Occupying the right bank of transboundary Argun River, Erguna municipality (Inner Mongolia,China) has vast land area with a population of only 85,000. Livestock raising, dairy and dairy processing, tourism, forestry, coal and construction materials make up the economic backbone of the area. Cross-border trade with Russia through 2 river crossings has expanded manifold in last 10 years.The area has been experiencing robust economic growth
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in recent years and is poised to grow rapidly. The municipality is divided into two towns, 2 ethnic townships and two sub-districts which reflect the ethnic diversity of the population including Han, Mongol, Russians and Hui nationalities.
Municipality includes 120000 hectares of “Erguna wetlands” nature reserve, that occupies “Three River delta”(see map) and is globally important habitat for migratory waterbirds. In 2006 local managers invited experts from Dauria International Protected Area (DIPA) to advise on management of wetland nature reserve. Recently this provincial nature reserve was allocated 6 million RMB for development of proper infrastructure. Greatest potential threat to wetlands is posed by recently built water-diversion canal from Hailaer river to Dalai Lake, that takes away up to one third of Argun\Erguna River flow volume upstream from Erguna municipality. Recent study shows that due to peculiar geomorphology “Erguna wetlands” will likely be most affected by this water withdrawal and may lose up to 60% of floodplain wetlands. The city government of Erguna and the government of the Autonomous Region of Inner
Mongolia are eager and committed to preserve the wetlands as a natural heritage for future generations. In order to do so, the expansion of the city has to follow strict ecological principles. Since 2004 Erguna government promotes “green development” and last year it came up with new initiative.
In the second half of 2011 the Erguna Urban Planning and Design Bidding Committee Office issued an invitation for international bid for the urban planning and design project. They seek to build Erguna into small tourist-attracting city with low-carbon ecologically sustainable development, and to promote urban redevelopment, which rely on natural wetland features.
The urban development and research planning in the bid relates to an area of 20 square kilometers, which includes the built urban area, the ore field, the industrial park, and and 2 square kilometers for the future Conference Hall . The area in question is located inside and on the border with floodplain wetlands, which is a great challenge for “ecologically friendly design”. The overall aim of the endeavor is
to make Erguna a model city in the “United Nations World Urban Campaign 100 Cities Initiative”.
Each bidder must complete and submit the bid document to the designated place before 17:00 p.m. on February 1th, 2012. Bid will be opened on February 10th, 2012, and the candidate to win the bid shall submit the final results of the project before February 25th, 2012.
A reputable international company “J.A.O. Design International Architects & Planners Ltd.”, according to their web-site, has a special “Sustainable & Environmental Design Department” that is presently involved in a project in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region city of Erguna. We do not know whether other firms participate in
the planning\bidding process.
In March 2012 an international expert meeting is planned by the City of Erguna to solicit comments on newly developed Erguna Urban Plan and propose elements of an action plan for implementation. It will be co-sponsored by UN-Habitat and the International And Eco-Safety Cooperative Organisation (IESCO).