Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Zhejiang Huzhou Mulberry-dyke & Fish-pond System, China

GIAHS since 2017


Detailed Information



Zhejiang Huzhou Mulberry-dyke & Fish-pond System originated more than 2500 years ago. It includes the cultivation of mulberry-dyke trees, silk rearing, fish cultivation and is based on a very complex irrigation and drainage system called “Zong Pu Heng Tang”. This system allows many farmers to respond to their needs, protecting a huge biodiversity as well as a complex landscape.

The “Zhejiang Huzhou Mulberry-dyke & Fish-pond System” is a comprehensive and multi-dimensional eco-agricultural system integrating several agricultural production modes working in symbiosis:

1. mulberry tree cultivation provide leaves for silkworm rearing

2. silkworm feces provide food to feed fishes

3. fish-raising in ponds are located nearby the mulberry fields;

Every winter, the rich mud at the bottom of the Fish-pond and the rivers is dug up to the dykes as mulberry fertilizer, improving dyke soil, reducing chemical fertilizers.

The symbiosis does not only take place between plants-insects-fishes but also within the fish production. Indeed, there are mainly four types of fishes with different biological characteristics farmed in the system: they respectively live on different layers of the water body ensuring different “tasks” to reduce the threats of bio aggressors.

This complex system includes many traditional and agroecological knowledge for each stage of the production such as Mulberry propagation techniques, Mulberry cultivating management technology used from Ming Dynasty (AD 1368 ~ 1644), Silkworm egg reproduction technology, Silkworm rearing technology, Traditional silk reeling and textile-making technology.

“Zong Pu Heng Tang” is a Water Conservancy Project in Lowland. The objective is to have river mouths, rivers in the vertical direction, and ponds in the horizontal direction. It consists in digging “horizontal ponds” along the rivers so as to hold water in ponds and minimize the impact of flooding during – rainy seasons, and more over greatly mitigate the threats of flood disasters to Huzhou city. The redundant water was then drained and helped to prevent crops from flooding. It allowed to turn lowlands into fish-raising ponds with the dug-out earth piling as the ponds’ dykes, the ecological cycling model of Mulberry-dyke & Fish-pond System was gradually developed. Due to this vast water surfaces, it plays a role on regulating regional microclimate.

This ingenuous system integrates symbiotic relations described as highly agrological at several scales: by growing several species of fishes in the same ponds, farmers rely on their different roles and services provided to manage bio aggressors’ threats in the fields around. In addition, the eco-cycle of resources providers between mulberries’ leaves to worms, worms’ feces to fishes and fishes’ feces as fertilizers to mulberries is a virtuous balance to produce in an ecological way relying only on natural phenomenon. Finally yet importantly, water resource management at the regional and landscape levels is a precious agro ecological knowledge allowing agricultural activities and facing floods.