The CBCGDF Lop Nur Scientific Expedition Team Conducted Field Surveys in the Tarim River Basin Administration
2020/10/13 15:42:00 本站

The Tarim River has a total length of 2,486 kilometers and a drainage area of 1.02 million square kilometers. It is the longest inland river in China. For south Xinjiang, it is a veritable mother river, raising more than 12 million people on the banks. The Tarim River is one of the most important tributaries flowing into Lop Nur.


On the morning of October 11, the scientific expedition team led by China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) went to the Tarim River Basin Administration to conduct a field research. The Administration is responsible for the comprehensive management and unified management of water resources in the Tarim River Basin.


Looking back at the historical evolution of the water resources in the Tarim River Basin, the Administration was established in the 1990s to urgently respond to the severe aquatic ecological status of the Tarim River. It has two most notable missions. The first is to be responsible for water distribution and water management in the basin, one is responsible for the ecological replenishment of the Tarim River Basin.


From the map, the Tarim Basin, located in the heart of Asia, is golden, the Taklimakan desert occupies the entire basin, and the Tarim River is located on the northern edge of the Taklimakan desert. After converging the upstream tributaries such as Aksu River, Kashgar River, Yarkant River, Hotan River, they flowed from west to east, and finally disappeared in the vast desert. Its tail plate is Taitema Lake. The Tarim River is mainly formed by the convergence of 144 rivers in nine major water systems along the way.


However, since the 1940s, monitoring has shown that the mainstream of the Tarim River has been mainly supplied by Aksu River, Hotan River, Yarkant River, and Kaidu-Kongque River. After the 1950s and 1960s, with the increase in the population on both sides of the banks and the intensification of human activities caused by economic and social development, the ecology of the Tarim River Basin has been deteriorating, the soil desertification has intensified, the groundwater level has fallen, extreme weather has occurred frequently, and some important species have disappeared. The green corridor in the lower reaches of the river is precarious. Since the 1970s, the lower reaches of the Tarim River have been cut off, and Taitma Lake has dried up completely without dripping water.


In terms of species, the Tarim River Basin is also facing a great crisis. For example, Aspiorhynchus laticeps, which belongs to only one species, is called the living fossil of ancient fish. It is a unique fish species in China and only distributed in the Tarim water system. But today, in its largest place of origin Bosten Lake, it has basically disappeared.


Another example is the most characteristic populus euphratica forest in the Tarim River Basin. "Populus euphratica Oliv is a very tough and tenacious plant. In the case of extreme water shortage, in order to adapt to the environment, it will even survive by ‘self-breaking bones’", the relevant staff of the Administration introduced. In order to cope with drought, in addition to the main trunk part of poplar trees to keep alive, its originally prosperous branches and leaves will wilt and die by themselves, so you will often see the top and branches of a tree withered and golden, and its trunk is still somewhat green , similar to the populus euphratica forest.


However, in the early 1990s, people discovered that the populus euphratica forest in the Tarim River Basin was rapidly decreasing, and many populus died, especially the area of populus euphratica forest and tamarix chinensis in the lower reaches of the Tarim River. Decreasing at a rate of 100,000 to 150,000 mu per year, the downstream green corridors are facing the risk of being swallowed by wind and sand.


In order to curb the trend of ecological deterioration in the Tarim River Basin, the state has approved the comprehensive management planning report of the Tarim River Basin since 2001, with a total investment of 10.739 billion yuan to comprehensively control the ecology of the Tarim River Basin. After more than 10 years of hard work, with the advancement of measures such as water conservation, river governance, and unified management of water resources in the river basin, ecological replenishment of the lower reaches of the Tarim River is carried out every year, and ecological governance has achieved initial results. Since 2016, the populus euphratica forest on both banks has also taken special ecological water replenishment measures. Today, the populus euphratica forest and shrubs on the lower banks of the Tarim River have been significantly restored, and the downstream rivers have recovered water. The Taitma Lake, which has dried up for 30 consecutive years, has also revived. At one time it reached 511 square kilometers in 2007.


The ecological deterioration and improvement of the Tarim River Basin in the past half a century left a deep impression on the CBCGDF scientific expedition team. As the most important upstream water system in Lop Nur, the ecology of the Tarim River is obviously inextricably linked with the past of Lop Nur desertification and its future. In the afternoon, the CBCGDF scientific expedition team left the Tarim River Administration and continued with the scientific investigation of the Kongque River, another important upstream in Lop Nur.

(Photo credit: CBCGDF)

Original Chinese article:

By / Maggie

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