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Lake Profile

Poyang (Boyang, Po Yang Hu, Poyanghu)

General Information

Description Poyang is the largest freshwater lake in China. The lake helps regulate water in the Yangtze River by providing water to the river during low water periods and receiving water from the river during the high water period.
Country China
Latitude 30° 10' 0" (30.1667)
Longitude 116° 28' 0" (116.4667)
River Basin Yangtze

Physical Characteristics

Description Poyang is a shallow lake that "has a vast expanse of surface when much water flows in but becomes rather a line when dried up" (Jin 1995). Its volume and surface area vary dramatically by season. Surface area ranges from 146 square km to 3,210 square km.

Poyang Lake lies at the convergence of 5 rivers, the Ganjiang River, the Fuhe River, the Xinhe River, the Raohe River and the Xiushui River. Poyang's very large watershed makes up 97% of the total area of Jiangxi Province.

Surface Area 5,100.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 14.5 m
Maximum depth: 22.0 m
Origin River
Type Fresh
Catchment Catchment size: 162,225.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 32:1


Economic Value
Major Cities

Watershed Management

Description Five protection zones for the lake, lakeshore and watershed have been mapped out since 1970 but lax regulations and coordination problems have hindered implementation.
Issues Large scale land reclamation around the lake has sharply reduced the surface and storage capacity of the lake. Major sources of industrial pollution include iron, steel, chemical and paper mills. Lake Poyang has been widely polluted by phenol. The greatest amount of pollution comes from the Ganjiang River tributary. Most of the non-point pollution in the watershed is from agriculture.
Other Issues Erosion
Nutrient pollution
Specific Contaminants Industrial
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality

Water Quality

Biodiversity Conservation

Description 95% of the world's white cranes live in the Lake Poyang region. Four types of cranes overwinter near the lake. There is a migratory bird protection zone in the watershed located where the Ganjiang and the Xiuhe River meet to the west of the lake. There are over 150 species in the lake region, including over 20 endangered species.

There are 122 species of fish belonging to 21 families in Lake Poyang. There are also black finless porpoise (Neomeris phocaenoides) and Chinese river dolphins. Both are officially protected by the state.

Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
Species of Concern White-caped crane (Grus vipio), Hooded crane (Grus monacha), White crane, Grus grus, White stork (Ciconia ciconia), Black stork (Ciconia nigra), Great Bustard (Otis tarda), Baikal teal (Anas formosa) and Black-bill teal (A. aroorea).



Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
ILEC Database
Invasive species in China: an overview
Poaching at Poyang Lake
Profile of Ramsar sites in China
Ramsar Convention and Mai Po Nature Reserve


10/26/2012 - China's largest freshwater lake sees low water level
7/29/2012 - Poyang Lake: China's biggest freshwater lake exceeds warning level
1/31/2012 - Poyang Lake: China's largest freshwater lake dries up
1/10/2012 - Poyang Lake: China's Largest Freshwater Lake at 60-Year Low
2/18/2007 - Number of migratory birds drops in Poyang Lake
4/7/2005 - Disappearing Lakes, Shrinking Seas
11/1/2004 - China's biggest freshwater lake space shrinks by 600sq km
3/20/2004 - Regulation protects wetland in largest freshwater lake
12/21/2003 - Winter birds on China's largest freshwater lake protected
11/27/2003 - Jiangxi province regulates protection of wetland around China's largest freshwater lake
8/16/2003 - International cooperation to protect white cranes
6/9/2003 - Endangered birds reluctant to leave Chinese lake
3/4/2003 - Poyang & Dongting lakes benefiting from restoration efforts
3/3/2003 - Freshwater lakes recovering
1/23/2003 - White cranes at China's largest lake surpass world estimate
11/24/2000 - Rare birds take winter habit at China's largest freshwater lake

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.
Jin, Xiangcan. 1995. Lakes in China. Vols. I and II. China Ocean Press, China.

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