Can promoting cooperative cast-net fishery save critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris)?

On the 17th of December 2012, I visited to a village known as Sein-ban-gone village, which is situated in the Upper Central Myanmar. I was an undergraduate student that time. I went there to visit my friend Aung’s home. The village is situated by the Ayeyarwaddy river, which has been regarded as the life-blood of Myanmar. Local people in the village were friendly, open-minded and helpful. I found out that a majority of population (about 75 percent) in the village was engaged in fishery for their livelihood. Another 20 percent were engaged in agriculture, and the rest engaged in other activities such as trade, shops, government staff etc. My friend’s father, Mr. Tun was a fisherman. They used a boat and a large fishing net for fishing. One day, I was brought to their fishing trip. Aung was sitting in the back and roaring the boat, I was sitting in the middle and Mr. Tun was sitting in the front. When we got to a place, which is about 200 meters from the bank, Mr. Tun started to do a strange activity. He was tapping the side of the boat with an oar and making a strange voice from his mouth. Although I was surprised, I didn’t say nothing and just waited. Actually, I was extremely curious to know about his activity and what will happen. A few moment later, I saw a few silver fins in the water about 20 or 25 meters from the boat. Mr. Tun looked happy and said, ‘here they come! hello boys, bring me more fish for us today!’ About 5 or 10 minutes later, he throwed a big net into the river water. We waited about 15 or 20 minutes and pulled the net onto the boat. There was a lot of fishes in the net and we were happy.

Map showing habitat range of Irrawaddy dolphin and location of Sein ban gone village I visited

When we got back to home, I asked Mr. Tun about the activity. He explained me that it is a traditional fishing method they have been used and the fins we saw were the Irrawaddy dolphins. He said a dolphin group of about 6 or 7 individuals lived near their village. They had been helping in fishing for the people. But they did not always appear and we were lucky to have their assistance that day. I learnt that fishermen get more fish when they got the dolphins help during their fishing and they get fewer fish if they didn’t get the help from dolphins.

Fishermen waiting the Dolphin to participate in Cooperative Fishery (photo source: WCS Myanmar program)

Mr. Tun said there were 2 or 3 groups of dolphin near their village when he was young but some groups have disappeared. He continued, there were about 10 or 12 dolphins in the group we saw and he was afraid that group also would disappear. After hearing this, I became really interested in this human-dolphin cooperative fishing. And I felt that we need to do something before these dolphins disappeared.

Internationally, this kind of human-dolphin fishery is known as ‘cooperative cast-net fishery’. Cooperative cast-net fishery in Myanmar is one of the very few examples of human-wildlife mutualism around the world. This practice has been reported to be existed in the Central Myanmar since 130 years ago (Smith et al., 2009).

Irrawaddy Dolphin jumping happily from the river water (Photo source: WCS Myanmar Program)

The sub-population of Irrawaddy dolphin in the Irrawaddy river of Myanmar is classified as ‘critically endanger’ on the IUCN redlist. The latest available abundance estimation data shows that only about 72 individuals were remaining in 2004 (Smith and Tun, 2007). According to a non-academic source, about 62 individuals are remaining (Myanmar Times, January 2017).

Electric fishing has been reported as a top threat to the species in Myanmar (Win and Bu, 2014). Accidental entanglement in fishing nets, water pollution from gold mining operations along the river, sedimentation from deforestation are also the known pressures that are threatening the species. A 74 km long dolphin protected area was established where electric fishing and other destructive fishing method are strictly restricted. Fishermen are educated to release if dolphins were accidentally caught in their fishing nets. Trainings have been provided on how to release dolphins without injuring the dolphins. Trading whole or part of the Irrawaddy is also banned.

For me, these conservation activities are not enough to save the extinction of the Irrawaddy dolphin from extinction. These activities only focus on addressing the pressures. People outside of the protected area might continue to use the electric fishing methods, or they might just kill and eat or trade the dolphin accidently caught in their nets. Why they are still doing that?  The answer is simple because they are in poverty. This is the pressure which need to address to protect the Irrawaddy dolphin from extinction.

This goes back to my story from the beginning. During the trip, I found out that most of the fishermen were poor. Although Mr. Tun never used electric fishing, he said a lot of people are using that method because it is quite easy and cheap to set up the equipment and can catch a lot of fish with a minimum effort. Thus, it would be difficult to tackle electric fishing without reducing the poverty of the fishing communities living along the dolphin habitat.

In the ENVS3039/6024 lecture, we have learnt that a lot of recovery plans focus on addressing the direct pressures to the species and often forgot to address the drivers. In the case of conserving Irrawaddy dolphin in Myanmar, we should also focus on addressing the poverty of the fishing community. One option to do this is by promoting the traditional cooperative cast-net fishery, allowing cast-net fishermen to carry a group of tourists (4 or 5 people) when they go on cooperative fishing. Cooperative fishing can increase fish catch and thus increasing their income and developing tourism business can diversify their income. When the poverty is addressed, it will be easier to educate fishermen not to use electric fishing and they can participate more actively in the dolphin conservation efforts.

From my personal opinion, promoting cooperative cast-net fishery by integrating tourism into it can reduce the poverty of fishing communities and, ultimately, we can achieve our desired outcome to save the Irrawaddy dolphin.

Written by: Myat Ko Ko Oo (u6295481)



MYANMAR TIMES. January 2017. Will Myanmar lose its Irrawaddy dolphins. Myanmar Times, 1 October 2017.

SMITH, B. D. & TUN, M. T. 2007. Review of the Status and Conservation of Irrawaddy Dolphins Orcaella brevirostris in the Ayeyarwady River. Status and conservation of freshwater populations of Irrawaddy dolphins, 21.

SMITH, B. D., TUN, M. T., CHIT, A. M., WIN, H. & MOE, T. 2009. Catch composition and conservation management of a human–dolphin cooperative cast-net fishery in the Ayeyarwady River, Myanmar. Biological conservation, 142, 1042-1049.



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“Please! Stop Killing Us!”

This title is said by whales. They cannot speak human language but they are not silent.


Figure 1: a humpback whale. (Source: San Diego Zoo Animals)

Whales have lived on this planet for millions of years. They are all giant and living in the ocean away from human society. One species—the Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)—is the biggest mammal that ever appears on the planet, which is even bigger than dinosaurs—the distinct “domination of the Earth” (Ruud, 1956)

Figure 2: comparisons of various species from the blue whale to human. (Source: Twitter)

Don’t be scared by the big guy. Actually, most of them relay on small plankton. In the past thousands of years, they lived peacefully with human beings until the Industrial Revolution. From then, people were able to go whaling on a large scale by advanced technology. They went to every corner of the world chasing whales. That began the nightmare of whales.

Figure 3: a “trophy” was transported by train. (Source:

The industry of whaling developed rapidly since the 18th century. In late 1930’s, every year more than fifty thousand whales were killed (history of whaling, 2017). What behind the bloody killing was the great commercial profit. Megatons of meat, blubber and other parts of body were used to satisfy the demands of human beings. At the same time, the number of whales declined dramatically due to multiple artificial reasons. One of the direct reasons was overfishing; meanwhile, international trade promoted the global navigation development which damaged the habitats of whales. Therefore, in 1946, 15 nations signed the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in Washington, D.C. (International Whaling Commission, 1993). This agreement aimed to protect whales and stabilize the population of communities. However, they also wanted to continue the whale industry. Under that term, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established in the same year.

Figure 4: the logo of IWC. (

Since then, the counterviews about commercial whaling were aroused. In 1982, a moratorium was issued by the IWC about commercial whaling. From 1986, the ban of commercial whaling officially went into effect. But some countries including Japan, Norway, Iceland, and Russia opposed this moratorium; some of them objected and kept whaling. Japan began to hunt whales under the cover of scientific research (Hirata, 2005). Often they departed from north to south hemisphere for whaling in the Southern Ocean. So, in 1994, the IWC founded the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary for protecting whale community in this area (Zacharias, Gerber, and Hyrenbach, 2006). But did the killing of whales stop there?

Unfortunately, the answer is “No”. Although most countries follow the rules, some counties still ignore the ban till now. According to a report on the official website of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Japan, Norway and Iceland are still “whale killers” 31 years later since the globally commercial whaling ban went into effect.

Chart 1: this chart indicated the species and number of whales killed by Japan since 1985. The number boosted in 1986 like the last frenzy. (Source: data from; modified by Grolltech)

Japan immediately implemented so called “scientific whaling projects” after knowing the moratorium by IWC. By using that excuse, 200 Minke whales, 50 Bryde’s whales, 100 Sei whales and 10 sperm whales were killed for “science” twice a year in the North Pacific. In the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, 935 Minke whales and 50 Fin whales were killed every year by Japan. After the illegal whaling, the meat of whales will be sold on markets and some even given to schools and hospitals for free (IFAW, 2017). Many countries including Australia publicly oppose this anti-nature behaviour. In 2014, the World Count judged that Japan must stop whaling in the case by Australia against Japan (IFAW, 2014). However, Japanese continue illegal “scientific” whaling till now.

Figure 5: the news reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) showed that Japan were still killing Minke whales on March, 2017. (Source: ABC News, 2017)

At the same time, just like Japan, Norway and Iceland are doing illegal hunting. The data shows that in 2010, 148 endangered Fin whales were killed by Icelandic whalers (IFAW, 2017). People there claimed that whales around their sea area threatened local fisheries and ecosystems. But this point did not receive supports from scientists. Meanwhile, local people began to object killing of whales.

Figure 6: an Icelandic publicly objected to eat whale meat. (Source: IFAW, 2017)

Tourism about whaling is one driver of whale hunting (see figure above). Therefore, many people appeal to develop whale watching instead of killing. Whale watching as a tool to attract tourists has existed for decades. Only in 2008, the global gross values produced by whale watching were up to 2.1 billion US dollars. Whale watching develops rapidly in recent years due to its enormous economic benefits. But, new problems accompany with that. On the 2014 International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC), a report showed that whale watching influenced the behaviours of whales and increased the number of death caused by collision (Cressey, 2014). Some species of whales are highly sensitive about human disturbances. Researchers are worried about the consequences brought by “Ecotourism”. However, the whale watching is at least better than hunting.

Lack of conservation, over-fishing, and climate change, etc. all exacerbate the habitats of whales. Whales are facing a powerful enemy—whaling fleet. If they cannot get help, they may disappear from this planet forever in the close future. Don’t let these beautiful creatures die out in our generation. It is time to stop killing.


Cressey, D., 2014. Ecotourism rise hits whales. Nature512(7515), p.358.

Hirata, K., 2005. Why Japan supports whaling. Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy8(2-3), pp.129-149.

International Whaling Commission, 1993. International Convention for the regulation of whaling, 1946.

O’Connor, S., Campbell, R., Cortez, H. and Knowles, T., 2009. Whale Watching Worldwide: tourism numbers, expenditures and expanding economic benefits, a special report from the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Yarmouth MA, USA, prepared by Economists at Large228.

Ruud, J.T., 1956. The blue whale. Scientific American195(6), pp.46-51.

Zacharias, M.A., Gerber, L.R. and Hyrenbach, K.D., 2006. Review of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary: marine protected areas in the context of the International Whaling Commission Sanctuary Programme. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management8(1), p.1.



Yuying Zhao

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Is there a future for coral reef?

Saurabh Kataria

Coral reefs are in decline worldwide at a catastrophic rate due to effects of humans and will continue to do so in the future. Corals are affected by the same number of processes which have disrupted other human influenced ecosystem but there are some factors which are more prominent: (1) Increase in average sea level by even 1°C, can trigger the event of coral bleaching, alteration in coral communities and ultimately coral death. (2) Corals which are resilient to effects from habitat degradation are quite small and with a short life span. Effects from habitat degradation will lead to establishment of weak corals fragile to climate change. (3) Activities by people near reef sites increases both nutrient inputs and fishing pressure. Often these condition favors growth of competitors and might lead to eruption in predator population. (4) According to Fossil record, coral reefs as a group are more likely to face extinction than several other groups associated with them, whose habitat requirements are less rigorous (Knowlton, 2001).
Below I have listed various factors that affects corals and their evolutionary futures:

Corals and other reef dwellers are constantly being affected from the diseases. The effects on corals from pathogens are severe since high mortality rates persist [up to 2 cm of coral tissue daily (Richardson et al, 1998)] on the other hand coral growth rate are naturally low. The area of Caribbean, provide a great example for troubling situation surrounding corals. Earlier, reefs throughout the Caribbean region was dominated by a genus named Acropora. During 1990’s, Majority of Acropora were diminished to several small patches scattered across the region with a minimal recovery rate whereas the growth rates were relatively high (Richardson, 1998). The case with recent variation in coral diseases is still unknown, largely because the pathogens responsible for such diseases are still unidentified. Marine diseases are still on large as there are no records of previous diseases or any of the pathogens responsible for such consequences. Increase in the intensity of diseases in marine ecosystems could be generally a part of global climate change and terrestrial human activities have appeared to introduce at least one pathogenic agent via run-off to coral reefs (Harvell et al, 1999).

Corals don’t just have to worry about pathogens as they aren’t the only enemy who challenge their survival but coral mortality are often associated with development of competitors and predators. The biggest competitor to corals today on majority of the reefs around the world are seaweeds, competition between micro-algae and corals is designed mainly due to nutrient availability and herbivory (Hughes et al, Lapointe & McCook. 1999). Anthropogenic factors like overfishing and eutrophication that affects coral competitors are also the factors that help in population explosion of some of the coral predators. The crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci, is the most notorious of these (Bradbury et al, 1997) but explosions of predatory snails, specifically in the genus Drupella, have also been noted (Turner, 1994).


Sea level is one of the most common and prominent factor when it comes to global climate change. Sea level rise in past have been linked to coral development but in the recent scenario where sea level rise is happening at a catastrophic scale, it may result in drowning of corals (Wood, 1999). Drowning of reef would be a major and potential concern since future estimates indicates that the rise in sea level are beyond the levels to which corals would sustain. However, global climate change isn’t only limited to sea level rise but various kinds of storm activities are more than enough to wipe corals from the face of the earth. Both storm activities as well as bio-erosion are projected to rise as a response to global anthropogenic factors. The former because correlation between cyclonic storms and high temperatures while latter because of association between nutrition of bioeroders and eutrophication (Hallock, 1998). Increase in levels of storminess and bio-erosion will have evolutionary consequences on corals in addition to their common effects. These activities would support strong coral structure or skeleton which could withstand such activities. Moreover, rapid sea level rise will lead to selection for vertical growth (Knowlton, 2001) which will support selective species on expense of other species.
The above factors are major threats to the future of coral reefs and these factors are on rise with no sign of slowing down. These ecosystems are both slow in recovery and vulnerable to extinction which makes it even a bigger concern. The most appropriate guide to predicting future for corals are past mass extinction which correlates to the factors in recent scenario. Sadly, there are very little evidence in past extinction as those organisms which were vanished are different to those we wish to foresee. The combination of several factors including global warming, eutrophication and loss of top food chain members is unprecedented for more than past 65 million years. Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that many of the reef organisms that persisted and thrived during the most recent biological upheavals are those who are suffering the most now (Johnson et al, 1995). It is difficult toforesee who will be the winner in this battle but one thing is sure, we will not be happy with the outcome.


Bradbury R., Seymour R. (1997) Proc 8th International Coral Reef Symposium, 2:1357–1362.

Hallock, P (1988). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 63:275–291.
Hughes T P, Szmant A M, Steneck R, Carpenter R, Miller S (1999). Limnol Oceanography, 44:1583–1586.

Harvell C D, Kim K, Burkholder J M, Colwell R R, Epstein P R, Grimes D J, Hofmann E E, Lipp E K, Osterhaus A D, Overstreet R M, et al. (1999). Science, 285:1505–1510.
Knowlton, N. (2001). Proceeding of National Academy of Sciences of United States of America, vol. 98, no.10.
Lapointe, B. E. (1999) Limnol Oceanography, 44:1586–1592.

McCook L J (1999) Coral Reefs, 18:357–367.

Turner S. T. (1994). Oceanography Marine Biology Annual Review, 32:461–530.
Johnson K. G., Budd A. F., Stemann T. A. (1995). Paleobiology, 21:52–73.

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Biodiversity conservation issues involved in reputed trademarks in China

What is Trademark ?

Trademark value is the value of the use of a trademark at a particular time and economic value, with the use of trademarks and commodities in the process of achieving the value. Trademark is not only an intangible asset, but also an intellectual property, a trademark or a commodity. In the process of trademark design, registration and usage, there are a class of trademarks using biological images, biological names, such as the use of biological images or graphics as the logo of the trademark is defined as a biological trademark.

Figure 1: LACOSTE’s logo

Who have the responsibility to protect biodiversity in trademarks?

There is no doubt that the value of well-known trademarks in biological trademarks also contains added value from biological values. So, with the rise of the international trend of biodiversity conservation, as the use of biological trademarks, biological trademarks come and take benefits of enterprises, should bear the responsibility to protect biodiversity? Well-known trademarks on the national key protected wild plants accounted for 2. 03%. China’s first group of animal protection list of “national key protected wildlife” (1988 edition) in 110 families 441 kinds of well-known trademarks on the national key protected wild animals accounted for 4. 99%.
The idea of ​​protecting the creatures on the mark has not been widely recognized, even if it is widely used by the consumer or the business for the majority of the creatures on the trademark. Only a small number of enterprises for their own brand promotion and protection of biodiversity and through the means of financing or publicity to protect the trademark on the biological. In 2005, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) set up a “Save your logo” program designed to encourage private organizations or companies to participate in the protection of creatures in their respective logo, The conservation of biodiversity and the protection of endangered species are imminent and the establishment of the Biodiversity Conservation Fund. French brand LACOSTE because of its logo for the crocodile’s image, the first to participate in the program, and promised to protect the endangered by all kinds of crocodiles. Subsequently, France’s largest insurance company MAAF also joined the program, MAAF logo is a dolphin image, will be determined to protect the endangered dolphins and other creatures. The domestic furniture leader brand all the furniture because of the choice of the giant panda as its brand ambassador, in 2005 funded the life of Chengdu giant panda protection base and Wolong giant panda protection base of the giant panda 1, and designed for the giant panda furniture for their play.

Figure 2 : Lacoste, MAAF, Val d’Isère: three supporters of Save Your Logo

China’s current situation and biodiversity conservation actions

China is one of the most economically rich countries and China’s biodiversity ranks eighth in the world which is the northern hemisphere is the first. At the same time, China is also one of the countries with the most serious threat to biodiversity. High endangered species of higher plants up to 4000-5000 species, accounting for 15% of the total number of 20%. In the “International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Animals”

About 156 of the 640 endangered species listed in China (CITES), which is about one-fourth of the total, and the situation is very serious. In addition, China is now the country with increasing biological invasions China is one of the countries with the largest number of biological resources for the world. Most of the necessities of human life and food are from plant resources. China has provided highland barley, soybeans, red beans, mustard, apricot, peach, turmeric, sesame, tea and other important food and other biological genetic resources. At the same time, China provides a rich medicinal biological resources for the world. China is one of the first countries to sign the Convention on biological Diversity and take measures to fulfill its obligations under the convention.

Protecting biodiversity is not just the responsibility of the state and a small number of environmental groups, but also requires companies to take up social responsibility. National level protected animals Oriental White which storks in Tianjin Beidagang Wetland Nature Reserve was hunted, there are still more than 200 no migration to wintering, which also shows that China’s conservation of biodiversity still many problems.

As mentioned above, China’s well-known trademarks on the national key protected wild plants accounted for 2. 03% and well-known trademarks on the national key protected wild animals accounted for 4. 99%.If the biological trademark enterprises not only establish a trademark protection on the biological awareness and social responsibility but also put into practical protection action, which will promote the whole society attention and protection of biodiversity, building an ecological civilization to make a positive contribution.


Ma,Y.F (2010). Talk about the return value of trademark law and trademark features from the alienation of well-known trademarks. China Economic & Trade Herald, 5( 18)-86

Wang,Y.H (2007). Assessment of the value of the trademark. Journal Of Guangdong University of technology, 34(6), 203


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Xiaoyu Sun

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Working together as volunteers in Mount Majura Nature Reserve


Living in Ainslie district for over two years, I have been used to the scenes of Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura Nature Reserves every weekday back to home. Sometimes, I feel grateful to live in such a nice suburb enclosed by the mountains, enjoying beautiful scenes and fresh air directly from nature. Friends of Mount Majura (FoMM) Park Care Group gave me the opportunity to do something for the blessing.

Mount Majura Nature Reserve (MMNR), located at the Northeast of Canberra City, plays an important role in Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) conservation as Canberra Nature Park. Listed as the Critically Endangered species under the Federal EBPC Act and the recent report of less than 5% remained patches, we must act as quick as possible to prevent further loss of Yellow Box and other native gum species from land clearing by city development.

We worked at the site located at the North of MMNR, northeast of Watson Woodlands that we went before in Week 4 during the field trip, east of the Fair. This site is a Box Gun Grassy Woodland (BGGW). It provides habitats for diverse native fauna and flora, for example, the critically endangered Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) and Canberra Spider Orchid (Caladenia actensis). This site was heavily damaged from grazing by cattle, sheep and horses, resulting in loss of native species and replacement by exotic weeds and shrubs. Thanks to the volunteer work over the past two years, this landscape has been improved by manually planting native species and removing exotic species, returning to a good habitat for a lot of local endangered fauna and flora.

Figure 1: Map of Planting Area we worked on.

Figure 2: view of part of working site slope. (Sheng, 17 Sep 2017)

Working Party

On 17 Sep, I joined this session of working party to experience the conservation work they have done for the past two years. There were some new ideas about conservation working I learned from this experience.

We watered over wattle, eucalyptus seedlings and orchids one by one, each with at least four litres of water. Waltraud noticed us we must be careful of watering slowly instead of heavy pour. We must make sure the water soaked the soil thoroughly by slow watering.

Then we applied a layer of mulch around the plants and nearby land. This work is to suppress exotic and native weeds growth which impact on tree growth via competition for limited water and nutrient resources. Manual mulching was really a heavy work as we only used buckets to manually move the mulch particles and built a layer of mulch on a large area of ground.

Some findings

We spotted a brown thornbill (Acanthiza pusilla) nest spreading wattle (Acacia genistifolia) when we were watering the seedlings. This observation was exciting. It proved the work by FoMM in conserving this land, providing a good habitat for the native birds.

Figure 3: Brown thornbill nest found in Spreading wattle planted in the working area. (Sheng, 17 Sep 2017)

During the break, I noticed the two exotic trees providing shelter for us. Waltraud told us as long as they did not harm the landscape by propagating its offspring, FoMM kept them alive. They did not harm the native species while providing shelter for our volunteers, why not just keep them. Practically, recovering the site to the exact original reference site is not necessary as long as the exotic species does not stress the growth of native species. ‘Friendly’ exotic species can grow together and contribute to biodiversity, kind of ‘win-win’.

Figure 4: ‘friendly’ exotic trees providing us shelter during the break. (Sheng, 17 Sep 2017)


After several hours of working of watering and mulching, I should be honest to say it was not an easy job. A lot of manual work must be done by volunteers on such a small site, how about the other sites? I was also worried about the future work if fewer and fewer people involved in this kind of work if we do not continue. Education and promoting the importance of biodiversity conservation to the local people are equally important as what we are doing now. Conservation cannot be done with the help of people from all of the society. As long as I still live in Ainslie and receive the blessing from these nature reserves, I would appreciate continuing this voluntary work.


Thanks for Waltraud Pix, the project manager of FoMM, assisting us during the work and giving us a lot of information about this working site. I also want to thank Crystallene Fernando who worked at this site much earlier (definitely a veteran), assisting me during the work and sharing some important information about this site.


Map of 2014 Planting Area

Mount Majura Nature Reserve, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, ACT Government

White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland, Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment and Energy

Lathamus discolor — Swift Parrot, Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment and Energy

Caladenia actensis — Canberra Spider Orchid, Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment and Energy

Waltraud Pix’s blog on FoMM


Yuwei Sheng (u5897754)


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Inspiring management in protecting Chinese yew (Taxus chinensis)

Inspiring management in protecting Chinese yew (Taxus chinensis)


Species Introduction

Chinese yew (Taxus chinensis), as one of Category 1 protected species in China, has been listed in IUCN Red List as endangered species. It scattered distributes in southeastern China. The population of wild Chinese yew is estimated to appropriate 800,000 individuals. As a evergreen plant, Chinese yew is a unique species surviving from the cretaceous period in China. The ratio of female to male plants is approximately one to nine.

Figure 1. Chinese yew



The population of Chinese yew decrease rapidly (reduction is more than 50%) since nineties after scientist found that it can produce taxol(TAX) used to treat cancer (Thomas, 2013). Before paclitaxel(taxol) synthesizing totally and successfully achieves in laboratory, extracting TAX from genus Taxus plants is the only way to acquire TAX for medicines. But each kilogram of paclitaxel requires a live stripping of 10 tons of yew bark. Moreover, the other parts of the plant, such as roots, leaves and bark can be used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various diseases. There are increasing number of consumers are attracted by the high medicine value of Chinese yew. This led to the indiscriminate cut and use of Chinese yew. Unfortunately, the generation lengths of this species are estimated to over 40 years because of the slow growth rates and longevity. Its regeneration ability is unable to meet the demand so the population of this species is experiencing a dramatic falling.


Inspiring Management Methods in China

Figure 2. Yeliang Mountain conservation park

As many other endangered species, establishing natural reserve and conservation park is an available method to protect Chinese yew, so the government established Yeliang Mountain conservation park located in southeastern China in 1997. This approach can also be used for protecting many other species. However, it still can not effectively forestall the illegal logging of yew. To some extent, establishing conservation area would hinder the development of medicine. It is illegal to cut the tree in the conservation area in the conservation area. The less yew trees can be cut and obtained, the less TAX extracted from the yew can be used for medicine and researches. In purpose of meet the demanding while protecting the yew, the government conducts some inspiring managements to encourage the artificial propagation of yew so that some qualified individuals and companies can be authorized to collect the wild yew branches to conduct cutting propagation. At the same time, it is prohibited to use collected branches for the construction of TAX material base or other commercial activities. When the authorized individuals or companies collect the branches from the yew trees, it is recommended to collect upper new-born branches from the strong yew tree. This can effectively reduce the damage to the yew and increase the survival rate of cutting seedlings. After the cutting plant grows independent of the parent, the new plants can be used for commercial activities. This method not only contributes to increase the yew population, but also considers the huge demanding of yew.

Figure 3. Yew cuttings have been coaxed to form new roots


Conclusion & Inspiration

Usually, when we talk about the biodiversity conservation, the first idea to protect a particular species is establishing the conservation park. However, doing so often does not effectively increase their numbers, especially for some species that grow slowly and have a long generation length (e.g. Chinese yew). In this case, it teaches us sometimes authorize and encourage qualitied individuals to cultivate the endangered plant with asexual propagation could be another choice except establishing conservation park.


Wenjun He




Thomas, P., Li, N. & Christian, T. 2013. Taxus chinensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e. T42548A2987120.



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Water hyacinth: a killer of aquatic biodiversity

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), a species that originated in South America, has been widely distributed in the world. It is a free-floating aquatic macrophyte that typically grows about 0.5m height and up to 1m in tropical areas. Recently, it is considered as an invasive species in many places due to its destruction on water and aquatic biodiversity. It will affect more countries with its expansion into higher latitudes due to climate change (Villamagna & Murphy, 2010).

Fig. 1. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) (credits: Ted Center/USDA)

How water hyacinths become weeds?

Water hyacinth was introduced in China as a good fodder plant since 1901 (Chu et al, 2006). In the period with low level of agricultural development when serious food competition existed between humans and domestic animals, water hyacinth played an important part in China. However, farmers reduce familial feeding using water hyacinth gradually with the improvement of agricultural technology and development of urbanization. As a result of rapidly spreading from family ponds into inner rivers, water hyacinth population has become a severe environmental problem nowadays as its dominant situation in water because of the nutrient content of water increased with the improving industrialization level. Among the 7 billion economic loss caused by invasive species, water hyacinth which results in impeding water flows, paralyzing navigation, and damaging irrigation and hydroelectricity facilities occupies the largest proportion (Chu et al, 2006). Since 1990, water hyacinth became a synonym for “pollution” in China. It costed huge amount of money while the pollution cannot be completely eradicated such as Dianchi Lake, Taihu Lake and the Pearl River. According to the statistics, the amount of water hyacinth harvested was increased from 0.5 tons per day in 1975 to 500 tons per day in 2000 (Lu et al, 2007). In addition, water bodies of approximately 19 provinces or cities were infected by water hyacinth (Lu et al, 2007).

Fig. 2. Water hyacinth chokes the Pearl River

Threats to the aquatic biodiversity

The presence of water hyacinth is mainly determined by its unique biological characteristics, global warming of greenhouse effect and the accelerated eutrophication process (Yan et al, 2017). This invasive weed colonized the ecosystem around the growing environment as it spread. It is well known that the structure of a macrophyte community is significant for determining phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish communities. Nevertheless, the high reproductive capacity of water hyacinth poses a great threat to biodiversity as it is more competitive than other species. Water hyacinth can even grow more than 1.5 meters above the water level under sufficient nutrient supply and expand to twice in amount in two weeks (Yan et al, 2017). When it forms to be a dense monoculture, it can alter the structure and function of ecosystem by changing the physical and chemical aquatic environment through interfering with the food chains and nutrient cycling (Shanab et al, 2010). Moreover, dense water hyacinth would reduce the amount of light reaching the submerged plants which consume the dissolved oxygen in the water. The reduction of dissolved oxygen content will then affect the plankton diversity and ultimately affect aquaculture yields. The decrease in DO also promotes a shift of fish species from high oxygen demanding species to lower oxygen tolerating species while most fish species prefer DO level more than 4 mg/L (Yan et al, 2017).


How to control?

Since the pollution of water hyacinth is a seasonal outbreak, the control measures used in many parts of China are combination of manual and mechanical salvage. Although studies have shown that biological control such as neochetina bruchi is more effective without damaging crops. However, this method is still in the experimental stage in China because it is not certain whether this species will show a strong ecological invasion in China.

Current studies suggest that water hyacinth is difficult and unlikely to be completely eradicated partly because of the high cost of mechanical harvesting and disposal (Yan et al, 2017). Additional, the management of water hyacinth includes a series of decisions, policies and actions based on environment which makes the decision makers to be solid consideration. Future research may be focus on developing low cost salvage techniques.



Chu, J. J., Ding, Y., & Zhuang, Q. J. (2006). Invasion and control of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) in China. Journal of Zhejiang University-Science B, 7(8), 623-626.

Lu, J., Wu, J., Fu, Z., & Zhu, L. (2007). Water hyacinth in China: a sustainability science-based management framework. Environmental management, 40(6), 823.

Shanab, S. M., Shalaby, E. A., Lightfoot, D. A., & El-Shemy, H. A. (2010). Allelopathic effects of water hyacinth [Eichhornia crassipes]. PLoS One, 5(10), e13200.

Villamagna, A. M., & Murphy, B. R. (2010). Ecological and socio‐economic impacts of invasive water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes): a review. Freshwater biology, 55(2), 282-298.

Yan, S. H., Song, W., & Guo, J. Y. (2017). Advances in management and utilization of invasive water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) in aquatic ecosystems–a review. Critical reviews in biotechnology, 37(2), 218-228.


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Figure 2.



Yuan Cheng

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