World’s fastest growing wetland The Yellow River Estuary

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By 2017-07-27

By Sunali Fernando

 

The Yellow River Estuary was set up on the basin of the Yellow River Delta National Nature Reserve. The Yellow River, the mother river of China, carrying mud and sediment, empties into the Bohai Sea after running for tens of thousands of miles, giving birth to this wetland. Considered as the fastest growing new wetland in the world, it is the youngest, most extensive and complete wetland ecosystem in China's warm temperate zone.

The Yellow River Estuary covers an area of 1,530 square kilometres and comprises 26,513.5 hectares of natural reed, 14,000 hectares of natural Chinese Tamarisk Twigs and shrubberies, 12,071.9 hectares of natural pasture in the nature reserve. The forest covers 17% of land and 55.1% is covered by vegetation. Natural vegetation area occupies 91.9% of the total vegetation area which is said to be the largest coastal natural vegetation covering the Chinese coast.

There are 393 varieties of plants in the reserve out of which 227 are wild seed plants. Of this there are more than 50 kinds of medical plants such as kendir, leonurus, limonium sinense, myriopteron, extensum and strangletare. Wild soybean which is categorized at the second – class national protected plants is widely scattered in the reserve.

The Yellow River Estuary is home to many animals and birds. It is considered as an international airport for birds. This estuary has a variety of birds with a total of 368 species of birds living here including rare and endangered birds. Among them, 12 species of birds are listed as first-grade state protection birds such as the Red Crowned Crane and Oriental White Stork and 51 species including the crane and swan as second-grade state protection birds. This wetland is an important transit station, a habitat and a breeding ground for the migrating birds in Northeast Asia and the Western Pacific Rim. Therefore, this region is known as the 'Hometown of Oriental White Stork in China' and 'Hometown of Saunders' Gull in China'.

The unique geographical location and natural environment around the yellow river creates various landscapes such as the Yellow River Scenery which entwines broadness, simplicity, novelty and wildness into a wonderful masterpiece. "In spring, tamarisks turn red and willows become green; in summer, the surface of the river ripples; in autumn, reed catkins fly like snowflakes and in winter, it puts on a silver coat of snow."

It is also one of the top 10 new landmarks of Shandong culture.The Yellow River Estuary was rewarded by Chinese National Geography magazine 'Beauty China' as being the fourth of 'China's most beautiful six big wetland'.

The Yellow River Estuary Wetland Park is about one hour's drive from Dongying in the North East of Shandong Province. The estuary has a wetland park that combines a sightseeing, experience and for leisure. This wetland park is an integrated part of the Yellow River Estuary Tourist Zone. To facilitate tourists who visit the estuary, a wooden trestle going through the whole willow forest to a total length of 799 has been built. It can provide boat sightseeing and dining for 500 people and has parking for 500 vehicles.

Pix by Amitha Thennakoon

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