China's wetlands loss to urban expansion

Dehua Mao, Zongming Wang, Jianguo Wu, Bingfang Wu, Yuan Zeng, Kaishan Song, Kunpeng Yi, Ling Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

237 Scopus citations


Humans benefit from multiple ecosystem services of wetlands, but massive wetland loss has occurred worldwide due to rapid urbanization. To assess the problem, it is necessary to quantify the spatial extent of urbanization-induced wetland loss. Here, we investigated the amount and pattern of wetland loss in China due to urbanization from 1990 to 2010, based on the China National Land Cover Database (ChinaCover). Our results show that, during these 20 years, China lost 2,883 km2 of wetlands to urban expansion, of which about 2,394 km2 took place in the eastern regions (Northeast China, North China, Southeast China, and South China). The rate of urbanization-induced wetland loss was 2.8 times higher between 2000 and 2010 (213 km2 year−1) than between 1990 and 2000 (75 km2 yr−1). Of all wetland categories, reservoirs/ponds and marshes suffered the most severe losses. Most of the wetland loss was due to the expansion of urban built-up areas rather than industrial or transportation lands. Four hotspots of urbanization-induced wetland loss in China were identified: the Beijing–Tianjin metropolitan region, the Yangtze River Delta, the Jianghan Plain, and the Pearl River Delta. Urbanization and industrialization continue to unfold in China for the next few decades, and the rapid expansion of small- and middle-sized cities and urban traffic networks is expected to encroach on more wetlands. Although great efforts have been made towards wetland conservation in recent years, China must prevent more wetlands from being wiped out by urbanization if the country is to ahieve its sustainable development goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2644-2657
Number of pages14
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • China
  • remote sensing
  • urbanization
  • wetland degradation
  • wetland loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'China's wetlands loss to urban expansion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this