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Wetlands and Poverty Reduction in Hengshui Lake

Hengshui Lake is a vitally important oasis ecosystem in the harsh dry central North China Plain. The lake is a central component of the Hengshui Lake Nature Reserve. The lake itself has been a central part of the local economy, with fishing and farming the predominate activities. However, slowly the lake’s resources are diminishing and many of the local people live in poverty. This project aimed to investigate the possibility of alternative livelihood development within the Nature Reserve to aid conservation and poverty alleviation.

Action Description:

HLNR, borders on Hengshui City at the north and Jizhou City at the south and is one of the nearest reserves to a large city. There are 106 villages and about 64,697 individuals in the reserve among which 36 villages and more than 20,000 individuals are living around the lake. Farming and fishing are the predominant source of income for most people, while others rely solely on fishing.

Their livelihood depend upon the resources of Hengshui Lake Wetland. While Hengshui Lake possesses abundant natural and landscape resource the community suffers from poverty. It is urgent that actions are taken to improve the living standard of the local people.  Therefore, sustainable wetland and biodiversity conservation and management while targeting poverty reduction are challenges faced by the Nature Reserve.


April –December, 2007


The outcome of the project is an integration of wetland resource conservation and poverty reduction for local communities around Hengshui Lake wetlands.

Achievements in 2007:

  • A group of people have been trained in Participated Rural Assessment
  • A rapid assessment on social economic status of local villages around Hengshui Lake has been carried out, which included the 10 main elements: basic information of families, family property, family expenditure, Social security, village finance, community relationship, village management, opinion on nature protection, family economic status and methods for economic development for the future.
  • Development of a draft proposal on Hengshui Lake Wetland Conservation and Poverty Reduction
  • A summary meeting was organized to discuss the feasibility of activities listed in the draft proposal, based on the meeting, some good suggestions have been provided to improve the final proposal.
  • Finalization of the concept proposal on Wetlands Conservation and Poverty Reduction Project for Hengshui Lake National Nature Reserve.


Hengshui Lake Nature Reserve (HLNR) is an oasis located in the arid central area of the Northern China Plain. The multi-function of Hengshui Lake on supplying water for industrial and agricultural use, preventing and controlling flood and droughts, regulating climate, fishery, tourism and irrigation provides significant ecological, social and economic benefits for Northern Chinese Plain. Hengshui Lake is also one of the important storing and regulating projects for South-to-North Water Transfer Program.

Action Partners:

Funding Agency: Wetlands International