National wetland mapping in China: A new product resulting from object-based and hierarchical classification of Landsat 8 OLI images
Spatially and thematically explicit information of wetlands is important to understanding ecosystem functions and services, as well as for establishment of management policy and implementation. However, accurate wetland mapping is limited due to lacking an operational classification system and an effective classification approach at a large scale. This study was aimed to map wetlands in China by developing a hybrid object-based and hierarchical classification approach (HOHC) and a new wetland classification system for remote sensing. Application of the hybrid approach and the wetland classification system to Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager data resulted in a wetland map of China with an overall classification accuracy of 95.1%. This national scale wetland map, so named CAS_Wetlands, reveals that China's wetland area is estimated to be 451,084 ± 2014 km2, of which 70.5% is accounted by inland wetlands. Of the 14 sub-categories, inland marsh has the largest area (152,429 ± 373 km2), while coastal swamp has the smallest coverage (259 ± 15 km2). Geospatial variations in wetland areas at multiple scales indicate that China's wetlands mostly present in Tibet, Qinghai, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, and Xinjiang Provinces. This new map provides a new baseline data to establish multi-temporal and continuous datasets for China's wetlands and biodiversity conservation.