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Monday, December 4, 2023

The Fisherman turned Environmental Protector: Li Guozhong’s Efforts to Restore Hengshui Lake’s Ecosystem

ChinaThe Fisherman turned Environmental Protector: Li Guozhong's Efforts to Restore Hengshui Lake's Ecosystem


Li Guozhong, a 56-year-old man, has been a fisherman for half of his life, and he now spends his days protecting the ecological environment of Hengshui Lake, a national nature reserve in Hengshui city, north China’s Hebei Province. Every day, Li starts his day by walking along the 7 kilometer-long bank of the lake, which takes him around two hours. Li walks along the bank of the river at least twice a day to observe what’s happening on the surface of the water. By 9 a.m. every day, he has already finished his first walk.

After observing the lake on land, Li paddles a boat to patrol the lake. He scrutinizes the lake area while paddling his boat. During the patrol, he rescues birds accidentally trapped in such devices as fishing nets and fish cages. He said, “We make patrols to investigate vegetation and birds in the area, because birds build their nests in plants and all the reeds and soil here are their home. We are irrigating the beauty of the natural environment with our sweat.” Li’s efforts are part of a larger initiative to restore and protect the lake’s ecosystem.

Li has been living near Hengshui Lake for most of his life. He said that as he walks along the lake bank to patrol the lake in the rays of the rising sun and amid the happy songs of various species of birds, he feels more energetic than at any other time of the day. Li’s passion for protecting the environment is evident in his daily routine. His commitment to his work is a reminder of the importance of individual efforts in preserving nature.

Hengshui Lake is a vital resource for both the local community and the region. It is one of the most important wetlands in northern China, and it serves as a critical habitat for birds and fish. However, overfishing and pollution have threatened the lake’s ecosystem. Li’s efforts to protect the lake are therefore crucial for the survival of the plants and animals that depend on it.

Li’s work is a testament to the power of individual action in protecting the environment. His commitment to preserving the lake’s ecosystem is an inspiration to others who want to make a positive impact on the environment. Through his work, Li is not only protecting the lake’s ecosystem but also serving as a role model for future generations who will continue the effort to preserve and protect nature.

Before Li Guozhong became a volunteer river patroller, he was a local fisherman who relied on Hengshui Lake for his livelihood. Like many other fishermen, he used various methods such as fishing nets and electric devices to catch fish and engaged in pen culture to improve his income. At that time, hundreds of fishing boats could be seen on the lake, which was considered “the most beautiful wetlands” in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Over time, however, Li and his fellow fishermen found it increasingly difficult to make a living from fishing. The lake’s water became muddy, and the number of fish and birds inhabiting the lake area declined significantly. The environmental degradation made Li start to think about what he could do to help improve the situation of the lake.

Li’s decision to become a volunteer river patroller was driven by his desire to protect the lake’s ecosystem. Through his work, he hopes to make a positive impact on the environment and restore the lake’s natural beauty. Li’s experience as a fisherman has given him a deep appreciation for the lake’s importance as a vital resource for the local community and the region.

As a volunteer river patroller, Li is part of a larger initiative to restore and protect the lake’s ecosystem. He and his fellow patrollers work to investigate vegetation and birds in the area, rescue animals accidentally trapped in fishing nets and fish cages, and monitor the water quality of the lake. Through their efforts, they are helping to preserve the lake’s biodiversity and ensure its long-term survival.

Li’s story is a reminder of the importance of sustainable development and the need to protect the environment for future generations. By working to restore and protect the lake’s ecosystem, Li is not only helping to improve the livelihoods of local fishermen but also contributing to the overall well-being of the community. His commitment to preserving the lake’s natural beauty is an inspiration to others who want to make a positive impact on the environment.

In 2017, the comprehensive law enforcement bureau of the Lakeside New Area, which administers the Hengshui Lake, began recruiting volunteer patrollers. Li Guozhong was quick to sign up for the program. Over the past six years, he has recorded relevant information about his patrol every day and has witnessed the improvement of the lake ecosystem, leading to a rise in water quality from below Grade V in China’s five-tier water quality system to Grade III.

As a volunteer patroller, Li has contributed to the restoration and protection of Hengshui Lake’s ecosystem. His daily patrols and meticulous documentation have helped track changes in the lake’s water quality and wildlife populations. He has witnessed firsthand how the water became clearer, and how the number of fish and shrimp in the lake has increased, attracting more birds to the area.

The rise in water quality from Grade V to Grade III is a significant achievement for Hengshui Lake. It is a testament to the effectiveness of the comprehensive law enforcement bureau’s efforts to restore and protect the lake’s ecosystem, and the dedication of Li and his fellow patrollers in carrying out their duties.

The improvement in water quality and the growth in wildlife populations in the lake are not only essential for the local community’s livelihoods but also for the region’s ecological balance. The increased populations of fish and shrimp have created new economic opportunities for local fishermen, and the growing number of birds has enhanced the area’s biodiversity.

Li’s experience as a volunteer patroller highlights the importance of citizen engagement in environmental protection efforts. His commitment to the lake’s preservation has not only helped to restore the ecosystem but has also created awareness among the local community about the importance of protecting natural resources.

Today, Hengshui Lake has become a sanctuary for wildlife, including Baer’s pochard, a globally endangered species that is under national first-class protection in China. The lake has also become home to a variety of herons and egrets. A total of 333 species of birds and 757 species of insects have been spotted in the lake area, thanks to the local government’s efforts to enhance protection for the lake and the hard work of selfless lake patrollers like Li Guozhong.

Li has been patrolling the lake for six years now, and he continues to take pride in his work. The task of patrolling the lake is lonely and time-consuming, but Li believes that the preservation of the lake’s ecosystem is worth the effort. He is committed to protecting the lake’s lucid waters and blue skies so that future generations can enjoy the beautiful environment that they are trying to preserve.

Despite the challenges of patrolling the lake, Li remains motivated and dedicated to his work. He sees his role as a lake patroller not just as a job, but as a responsibility to his community and the environment. He is constantly seeking ways to improve his work and to better understand the complex ecosystem of the lake.

Li is also committed to sharing his knowledge and experience with others. He wants to inspire his family, children, and everyone he knows to join him in protecting the Hengshui Lake. He believes that by working together, they can preserve the lake’s ecosystem and ensure that it remains a thriving habitat for wildlife.

In conclusion, Li Guozhong’s dedication and hard work as a lake patroller have played a crucial role in the restoration and protection of the Hengshui Lake ecosystem. The rise in water quality and wildlife populations is a testament to his commitment and the efforts of other lake patrollers. Li’s work is a shining example of how citizen engagement can make a significant difference in environmental protection efforts. His commitment to educating others about the importance of environmental protection ensures that his legacy will continue for years to come.

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