Coastal wetland loss and environmental change due to rapid urban expansion in Lianyungang, Jiangsu, China

Abstract

To address the growing need for developable land, many coastal cities are draining and filling wetlands, transforming them into urban built-up areas, and thereby substantially altering the structure and function of coastal ecosystems. We demonstrate an integrative approach for investigating the dynamics and impacts of coastal development in China’s Jiangsu Province, where urban expansion has resulted in extensive wetland losses and sea reclamation (the process of creating new land from ocean or coastal waters). Remotely sensed data reveal that landscape change in the study area has been accompanied by an increase in total impervious surface area and an increase in mean surface “heat island effect.” These indicators of change can be detected with remote sensing data and used to support a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for urban coastal planning. Changes detected in Lianyungang during 2000–2006 suggest that reclaimed areas are environmentally sensitive and should be a focus of concern in future development planning, which has historically targeted coastal salt pond wetlands for conversion to land for the development. Given the current and projected rate of coastal development in China and elsewhere in the developing world, our findings and assessment approach have implications for coastal management decisions in the developing coastal zones of China and other regions of the world that are experiencing rapid urban growth.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers and Dr. Virginia Burkett for their valuable comments and detailed suggestions. Some ideas and comments of reviewers and Professor Luoping Zhang (Xiamen University, China) were reflected into the manuscripts. Financial support was provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) Grants 41271008.

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Correspondence to Yangfan Li or Tao Yu.

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Li, Y., Shi, Y., Zhu, X. et al. Coastal wetland loss and environmental change due to rapid urban expansion in Lianyungang, Jiangsu, China. Reg Environ Change 14, 1175–1188 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-013-0552-1

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Keywords

  • Wetland loss
  • Environmental change
  • Sea reclamation
  • Urban expansion
  • Coastal zone