Strategies for Restoring and Managing Ecological Corridors of Freshwater Ecosystem

Qiaoyan Lin*, Yu Song, Yixin Zhang, Jian Li Hao, Zhijie Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Along with accelerating urbanization and associated anthropogenic disturbance, the structure and function of freshwater ecosystems worldwide are substantially damaged. To improve ecosystem health, and thus enhance the ecosystem security of the urban ecosystem, numbers of management approaches and engineering projects have been applied to mitigate the degradation of freshwaters. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of comprehensive and systematic research on the ecological corridor restoration of freshwater ecosystems; especially for Suzhou Grand Canal, one section of the world’s longest and ancient Grand Canal which is inclined to severe ecosystem degradation. Through investigating the adjacent land use characteristics, habitat quality, vegetation cover, instream water quality, and habitat composition, we aimed to: (i) assess the water quality of the Suzhou Grand Canal; (ii) evaluate the ecological characteristics of the canal ecosystem; (iii) develop strategic countermeasures to restore the ecological corridors for the mitigation of ecological problems. The results demonstrated: a large built area, a smaller ecological zone, a low habitat quality and habitat connectivity, and a high degree of habitat fragmentation within the canal corridor, also a simplified instream habitat composition, and greater nutrient and COD concentrations in the surface water—especially in the upstream and midstream canal. All urbanization-induced multiple stressors, such as land use changes, altered hydrology, and the simplified riparian zone et al., contributed synergistically to the degradation of the canal ecosystem. To alleviate the ecosystem deterioration, three aspects of recommendations were proposed: water pollution control, watershed ecosystem restoration, and ecological network construction. Basically, building a comprehensive watershed ecological network—on the basis of associated ecosystem restoration, and the connection of multi-dimensional ecological corridors—would dramatically increase the maintenance of aquatic–terrestrial system biodiversity, and improve the regional ecological security pattern and watershed resilience toward stochastic future disturbances. This study contributes to the understanding of the ecological challenges and related causes of the canal ecosystem. The integrated strategy introduced in this study provides policymakers, water resource managers, and planners with comprehensive guidelines to restore and manage the ecological corridor of the canal ecosystem. This can be used as a reference in freshwater ecosystems elsewhere, to improve ecosystem stability for supporting the sustainable development of urban ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15921
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • ecological corridor
  • ecological network
  • ecosystem restoration
  • habitat degradation
  • urbanization


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