Backgrounder: Boosting biodiversity, China in action

Photo taken on Jan. 13, 2021 shows herons flying over a village by the Poyang Lake in Duchang County, east China's Jiangxi Province. (Xinhua/Peng Zhaozhi)

With the 2021 International Day for Biological Diversity approaching, biodiversity once again finds itself in the spotlight.

China, a country with some of the richest biological resources in the world, has put biodiversity conservation high on its domestic policy agenda amid efforts to achieve harmony between humans and nature and foster green, eco-friendly and sustainable growth.

The country also plays an active role in the global biodiversity protection drive. It will host the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) this year, which is expected to be a crucial occasion for discussion on the post-2020 biodiversity framework.

Here are some highlights of China's continuous and increasingly systematic biodiversity conservation efforts over recent years.

Photo taken on May 19, 2021 shows a golden monkey at Dalongtan Golden Monkey Research Center in Shennongjia National Park of central China's Hubei Province. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)


Establishing a national park system is an innovative policy design for China, with the purpose of restoring natural habitats and protecting endangered species.

Starting in 2015, China has launched 10 pilot national parks in 12 provincial-level regions, including parks dedicated to the protection of Siberian tigers and Amur leopards, as well as giant pandas.

The total pilot area has reached 220,000 square km, accounting for 2.3 percent of China's land area.

Last year, China's forestry authorities started the process of reviewing 10 pilot national parks to have their national park status officially established.

Years of hard work have yielded tangible results. For instance, in the Wuyi Mountain pilot park, 6,500 mu (about 433 hectares) of land has been ecologically restored, while in the giant panda pilot national park, nearly 40,000 mu of giant panda habitat has been restored.


Implementing major biodiversity conservation projects is another high-profile measure for China to preserve biological resources, which is highlighted in China's 14th Five-Year Plan and this year's government work report.

Nearly 400 million yuan (about 62.2 million U.S. dollars) from the central budget has been channeled into work related to biodiversity investigation and evaluation as well as biodiversity observation networks from 2015 to 2020, with more than 2,000 researchers from 267 research institutes participating.

The country has designated 35 priority areas for biodiversity protection, accounting for 29 percent of China's total land area.

In addition, a national biodiversity observation network has been established. It consists of 749 observation sample zones with birds, amphibians, mammals and butterflies as the primary targets for observation, providing first-hand data about species changes in typical regions.

Photo taken on March 3, 2021 shows scenery along the section of Yangtze River in Zigui County, central China's Hubei Province. (Photo by Zheng Jiayu/Xinhua)


The protection of the Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia, signaled a leap forward in the country's biodiversity push.

To restore biodiversity along the river, China implemented a full fishing ban in 332 conservation areas in the Yangtze River basin in January 2020. The move has since been expanded to a 10-year moratorium in the river's main streams and major tributaries from Jan. 1, 2021.

Yet the fishing ban is only part of the story. China is also exploring how to strike a balance between preserving fish biodiversity and ensuring the livelihoods of local communities.

Many ex-fishermen, having hung up their nets, have begun working as patrollers on the river, cleaning up garbage and stopping illegal fishing activities. The Chinese government has promised to offer them social security services, financial support and vocational training.


Wildlife-related violations will face increasingly stringent punishments as China has given teeth to regulations concerning illegal behaviors and strengthened legislation governing biodiversity conservation.

Chinese authorities last December issued a guideline vowing to severely punish those who illegally purchase wild animals for consumption or other purposes.

Acts including the illegal hunting and killing of wildlife, as well as the illegal purchase, sale, transportation, import and export of wildlife and wildlife products, will be cracked down upon, to help disrupt the illegal wildlife trade.

To further strengthen the protection of threatened species, China in February announced its first major revision of its list of endangered wild animals in 32 years. The new list now includes 980 species and eight categories of wild animals, with over 500 species of animals newly added.

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