The Yangtze River Basin is a development area of strategic importance in China. Conservation of the Yangtze River must be balanced with economic development and livelihood improvement. Over the past 20 years, HSBC has donated more than RMB 200 million for the conservation of the Yangtze River Basin and China's major wetlands. In total, with support from the bank, 2,432 km of the River and 767,620 hectares of wetlands were protected while more than 5,000 wetland managers and conservers were trained. At the same time, green development fueled by this programme has benefited 83,914 people.
"Protecting the environment, tackling climate change and supporting sustainable development have always been HSBC’s commitments. In 2020, the bank launched a new round of Climate Change Initiative to support our customers, employees and communities in pursuing green development and embracing a low-carbon era together." said Mark Wang, President and CEO, HSBC Bank (China) Company Limited.
In the early 90s, Honghu Lake was densely populated by fishing nets fixed with more than 10 million bamboo poles. People started fishing in large quantities. As a result, water stopped flowing and became increasingly dirty, and fish production dropped dramatically. So some fishermen began to hunt birds for a living, and Zhang Shengyuan was one of them. After education by the authorities, Zhang realised that protecting the environment means protecting his own livelihood and later became an assistant patroller. That changed him completely. He put down his hunting rifle and began to patrol Honghu Lake day and night by punting a small boat, rain or shine, to spot and expel poachers. HSBC assisted WWF and the Honghu Conservation Authority in establishing a wetland protection and restoration demonstration area in Yangchaihu Lake, and carried out large-scale fence removal work there. During the restoration process, HSBC’s staff volunteers would often visit Honghu Lake and get directly involved in local conservation efforts. Each time they go there, they could see Zhang boating in different areas of the lake with a bamboo pole.
The dramatic shift from over-exploiting to protecting makes a wonderful story. More importantly, it represents significant improvements in people’s awareness and capacity of wetland conservation. This is a tiny part of HSBC Living Yangtze Programme. In the future, HSBC will continue to focus on source water protection and environmental education to join efforts in building a beautiful China together.