Paulson Institute launches Coastal Wetland Conservation Network in China

Fuzhou, ChinaThe Paulson Institute and the Wetland Conservation Management Center of the State Forestry Administration of China today launched the Coastal Wetland Conservation Network to share best practices and information and promote coordinated efforts to improve the effectiveness of wetlands conservation management in China.

The Coastal Wetland Conservation Network kicked off with a three-day workshop in Fuzhou on wetlands conservation and management, convening more than 150 participants, including wetland managers from China’s 11 coastal provinces, representatives from national nature reserves near seaside counties, provincial nature reserves and national wetland parks, experts from across China and abroad, as well as enterprise representatives.

At the close of the workshop, the local government announced the “Fuzhou Declaration,” which stresses the need for government, non-government organizations and the private sector to increase their support for the protection of coastal wetlands. The declaration states that China’s coastal wetlands face four main challenges: reduction in area as a result of reclamation; pollution resulting from residential use and agricultural and industrial manufacturing; overfishing; and the spread of invasive species, which destroy natural ecosystems.

“The Coastal Wetland Conservation Network will promote cooperation among government agencies, research institutes, nature reserves and wetland parks, and help improve capability and management practices. We are very pleased to be working with State Forestry Administration and other stakeholders to raise visibility on this important topic,” said Rose Niu, the Paulson Institute’s Chief Conservation Officer.

“China does not have existing laws or regulations for wetland conservation or protection,” said Ma Guangren, director of SFA’s wetland management center. “Wetlands are currently classified as ‘unused’ land in China and open to development, agriculture and other uses. Changing this land classification would be a major step forward in improving public awareness of the great importance and value of wetland ecosystem services.”

The network will work to raise awareness of the important roles and services that wetland ecosystems provide, the threats and challenges they face, as well as potential solutions.

Wetlands provide crucial ecosystem services, such as water purification and flood control, and they are a natural buffer zone between ocean salt water and inland fresh water. They are considered to be the first line of defense against rising sea level resulting from climate change. Some 560 million people are living in the coastal provinces, whose economic production represents 58.6% of China’s national GDP. The area of coastal wetlands in China has declined by 22%, or 1.32 million hectares, over the past ten years, much higher than the average 8.82% loss rate of all wetlands types in China. The population of migratory birds on the East Asia-Australasia Flyway, which can serve as an indicator for the overall health of a wetland ecosystem, is declining at an annual rate of 5%-10%.

The Coastal Wetlands Conservation Network is supported by the Lao Niu Foundation and the Heren Philanthropic Foundation.

About the Paulson Institute: The Paulson Institute is a “think and do” tank that promotes environmental protection and sustainable development in the United States and China, while advancing bilateral economic relations and cross-border investment. Established in 2011 by Henry M. Paulson, Jr., the Institute is committed to the principle that today’s most pressing economic and environmental challenges can be solved only if the United States and China work in complementary ways.

The non-partisan, independent Institute works at the nexus of economic and environmental issues in the United States and China. Its programs in China focus on improving climate and air quality, advancing ecological conservation and promoting sustainable cities. The Institute’s Think Tank publishes papers on the most important macroeconomic issues facing China today, energy strategies and issues in US-China relations. The Institute promotes bilateral cross-border investment that will improve US-China relations and help create jobs and works to reduce economic risk from climate change. The Institute is headquartered at the University of Chicago and has offices in Washington and Beijing.