Improving habitat for Baer’s pochard in the Chonghu wetland, China

Two brown ducks swim along dark waters

Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri) is a critically endangered species that breeds from the Amur and Ussuri basins in Russia southwards to the central and lower Yangtze floodplain in central-eastern China. It mainly winters in central-eastern China. Chonghu Wetland is the largest breeding population known in China. The species is experiencing an extremely rapid population decline, with population estimates as low as 500-1,000. The principal threats are thought to be habitat loss and degradation, but a growing threat is an increase in the severity and frequency of flooding.

Baer’s pochard breeds around lakes and other freshwater habitats (including artificial habitats such as fishponds) with rich aquatic vegetation, typically but not exclusively in dense grass or flooded tussock/shrubby meadows. As the wetlands are shallow and connected to adjacent waterbodies, the water levels can rise very quickly. In order to improve the habitat in Chonghu Wetland and stabilize the population of Baer’s pochard, this project will create a more resilient habitat, providing more areas for the birds to breed. This will include modifying the terrain and creating higher areas for nesting. The project will also plant preferred plants for the birds. And in order to reduce disturbance by visitors, deep ditches will be dug surrounding the habitat, making it less accessible for people. Common reeds will be also planted to create a barrier.