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Jiuduansha wetland: a hidden treasure of Shanghai


06-05-2016 13:28 BJT

Full coverage: World Environment Day

There is a part of Shanghai that few people know about, 420 square kilometers of wetlands.

This is the Shanghai we know…but how about this?

Located at the mouth of Yangtze River, the young wetland is a typical estuary body formed by the combination of land, river and ocean eco-systems. Mud and sand are the main components.

It's virgin land with no human interference, and it's also hard to reach. To those whose job it is to protect the island, the mission is daunting.

Sun Ying took on this job in her early 30s, and she still continues...

"I can’t remember how many times I've stepped on this island. Since this area was designated as a protected area in 2000, I've worked here nearly 17 years," Sun said.

Facing a land of wildness, how to protect this island puzzled Sun Ying for a long time.

"We cannot afford to lose such a precious land. Jiuduansha is a young island with around 50 years' history. It's expanding fast, but it's still in the primary stage. Its formative evolution process can provide a reference for geographic study of the delta and Shanghai, helping us know about the land we already live on-how it was formed and what might happen next," Sun said.

Sun started with a team of three people. Now there are nearly thirty people, with a number of young environmental enthusiasts...

Cai Yinting is one of them and she is a bird specialist...

The island serves as a perfect place for migratory birds to rest before the long journey ahead.

Today Cai Yinting is lucky... she's found something precious...

"Can you see over there… there! It's a black-faced spoonbill. It's an endangered species. We carry out a survey of the birds one to two times each month. Based on our research results, we apply or adjust certain rules to protect the birds in a better way," said Cai Yinting, researcher of Jiuduansha environmental protection agency.

The number of bird species discovered on the wetland has increased from a hundred to more than two hundred which is an acknowldedgement from nature that the conservation is working.

The wetland is a natural laboratory, and it attracts many groups researching other animals and plants.

Professor He Chiquan and his team are doing their research on vegetation…

The vegetation on the island is rather simple, but it has a special kind of plant that only grows at the entrance of the Yangtze River and on the coastal mudflats. It can help to accelerate the transformation of mud into land and supports a great diversity of bird species. But it is currently under threat...

Professor He is studying the impact that this alien species has had here over the past twelve years...

"We have to collect data at the same spot every single time to ensure accuracy. Our working environment seems harsh to outsiders, we have very limited time to do the research on the wetland due to the tide. But to us as researchers, the more we know about nature, the more humble we are," Professor He said.

The return from nature is generous, it helps to purify the water, regulate climate and balance the carbon dioxide pollution from the city...

For a city with more than 24 million inhabitants, Jiuduansha is a land that Shanghai cannot afford to lose.

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