Recent study by the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications (IRSA) shows great wetland loss in national wetland reserves of China, largely due to inadequate conservation. According to the study, over the past three decades the wetland loss in the 91 national wetland reserves is 8152.47 square kilometers, occupying 9% of the total wetland loss in China, and 79% of the national wetlands reserves are in poor condition. Those poorly conserved wetlands are mainly located in the Yangtze River, the Three Rivers Source, Coast of China, as well as Southwest China. Only 15% of national wetland reserves are under sound conservation, and these are generally located in the upper reaches of the Songhua River in northeast China.
Dr. ZHENG Yaomin and his colleagues at IRSA conduct this study, which intended to survey the conditions of national wetland reserves distributed in China, therefore to evaluate the efficacy of the conservation efforts.
ZHENG’s study is based on 2008 China’s remotely sensed wetland map, which was created by NIU ZhenGuo and GONG Peng at IRSA, documenting the transition of China’s wetland during 1978-2008. Other information such as wetland types, distribution regions, protection values of various wetlands, and related environmental data (i.e. population density and land use) are involved in his analysis. In addition, the effects of local natural environment and human activities on wetland conservation are examined in his study.
The study makes a priority list of wetland sites for conservation. It also calls for wetland conservation legislation, remote-sensing monitoring, and industrial restructuring in areas near the reserves.
China has established 91 national wetland reserves since 1956. This is the first time that the efficacy of wetland conservation is evaluated at the national level. In this sense, ZHENG’s study fills a hole for China’s wetland conservation. It could be served as a reference which will help conservationists and government agencies take more effective measures in future wetland conservation.