The Sanjiang Plain has the largest marsh wetland area in China. Since the 1950s its size has declined due to land development, between 1986 and 2016 nearly 6072 km2 (57.5% of the area) was lost due to farm land expansion. Since the "Wetland for Grain" project in 2003, efforts have been made to improve marsh area for animal habitat and ecological protection. A key management concern is prioritizing areas for wetland restoration in scientific planning and polices making. In this study, the natural wetland restoration potentials were evaluated based on land-use change trajectory, seed bank viability and watershed sustainability and restorability. The annual land use maps from 1986 to 2016 were reconstructed using CLUE-S model with land use maps in 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2016, which were interpreted from Landsat TM/ETM images. Seed bank viability was determined by field sampling in wetland and farm land with different reclamation years and germination in lab. Sub-catchment was chosen as sustainability analysis unit, which was quantified by the impacts of wetland on peak flow reduction. The watershed restorability was performed with the factors of wetland degradation degree, seed bank viability, and the percentage of wetland to watershed area (PWW) with different restoration years. The results indicated that reclaimed wetland with a time since last development (TLD) of <15 years had a higher recovery potential and accounted for 39.2% of the lost wetland. Seventeen sub-catchments with a total area of 2177 km2 of farmland could be planned for restoration, which could support more than half of the sub-catchments in the study area. Priority areas were identified for short-, mid- and long-term restoration planning. The results can support the scientific planning demands of various restoration goals in the study area, and provide a new method for wetland restoration.
Keywords: CLUE-S; PCA; Seed bank; Watershed sustainability; Wetland restoration.
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