Chongming Island birds fewer, more threats

Chongming Dao (Island) has been a key site for wetland birds on China's east coast - eg see Birdlife page on coastal">http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sites/index.html?action=SitHTMDetails.a... birds of east Chongming Dao. Already despoiled by some development, and further damage looms, even tho supposdly to be environmentally friendly.

The Chinese government hails Dongtan [a new city to be built] as a model for others to mimic and vows to protect the environment of the island, which is bigger than Cyprus and sits in the mouth of the Yangtze river.

All vehicles will be electric, and the construction process aims to be sustainable, while the wetlands' ecosystem will be protected with a special buffer zone separating it from the new city, said Arup, the British engineering consultancy charged with overseeing the development.

Environmentalists are skeptical that Dongtan will be any better than many other Chinese cities, mostly because they think its very creation could destroy an important ecosystem.

China has 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities, their rapid growth fueled by years of breakneck economic expansion largely at the expense of the environment. ... CHONGMING A SYMBOL

Covering a tenth of the island, Chongming's wetlands have been under pressure for years from over-grazing and excessive fishing, although they are now expanding out to sea.

In 2002, the number of whistling [Bewick's] swans on the island fell to just 51 from 3,500 just a few years earlier, said Tang Changdong of the Dongtan Nature Reserve administration.

And the white-naped crane no longer calls Chongming home.

In the past 40 years, 13 percent of China's lakes have disappeared and more than half its coastal wetlands have been reclaimed, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) figures.

"Chongming has symbolic importance. Shanghai is showcasing Chongming as an environmental credential," WWF China representative Dermot O'Gorman told Reuters.

O'Gorman said the reeds and marshes, so important for the surrounding ecosystem, would completely disappear from the Yangtze within 25 years if the current rate of destruction continued.

"They are like a sponge, preventing flooding, reducing drought, helping to purify water," he said of the wetlands....Development jockeys with ecology on Shanghai island

Development">http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=scienceNews&storyI... jockeys with ecology on Shanghai island

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