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China's largest freshwater lake to get research center
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-10-24 17:27
Construction has begun on a center to facilitate academic research on Poyang Lake, China's largest fresh-water lake and an internationally important wetland, in Jiangxi Province.

The center, in Xingzi county on the northwestern side of the Poyang Lake, would be completed in three years, said Yan Bangyou, deputy director of the office with the Jiangxi Provincial Committee for Shanjianghu (Mountains, Rivers, Lakes) Development and Conservation.

It would comprise a general purpose station, observation outposts that would track the impact of the Three Gorges Project on the ecology and environment of the Yangtze River at its lower reaches, and a facility for the prevention and control of water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.

With a budget of 12 million yuan (1.5 million U.S. dollars), the center was a cooperation project between Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Jiangxi Provincial Government and Xingzi County Government, said Yan.

It would also include a laboratory, a museum, an emergency response workshop, and host three websites dedicated to lakes in Asia, lakes in China and ecological and environmental statistics concerning Poyang Lake.

"I hope the center will serve as an open, international platform for exchanges and cooperation in lake-based wetland research and play a role in training of academic personnel," said Yan.

Poyang Lake, covering 3,583 sq km and with an average water depth of 8.4 meters, and fed by five rivers inside Jiangxi Province and empties into the lower reaches of the Yangtze.

In October each year, tens of thousands of migratory birds begin flying in from colder regions, such as Siberia in the north, and winter over till April. Nearly one million birds of 300 species have made Poyang Lake their permanent habitats.

Though China has built a national-level nature reserve on Poyang Lake, the lake itself has suffered problems such as deterioration of water quality and shrinkage of the wetland following rapid human expansion.

Observers believe construction of the center will help protect the lake-based wetland and provide local policy makers with suggestions in their decision making.

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