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Establishment of a New Migration Monitoring Network across China for the Siberian Crane and Other Waterbirds
Technical Brief 2.09 MB PDF

Poyang Lake Ecology Study
Fact Sheet 781 KB PDF

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Poyang Lake Basin

Geographic Location

Poyang Lake Basin is situated between 28° 11’ – 29° 1’ N longitude and 115° 49’ – 116° 46’ E latitude. The basin varies from 12-18 m above sea level, and is located on the south shore of the Yangtze River, in the northern part of Jiangxi Province.


Poyang Lake Basin is composed of the largest fresh water lakes in a near-natural state in China, marshes, wet grassland and alluvial floodplains. The site has incredible diversity of both flora and fauna, hosting over 100,000 waterbirds, including the Siberian, Hooded and Eurasian Cranes, Great Bustards, White Storks, Chinese Merganser, and the Lesser White-fronted Goose. The entire wetland area of the Poyang Lake Basin covers ~390,000 ha.

Up to 98% of the world Siberian Crane population winters in the Poyang Lake Basin; other species, such as White-naped Crane, Hooded Crane, Oriental White Stork, and numerous waterbirds also use the lake as their main wintering ground. The site has a rich fish fauna that provide adequate food resource for waterbirds. The average annual rainfall is 1426mm, with the highest amount of precipitation occurring from April to June (47.4% of annual rainfall).

Conservation Status

Different portions of the basin have varying protection status. Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve comprises approximately 5% of the total area of the basin, but there are several provincial level nature reserves within the basin and project area, including Duchang and Qinglanhu Povincial Nature Reserves. In 2008, Nanjisan Nature Reserve was upgraded from a provincial to a national level nature reserve.

Over-fishing and over-grazing seriously affect food resources and breeding and roosting habitats for waterbirds, as well as the entire wetland ecosystem. Illegal poaching affects bird populations, farming activities lead to reduction of the available habitat for the Siberian Crane and other migratory birds, human population pressure and poor education add to the negative impact on the migratory birds and their habitats, making difficult wildlife protection and management activities. The effects of the Three Gorge Dam on the hydrology and ecology of the lake system are not clear at present, but an applied research programme and long-term monitoring are being carried out at this site to assess impacts and recommend mitigation measures, if required.

SCWP Objectives

The project aims to extend the network of protected areas within the Poyang Lake Basin. Work is also being conducted to increase the network of County-level Protection Stations in order to improve monitoring and management outside the existing protected areas. With the support of the SCWP, Nanjishan Nature Reserve, with an area of 33,300 ha, was officially approved as a national level nature reserve by the State Council of China in January 2008. In addition, Hexi County Nature Reserve was established by Yongxiu County Government in June 2007. There are currently 15 wetland nature reserves in the Poyang Lake Basin, including two national level reserves, three provincial level and ten county level reserves. These nature reserves cover a total of 216,117 ha, accounting for about 54% of the whole basin.

The holistic management of the lake basin will be developed through the completion of a Master Plan for the lake basin, supported by a basin level management committee and centralized data stored in a GIS. Improved waterbird monitoring capacity and regular surveys will upgrade information on the conservation values. Following on the experience of the WWF’s Living Yangtze Project, the SCWP will facilitate community development pilot projects in association with a wetland restoration project (to restore former farmlands back to wetland). The ecological goals of the project are to stabilize or increase the populations of cranes and other large waterbirds within the Poyang Lake Basin through appropriate management measures, and to clarify the relationships between water levels, waterbird food plants and waterbird distribution as an aid to management. This long-term ecological study is being conducted by the International Crane Foundation and Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve.


Wintering Siberian Cranes at the Poyang Lake National Nature Reserve. Photo by Ji Weitao

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Last update: 6 August 2008

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