Conservation of the Ruoergai Plateau marshes and Altai Mountain wetlands
In the Ruoergai Marshes on the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau and the Altai Mountains in Northwest China, we demonstrated practical ways in which biodiversity conservation and provision of ecosystem services can be supported by different economic sectors and local communities.
China has about 6 million ha of mountain wetlands of which the largest majority are peatlands. In the peatlands, dead plant material accumulates over time to form layers of peat or organic soil of up to 10 meters thick. The layers function like a sponge consisting of more than 90% water. The peatlands provide key habitats for endangered wildlife species such as black-necked cranes, rare fish, amphibian and plant species and they form major reservoirs of water maintaining water levels in streams, rivers and adjacent grasslands. The peatlands also provide important national and international eco-services in storing and sequestrating huge amounts of carbon. The peatlands, however, are negatively affected by unsustainable farming practices (drainage, over-grazing), mining and infrastructure development and by climate change.
The project focused on the integrated management of mountain peatlands, carried out in the two main regions in China (Ruoergai Marshes on the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau and the Altai Mountains in NW China). The project aimed at demonstrating practical ways in which biodiversity conservation and provision of ecosystem services can be supported by different economic sectors and local communities.
After collation of available biodiversity and socio-economic information and collection of additional data, conservation strategies were prepared with and formally approved by local governments, and then implemented. Part of the solution to the problems involved changes in infrastructure planning and grazing management, through adjustment of livelihoods. Techniques for restoring peatlands damaged by old drainage schemes were also demonstrated and implemented.
The overall outcome was the involvement of different stakeholders from different sectors and government levels in China to support integrated management of mountain wetlands and their biodiversity. The project focused on identifying and promoting options for integrated management of mountain wetlands in western China, in partnership with different economic sectors across different levels of governance (central, provincial, prefecture, county and community).
Achievements in 2007:
- All partners were well informed about the project scenario. The Inception Meeting for the project was held from 14-17 August 2007, followed by the first Project Steering Group Meeting.
- Local stakeholder meetings on the project were organised in Altai (Xinjiang Province), Lanzhou, Luqu (Gansu Province) and in Ruoergai (Sichuan Province) to enhance their understanding of the project and on the importance of biodiversity conservation and to enable further participation from local sectors when the project is implemented.
- Training workshops were organised to train key local personnel in the Ruoergai Plateau, in Hongyuan county (Sichuan Province) and Altai, resulting in improved peatland survey skills of the local staff.
- Following the field surveys and assessment, some potential new restoration sites were identified in Hongyuan, Luqu and Maqu and relevant activities undertaken on sites.
- Data collated and information reviewed on the strategy for protection and sustainable use of Altai mountain wetlands in Altai. The rapid assessment report was drafted.
- Preliminary information and historical data were collated to support the assessment on the importance of peatlands for water supply in the Yellow River basin and carbon storage in Ruoergai marshes.
- European Union. Funding provided through European China Biodiversity Programme
- Global Environment Centre
- Ernst-MOritz-Arndt University Greifswald
- Sichuan Provincial Workstation for Wildlife Resources Survey Conservation and Management
- Gansu Wildlife Administration Bureau
- Xinjiang Altaishan Forestry Bureau