A solution for restoration of critical wetlands and waterbird habitats in coastal deltaic systems

Lin Yuan, Dongyan Liu, Bo Tian, Xiao Yuan, Shunqi Bo, Qiang Ma, Wei Wu, Zhiyuan Zhao, Liquan Zhang, John K. Keesing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Loss of coastal wetland habitats has been directly linked to a decline in waterbird populations including migratory species, leading to calls to reverse this trend in part by restoring these habitats. However, distinct “sediment scarcity” has hindered coastal habitat restoration. Here, taking the Yangtze River Delta, China as an example, we put forward a feasible solution to solve the sediment shortage in habitat restoration so necessary to restore migratory waterbird numbers. Four biological indices including total wetland area, wetland vegetation area and waterbird species richness and abundance, were used to compare and assess the restorative efforts. Three solutions were adopted for the rehabilitation sites, including promoting sediment deposition and settlement through engineering intervention in Chongming Dongtan (CD) and Eastern Nanhui (EN), and using dredged sediments to nourish and create new habitats in Hengsha Eastern Shoal (HES). The mean wetland area increased 19.66 km2/yr in EN, 8.78 km2/yr in HES and 3.83 km2/yr in CD after rehabilitation. Along with the increase of wetlands and habitats, the abundance of waterbirds increased 1.3 times, 121 times and 1.5 times in EN, HES and CD, respectively. In contrast, in the site of Fengxian and Jinshan (FJ) where no any rehabilitation measure was taken after reclamation, the habitats were lost almost completely and the waterbird abundance dropped drastically. The comparison and assessment results demonstrate that proper coastal silting structures and ecological utilization of nearby dredged sediments are the feasible and effective solutions to retain sediments, restore coastal habitats and increase waterbird diversity and abundance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113996
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2022


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