Central Yangtze - Partnership for a Living River

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > East Asia > China

Terraced fields. Shibao block town, Yangtse, China.
© WWF-Canon / Mauri RAUTKARI


This WWF programme aims to lay the foundation for a long-term ‘Living Yangtze’ campaign by providing a new approach to conservation.

Work will focus on policy changes, communication and education which address the numerous threats facing the Yangtze, and deal with opposition and barriers to change from both local communities and government.


Rising on the Tibetan plateau and flowing into the sea at Shanghai, the Yangtze River has long shaped the physical and cultural landscape of southern China. Entering a broad floodplain about halfway along its journey, the river is also feared for its regular summer flooding.

The lakes given shape by these floods host vast flocks of migratory birds, including almost the entire Siberian crane population, and the Yangtze River dolphin which is very close to extinction, if not extinct already.

The symptoms of the Yangtze problem are myriad. Pollutants and sewage foul the river in unknown quantities. Unsustainable land use results in silting downstream. Communities are hostile to conservationists, believing they block access to resources. In addition, government mismanagement leads to a failure to link upstream with downstream issues, agriculture and forestry with industry, human needs with those of wildlife, and present with future generations.

Alternative decision-making will be demonstrated. Structural conflicts within government which result in environmental problems will be addressed. Alternative technologies will be introduced in the energy sector. Policies for more sustainable use of forests will be implemented. Integrated wetland conservation and wise use will also be demonstrated.


1. Facilitate alternative decision-making based on integration of environmental factors and human development needs.

2. Assist in resolving structural conflicts within government.

3. Restore the links between lake and river.

4. Demonstrate alternative resource-management regimes.

5. Build the institutional capacity of government counterpart institutions.

6. Publicize these efforts.


Over the next decade, a new decision-making process will be introduced locally, eliminating the structural obstacles currently hindering conservation. New technologies which have proven economically beneficial will be replicated, resulting in cleaner water and air in selected localities.

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