Wetland Biodiversity Conservation

Project description

Title: Wetland Biodiversity Conservation in China
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: State Forestry Administration (SFA), Office of Wetland Conservation and Management (OWCM)
Overall term: 2010 to 2014


Since the 1950s, infrastructure development (dams, river training structures, irrigation channels), industrialisation and intensive agricultural use have resulted in large areas of Chinese wetlands being transformed into arable farmland and industrial zones. Although the remaining wetlands are very fragmented, their biodiversity is extremely high. In their function as a water reservoir, they are of great importance to the national economy and make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation. The Chinese Government has set itself the target of halting further loss of wetland areas and implementing a wetland rehabilitation and rehydration programme to combat the degradation of their ecological functions. The task of safeguarding wetlands calls for cross-sectoral cooperation. However, there is currently limited awareness among the competent government bodies of the importance of participatory solutions for preserving wetlands and limited knowledge of new methods for their sustainable management.


The implementation of an integrated ecosystem approach by governmental and civil actors makes a contribution to safeguarding the biodiversity and sustainable use of resources in selected wetlands in China.


The project advises the Office of Wetland Conservation and Management (OWCM) in the Chinese State Forestry Administration (SFA) on institutional frameworks and sustainable models for wetland management. The methodology combines cross-sectoral advisory support at national level with targeted implementation measures at local level. In four pilot areas, a model for sustainable management of wetlands is developed and tested in collaboration with the joint undertaking DFS Deutsche Forstservice GmbH / IUCN Asia. The project focuses on institutionalising cross-sectoral management of wetlands.

The project assists the Chinese partner with the task of implementing national political priorities and international multilateral conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Ramsar Convention.

As a consortium partner of the Chinese non-governmental organisation Shangri-la Institute for Sustainable Communities, the project contributes to the ‘Community Integrated Nature Reserves’ measure, which is co-financed by the European Union as part of the EU-China Environmental Governance Programme.


On the basis of experience gained in two pilot areas, a strategy was developed to provide compensation for non-use in favour of renaturalisation measures. In 2014, partly as a result of this strategy, OWCM established a pilot project in 60 wetlands to provide compensation for non-use and crop losses, with funds from the Chinese Ministry of Finance.

In one pilot area, assistance was given in establishing a geographical information system (GIS). The management capacity of the ‘Yellow River Delta’ nature reserve in Shandong province was increased as a result of the independent extension and use of the GIS by the project partners. It is now recognised as a wetland of international importance.

The measures for increasing management capacity also had an impact in the other three pilot areas. In Zhejiang the methods introduced by the project for ecosystem assessment and modelling and environmental education underwent further development and were used in other conservation areas. On the basis of the baseline surveys, recommendations and training courses, the administrations of the nature reserves Sanhuanpao and Dongsheng in Heilongjiang drew up their own management plans. This is a unique occurrence in China to date, as management plans for nature reserves are normally drawn up by consultants. The draft versions were presented at the meeting of the conservation area network in the Naoli river basin. The wetlands network initiated by the project has created a functioning cooperation structure for stakeholder integration. This is being institutionalised, both from a financial and an organisational point of view, by the responsible provincial forest administration.