Erhai Lake Ecological Corridor: A beautiful system reviving a lake
By CGTN's Zhang Tingting

Erhai Lake is the second largest freshwater lake in Dali City, southwest China's Yunnan Province. It's a famous scenic spot, as well as Dali's main source of drinking water.

Since 2018, local authorities have been building an environmental protection system for the lake – the Erhai Lake Ecological Corridor – to protect it from being polluted and to restore its natural ecosystem. The lake used to be seriously polluted due to the rapid and unregulated development of tourism and the local economy in the past.

The project contains five parts: a 129-km road encircling the entire lake, a pipe system to stop wastewater flowing into the lake, relocation of 1,806 households who lived within the protection area of the lake, restoration of the lake's wetlands and ecosystem, and construction of experimental fields for wetland-restoration research.

By the end of 2020, the road encircling the lake had been basically completed. A 12-km section of the corridor has been open to the public for free since September 2020 for a test operation. The whole project is expected to be finished by mid-2021.

The project, which is a public-private partnership (PPP), has a total investment of 9.8 billion yuan ($1.5 billion). Local authorities of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture and Dali City are the main source of public funds.

Erhai Lake Ecological Corridor, December 11, 2020. Photo/Zhang Tingting

Erhai Lake Ecological Corridor, December 11, 2020. Photo/Zhang Tingting

The corridor is described as a "pearl necklace" surrounding the lake, with the villages located along the shore of Erhai being the "pearls." These villages will benefit from the project economically, as they will be linked and gain access to enhanced transportation and tourism around the lake.

According to project staff members, the lake's water quality and environment have already improved a lot in the past two years during the construction of the corridor. More migratory birds fly to the lake and there is less blue-green algae in the water.

It is also providing a good exercising and sight-seeing place for both the city's residents and tourists.

(All photos by CGTN's Zhang Tingting)

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