BEIJING, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Dongting Lake, the country's second-largest freshwater lake in central China's Hunan Province, has been known for being a place of abundance since ancient times, giving locals countless natural gifts.
However, the lake along the Yangtze River suffered from deteriorating water quality before the year 2013. The water surface with pollution level below Grade V accounted for 5 percent, making it unusable for industrial and irrigation purposes.
He Dongshun, a 25-year-old fisherman, said he used to go fishing with his parents at youth age. They would not stop fishing until their boat was teeming with fish.
However, illegal sand mining coupled with massive vessels sailing and berthing in the area affected the ecosystem of the lake, and as a result, fishery resources in the lake continued to deplete.
Wednesday marks China's 10th National Low-carbon Day, and it is the country's decade-long efforts in environmental protection and improvement that have made a change in its overall ecosystem.
China has pledged to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. It vows to tackle climate change and unswervingly follow the path of green and low-carbon development.
Between 2000 and 2017, China had contributed about 25 percent of global vegetation growth, the biggest share among all countries. Between 2016 and 2020, the country had restored 1,200 km of its coastline and 23,000 hectares of seaside wetlands.
According to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, in 2021, the surface water with the worst pollution level of below Grade V was further lowered to 1.2 percent, 6.7 million hectares of land were afforested, and 62,000 square-km eroded land was treated nationwide.
China's ecological endeavors not only keep a foothold at home, but also provide global solutions, said Shi Lei, a professor at the School of Environment and Natural Resources, Renmin University of China.
In 2021, China announced that it has completed drawing ecological protection "red lines" nationwide, which demarcate no less than 25 percent of its land area for environmental protection.
The country's "red lines" proposal has been selected by the United Nations as one of the 15 best Nature-based Solutions around the globe in 2019.
Starting from 2020, with the ban on fishing in key areas of the Yangtze River basin, He Dongshun joined a team of conservationists to protect the ecosystem of the lake. Several of his teammates had previously engaged in fishing, too.
He said that in the past two years, he has stumbled upon many animals thought to be extinct. "I have the duty to dedicate myself to Dongting Lake, my 'mother lake'."