In the PRC’s Yancheng Coastal Wetlands, the Poverty and Environment Fund has been supporting farmers in reducing use of harmful pesticides to help conserve the region’s ecosystems and endangered bird life.

Project Page: 41062-012: Mainstreaming Environment for Poverty Reduction

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Title: Farmers in People's Republic of China Work to Promote Conservation

Description: In the PRC’s Yancheng Coastal Wetlands, the Poverty and Environment Fund has been supporting farmers in reducing use of harmful pesticides to help conserve the region’s ecosystems and endangered bird life.

VO: Along the coast of eastern province Jiangsu, one of China’s largest wetlands provide and oasis for several endangered birds including the areas most celebrated resident – the red crowned crane. More than half the world’s 2,500 red crowned cranes make their winter nesting grounds here in the Yancheng Rare Birds Natural Reserve. But their arrival in late autumn coincides with when local farmers plant winter wheat, often using pesticides that can harm the birds.

Farmer Wang Songqing grows cotton and wheat on a small plot within a short bird’s flight of the reserve. He says he no longer pesticides but as a result his yield is lower.

SOT: Wang Songqing
Farmer
We can get high production about 2,000 kg of wheat if we use pesticides but we only get 1,400 kg without using pesticides.

VO: The Asian Development Bank’s Poverty and Environment Fund or PEF, supported a pilot study in Jiangsu province to explore different options for protecting the wetlands including compensating farmers who contribute to conservation efforts. The study completed in 2013 recommends new approaches such as reducing pesticides use, educating farmers about the importance of the reserves, and encouraging reserves staff to listening to farmers’ concerns.

SOT: Yue-Lang Feng
Director, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Division
East Asia Department
Asian Development Bank
We were able to work better with the rural communities to identify their preferences for different eco-compensation packages in order to manage the impacts of the rural communities on the wetlands.

VO: The study’s focus on the eco-compensation stems from its growing role in the environmental management in China. Jiangsu plans to lead the nation in this area.

SOT: Zhao Ting
Deputy Director General
Jiangsu Enviromental Protection Department
We found it is not enough to develop eco-compensation for the Yancheng city. We plan to explore eco-compensation for the whole province. Every nature reserve should have eco-compensation.

VO: Moving forward the recommendations from the pest study would be pilot tested under a much larger ADB loan project. This loan project is supporting the bird reserve in restoring degraded wetlands and aiding the red crowned crane to return to a health population.

The reserve is also experimenting on organic agriculture. Farmers grow rice without pesticides and leave the edges of their fields unharvested.

SOT: Wu Qijiang
Manager
Yancheng Rare Birds Nature Reserve
There is very urgent. We encourage farmers to adapt better practices for the protection of biodiversity. We still need a long term effort to pursue ecological organic agriculture.

VO: Such efforts would require building strong cooperation with local communities with an eye towards changing farmers’ perception of the wetlands. For farmer, Wang Songqing, it’s a long path of give and take. But one that could give a healthier bond between locals and their animal neighbors.

SOT: Wang Songqing
Farmer
We cannot hurt the red crowned crane. It is a nationally protected animal for us they are like family.

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