Science Forum: Science and Technology in Support of Wetland Conservation and Implementation of Ramsar Convention, a host country activity of the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, was successfully held in Beijing and Wuhan simultaneously on the 12th November 2022. Under the guidance of the Department of Science and Technology for Social Development, Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Department of Science and Technology, National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), this forum was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) and the Administrative Center for China's Agenda 21, which Hubei Academy of Forestry as co-organizer.
At the forum, Mr. Tu Ruihe, head of China Office for UN Environment Programme, Mr. Fu Xiaofeng, deputy director-general of Department of Science and Technology for Social Development, Ministry of Science and Technology, Mr. Hao Yujun, director-general of and Department of Science and Technology, NFGA, and Prof. Chu Fuxiang, president of CAF, attended the opening ceremony and delivered speeches.
Mr. Tu Ruihe indicated that the Chinese government has introduced a series of decisions and arrangements regarding wetland conservation in the past decade, which not only further strengthened the intensity of wetland conservation but also significantly expanded the number and scale of wetlands, additionally improved the overall water quality and ecological status of wetlands. The accumulated experience, good practices, and implementation that can reflect the global leadership will be shared globally through the holding of this forum, which will further enhance the awareness of all sectors of society on the importance of wetlands in the ecological environment and socio-economic sustainable development, and help to promote wetland protection to a broader and higher level. In the future, it is hoped that scientists will give more research and attention to how urban wetland restoration can be more scientific, more in line with ecological laws, and avoid blind or unscientific random restoration. At the same time, scientific observation on the impact of climate change on plateau wetlands and wetlands in arid areas will be strengthened to provide strong support for science and technology.
Mr. Fu Xiaofeng empathized that the ecological status of wetlands directly affects people's sense of fulfillment and happiness, and directly affects the effectiveness of ecological civilization construction. Since the "13th Five Year Plan", the Ministry of Science and Technology has invested about 120 million R&D funds through the implementation of the national key R&D plan, deployed and implemented multiple key R&D projects around wetland protection and restoration, and provided strong scientific and technological support for the historic, turning and overall changes in wetland ecological protection over the last decade. In the future, the development of wetland science and technology should focus on three aspects: storing energy to study the scientific ways of wetlands to help adapt to climate change, fully providing a scientific basis for promoting the coordinated development of different sectors, and vigorously strengthening the scientific popularization of healthy wetlands and their important values, to continue to provide strong support for wetland protection and rational utilization.
Mr. Hao Yujun stressed that the Chinese government attaches great importance to wetland ecological protection and restoration. Over the past decade, remarkable achievements have been made in legislative protection of wetlands, improvement of wetland protection and restoration system, carrying forward of national wetland park construction, international implementation of wetlands, and relevant international cooperation. To improve the scientific level of wetland protection and restoration, NFGA has continuously strengthened wetland science and technology innovation and made full efforts to promote platform layout, scientific research, new technology broadcasting, standard formulation, science popularization, etc. The scientific and technological innovation ability of wetland protection and restoration has been increasingly enhanced, and the world's largest regional long-term positioning observation network of wetlands has been established, and also the “Research Report on Positioning Observation of China's Terrestrial Ecosystem Quality Wetland Chapter” has been released for the first time, as well as The Standard System in Wetland was issued and implemented. In the future, the spirit of the important speech delivered by President Xi will be earnestly implemented, to accelerate the construction of the wetland science and technology innovation system, and make positive contributions to the scientific promotion of wetland protection and the promotion of the harmonious coexistence between man and nature.
Prof. Chu Fuxiang expressed that as a national research expert team for forestry and grassland, CAF has set up the first scientific research institution specializing in wetland research in China, the Institute of Wetland Research. The first industry standard for wetland management, National Wetland Park Construction Specifications, was prepared, and a wetland restoration technology system was established for the first time in China, providing strong scientific and technological support for wetland protection and management in different regions, types, and needs of the country. At present, there are three research institutes in CAF that carry out wetland scientific research, involving more than 20 research fields such as wetland restoration, wetland biodiversity, wetland, and climate change, and mangrove protection. NFGA has established the China Wetland Ecosystem Positioning Research Network Center in CAF, and the center has prepared the development plan for the national wetland positioning observation station. Based on CAF, seven national positioning observation and research stations for wetland ecosystems have been built, including Ruoergai in Sichuan, Dongzhaigang in Hainan, and Hanshiqiao in Beijing, covering almost all important wetland types in China. The research results were compiled into popular science works to promote and popularize wetland scientific knowledge and help China's ecological civilization construction. The series of works "Wetland Beijing" compiled by CAF won the second prize in the National Science and Technology Progress Award, filling the gap in the field of popular science in China's wetlands, and creating wetland protection awareness among the whole society.
At the keynote presentations session, the forum invited Professor Colin Maxwell Finlayson of Charles Sturt University in Australia, Professor Yang Guishan, President of Nanjing Branch of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Professor Huang Lingfeng, Deputy Dean of College of the Environment and Ecology of Xiamen University, and Researcher Wu Haitao, Deputy Director-General of Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, CAS, to share the four presentations respectively, including "Exploring the evolving concept of wetlands" "study on the evolution of lake wetlands in China and theirs management and protection" "China coastal wetland ecological restoration and practice of Xiamen Yun Dang Lake" "key technology and application of close to nature restoration for marsh wetland". These presentations discussed the main problems faced by different types of wetlands and the important scientific and technological progress of their conservation and restoration, also put forward corresponding suggestions for systematic governance, which enlightening new ideas for science and technology to help wetland ecological protection in the future.
During the panel discussion, centering on the topic of "Nature-based solution (NbS) for wetland conservation and restoration", Prof. Cui Lijuan chaired the discussion. Mr. Zhang Yan, Head of IUCN China Country Program Office, Mr. Song Congwen, Deputy Director-General of Forestry Administration of Hubei Province, Prof. Huang Lingfeng and Prof. Wu Haitao, as the distinguished guests, exchanged and shared the original intention, conception and practice in wetland protection of the design of NbS concept from the perspective of international organizations, management department, academia.
In order to further consolidate scientific consensus, strengthen scientific and technological cooperation, and jointly promote the global action of wetland protection, the forum also released the Global Initiative for Reinforcing Science and Technology Support for Wetland Conservation and Management. The Initiative was drafted, improved, and released by the CAF, together with wetland scientists from the CAS, Charles University in Australia, Tufts University in Massachusetts, and other domestic and foreign institutions. Professor Colin Maxwell Finlayson introduced the background, original intention, and the process of revision and improvement of the Initiative. Prof. Cui Lijuan presented the Initiative and announced the official release of the Initiative.
The Initiative calls for advocating close-to-nature solutions for wetland conservation and restoration, strengthening the scientific research on the response of wetland ecosystems to global change, promoting a Cross-regional Joint Big Science Program on wetland, establishing global wetland ecosystem observation and research network, accelerating the application of high and innovative technologies in wetlands, and enhancing the influence of wetland science and technology in social development. So as to provide high-quality services for global wetland ecological protection and management, to contribute scientific and technological strength to the realization of global sustainable development.