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Water as Vast as the Sky

As the largest freshwater lake in China, Jiangxi’s Poyang Lake is “as vast as the sky”, according to a depiction by YANG Wanli, a poet of the Southern Song Dynasty. The lake is a junction where the five major rivers in Jiangxi – namely Gan River, Fu River, Xin River, Rao River and Xiushui River – converge before entering Yangtze River through Hukou. Therefore, the rise and fall in the water level of Yangtze River affect Poyang Lake directly. With the higher water level of Yangtze River in summer from April to September every year, the lake remains in the state of “an expanse in the wet season”, spanning over 3 500 square kilometres. However, in autumn and winter from October to March of next year, the river’s lowered water level is followed by a flow of water from the lake to the river, which causes the total surface area of the lake to shrink to less than 200 square kilometres. It is the time when the lake transforms into numerous streams and small lakes, and appears as “a line in the dry season”. This rare geographical phenomenon of “an expanse in the wet season, a line in the dry season” is precisely a major feature of Poyang Lake.

During the dry season, the drop in the lake’s water level reveals an immense wetland, which serves as a nurturing ground for a rich collection of species including fish, shrimps, conches, mussels and various kinds of waterweeds, maintaining biodiversity. In addition, the wetland also becomes a paradise for migrating birds to stay in winter. Of the around 148 types of birds in the area, 20 of them are nationally protected, for example, the endangered species Grus leucogeranus and Ciconia nigra. Poyang Lake’s wetland was thus listed as a “globally significant wetland” in 1992. A wetland reserve has been established there with bird caretakers. Many members of the public, even including farmers whose crops are eaten by migrating birds, understand the importance of providing these birds with attention and care.

The fishing industry at Poyang Lake dates back to a long time ago. Throughout history, its abundant, fresh, quality fish resources have fed generations of lakeside inhabitants and given rise to fisherman customs and cultures infused with characteristics of Poyang Lake. Even though urban development is leading to a diminishing number of fishermen, their traditions such as fishermen’s songs and yugu drums stay alive and share the air with Poyang Lake.

Assistant Producer: Mandy KWOK
Producer: Carrie WONG
Executive Producer: CHUNG Ka-wai

Cultural Heritage-The Land

Cultural Heritage-The Land - a series of 8 episodes focus on the geographical beauty of mainland China.
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