By Ye Zi, Zhan Tian’ai
The 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP14) is expected to be held in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province from Nov. 5 to 13 this year.
As Wuhan was awarded Wetland City Accreditation of the Ramsar Convention in June this year, it will mark the first time for a Chinese city to host the meeting, and also the first time for the event to be held in an international wetland city.
Wuhan, known as the “city of river and lakes” and “city of wetlands” in China, is home to 166 lakes, 165 rivers and 1,624 square kilometers of wetlands. Wetlands cover 18.9 percent of the city’s total area. Besides, the city also has 63,500 hectares of small and micro wetlands, accounting for 7.41 percent of the city’s total area.
In recent years, Wuhan has taken great efforts to promote the ecological restoration of wetlands with a series of major projects.
So far, the city has built 10 wetland parks and five nature reserves. It has seen a stable coverage of wetlands, the improvement of water quality, the restoration of wetland ecology and a prominent rise in the types and number of bird species. The rich wetland resources are contributing to the sustainable development of the city with over 10 million people.
To highlight Wuhan’s wetland resources, the city will set the main venue of the COP14 near the Wuhan East Lake National Wetland Park.
Situated in the East Lake, the largest urban lake in China, the wetland park spans a total area of 10.2 square kilometers, with 63.7 percent covered by wetlands.
Recently, a breeding place of Baer’s pochard ducks, a critically endangered bird species under first-class national protection in China, was discovered in Wuhan East Lake High-tech Development Zone. It indicated the improving wetland environment in the city.
The COP14 will be held at a time of bird migration, which will present participants with the charm of the wetlands and a beautiful view of harmonious human-nature coexistence, said Zhu Gongwei, an official with the Wuhan municipal government.
Under the theme of “Wetlands Action for People and Nature,” the COP14 is an important international event hosted by China.
According to Yang Fengwei, an official with the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the COP14 will be held in Wuhan in physical and virtual formats, and a parallel session is also expected to take place in Geneva, Switzerland. The event aims to share Chinese stories of human-nature harmony with the world.
The event will deliberate on a post-2025 strategic framework for global wetland protection and development, which is expected to lead to the future development of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. A declaration will be released at the event, and an awarding ceremony will be held for the second batch of cities approved by the Wetland City Accreditation.
The COP14 will promote the establishment of an international mangrove center endorsed by the Ramsar Convention. The center will be an important base and platform for international cooperation on mangrove protection.
Besides, the meeting will also announce three important outcomes achieved by China in wetland protection, including the promotion of the Yellow River Estuary National Park aiming at wetland conservation, and the designation of a new batch of important international wetlands.
Wuhan is employing a series of modern technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and cloud computing for digital, standardized and regular management of wetlands.
Under a smart wetland program, the city has installed 162 IoT sensing devices to monitor micro climate, water quality, soil, and wildlife.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of China’s accession to the Ramsar Convention. To demonstrate China’s ecological progress, Wuhan has transformed a once-abandoned water plant in the East Lake scenic area into an exhibition center to showcase China’s wetland conservation achievements in the past decades. The main part of the center has been completed and the center will be open to the public for free following the COP14 conclusion.