China is home to 10% of the world’s wetland areas, but many of those wetlands are threatened by development (1). To increase conservation efforts, China’s first wetland protection law, which came into force on 1 June (2), will charge a fee to developers whose projects result in wetland area losses. The fees will pay for restoring wetlands with comparable qualities and quantities elsewhere. When this strategy has been implemented in the past, transparency has been insufficient. The wetlands law, as well as other laws requiring restoration fees, must include data tracking and availability to ensure that the money is used as intended and that the restored ecosystems are suitable substitutes for those that have been degraded.