China’s Wetlands Have Shrunk 9% Since 2003

by China Water Risk 13 January, 2014

13 January 2014, The State Forestry Administration (SFA) announced that since 2003 China’s wetlands have shrunk nearly 9 percent or 3.39 million hectares to 53.6 million hectares today.

Wetlands store a large amount of China’s freshwater resources, and receding wetlands will leave less water available in the long term, Debra Tan, director of Hong Kong-based non-profit China Water Risk, told Reuters.

“This will add to the pressure and increase competition for water going forward,” she said. “China will be looking to grow more food, and more food in wetlands, as urbanisation continues.”

The lost wetland areas have been converted to agricultural lands, large infrastructure projects or degraded by climate change.

“The investigation shows that China is facing various problems with wetlands protections,” Zhang Yongli, vice director of the forestry body, adding that loopholes in protection laws mean that wetlands are at risk.

Although RMB 9 billion (US$1.5 bn) was earmarked to protect wetlands during 2005 to 2010, just 38 percent of those funds were actually allocated.

For 2011 to 2015, China plans to use RMB 12.9 billion to protect its wetlands.

See SFA announcement here.