Changshu is a charming city with rich wetland resources. According to the city wetland census in October 2009, there are 369 wetlands over 8 hectares in area, totaling 32037 hectares (paddy fields excluded). These wetlands account for approximately 25% of the city's total area. They include both natural and constructed wetlands. Natural wetlands include riverine wetlands, lake wetlands and marsh wetlands, covering an area of 22447.99 hectares and accounting for approximately 18% of total land area of Changshu city. Among them, riverine wetlands cover an area of 18,130 hectares (approximately 81% of all natural wetlands); lake wetlands, 3535.23 hectares, (approximately 16% of all natural wetlands; marsh wetlands, 783hectares (3.5% of all natural wetlands). The main rivers with significant wetlands are the Yangtze River, Wangyuhe River, Baimaotang Pond, Yuanhetang Pond, Zhangjiagang River, Hengjingtang Pond, Guantang Pond, etc. The main lakes with significant wetlands are Kunchenghu Lake, Shanghu Lake, Nandanghu Lake. The main marsh wetlands are Phragmites australis marshes associated with rivers in the towns of Meili, Haiyu and Bixi. Artificial wetlands mainly consist of aquaculture farms in Shajiabang town, Xinzhuang town and other towns, which are located southeast of Changshu.

Wetland construction

In recent years, the People’s Government of Changshu has implemented a series of political and engineering measures to strengthen wetlands protection and further wetlands construction. The government has established Shajiabang National Wetland Park, Shanghu Lake National Wetland Park, Yushan Mountain National Forest Park and South Lake Provincial Wetland Park. On January 14, 2013, the People’s Government of Changshu approved the establishment of the "Yangtze River Wetland Protection Region of Changshu". At present, the total area of protected natural wetlands in Changshu is 9657 hectares.

 (1) Shajiabang National Wetland Park

Shajiabang National Wetland Park, a 5A-class tourist attraction with a total planning area of about 345 hectares, was awarded the title of National Wetland Park on October 24, 2013 by the State Forestry Administration of China.

Wetlands in Shajiabang National Wetland Park belong to freshwater marsh wetlands. The park was built and managed from the aspects of wetland conservation, water system reformation, reed vegetation restoration, forestry plantation and plant community construction. After a long period of ecological protection management, the waterfront and landscape of the park are gradually restored to a healthy ecological nature condition. The sclean water quality provides favorable living conditions for wild animals and plants. There are 89 species of birds in the park. Among them, Aix galericulata, Accipiter soloensis, Falco tinnunculu and Centropus bengalensis are national class II protected species; there are also kinds of provincial level protected birds such as Tachybaptus ruficollis, Podiceps cristatus and Anser cygnoides. In recent years, Himantopus himantopus, Hydrophasianus chirurgus and some other birds started to appear in Shajiabang habitat. There are 49 species of fish living in the park. Pelteobagrus fulvidraco and Odontobutis obscurus are well-known for their delicious tastes and rich production. There are 554 plant species, including 11 mosses, 11 ferns, 16 gymnosperms and 516 angiosperms species. The large numbers of emergent aquatic plants, floating plants and submerged plants naturally distributed among different habitats, playing a crucial role for eutrophic water purification.

 (2) Shanghu Lake National Urban Wetland Park

Shanghu Lake National Urban Wetland Park is one of the first 10 National Urban Wetland Park in China. The park covers an area of 2,300 hectares, with 800 hectares of water area in the core area and over 90% green coverage rate, providing a habitat for tens of thousands of birds to breed and reproduce throughout the year.

The Lotus Island, the largest island inthe park and surrounded by mountains and lakes, is dominated by the integration of plant landscapes and ancient buildings. A Landscape & Humanity Museum there displaysthe precious utensilsfrom late Liangzhu culture existingabout 4,500 years ago and unearthed in Shanghu area. Lotus ponds are everywhere on the island. In summer, the flowers are blooming with a rich fragrance. There are also a Training Base and a Youth Quality Education Base on the island. Peony Garden is the largest one in south of the Yangtze River with an area of 20,000 hectares. The garden has more than 20,000 beautiful peony plants with eight colors. “Peony Show” is held in the Peony Garden every year in March or April, and become one of the grandest tourism festivals of Changshu . The Water Forest with a green coverage rate of 92% has a thousand acres of wetlands with pond cypress, reeds and papyrus spreading all over, which form a unique wetland landscape. Good ecological conditions makes the Water Forest become a paradise for birds: there are more than 90 species birds living there, including Ciconia ciconia, Mergus squamatus and Aix galericulata and other national class I, II protected birds.

(3) Nanhu Lake Provincial Wetland Park

  Nanhu Lake Provincial Wetland Park has a total area of 421 hectares, with 230 hectares of water area and approximately 34km of the shoreline. It is the third largest lake in Changshu area. Lakes and ponds are the main land use types, accounting for approximately 60% of the whole area. There are various types of wetlands in the park, with a wetland ratio of approximately 77%.

Based on natural laws and the local landform, the park has been designed into 5 functional zones to incorporate an education opportunity for tourists: wetland conservation zone, wetland restoration zone, science and education zone, rational use zone, management and service zone. .The Park is currently under construction from aspects ofwetland ecological restoration, leisure landscape facilities and modern ecological agriculture demonstration site creations. Changshu culture is integrated into the whole park construction, making people enjoy history and culture while getting close to the nature.

(4) Yangtze River Wetland Protection Region of Changshu

In 2013 January, Changshu established a “Yangtze River Wetland Protection Region of Changshu” with an area of 8033 hectares. The establishment of the protection region has a great significance to improve the ecological function of the Yangtze River wetland, to make full use of the ecological, social and economic benefits of the wetland.

(5) Water treatment ecological wetland of the New Material Industrial Park

The water treatment ecological wetland is built by the Suzhou Edward company. It belongs to the exhibition project of GWT (Global Wetland Technology), which has combined the advanced ideas and techniques in Germany wetland construction.

The water treatment ecological wetland is built to treat the organic waste water produced by the Industrial Park. The park covers an area of 5.9 hectares and cost about 50 million RMB. With the completion of the park, the purpose of water reuse can be achieved. The inferior class V water discharged by the fluoride factories can be improved to the inferior class IV water, and reused as industrial water after further treatments. Recently its daily treatment capacity has reached to 4000t/d.

Wetland Values

Ecological benefit: wetlands provide habitats for wildlife, especially those rare or endangered species, and for numbers of birds to breed, inhabit, migrate, and live through the winter. With the complex ‘water–soil–biology’ system and rich plant communities, wetlands play an important role in soil and water conservation, pollutant degradation, climate regulation and biodiversity maintenance, etc.

Economic benefits: use paddy wetlands to support Changshu food production; use artificial wetlands and river wetlands for aquaculture; use wetland plants and animals to provide herbs and important raw materials for light industry; use natural scenery to develop eco-tourism; use abundant water networks for shipping; use marsh peat to provide fuels for residents in wetlands community.

Social benefits: continuing wetland construction can provide health care recreation sites for visitors, new employment opportunities for local people, improvement of life quality, development of sustainable economic and social as well as progresses in various social undertakings.