Beijing, Aug 3 (IANS) Chinese scientists have started a research programme on the country's largest freshwater lake in a bid to strengthen economic development in the region, Xinhua reported Friday.
The lake is a key water supply source for about one million people and a natural habitat for numerous migratory birds and aquatic species.
The programme, the second in three decades, will bring together scientists from 30 institutes from across the country to conduct research on the ecological, environmental and hydrological systems of Poyang Lake in Jiangxi province, said Hu Zhenpeng, the programme's director.
The three-year programme will cost of 10 million yuan (about $1.6 million).
"We hope to establish a comprehensive, systematic and authoritative database, which is also long-term based and dynamic, to solve the natural and social problems facing Poyang Lake, and to realise sustainable development in the region," Hu said.
The database will provide scientific and technical support for the establishment of the Poyang Lake ecological and economic zone, Hu added.
Over the past years, reduced rainfall, rampant sand dredging and the building of dams at the upstream of the Yangtze have caused the size of Poyang Lake to shrink from 4,000 sq km at its peak to about 200 sq km this January.
Environmentalists estimate that about 70 percent of Poyang's fishery resources have vanished over the last three decades.
China conducted its first scientific research on Poyang Lake from 1983 to 1988.