Harvesting reed for pulp and paper production at Wuliangsuhai Lake, Inner Mongolia

Introduction

Common reed (Phragmites australis) is an abundant wetland plant in the eutrophic Wuliangsuhai Lake. Commercial harvesting provides a removal of nutrients and reduces the accumulation of Gyttja within the lake. Therefor reed harvesting maintains an important wetland area.

Description

Situated north of the Yellow River and south of the Gobi desert, the 300 km2 Wuliangsuhai Lake serves as a significant water source, providing many important ecosystem services for the arid region. As a terminal lake of the Hetao irrigation area it is mainly fed by drainage water from agriculture fields. This drainage water brings with it high levels of fertilizer, pesticides and organic particles, which result in enhanced growth of emergent and submerged vegetation. Next to Typha latifolia, the lake is dominated by common reed, which covers half of the water. The “open” water area is mostly covered by Potamogeton pectinatus. The accumulation of organic sediments on the bottom of the lake causes the water, which is on average only 1 m deep, to rise by 7-13 mm every year and in the last 20 years a gyttja layer of about 12 cm has accumulated. At Wuliangsuhai Lake the reed harvesting annual removes 105 tons of phosphate and 417 tons of nitrogen by winter reed cutting (1995- 2010). These correspond to 14% and 13% respectively of the total phosphate and nitrogen influx.

Site Activity

Harvesting emergent plants can slow down the silting rate and help to prevent the lake changing into a marshland. In addition, with an annual harvest of 100,000 tonnes of reed, reed selling contributes significantly to local livelihoods. The majority of the reed is sold to paper factories to be made into paper pulp, which provides a significant financial benefit to the lake administration. Minor parts of reed are also used in the production of mats for covering greenhouses. The utilisation of reed has a long tradition in China. For centuries, it has been used as a fodder plant, for building material and as a source of energy. In 2004, about 1 million hectares of reed beds delivered an annual yield of 2.6 Million tonnes. 95% of this harvested reed was used for pulp and paper production - about 10% of the total non-wood pulp and paper production in China. China offers an example of how to use wetland resources for multiple purposes and how wetland plants can be used in a sustainable manner. As well as offering alternative ways to meet the growing demand for biomass and substitutes for fossil fuels, these examples of reed utilisation demonstrate the positive impacts of harvesting on eutrophic water bodies.

{"zoom":9,"lat":41.0786483,"lon":108.1279825,"markers":{"0":{"lat":40.999028236,"lon":108.892127191}}}

Project Name: Harvesting reed for pulp and paper production at Wuliangsuhai Lake, Inner Mongolia

Organisation / Lead partner: Wuliangsuhai Industry Development Cooperation Ltd

Predominately: Upland

Belfast Skyline (c) Visit Belfast
2019 Conference - Ticket Sales Now OpenIUCN UK Peatland Programme Conference 2019 - Peatlands: Investing in the Future 1st - 3rd October…
Richard Payne
A tribute to Richard Payne The IUCN UK Peatlands Programme team were all saddened to hear the shocking news about the death of…
Image of sphagnum in pool © Joe Holden
Sphagnum is a key ingredient of natural flood managementIn 2008 iCASP published research that showed how water running over Sphagnum on blanket peatlands…
Image of V-notch in ply-sheet dam © Emma Shuttleworth
Peat restoration and natural flood managementThe Upland Environments Research Unit at the University of Manchester has been working closely with…
Image of bog vegetation © Dom Hinchley
New edition of Conserving Bogs: The Management HandbookA new edition of Conserving Bogs: The Management Handbook is now available. Conserving Bogs: The…
Rob Stoneman at the House of Commons flanked by Rob Brown and Julian Sturdy
Managing the Uplands for Public Benefit House of Commons ReceptionOver 48 representatives from across the peatland community in the UK as well as MPs and Peers…
Large heath butterfly
Peatland biodiversity - butterflies & mothsAt Butterfly Conservation we understand the great value of healthy functioning peatlands for…
Cover of GHG emissions inventory
Inclusion of peatlands in the UK's GHG emissions inventory publishedThe long-awaited report on inclusion of peatlands in the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions…
Marsden Moor fire © BBC News
Record breaking Spring temperatures exacerbate wildfire outbreaks across the UKThe summer heatwave of 2018 was accompanied by wildfires across the UK with a major incident…
Staff from RSPB, Scottish Water and the contractor, McGowan Ltd, discuss the successful works at Moss of Kinmundy
Ugie Peatland Partnership welcomes restoration of local bogBog restoration works are expected to benefit local water quality and nature, as well as contribute…
Delgates at the policy and practice workshop
New initiative to combine data across studies and sites to better inform peatland policy and practice Researchers, practitioners and policy-makers from across Europe, whose goal is to understand better…