China’s Coastal Wetlands

Working with the Chinese government, we helped develop China’s first national blueprint of its coastal wetlands. We are now advocating for implementation of the blueprint’s policy recommendations and providing training for the improved conservation and management of these seriously endangered regions.

Why coastal wetlands? China’s coastal region is home to 40 percent of the country’s population and half of China’s cities, contributing 60% of the national GDP. The dramatic shrinkage of coastal wetlands is threatening people’s livelihoods: wetlands are important barriers against rising sea levels due to global warming. With an 18,000 km coastline, China is very vulnerable to the negative impacts of global climate change. As such, conservation and restoration of coastal wetlands is a nature-based solution for climate change. At the same time, the coastal wetlands are critical habitats that sustain irreplaceable biodiversity, including millions of migratory water birds and many unique plant and animal species.

Wetlands protect coastal cities and communities from the rise of sea levels and extreme weather events such as typhoons.

China’s wetlands provide crucial ecological services: they cycle nutrients, store carbon, purify water, absorb pollutants, and provide spawning and nursery grounds for many fish species and organisms that maintain marine ecosystem health. The wetlands protect coastal cities and communities from the rise of sea levels and extreme weather events such as typhoons.

The threat: China’s wetlands face tremendous pressure from rapid industrialization, urbanization and other economic activities. Major threats include reclamation for real estate and industrial development, pollution from cities, factories and agriculture, and the spread of invasive species such as spartina grass. Without prompt and effective measures to address these issues, not only will the internationally shared biodiversity be lost, but the ecological security of China’s Eastern region will be put at risk.


The Paulson Institute oversees and provides technical guidance on three projects, which have been implemented by Chinese partners. A $1 million grant from the Lao Niu Foundation supports the implementation of these projects.