To further power up its western frontier China needs to take bold moves to buff up its up self reliance. Often controversial as the magnitude of change can be discomforting, Australia could perhaps provide some tips on how to do so a little more harmoniously.
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Birds, dams and people: biodiversity in China
By Wendy Wright
Monash University Australia
Source – The Conversation, published Jan 28, 2013
Four major hydroelectric projects are planned for the upper Yangtze River valley. Photo by Steb Fisher
The 2012 China Ecological Footprint Report has highlighted the cost to biodiversity of China’s rapid economic development.
Biodiversity in China is under pressure because of loss of habitat. In our study area on the upper Yangtze River, this is exacerbated by a series of proposed dams. Four large hydro-electricity schemes, each involving the construction of a large dam, are planned for this section of the river, known as Jinshajiang. When complete, an 800km section of the river forming the border between Sichuan and Yunnan will be affected. The total capacity of the four schemes is 42,460 MW, much greater than the capacity of the Three Gorges Dam.
Dramatic changes in the ecosystems of the area are likely to occur as a result of permanent flooding. The Baihetan hydroelectricity project is by far the largest of the four. This area has a relatively poor regional economy and most of the population has an income below national and provincial poverty lines. Agriculture is the main economic activity for the local population and substantial food and silk resources are grown in the area. Most of the people are from the Yi Minority Nationality. The Yi people typically farm the higher elevation areas, which are more marginal in productivity.
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