The Fate of the Haixing Wetland Reserve in Cangzhou Hangs in the Air: Large Areas Dry Up, but the Core Area with Water is Mostly Breeding Ponds | CBCGDF Research Department

On May 7th, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) volunteers went to Haixing Wetland and Bird Provincial Nature Reserve of Cangzhou City in the rain to investigate.


Haixing Wetland and Birds Nature Reserve are located in the east of Haixing County and the west coast of Bohai Bay. It is also an important resting place for migratory birds. Because of its unique geographical location, complex wetland ecological environment, and rich food resources, the wetland reserve attracts more than 200 kinds of birds to live here every year.

(Photo credit: CBCGDF volunteers)

In 2005, Haixing Wetland and Bird Provincial Nature Reserve were established in Hebei Province. Its purpose is to protect this unique wetland habitat and migratory bird habitat. With a total area of 16,800 hectares, the reserve is part of Haixing wetland (29,330 hectares). According to statistics, in Haixing County, the wetland area accounts for 38% of the total area of the county.


However, after entering the nature reserve, what surprised volunteers was that the current situation of the wetland and birds nature reserve was more serious than previously expected: within the protection area of 16,800 hectares, volunteers can pass freely, and almost no corresponding management measures can be seen. In the nature reserve, there is a large range of naked riverbed and overgrown weeds. The river is almost cut off, leaving only some puddles. It is difficult to connect with the Wetland Nature Reserve marked on the stone tablet.


According to the on-the-spot investigation of volunteers, they were disappointed to find that the reserve was largely in name only: the water area in the reserve is largely dried up, while there are a large number of shrimp ponds in the river with a small amount of water in the core area. According to an old man guarding the pond, each pond has about 500-600 mu, and the annual contract cost is up to 2.86 million RMB. In this area, one farmer contracted 6 large ponds. In addition, there are other contractors operating shrimp ponds.


(Photo credit: CBCGDF volunteers)

However, according to Article 26 of the Regulations on the Administration of Nature Reserves, no one is allowed to enter the core area of the nature reserve. For the needs of scientific research, the person who must enter the core area to engage in scientific research observation and investigation activities shall submit the application and activity plan to the administrative organ of the nature reserve in advance. In other words, the core area of the reserve is usually a very strict management area, only a small amount of human activities such as scientific research are allowed, and large-scale commercial breeding is absolutely prohibited. In the same way, China’s Regulations on the Administration of Wetland Protection explicitly forbids grazing, fishing, soil fetching, and water cutting in the protected wetlands without authorization.


According to the understanding of volunteers, the reasons for large-scale drying up of the wetland and bird reserve are likely to be: previously, farmers contracted to breed in the reserve withdrew this year after being ordered to ban such activities, so no one continued to replenish water for the wetland, resulting in a large area of drying up of the wetland. This has greatly damaged the wetland habitat of the reserve and directly led to the loss of ecological function of migratory bird habitat in the area. In Haixing wetland reserve, volunteers did find a piece of “Notice on Forbidding Breeding and Other Behaviors Within the River Management Scope” (hereinafter referred to as “Notice”) set up by Haixing County People’s government. The time of the Notice is March 9th, 2020.


Now it’s already May, looking at such a large area of dry, desolate, and unmanaged wetland reserve, we cannot help asking: this precious wetland reserve, which sustains more than 200 kinds of migratory birds, is it intended to be so abandoned and dried up? It should be noted that according to the relevant laws and regulations of wetland protection in China, the local government has a clear responsibility for the protection of this wetland and bird reserve.


(Photo credit: CBCGDF volunteers)

CBCGDF’s volunteers were shocked by the current situation of Haixing Wetland and Birds Nature Reserve. They suggested that the local government should attach great importance to this issue and take emergency measures such as ecological water supply as soon as possible to protect the dying provincial wetland reserve at the last moment. CBCGDF will also continue to pay attention to this matter, hoping to urge relevant departments to rescue this wetland reserve as soon as possible.


Original Chinese article:

By / Xue Tongtong Modified / Maggie



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