The heritage corridor approach is a regional methodology for heritage protection of large scale cultural landscapes. Combining the regional heritage protection strategy and the greenway approach, the heritage corridor approach places emphasis on the historical values, in conjunction with ecological and economical values. The Grand Canal is one of the most important cultural heritages in China dating back more than 2500 years to the late Spring and Autumn Period. The Grand Canal is the longest and oldest man-made canal in the world with a total length of over 1700 kilometers. Many heterogeneous components overlap forming an intricate system. Therefore, identifying the composition of the heritage corridor is the first step for the long-term protection and management of the natural and cultural elements of the Grand Canal. In connection with the distinct space-time background, the genesis method focuses on dynamic modeling analyses of the constructing process. This approach is effective in illustrating the components and their interrelation to the complex system, so that we can identify the components which have close relations to the development of the Grand Canal. Genesis analysis visualizes the evolution of the Grand Canal Heritage Corridor and the function and interaction of its various components. Based on genesis analysis, the Grand Canal Heritage Corridor is composed of three major systems: natural system, cultural heritage system and supporting system. The natural system includes regional landscape features such as wetlands, forests, and farmlands to constitute the physical settings of the corridor. The cultural heritage system includes traditional hydrological engineering services such as water courses, water sources, transportation and distribution utilities related to the corridor’s hydraulic functions. The cultural heritage system includes both tangible heritages such as ancient buildings, sites, canal settlements and intangible heritages such as folklore, poems and traditional performance art. The supporting system consists of trails, interpretive systems and public service facilities. These three systems are integrated to form the natural, cultural and social properties of the Grand Canal, and are indispensable for the sustainable development of the Grand Canal heritage area. The Grand Canal Heritage corridor is a living system that provides diverse services of production, regulation, life support, recreation, education and aesthetic appreciation.