China has named eight new Wetlands of International Importance. These “Ramsar Sites” cover over 2.8 million hectares, and so China now has 57 Sites extending over more than 6.9 million ha.
These exceptional Sites provide a range of critical benefits and services to people and nature. They are biodiversity hotspots and provide habitat for a wide range of endemic and threatened species, including critically endangered species such as the Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla), the Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis), and birds such as Baer’s pochard (Aythya baeri), the Siberian crane (Grus leucogeranus) and the yellow-breasted bunting (Emberiza aureola). They also serve as wintering, breeding and resting sites for a variety of migratory birds.
Tibet Selincuo Wetlands (Ramsar Site no. 2352) with an average elevation of 4,700 metres, is a representative alpine wetland ecosystem highlighting rare and unique features of alpine wetlands across the world. The Site plays a significant role in maintaining biodiversity, and is also an important stopover and breeding ground for many waterbirds.
Shandong Jining Nansi Lake (Site no. 2346) is the largest freshwater lake in northern China. The water body, comprising Weishan, Nanyang, Dushan and Zhaoyang lakes, is a unique natural environment. With its rivers and vast expanse of open water and extensive marshes, the Site supports a large variety of flora and fauna.
Heilongjiang Youhao Wetlands (Site no. 2353), stretched over the north- and south-facing slopes of the Lesser Khingan mountains in north-east China, are typical of the forested wetland ecosystems of the northern mountainous region. The Site plays an important role in protecting rare wild plants and animals.
The Sites include peatlands which play a key role in storing carbon and thereby mitigating climate change. Sichuan Changshahongma Wetlands (Site no. 2348), at high altitude on the south-eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, include a large peatland developed in the alpine humid climate which serves as an important carbon sink.
Jilin Hani Wetlands (Site no. 2350), in north-east China’s Changbai mountain system, mainly comprise forested and non-forested peatlands. The Site is one of the most important carbon sinks in the biogeographic region.
The Sites also play crucial water management roles. Gansu Yanchiwan Wetlands (Site no. 2347), in the arid and cold highland where the Inner Mongolia plateau meets the West Qilian mountains, are the only source of water for three areas of population. As well as preserving local biodiversity and genetic diversity, the Site helps to maintain groundwater levels, control flooding and prevent desertification in downstream areas.
Hubei Wang Lake (Site no. 2349) is a complex wetland ecosystem with inland shallow lakes, flooded marshes and permanent rivers lying between the Mufu and Dabie mountains of central China. Water from the mountain slopes is discharged into the wetland and so it serves as an important flood buffer system for the Yangtze and Fu rivers.
Inner Mongolia Grand Khingan Hanma Wetlands (Site no. 2351), one of the most well-preserved temperate coniferous forest areas in China, is dominated by marshes, rivers and lakes. The wetlands were among the 51 China Demonstration Reserves in 2006 and became a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 2015.