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

    Brown butterfly with black spots on pink bell shaped flower
    New species showcase - large heathOur latest species showcase introduces the large heath butterfly, its association with two iconic…
    Haresfoot cottongrass with blue sky in the background. Credit Laurie Campbell SNH
    New briefing addresses the peatlands and methane debateThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme has launched a new briefing “Peatlands and Methane” that summarises…
    Peatland with mountains in the background
    New £3 million fund for peatland restoration in Northern IrelandApplications for the new £3million Peatland Challenge Fund to help protect Northern Ireland's…
    Sphagnum moss on healthy peatland
    Scotland’s Peatland ACTION programme hits record restoration milestoneFor the first time since the Peatland ACTION programme began, more than 10,000 hectares of damaged…
    A cottongrass seedhead
    New species showcase - cottongrassOur May species showcase looks at the role that cottongrass plays in peatlands, its cultural and…
    Jennifer Fulton at an IUCN UK Peatland Programme conference
    Remembering Jennifer FultonWe, at the IUCN UK Peatland Programme, are still reeling from the loss of Jennifer Fulton, Chief…
    Dotterel (c) Pete Quinn
    Conference 2024 tickets now on sale!Tickets for our 2024 conference in Aviemore, 17-19 September, are now on sale - join us to…
    Dunlin (c) RSPB
    New species showcase - dunlinThe third of our showcases explores the importance of dunlin as an indicator species for peatland…
    Landscape view of Red Moss of Balerno
    Peatland Code Public Consultation The Peatland Code is committed to continuous improvement and would like to invite you to comment on…
    Micrograph of testate amoeba showing internal structures
    Please give 10 minutes of your time to help answer the question: Is palaeoecological research utilised in UK peatland restoration projects? Can you complete a short survey on the extent to which palaeoecological research is utilised in UK…
    Group of people stood in an open peatland landscape
    Muirburn licencing made law in ScotlandScotland’s peatlands will benefit from increased protection due to a new law passed on 21st March…
    Molinia Mulching Agglestone Mire, remover higher tussocks to increase the connectivity of the floodplain (c) Sally Wallington
    Dorset peatland restorationThe Dorset Peat Partnership completed the first of their sixteen peatland restoration sites in…