Protection of water environment while developing socio-economy is a challenging task for lake regions of many developing countries. Poyang Lake is the largest fresh water lake in China, with its total drainage area of 160,000 km2. In spite of rapid development of socio-economy in Poyang Lake region in the past several decades, water in Poyang Lake is of good quality and is known as the 'last pot of clear water' of the Yangtze River Basin in China. In this paper, the reasons of 'last pot of clear water' of Poyang Lake were analysed to demonstrate how economic development and environmental protection can be coordinated. There are three main reasons for contributing to this coordinated development: 1) the unique geomorphologic features of Poyang Lake and the short water residence time; 2) the matching of the basin physical boundary with the administrative boundary; and 3) the implementation of 'Mountain-River-Lake Program' (MRL), with the ecosystem concept of 'mountain as source, river as connection flow, and lake as storage'. In addition, a series of actions have been taken to coordinate development, utilisation, management and protection in the Poyang Lake basin. Our key experiences are: considering all basin components when focusing on lake environment protection is a guiding principle; raising the living standard of people through implementation of various eco-economic projects or models in the basin is the most important strategy; preventing soil and water erosion is critical for protecting water sources; and establishing an effective governance mechanism for basin management is essential. This successful, large-scale basin management model can be extended to any basin or lake regions of developing countries where both environmental protection and economic development are needed and coordinated.
Keywords: integrated basin management, Poyang Lake, protection of water environment, successful model