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Scientists map wetlands

SCIENTISTS from the Chinese Academy of Sciences said on Tuesday that they had made the first satellite map of China's wetland areas to better monitor and manage them.

The map, which took scientists two years to complete, comprises 600 scenes of satellite images. Each scene covers an area of 34,225 square kilometers, said Gong Peng, chief scientist on the project and also a researcher at the CAS Institute of Remote Sensing Applications.

According to the institute, China had 308,000 square kilometers of natural wetlands in 2000, including lakes, marshes, shallow water along the coast and inter-tidal shoals.

"The number shows a 50,800-square-kilometer decrease compared with the data collected 10 years ago," Gong said.

A wetland is an area of land saturated with moisture. China has 38 national wetland parks, and more than 550 natural wetland reserves, holding 2.7 trillion tons of fresh water.

Wetland areas are mainly in the autonomous regions of Tibet and Inner Mongolia, as well as the provinces of Qinghai and Heilongjiang.

"The number of natural wetland areas are decreasing while constructed wetlands are on the rise due to the increase of aquaculture areas in eastern China," Gong said. "But the new areas can not replace the effect of natural wetlands."


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