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China’s Wetlands Loss to Urban Expansion TEXT SIZE: A A A

Humans benefit from multiple ecosystem services of wetlands, but massive wetland loss has occurred worldwide due to rapid urbanization. Although China have made great efforts towards wetland conservation in recent years, it is still of vital importance to prevent more wetlands from being wiped out by urbanization.


                   Fig. 1 distribution pattern and loss distribution of China's wetlands.

The urbanization-induced loss of wetlands at the national scale was identified by Research Group of Remote Sensing of Geographical Landscape in IGA, based on updated information regarding wetland change and urban expansion extracted from multi-source satellite images. The study reveals an obviously increasing trend and a notable spatial disparity in wetland loss due to urbanization in China. During 1990~2010, China lost 2,883 km2 of wetlands due to urban expansion, most of which occurred in the eastern regions. Southeast China and South China were confirmed to be the two primary regions with dramatic wetland loss due to urbanization. Of all wetland categories, reservoirs/ponds and marshes suffered the most severe losses. Most of the wetland loss was due to the expansion of urban built up areas rather than industrial or transportation lands.

                                      Fig2. Spatial pattern and remote sensing image of urban land expansion in China from 1990 to 2010.                           

Urbanization and industrialization continue to unfold in China for the next few decades, and the rapid expansion of small and middle sized cities and urban traffic networks is expected to encroach on more wetlands. In view of the continuous economic reform strategies, effective policies and regulations must be implemented and enforced to sustain regional wetland conservation. The conservation of wetlands should be brought into and linked to economic decision making for public policy.


Mao D.H., Wang Z.M., Wu J.G., Wu B.F., Zeng Y., Song K.S., Yi K.P., Luo L.China’s wetlands loss to urban expansion . 2018, doi:10.1002/ldr.2939.


MAO Dehua Ph.D.

Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Environment,Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology,CAS










Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Address:4888 Shengbei Street, Changchun 130102, P. R. China