Can China revitalize its economy by restoring wetlands?

In China, when it’s time to build a new city—and it’s always time to build a new city in China—there’s usually a clear loser to be pitied: the landscape that gets leveled and paved over. At the moment, the Chinese government is trying to direct the greatest urban migration in human history: 250 million rural migrants in the next decade or so alone.

Toward that end, the world’s most populous nation used more concrete in three years than the Unites States did in the 20th century, much of it to eradicate coastal wetlands.

Too often we assume that grayscape infrastructural investments must come at the expense of idle wilderness, as a necessary stage of evolution for any developing nation.

But at Weishan Wetland Park, the preservation of native ecology is considered a critical economic development strategy.

Weishan Wetland Park in the northern China province of Shandong will support the development of the 50,000-person “New Southern Town,” to be built just beyond its northern border.

Instead of draining a wetland to help build a city, the park’s designers at AECOM are filling and restoring one.

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