Protecting Coastal Wetlands and Reshaping Beautiful Homes with Ecological Restoration

The Annual Meeting of China Coastal Wetland Conservation Network (CWCN) 2017 and Training Workshop on Wetland Conservation, jointly sponsored by Wetland Conservation and Management Center of State Forestry Administration, the Paulson Institute, and the Forestry Department of Liaoning Province, opened today in Panjin, Liaoning. With a theme of “Wetland conservation and ecological restoration,” the annual meeting brought together more than 200 participants, including wetland conservation experts and managers from the US, UK, and China to address a wide range of topics, such as concepts on coastal wetland conservation, ecosystem management and restoration, as well as case studies on coastal wetland restoration in China and beyond.

China’s coastal wetlands are located in the eastern coastal areas that are the most densely populated and most economically developed parts of the country. They provide ecological barriers for nearly 500 million people and key habitats for a significant number of wild animals and plants, offering many important ecological services. A 2016 report, Blueprint of Coastal Wetland Conservation and Management in China, released by the Paulson Institute and its partners, stated that more than 60% of natural coastal wetlands in China have been lost due to fast economic growth since the 1950s. The speed and scale of coastal wetlands reclamation over the last 15 years has been staggering. The major threats to coastal wetlands in China include: habitat loss due to reclamation and infrastructure development, invasion of alien species, over-fishing (aquaculture), and environmental pollution.

“As a valuable natural asset, coastal wetlands can provide a series of ecological products and services for human beings to survive and grow. The idea that ‘clear rivers and green mountains are as valuable as mountains of gold and silver,’ proposed by Chinese president Xi Jinping, demonstrates the Chinese government’s solemn commitment of transforming China’s growth model and implementing the concept of ecological civilization,” said Rose Niu, Chief Conservation Officer at the Paulson Institute. “To better protect and restore natural capital, including China’s coastal wetlands, the Paulson Institute, together with NDRC, Stanford University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, organized a 15-day training workshop in the US in early August this year for a Chinese delegation consisting of members from the central and local government authorities. With the major theme of ‘Incorporating natural capital into policymaking and financing,’ the training workshop was designed to help China explore and design incentive policies and mechanisms that can better reflect the economic values of natural capital and provide more innovative investment and financing sources to protect various types of ecosystems. The Institute is willing to work more closely with relevant Chinese authorities in this area to support the establishment of effective and diverse eco-compensation mechanisms on coastal wetlands and carry out pilot projects so as to better implement the Opinions on Enhancing Eco-compensation Mechanism and the Programme for Wetland Protection and Restoration System issued by the State Council.

In his speech at the annual meeting, Mr. Wang Zhigao, Director of Wetland Conservation and Management Center of State Forestry Administration, noted that although some progress has been made on coastal wetlands conservation, severe challenges remain due to the strong need for socio-economic development of wetland resources and great difficulty in conducting comprehensive protection of coastal wetlands in China’s coastal areas, which are densely populated and economically developed. According to the Second National Wetland Resources Inventory, during the period between 2003 and 2013, the rate for the reduced area of offshore and coastal wetlands in China was larger than that of any other types of wetland. This means that it will be difficult to achieve the objectives on coastal wetland conservation unless the strictest and strongest protection measures are adopted. Therefore, we must enhance coastal wetland conservation rather than relaxing our efforts.

After the meeting, the participants visited Liaohe River Estuary National Nature Reserve to understand the current status of coastal wetlands protection and restoration, and to further exchange information on best practices in wetland ecological restoration. In particular, the participants conducted an in-depth analysis on the problems and threats in terms of coastal wetlands conservation and management, and provided professional comments and suggestions on coastal wetlands conservation and ecological restoration.

The China Coastal Wetland Conservation Network (CWCN), jointly launched by the Wetland Conservation and Management Center of State Forestry Administration and the Paulson Institute, was established in Fuzhou, Fujian Province in June 2015, with its members consisting of wetland authorities, Ramsar sites and wetland national nature reserves from 11 coastal provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China. With the strong support of Lao Niu Foundation and Heren Charity Foundation, CWCN aims to help promote extensive exchange and collaboration among its members, improve China’s overall coastal wetlands conservation capability and management practices, raise public awareness on the importance of protecting coastal wetlands, and engage the general public in coastal wetlands conservation.

About the Paulson Institute
The Paulson Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit “think and do” tank grounded in 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. Our mission is to strengthen U.S.-China relations and to advance sustainable economic growth and environmental protection in both countries. Founded in 2011 by Henry M. Paulson, Jr., the 74th Secretary of the Treasury and former Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, the Institute is based in Chicago and has offices in Washington, San Francisco, and Beijing.