Significant Achievements Made by China in Biodiversity
By LI Linxu
The population of giant pandas in the wild has grown from 1,114 to 1,864 over the past four decades, while the Asian elephant population in the wild has grown from 180 in the 1980s to about 300 at present in China, according to the latest figures released in a govermental white paper on October 8, days before the country hosts COP15 aimed at drawing up a new global biodiversity treaty.
The white paper, titled Biodiversity Conservation in China, has detailed how the world's most biodiverse country has endeavored to protect its ecosystems in pursuit of harmony between humanity and nature.
This is the first time China has released a white paper on biodiversity. Highlighting the country's philosophy, actions and achievements on biodiversity conservation, it demonstrated China's responsibility and resolve on biodiversity conservation and the confidence to work with the international community in dealing with challenges relating to biodiversity, said Zhao Yingmin, vice minister of ecology and environment.
Great efforts highlighted
Biodiversity conservation has been elevated to a national strategy in China and incorporated into mid-term and long-term plans of all regions and fields.
In recent years, an unprecedented effort has been made and a significant amount of money has been spent on biodiversity conservation by China.
Policies, laws and regulations on biodiversity conservation were implemented, mid-term and long-term programs and action plans were drafted, and well-planed campaigns to rescue rare and endangered species were launched.
More than 260 billion RMB was earmarked in biodiversity-related causes in each of 2017 and 2018, six times the figure of 2008.
A thriving ecosystem is proof of the country's biodiversity conservation progress. This is particularly exemplified by the rescue and protection of rare and endangered species.
Many rare and endangered wildlife species such as the giant panda, Asian elephant, crested ibis, Hainan Gibbon, and Tibetan antelope are direct beneficiaries from such efforts and investments.
Through captive breeding programs of giant pandas started in 1953, they have been downgraded from "endangered" to "vulnerable" on the list of species at risk of extinction, and some have been released into natural habitats to integrate into the wild population.
Emergency measures have also been taken to save and protect 120 plant species with extremely small populations, such as the Cycas debaoensis, Manglietiastrum sinicum and Abies beshanzuensis.
Red line strategy implemented
To address biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, China has proposed and implemented measures such as building the national parks system and setting ecological conservation red lines, strengthened in-situ and ex-situ conservation, reinforced biological security management, improved the eco-environment, and coordinated the conservation of biodiversity with green development.
It was the first in the world to propose and implement the red line strategy for ecological conservation, which is an important institutional innovation in its land use planning and eco-environmental reform.
The country employs this innovative model to bring essential ecological functional areas for biodiversity conservation, and apply stringent conservation measures to them.
Up until now, the initially defined red lines for ecological conservation has covered various important ecosystems across key regions of biodiversity all over the country, bringing most of rare and endangered species and their habitats under protection, said Zhang Zhanhai, chief engineer of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Aside from delineating the ecological red line areas, the country is also setting up protected areas and designating priority areas for biodiversity conservation.
Since 1956 when the first nature reserve was set up, China has established close to 10,000 protected areas of all types and at all levels, accounting for about 18 percent of its total land area.
The well-planned protected areas system has brought 90 percent of terrestrial ecosystem types and 71 percent of key state-protected wildlife species under effective protection.
In addition, the country has designated 35 priority areas for biodiversity protection. Among these, 32 terrestrial priority areas cover a total of 2.76 million sq km and make up about 28.8 percent of the total land area.
These measures have contributed to the conservation of key natural ecosystems, biological resources, and habitats for key species.
Int'l cooperation promoted
"The raging pandemic has reminded us that humans and nature have a shared future," said Zhao, adding that the international community should further intensify cooperation in the face of the challenges of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.
Facing the challenges, China firmly practices multilateralism and actively carries out international cooperation on biodiversity conservation.
The country supports collaborative efforts in building a stronger global ecological security barrier and an ecosystem that respects nature, and is ready to work with all the parties to push for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international treaties.
China has achieved remarkable results in fulfilling obligations. Since 2019, the country has been the largest contributor to the core budget of the convention and its protocols, and has strongly supported its operation and implementation.
China's implementation of the 2020 global biodiversity targets was better than the global average, making expectation-beating progress in three of the 20 goals, key progress in 13 of them and phased progress in four others, said Zhao.
It is also contributing solutions to global biodiversity conservation and working together with the international community to build a shared future for humanity and nature.
The country's proposal "Drawing a 'Red Line' for Ecological Protection to Mitigate and Adapt to Climate Change" has been selected by the UN as one of the 15 best Nature-based Solutions around the globe.
China will work together with the international community on a new model of global biodiversity governance that is fairer and more reasonable, so as to realize the worldwide vision of harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature, accoring to the white paper.