Biodiv Sci ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (12): 1469-1482.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020227

• Special Feature: Biodiversity Conservation along the Yellow River • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Wetland water bird biodiversity conservation strategies in the Yellow River basin

Gongqi Sun1,2, Mingxiang Zhang1,2, Guangchun Lei1,2,*()   

  1. 1. School of Ecology and Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083
    2. Key Laboratory of Ecological Protection in the Yellow River Basin of National Forestry and Grassland Adiministration, Beiijing 100083
  • Received:2020-06-04 Accepted:2020-11-03 Online:2020-12-20 Published:2021-01-12
  • Contact: Guangchun Lei


The Yellow River plays an important Part Chinese History, and is considered the mother river for China. The river basin is rich in wetland resources, which helps social and economic development. Therefore, effective conservation of this wetland ecosystem is important for China’s future prosperity. According to the 2nd National Wetland Inventory, there are 3.91 million hectares (ha) of wetlands in the river basin. Most wetlands are distributed in the upstream part of the river (80.4%). Whereas, the middle reaches and lower reaches of the river account for 12.5% and 7.1% of wetlands, respectively. Wetlands are key habitats for migratory water birds in the East Asia-Australasia flyway, and the Central Asia Flyway. Some species are critically endangered depending on the Yellow River wetlands, such as Grus nigricollis, G. leucogeranus, G. japonensis, Anser indicus, Otis tarda, Ciconia boyciana, Cygnus cygnus, C. olor, Aythya baeri. Although the river basin retains only 2% of the country’s water resources, it provides drinking water for 12% of the country’s population and irrigation for 15% of the country’s arable land. Unfortunately, the wetland ecosystem is relatively fragile and in need of conservation. To protect the Yellow River wetland ecosystem, 230 wetland protected areas have been established. These protected areas include 2 national parks, 9 national nature reserves, 68 local nature reserves, 145 national wetland parks, and 6 provincial wetland parks. The rate of wetlands being protected exceeds 65%, which is above than national average 53%. However, current conservation efforts are still unable to mitigate key challenges such as climate change, over exploitation of water resources, pollution, and the degradation of habitats for water birds. A list of comprehensive wetland biodiversity conservation strategies has been proposed which include: establishing a river basin protected area system, conserving and restorating key habitats for endangered water birds, and strengthening an integrating the river basin management with effective mechanisms.

Key words: Yellow River, wetlands, water bids, biodiversity, conservation strategies, water management