On 30 March 2015, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) released the Jinsha River Wudongde Hydropower Plant EIA Report Review (the Review), in which Three Gorges Corp and other organizations are banned from “the planning and construction of Xiaonanhai Dam, Zhuyangxi Dam, Shipeng Dam or other barrage or dam projects within protected areas including the mainstream of Yangtze River from Xiangjiaba Dam site to the Three Gorges Dam site, as well as its branches such as Minjiang River and Chishui River”.
In the Review, the MEP also notes that “in the past decade, the national nature reserve for rare and endemic fish in Upstream Yangtze River has been adjusted twice due to the Lower Jinsha River Phase I Project, and its structures and functions have been significantly affected. Future development of this river basin shall follow National Plan for Development Priority Zones. The ‘Ecological red line’ must be well defended so as to protect the national nature reserve for rare and endemic fish in Upstream Yangtze River.”
Friends of Nature (FON) welcomes and applauds MEP’s decision.
According to Zhang Boju, General Secretary of FON, “Xiaonanhai Hydropower Project, with its tremendous ecological impact, is a typical project that will cross the ‘ecological red line’. Once finished, the project will block the final remaining waterway and spawning ground for many rare native river fish.” In light of this, environmental NGOs such as FON and SHAN SHUI Conservation Center have long opposed the construction of Xiaonanhai and the adjustment of the national nature reserve for rare and endemic fish in Upstream Yangtze River. They have sent open letters, applied for information disclosure and administrative reviews, asked for a final decision from the State Council, etc. and have been calling for a complete ban of the economically cost ineffective Xiaonanhai Project, which is located in Yangtze River’s most sensitive area and could exemplify the safeguard of the “ecological red line” for the country’s rivers.
We feel heartened by MEP’s decision, which demonstrates MEP’s concern about the ecological environment of Yangtze River and its efforts to defend the “ecological red line”. We sincerely hope the document released by MEP will be fully implemented.
Meanwhile, we once again call for:
1. The establishment of a national ‘ecological red line’ system for rivers, demarcation of protection and development areas for rivers, formulation of protection standards and supporting mechanisms and systems.
2. In accordance with the requirements by the ‘ecological red line’, the establishment and improvement of comprehensive planning for all river basins in China as well as a clearly-defined accountability and management mechanism.
[Chinese to English Translation. The original press release can be found at http://www.fon.org.cn/index.php/index/post/id/2611]