Shenzhen Government Online
Mangroves sustain biodiversity
From: Shenzhen Daily
Updated: 2023-05-25 09:05


Birds forage at Futian Mangrove National Nature Reserve in this photo taken earlier this year. Sun Yuchen

People in Shenzhen don’t have to travel far to get close to nature. One can take the Metro, ride a bike or simply walk to see beautiful birds at Shenzhen Bay Park or wetland habitats at Futian Mangrove Ecological Park. If lucky enough, one can also spot a leopard cat with a camera, which appears rarely in any given time of the day.

On May 10, photos of a man saving what initially appeared to be a kitten in a heavy downpour in Dasha River Park, Nanshan District, went viral. The “kitten” was later confirmed to be a leopard cat cub. The man, surnamed Li, said he happened to see a “ball of fur” under a bench while walking past the park May 7.

Li named the lovely cub Wuqi,which means May 7 in English. Li took the cub to a nearby pet hospital for a checkup and the veterinarian identified it was a leopard cat, a State-level Class II protected species. Environmental authorities said they will release the animal back into the wild as soon as it grows to maturity.

On Oct. 13, 2022, Zhou Linhong, a member of Shenzhen Bird Watching Society, happened to take photos of a leopard cat when it emerged from the mangrove on the north side of the estuary of the Shenzhen Bay area. In her photos, the cat, followed by a group of red-footed snipes, carefully waded forward until it disappeared in the mangrove.

Restoration efforts pay off

“Thanks to improvement of water quality of Xinzhou, Dasha and Shenzhen rivers over the past years, and the restoration efforts on wetlands at Futian Mangrove National Nature Reserve, Futian Mangrove Ecological Park and Shenzhen Bay Park, the number and variety of fish, shrimps at the wetlands have increased. They have attracted more birds, fish and animals, helping improve the habitats,” Sun Lili, founder of Shenzhen Mangrove Wetlands Conservation Foundation (MCF) and head of Futian Mangrove Ecological Park, said during an interview with Shenzhen Daily on Tuesday, the International Day for Biological Diversity.

“When the park opened in 2015, we recorded about 60 to 70 bird species. Now the number is 250. We have also spotted leopard cats and Eurasian otters,” Sun said.

In October 2020, the Eurasian otter, which had disappeared for a decade, was spotted in Futian Mangrove Ecological Park. The animal was listed as “near threatened” in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2015.

A top predator in freshwater systems, Eurasian otters are very sensitive to their habitat environment and pollution, regarded as an indicative and flagship species for freshwater systems.

“The discovery of the Eurasian otter indicates a complete and healthy wetland system in a region. It shows the effectiveness of Shenzhen’s ecological environment protection,” she said.

The Futian mangrove wetland was designated in 2022 as one of Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration announced Feb. 2, the 27th World Wetlands Day.

The 367.6-hectare wetland includes Futian Mangrove National Nature Reserve and Futian Mangrove Ecological Park.

It has also become an important stopover site in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway for nearly 100,000 migratory birds every winter.

As the smallest megacity in China with 1,997 square kilometers in land size, Shenzhen boosts diversified landforms with lakes, forests and sea all around, providing diversified ecological habitats. Forests cover around 44% of the city’s land area and wetlands 4%.

Shenzhen had recorded 2,173 kinds of vascular plants and 651 kinds of terrestrial wild vertebrates by the end of 2022, including 144 kinds of wild animals and plants under State key protection, according to the city’s environment authority Monday.

Mangrove center

At the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP14) in Geneva in November last year, President Xi Jinping announced an international mangrove center will be built in Shenzhen.

“The building of the Shenzhen center is highly significant to conservation, restoration, scientific research and sustainability of mangroves worldwide. It is a platform to connect China and rest of the world in mangrove exchanges and cooperation,” said Sun, who attended the conference.

“It will also be a platform to promote international exchange of mangrove conservation technology and commercialization of scientific achievements,” Sun, who is also deputy executive chief of the preparatory committee for construction of the center, said.

According to the city’s wetland protection draft plan (2021-2035), it aims to build itself into an international wetland city by 2035, with 50% of its wetlands under protection.