“Honghu Lake, the waves crashing on the shore, of our home town.” This ballad has made Honghu Lake a household name. Back in the day, Honghu did live up to its name and had clear green ripples echoing in the lake.
In the 1990s, Honghu lost its previous glamour. Overfishing brought in incomes while at the same time hindered the future of Honghu. As waters in the lake grew muddier, villagers were devastated, and they grew reluctant to drink from the lake. Moreover, deterioration in the water quality of Honghu Lake, meant that the waterweeds were on the verge of extinction, the number of water birds and fishes shrank dramatically.
In 2003, HSBC helped World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to partner with Honghu Lake Reserve Administration Bureau. A preservation and restoration demonstration zone covering 5,000 mu (around 3.33 km²) had been established in Yangchai Lake Area of Honghu: with fishing nets and poles removed, cages torn down, waterweeds planted, wild ducks bred and indigenous fish fries released – the demonstration zone was brought back to life. Water quality at the demonstration zone met with Level II national standard. Waterweeds began to grow again, 33 species of water birds, including the endangered oriental stork returned. Success of the demonstration zone offered a silver lining for the wetland preservation of Honghu Lake. Then began the comprehensive improvement of the ecological situation in Honghu Lake.
HSBS knows that completely solving the problem requires more than just helping fishermen to be more environmentally conscious and must take into account the demand for economic development and daily needs of residents. We also need to help them develop environment-friendly livelihood to secure their income.
HSBC joined forces with research institutes and NGOs to assist the government in helping fishermen to find alternative sources of income, such as moving from traditional fishing to eco-friendly aquaculture, developing eco-tourism, and producing premium aqua products, all of which adheres to the philosophy of “ecology first, green development”. HSBC’s initiative of helping with the rebirth of Honghu Lake won the “Best Lake Protection Practice Award” at the 2006 World Lake Congress.
A charming Honghu Lake re-surfaced – the vast lake is filled with clear waters, teeming with lotus flowers, wild ducks can be found everywhere, while gulls are dozing off on the lake. Honghu Lake today bristles with vitality.
This is a tiny part of HSBC Living Yangtze Programme. HSBC has donated more than RMB200 million over the past 20 years, dedicated to the general preservation of the Yangtze River basin and the major wetlands in China. It has protected rivers of 1,222 km, wetland areas of 614,784 hectares, while the green development fuelled by this programme benefited 83,288 people. In the future, HSBC will spare no effort and continue to work with all walks of the society to jointly build a beautiful China.