Wetlands are under enormous pressure due to rapid economic development in China. Waterbirds, which depend on wetlands, are therefore facing a dramatic threat. Surveys were conducted in 19 Provinces in the winters of 2011/2012 and 2012/2013. Sites that support internationally important numbers of waterbirds were selected. Seven sites that support 20,000 or more waterbirds and 48 sites that support more than 1% of the global or flyway population of at least one species were found in our survey. Ten (20.8%) of these sites were protected and 10 (20.8%) had no protection. Eight of the 10 unprotected sites were located along coastlines. Of 16 coastal wetland sites, 43.8% were unprotected. The protection of wintering sites of waterbirds should be made a priority and more wetland sites, especially coastal wetland sites, should be protected. Additionally, an intensive site survey should be conducted to gain comprehensive knowledge of the distribution of wintering waterbirds in China to better protect waterbirds and their habitats.
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Vol. 37 • No. 4