News & Events

Sino-British Summer School in Integrated Catchment Management Posted: 29/08/2010

Group Photo in Beijing

Scientific progress is made through several mechanisms, including the flow of ideas and knowledge through society. As the world is facing many environmental crises, it is imperative that understanding of environmental management is passed between researchers and students, and out into the wider world. With this end in mind, The University of Sheffield’s Catchment Science Centre teamed up with Peking University’s Centre for Water Research, to run a summer school on Integrated Catchment Management in Beijing this July, thanks to a grant from RCUK. The objective of the school was to exchange ideas and knowledge about the science of Integrated Catchment Management. Both countries had plenty to offer each other; the UK contingent giving presentations on the theory of integrated catchment management, ecology, ecosystem services, and UK case studies representing a post-industrial developed country, while the Chinese provided talks on water quantity and groundwater issues, as well as giving Chinese case studies representing a developing industrial country. There were also many workshops, allowing participants to discuss concepts, and think creatively, pushing forward ideas and understanding of Integrated Catchment Management.

After enjoying the hospitality of the campus of Peking University which hosted the presentations and workshops, the school took a tour of the Haihe Catchment in which Beijing is located. Water exploitation has become so great in the water scarce Haihe Catchment that many river channels no longer contain water (See below). High rates of groundwater abstraction have resulted in a year by year decline in the water table, causing subsidence. The little surface water left is heavily degraded, being mainly composed of sewage, industrial and agricultural effluent.

Empty river channel in Beijing

Several of the school participants then flew to Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province in the west of China. The region is also water stressed, and suffers from soil erosion, giving the muddy colour to the Yellow River which flows through the city (See below). Overexploitation of its waters has led in previous years to the complete drying up of this river before it reaches the ocean. Here the school met researchers from the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental Engineering Research Institute who introduced their study region; the Heihe Catchment in the even more arid west of Gansu province. The source of the Heihe starts in glacier capped mountains that mark the northern extent of the Himalaya, before flowing north though alpine meadows, dry plains, desert and terminating in an inland lake. The theme of water overexploitation was continued as the school heard about the inland lake completely drying up in recent years, though this had lately been reversed with more prudent water usage.

A muddy Yellow River

At the end of the summer school it was agreed all round that sharing our western and eastern knowledge and perspectives had been very constructive. It was also clear that there was a high potential for collaboration, with both UK and Chinese partners able to bring different skills to research on Integrated Catchment Management research. We look forward to further dialogue and fruitful collaborations in the future.

Scientific progress is made through several mechanisms, including the flow of ideas and knowledge through society. As the world is facing many environmental crises, it is imperative that understanding of environmental management is passed between researchers and students, and out into the wider world. With this end in mind, The University of Sheffield’s Catchment Science Centre teamed up with Peking University’s Centre for Water Research, to run a summer school on Integrated Catchment Management in Beijing this July, thanks to a grant from RCUK. The objective of the school was to exchange ideas and knowledge about the science of Integrated Catchment Management. Both countries had plenty to offer each other; the UK contingent giving presentations on the theory of integrated catchment management, ecology, ecosystem services, and UK case studies representing a post-industrial developed country, while the Chinese provided talks on water quantity and groundwater issues, as well as giving Chinese case studies representing a developing industrial country. There were also many workshops, allowing participants to discuss concepts, and think creatively, pushing forward ideas and understanding of Integrated Catchment Management.

 

After enjoying the hospitality of the campus of Peking University which hosted the presentations and workshops, the school took a tour of the Haihe Catchment in which Beijing is located. Water exploitation has become so great in the water scarce Haihe Catchment that many river channels no longer contain water (See below). High rates of groundwater abstraction have resulted in a year by year decline in the water table, causing subsidence. The little surface water left is heavily degraded, being mainly composed of sewage, industrial and agricultural effluent.