Slideshow: China’s wetland crisis

This year, photographer Sean Gallagher travelled across China, documenting the impact of the country’s vanishing wetlands. In a series of images, he introduces a striking story of decline.

Wetlands are found on every continent on earth, as rivers, shallow lakes, swamps, mangroves, estuaries and floodplains. They are valued for their ability to store floodwaters, protect shorelines, improve water quality and recharge groundwater aquifers.

China’s wetlands cover some 650,000 square kilometres, ranking first in Asia and representing 10% of the world’s total. A quiet crisis is occurring, however, as these important waters are quickly disappearing.

As a result of China’s rapid economic growth, coupled with climate change, vast swaths of China’s wetlands have already vanished, resulting in serious consequences for the millions of people across the country who rely on these sources of water.

In 2010, photographer and videographer Sean Gallagher was awarded a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to travel across China and document, in stills and video, the effects of disappearing wetlands on the people, animals and landscapes of the country.

To learn more about this body of work, please visit: and