October 22, 2015
Huahu Lake, in the Ruoergai wetland, Sichuan province.
The destruction of China’s wetlands, which are critical stopping points for birds migrating as far away as the Arctic or the South Pacific, threatens mass extinctions of species across East Asia, new research has found.
Besides providing shelter and breeding grounds for birds and other wildlife, wetlands provide crucial supplies of fresh water and act as a barrier against storm surges and tidal flooding, events that are expected to become increasingly common because of climate change.
The Coastal Wetland Conservation Blueprint report, a joint effort by the Paulson Institute, China’s forestry ministry, and the Chinese Academy of sciences, says shrinking habitats are forcing migratory birds into smaller areas.
The report makes recommendations, based on survey outcomes, for 180 key reserves along the coast, including the 11 most important habitats for migratory birds, and calls upon the government to protect these immediately.
“I can’t say I feel confident, but the door to saving these wetlands is not yet closed and we have to seize this opportunity,” said Spike Millington, chief executive of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership, which contributed to the report.