Nature is not a museum to be admired from a distance. While we all can understand how crucial some areas are, we have to establish a connection in order to truly take care of those places, fully understand their value, and finally commit to preserving it. Dianshan Lake is the only natural lake in the Shanghai area, its health is crucial for over 25 million people, and for over 400 avian species, including endangered shorebirds.
Shanghai ecosystem to protect: Dianshan Lake
Shanghai is located at the estuary of the Yangtze River Delta. When the Yangtze and the Qiantang rivers meet, they carry in their waters the nutrients collected during the long downstream journey. This rich baggage is redistributed on the plain, making it extremely fertile, thus creating a unique, rich, and abundant habitat for regional wildlife.
Birds are a perfect representation of this abundance
Sitting in the middle of the East Asian-Australian bird migration route, Shanghai has visits from more than 250,000 waders and about 50,000 to 60,000 geese and ducks wintering from October to March every year. In general, the wetland is a stopover for over 400 avian species, including endangered shorebirds, making it one of the most important habitats for them.
While the most popular bird-watching location is Dongtan National Reserve in Chongming island, the wetland ecosystem needs to be protected throughout the entire Shanghai area. In fact, outside the reserve, this habitat is quite endangered by the advancement of construction, development, and even inappropriate ecological restoration plans. The latter is the case of the coastal wetland of Hangzhou Bay, but further inland rural villages around Dianshan Lake are slowly being reshaped as well.
DIANSHAN LAKE IS THE ONLY NATURAL LAKE IN THE SHANGHAI AREA
It is located at the junction of Qingpu District, Shanghai and Kunshan City in Jiangsu Province. The lake covers an area of 62 square kilometers. 30% of the water flowing into the upper reaches of the Huangpu River comes from here, thus making its health crucial for over 25 million people.
The lake is the natural habitat for ribbed ducks, spot-billed ducks, common cormorants, crested grebes, red-headed gulls and peregrine falcons. Recently, even a very rare specimen of a curl-feathered Pelican (Pelicanus crispus) made a stopover here on its way south from Mongolia.
These beautiful birds are in danger mostly because in Mongolia, where they breed, their beaks are considered very valuable on informal markets, but also for the human threat to their habitat.
What can we do?
Birds on their migration routes bring their stories with them, tickle our curiosity, push us to learn more and, above all, remind us of how connected we are, overcoming borders and forcing us to face the consequences of other people’s actions thousands of kilometers away.
Advancing constructions reduce the size of local wetlands, while pollution decreases the water quality: birds end up finding smaller and smaller spots to rest, less and less food to eat.
These facts about the Pelican were brought to us tracking its flyway, and while this sighting has not happened on the Shanghainese side of the lake, it still testifies once again the richness and abundance that this ecosystem preserved notwithstanding human invasive development.
It is our collective responsibility to take care of it.
To align with nature and with the crucial role this ecosystem has for humans as much as for wildlife, there's nothing better than to deep dive into it and witness the awakening of these gorgeous natural sceneries.
Nature is not a museum to be admired from a distance. While we all can understand how crucial some areas are, we have to establish a connection in order to truly take care of those places, fully understand their value, and finally commit to preserving it.
Cenbo Village, at a walking distance from Dianshan Lake itself, is still a shelter from the blind advancement of constructions and is where we invite you to spend an unforgettable Spring Equinox celebration with us.
references and pictures
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