Law-based system, tech innovation, comprehensive management important in lake protection

BEIJING, May 9, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — A news report from on measures for lake protection in China.

Establishing a law-based system, developing innovative technologies and adopting comprehensive management are key to helping address its complicated lake water problems in China, suggested by researchers in a paper released by the Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences (BCAS, in Chinese), a think tank journal supervised and sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), which focuses on strategic and decision-making research.

The article emphasizes that lakes are important land resources and an inseparable part of the earth surface system consisting of mountains, rivers, forests, farmland, lakes, grassland and deserts. Lakes are sensitive to global environmental changes, regional climate, and human activities in the relevant watersheds. Industrialization, urbanization, and modern chemical agriculture pose challenges to lake management in China.

“Lakes play an irreplaceable role in water resource supply, flood control, irrigation, water quality purification, and biodiversity protection,” said Zhang Ganlin, director of the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, CAS, and other researchers in the paper. “They are of unique values in resource, ecology, and culture.”

Given the important role and significance of lakes in economic and social development, China has already implemented “a series of fundamental, pioneering, and long-term programs” to protect lake ecosystems.

According to the paper, the researchers chose typical lakes in different regions of China to make scientific analysis of their ecological status and changing trends as well as objective evaluation of the effect of protection for lake-type ecological environment in China in the past decade based on lake surveys and long-term monitoring data.

The result shows that increasing remediation efforts have led to remarkable achievements in lake protection.

Lakes play an even more important role in ensuring water security with the significant increase of the total amount of available freshwater resources. “Due to the lake protection and water quality improvement, the proportion of centralized drinking water sources in lakes and reservoirs across China has increased from 33 percent to 40 percent in the past five years, which serves nearly 50 percent of the total population in China.”

In addition, the lakes on the priority control list have recorded steady improvement of water quality, checked eutrophication trend, and the decrease in the number of lakes affected by algal blooms, with most lakes showing the rise in transparency. For example, in 2021, the Hongze Lake registered an increase of open water area by 45 km2 over 2010. Permanganate index and ammonia nitrogen concentration of Tianmu Lake kept within the Class I-II water quality standards by 2021.

Moreover, “with the gradual restoration of the aquatic vegetation in lakes and the steady rise in the biodiversity of major lakes, the lakes have reported the improvement of ecological service functions.” The article notes that among the 64 aquatic vegetation-distributed lakes with an area of over 50 km2, about 43 percent and 40 percent showed a significant upward trend of aquatic vegetation during 2010–2014 and 2015–2019, respectively.

However, China still faces many challenges in lake protection, such as persistent problems of eutrophication and cyanobacterial blooms, and insufficient research on the causes and mechanisms of some ecological and environmental problems.

To address these challenges, Chinese researchers have suggested several effective measures in this article.

“It is of particular importance to reform and improve the management system and operation mechanism of lake-type ecological environment protection in China,” they said.

Researchers suggest that China needs to promote the integration of lake protection into national legislation plans, accelerate the building of relevant law and regulation systems for lake protection and management, and improve the mechanism for the alignment of administrative law enforcement in lake watershed protection.

It is necessary to strengthen scientific research and technological innovation in the lake watershed system, so as to further build up the technological support capacity. That is to say, China should form proprietary core technologies and key technologies, together with mechanisms conducive to independent innovation. Besides, it is also important to advance digitalization of lake management to develop China’s “digital lakes.”

To promote high-quality development of lake watersheds, more efforts should be made to coordinate the management of ecological environment of lakes and comprehensive control of the watersheds.

The relevant suggestions are as follows:

  • integrating water management with mountain, forest and farmland management and implementing comprehensive management of the lake watershed, with the lake body, lake shore, buffer zone around the lake and the entire watershed as an organic whole;
  • building an integrated protection and systematic management system;
  • facilitating scientific regionalization of lake watershed space; and
  • coordinating protection and utilization.

Besides, it is necessary to launch national ecological restoration projects for key lakes, strengthen the construction project of ecological buffer zones of lakes, implement ecological restoration projects, adopt the “ecological bank” model, and improve the compensation system for the ecological benefits of lakes.

Law-based system, tech innovation, comprehensive management important in lake protection


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