Wetland reserve to get education center

Updated: 2012-12-10 08:17

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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An education center will be established in Beijing's biggest wetland nature reserve.

The center, at Widgeon Lake National Wetland Park, will be set up with the help of the World Wide Fund for Nature and hopes to boost public understanding of the importance of wetlands.

Wetland reserve to get education center

Wild ducks at Widgeon Lake National Wetland Park in Yanqing county, Beijing, on June 15, 2010. [Photo by Su Weizhong / for China Daily]

"The establishment of the center is one of the steps we have taken to protect the wetlands and its wildlife," said Liu Xuemei, deputy director of the park's administrative office.

"We're planning to restore some 1,000 hectares of wetland by 2015."

Liu said the center will welcome its first visitors in 2013.

One of the park's attractions is a special feeding and breeding zone for birds, she said.

The capital's only wetland bird reserve, as well as one of the most significant bird habitats in North China, is closed during the harsh winter months.

The park, located in northwestern Yanqing county, promotes the significance of the wetlands to the local environment, especially among young people.

Students from middle and primary schools can visit for free.

The park also provides free entry to kindergartens and schools for children with learning difficulties. One of its proudest achievements has been to allow children see creatures in their natural habitat and not just in the pages of books.

"It's necessary for children and teens to realize that we are not only surrounded by cement and concrete, but blessed with various species as well," said Liu.

Some 100,000 visitors have visited the reserve this year.

The park is negotiating with a bus company to set up a route from downtown to the park.

"We are confident that tourist numbers will increase once the route is set up," Liu said.

According to Zhao Liang, founder of the Future Green Youth Leadership Council, an environment protection NGO in Tianjin, a healthy wetland is important because it acts as a natural filter by retaining sediments and pollutants.

It also helps to prevent flooding, purifies water and releases vegetative matter into rivers to help feed fish.

The wetland also acts as an ecological barrier and protective screen, to shield the city from the pollution from neighboring cities, he said.

"The wetlands, and the wildlife that live there are nature's gifts to us, we must cherish them," he said.