New research published in Nature reveals good ecological news from the coastal zone of China, which has experienced large increases in population, economy and urbanization since the early 1980s.
Many studies have reported the loss, degradation and fragmentation of coastal wetlands in China at local to regional scales.
To date, at the national scale, our knowledge of the spatial distribution, inter-annual variation and multi-decadal trends of coastal wetlands in China remains very limited.
Researchers analyzed ~62,000 Landsat-5, -7 and -8 images over the period 1984–2018 and generated maps of coastal wetlands for individual years in China at 30-m spatial resolution. They found that coastal wetland area significantly decreased between 1984 and 2011.
They also found a substantial increase in saltmarsh area and a stable trend of tidal flat area since 2012, driven by reduced anthropogenic activities and increased conservation and restoration efforts.
These coastal wetland maps for the period 1984–2018 are invaluable for improvement of coastal wetland management and sustainability in China.