A freshwater reserve on the Yangtze, established to mitigate the impact of the Three Gorges dam, has come under threat, with potentially serious consequences for the country’s biodiversity and food security. From The Guardian:
The alarm was raised after the authorities in Chongqing quietly moved to redraw the boundaries of a crucial freshwater reserve on the Yangtze, which was supposed to have been the bottom line for nature conservation in one of the world’s most important centres of biodiversity ….
Among the hundreds of species it protects are four types of wild carp that experts say are essential to China’s food security because they provide the diverse genetic stock on which fish farms depend for healthy breeding ….
“This is the last hold-out for much of China’s freshwater biodiversity. It is a rare situation when one project can do so much damage,” said Ma Jun of the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs, one of the country’s leading green campaign groups. “Part of the problem is that unlike pandas, snub-nosed monkeys or Tibetan antelopes, most people have not heard of or seen the fish affected.”
Local government insists no decision has been made on the dam, but past precedent suggests that construction will begin before the formal environmental impact assessment is made, by which time developers will argue that it would be a huge waste of money to cancel.
See also: Learning from the Baiji’s Demise, on the disappearance of the Yangtze’s baiji river dolphins.