in  China, protecting costal area and migration bird flyway.

Pan Jin municipality locates in core area of Liao River Delta area south west of Liaoning province, with abundant wetland resources and marine resources. There are 21 river in Pan Jin, formed wide connected water system and large area of wetlands and intertidal. As “the capital of wetlands”, Pan Jin has more than 31500 km2 wetlands, some of them are important habitat for many species. For example Shuangtaizi Estuary National Nature Reserve was listed in RAMSAR for its indispensible role in conserving many rare and endangered birds in the Asia-Australisia migration way. Larus saundersi and Grus japonensis, two IUCN Red List threatened species inhabit in Shuangtaizi for feeding and for breeding.

Another important vegetation in this area, Suaeda heteroptera (Seepweed), brings in multiple benefit to local marine ecosystem. Suaeda is confined to saline or alkaline soil habitats, such as coastal salt-flats and tidal wetlands. they have thick, succulent leaves, and ability to ameliorate salty habitats. Usually after 2 years, places that used to grow Suaeda can succeeded into reed, and even become paddy land if given time.

Pan Jin is also well known for its rich petroleum resources with annual production over 10 million ton per year since 2009. in recent years, Pan Jin opens up innovative farming pattern “rice crab symbiotic planting mode”. Paddy land can provide food and niche to crab,  meanwhile crab can help with pest control, and its excrement is good fertilizer for rice. Nowadays, “rice crab symbiotic planting mode” has expanded to more than 1000km2, Pan Jin rice and Pan Jin crab both become famous brands in China, which increase household annual income to more than 2000 yuan per year.

During our short visit in Pan Jin, local authorities proudly illustrate their plans of setting extraordinary example of intertidal restoration to achieve greater economic prosperity and healthier marine ecosystem.

Restoring wetland area by ecological remediation of costal area and by returning mariculture areas to wetlands. With support from SOA, more than 300 million RMB is invested into ecological restoration project of 40 km2 coastal wetlands. More than 51 km2 agriculture areas are subsidized and returned to natural wetlands, pollution control and water area enlargement are initiated at the same time to ensure survival of water birds and other wildlife.  “Blue Bay Restore Project in Pan Jin” is fully launched with the goal of returning and restoring more than 33 km2 mariculture area by 2017, back into natural intertidal zone.

Promoting systematic development of marine protected area in terms of Marine Park and eco-tourism, and widely raising public awareness of marine protection. Water system should be well connected and unhindered, which makes wetlands and marine vivifying. Inland pollutions discharge and artificial facilities have caused tremendous damage to water environment. Pan Jin established integrated management plan to reconnect rivers and waters, and to control non-point pollutions from nearby village and paddy lands. What’s more, a number of marine parks and scenic spots will be planed and developed according to costal natural conditions, marine parks will protect natural niches for wild species, at the same time will provide educational channel for people to better understand marine protection; scenic spots, especially the ones with spectacular view of Suaeda heteroptera (commonly called Red Beach), will provide cultural value and leisure  to visitors. It is expected that during the thirteenth Five Year Plan, marine ecosystem in Pan Jin area can upgraded to a new level, not only in its natural protected area, but also in public awareness and marine eco-civilization.

Encouraging scientific research about effects of wetlands on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Yuan Yang Gou national marine park has worked with State Marine Environmental Monitoring Center for a long time. Equipped with high-tech monitoring and assessing devices, Yuan Yang Gou has accumulated first-hand data on water quality, carbon sequestration, wildlife etc., studies about contribution of wetland on climate change  mitigation indicates that, wetlands has higher capacity in carbon sequestration than forest land. Led by Yuan Yang Gou national marine park, a group of protected area are out-reaching to academia and are contributing to studies on benefits of health ecosystem and effective measures.

Healthy Marine Environment for the Well Beings of Planet Earth

Hu Lu Dao and Pan Jin locate in Yellow Sea Area, where is the vital part of  East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). IUCN Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) has been working with China authorities on Yellow Sea conservation for many years, IUCN encourages and supports trans-boundary cooperation in Yellow Sea Conservation. In the past two years, conservation dialogues between China, South Korea, Japan and other countries were initiated, more collaborations are expected in future.

State Oceanic Administration(SOA), as the leader and helmsman in China on Yellow Sea conservation, demonstrates great intelligence and steady determination in marine ecosystem conservation and sustainable development, Jua Hua Island and Pan Jin are two of successful examples out of many outstanding conservation stories. IUCN believe that China stories and experiences play an important role in international marine ecosystem conservation, especially Yellow Sea conservation and EAAF. We also would like to establish sound collaboration and strategic partnership with SOA with our experience and techniques, and provide supports to conservation programmes in future.

About the Travel across Ecological Marine Territory

 “Travel across Ecological Marine Territory” is a campaign sponsored by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) of China, with the theme of “Promoting Green Development and Ecological Managing the Ocean”. The campaign will organize media and conservation groups to site visit seven municipalities along the coastal area of China in 2016, to experience marine ecological civilization development on the ground, and to collect field stories of coastal restoration and integrated marine management. The visit to Jue Hua Island and Pan Jin was the Seventh and final trip this year, more exciting stories will be explored next year to more locations.

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