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Sharing knowledge for river health

“The experts IWC brings in from different organisations are very important for our work.”

In June 2010, the River Health and Environmental Flow in China project partners invited six researchers working on the Pearl and Yellow rivers pilot studies to Australia. They worked primarily with river health experts from across the country at Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute. Dr Fu Xinfeng is a researcher on the Yellow River pilot study. He believes the knowledge shared during this visit will enable important areas of the studies to be completed on their return to China. 

Six Chinese experts conducting research for the Pearl River and Yellow River pilot studies came to Brisbane in June, to work with river health experts from across Australia. Their primary focus was on stream classification, analysing data to identify relationships between indicators and catchment disturbance, developing social indicators as part of reporting, and investigating the use of remote sensing to assess vegetation coverage as an indicator of river health. 

Dr Fu Xinfeng

Dr Fu Xinfeng

Dr Fu Xinfeng is a researcher on the Yellow River pilot study. “It’s about five weeks we spent in Brisbane, working at Griffith University. Our pilot work was divided into three parts, which Dr Liu Xueqin, Mr Chen Liang and I worked on,” he said. 

“The work we did here will be completed in China, after discussions and meetings with the experts and managers of the Yellow River Conservancy Commission and Ministry of Water Resources.”

Dr Fu Xinfeng’s work in Australia was to develop the social indicator system, as part of the total plan for the Yellow River health assessment. “Before I arrived in Australia, I took the advice of Dr Chris Gippel, the Activity Leader for the Yellow River pilot project, which was to collect some social and economic data about the Yellow River section, from the Xiaolangdi Reservoir to the Delta,” he said. 

“I also set objectives and developed a plan for the social indicators system work I would do here. However, after I met with the Australian researchers, I was able to improve this. I listed the Yellow River social functions, and the social indexes, one by one. Then I was able to classify them, set the weighting and the assessment standard, and take measurements.” 

By the time he left Brisbane, Dr Fu Xinfeng said he had almost completed the social indicators assessment system – a tool he believes will prove useful for water management in his country. 

Dr Liu Xueqin

Dr Liu Xueqin

Meanwhile, Mr Chen Liang was investigating remote sensing data and the application of a geographic information system (GIS) for vegetation classification and data wetland health assessment in the main study area, the Yellow River Delta. Dr Liu Xueqin, from the Institute of Hydrobiology – Chinese Academy of Sciences, also worked on the Yellow River pilot study. Three researchers from the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences had visited Brisbane earlier in the year to work on the Liao River pilot study.

“We really learnt a lot from experts and friends of IWC, Griffith University, the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, and other organisations in Australia,” said Dr Fu Xinfeng. “We appreciate the teachers and researchers who gave us useful advice for our ongoing work on the project.”

Dr Fu Xinfeng said they would develop online communication and document sharing systems to allow them to connect with experts and researchers in Australia – something that would be very useful for future work on the project.

“We acknowledge the wonderful platform provided by IWC, and the experts that the IWC invited from different organisations, who are very important for our work,” he said.  On his return to China, he plans to collect the social data needed for the assessment system. He also presented a short report on the system at the ACEDP meeting in Beijing in July.




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