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Wetland Protection

China's wetlands include 10 percent of all the wetlands in the world. These wetland areas not only are vital to the earth's ecology but also are attractive places for people for birding and observing other wildlife, fishing (both commercial and recreational) and development of eco-tourism and environmental education. Since joining the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1992, China's government has preserved and restored its wetland resources. By the end of 2003, China had established 353 natural wetland reserves, many of which are low beaches by the seas, lakes and rivers and wetlands on the edges of forests. Twenty-one of China's natural wetland reserves have been recognized as Wetlands of International Importance, covering a total area of 3.03 million ha. The Lalu Wetland in Lhasa, Tibet, the world's highest, largest natural wetland within a city, has stopped shrinking because of effective protection, and has enlarged from less than six sq km at the end of last century to today's 6.2 sq km. The rate of its vegetation coverage, most of which is grassy marsh, has surpassed 95 percent.

A National Plan for Wetland Protection Actions was begun in November 2000, initiated by the State Forestry Bureau and formulated by 17 ministries and commissions of the State Council. The National Program for Wetland Protection Engineering approved by the State Council in 2003 set these goals: by 2030, China will have 713 wetland reserves, including 80 wetlands of international importance, where over 90 percent of natural wetlands are effectively protected; at the same time, 1.4 million ha of wetlands will be restored, and 53 national model zones of wetland protection and proper exploitation will be built, forming a relatively complete system of wetland protection, management and construction.

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