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Balancing the Needs of China’s Wetland Conservation and Rice Production

Chen, Hongjun, Wang, Guoping, Lu, Xianguo, Jiang, Ming, Mendelssohn, Irving A.
Environmental Science & Technology 2015 v.49 no.11 pp. 6385-6393
agricultural runoff, agroecosystems, compliance, conservation programs, crop production, ecosystem engineering, fertilizer application, guidelines, inventories, issues and policy, monitoring, paddies, pesticides, pollution, rice, sustainable agriculture, wetland conservation, wetlands, China, United States
China’s rice policy for protecting paddy fields and constructing rice production bases is in conflict with its wetland conservation strategy. The policy will increase the rice planting area, the loss of remaining wetlands, and environmental pollution, with intensive application of fertilizers and heavy use of pesticides. The key to resolving this conflict is to bring rice production in compliance with wetland conservation and sustainable agriculture. An operational, sound regulatory program is needed to improve China’s wetland conservation. Using wetland conservation in the US as an example, we argue that more effective technical guidelines for wetland inventory and monitoring are necessary to support the implementation of the regulatory program. Agricultural conservation programs are also needed to stop further wetland loss from agricultural usages. An ecoagricultural strategy and practice should be adopted for rice production to reduce pollution and loss of remaining wetlands. Agroecological engineering tools can be used to reduce the impacts of nutrient- and pesticide-enriched agricultural runoff to wetlands.