The Wetland Book pp 1509-1520 | Cite as

Sanjiang Plain and Wetlands Along the Ussuri and Amur Rivers: Amur River Basin (Russia and China)

  • Thomas D. Dahmer
Reference work entry


The Amur-Heilong River basin is the world’s eleventh largest by area. It covers 2,129,700 km2 and drains the border areas of Russia, China, and Mongolia to the Tartar Straits of the Sea of Okhotsk. The basin is a study in contrasts, with nearly equal land areas shared by China and Russia but over 93% of the human population in China. A key wetland feature of the basin is the Sanjiang plain, a formerly forested but now mainly marsh wetland extending from northeast China downstream along the Amur-Heilong river into Siberia. Wetlands on the Sanjiang plain have declined in area by 86% from 108,900 km2 prior to the 20th century to some 14,800 km2 in 2000. Wetland loss is caused by conversion to farmland for exploitation of the rich black soils and abundant water resource that characterize the Sanjiang plain. The plain supports 28 species of globally threatened wildlife, 23 of which are birds and mammals. The region is rich in fish biodiversity and this economically valuable resource has been understudied and severely over-exploited. Protected areas in China (49) and Russia (11) aim to conserve wetlands but losses continue. Threats to wetlands include growing demand for farmland and irrigation water, and lack of transboundary cooperation in wetland and biodiversity research and conservation. The latter threat is most acute along the floodplains of the transboundary rivers Amur-Heilong and Wusuli-Ussuri where regulation is urgently needed to stop re-cultivation of fallow Russian farmlands.


Amur Biodiversity conservation Heilongjiang Marsh wetland Sanjiang plain Waterbird Wetland conservation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecosystems Ltd.Yau Tong, Kowloon, Hong KongChina

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