The extensive wetlands of the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River are critical to the function of the whole Yangtze ecosystem, which in turn provides essential services to the hundreds of millions of people that live within the basin. The middle and lower Yangtze River floodplain is a globally important wintering area for waterbirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. It provides the wintering grounds for over one million waterbirds of more than 100 species, Siberian Crane, Baer’s Pochard, Scaly-sided Merganser, Lesser White-fronted Goose included. Ornithologists have reported on wintering waterbirds in the floodplain since the 1950s. The 2020/2021 survey will be conducted in mid-January.
The coordinated survey of waterbirds in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, organized by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (formerly State Forestry Administration) of China, was held in 2004/2005, 2005/2006, 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 respectively. It was one of the biggest coordinated surveys in China. These censuses were conducted over a week-period when waterbirds are relatively stable and in maximum numbers. Survey teams endeavored to obtain an accurate count of waterbirds in as many wetlands as possible. In 2014/2015, 923,342 waterbirds (81 species) were recorded. These surveys results contributed greatly to the knowledge of the distribution and population of waterbirds in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. It also recorded the status and threats of hundreds of wetlands along the Yangtze River. The situation of wetlands in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River have changed dramatically since the 2014 coordinated survey. Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged high-quality development of Yangtze River Economic Belt, and a ten-year fishing ban was released.
The survey in 2020/2021 thus would be especially valuable to address this six-year gap, as well as provided an important monitoring after huge floods in summer of 2020 and during the Covid-19 epidemic.
The coordinated survey in middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River 2020/2021 is organized by Center for East Asian-Australasian Flyway Studies, Beijing Forestry University, WWF, Conservation International, International Crane Foundation, and Huatai Securities, and planned to be conducted in mid-January. The launching ceremony was held in Yueyang City during the 11th Dongting Lake International Birding Festival which was held on 7th December. Around 120 bird watchers participated the ceremony, and EAAFP Science Unit also engaged.