Full Text: Biodiversity Conservation in China

White Paper
The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China on Friday released a white paper titled "Biodiversity Conservation in China."

XinhuaUpdated: October 8, 2021

III. Improving Biodiversity Governance

Biodiversity conservation has been elevated to a national strategy in China, and incorporated into mid- and long-term plans of all regions and fields. There has been a drive to improve the legal and policy framework, strengthen technical support and the training of high-caliber personnel, expand oversight on law enforcement, and encourage public participation in conserving biodiversity, thus improving biodiversity governance.

1. Improving Relevant Policies, Laws and Regulations

China is making constant efforts to establish and improve policies, laws and regulations on biodiversity conservation, and has drafted mid- and long-term programs and action plans to provide institutional guarantees for biodiversity conservation and management.

Strengthening organization and leadership. The China National Committee for Biodiversity Conservation (CNCBC) has been established to coordinate conservation actions. It is composed of 23 departments under the State Council, and headed by a Vice Premier who is in charge of environmental protection. To strengthen the quality and stability of our ecosystems, the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 make provisions for implementing major biodiversity conservation projects and building a biodiversity conservation network. 

The China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011-2030) has been issued and implemented, offering substantial guidance in 10 priority areas, including the policy and legal framework for biodiversity conservation and sustainable utilization of bio-resources, and 30 actions, including inter-departmental coordination mechanisms. Beijing, Jiangsu, Yunnan and 19 other provincial-level administrative units have formed local strategies and action plans accordingly. 

China has put in place a system for evaluating performance in advancing ecological progress, based on which indicators of biodiversity conservation have been included in performance evaluation for local governments, urging them to fulfill their responsibilities for biodiversity conservation.

Strengthening the legal system for biodiversity conservation. Over the past decade, China has promulgated and revised more than 20 laws and regulations pertinent to biodiversity conservation, including laws on forestry, grassland, fishery, seed, biosecurity as well as laws on the protection of wild animals, the environment, marine environment, and the Yangtze River, covering the protection of wildlife and important ecosystems, biosecurity, access to and benefit-sharing of biogenetic resources, thus providing solid legal safeguards for biodiversity conservation and sustainable utilization of bio-resources. 

China has also revised the list of key wild animals and plants under state protection, laying a foundation for rescuing rare and endangered wildlife and maintaining biodiversity. In 2020, the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress adopted at its 16th session the Decision to Comprehensively Prohibit the Illegal Trade of Wild Animals, Eliminate the Bad Habits of Wild Animal Consumption, and Protect the Health and Safety of the People. 

Different provinces and equivalent administrative units have issued relevant regulations based on local conditions. Yunnan Province, for example, formulated its own biodiversity conservation regulation, the first local one in the country. 

2. Extending Guarantees

China has organized nationwide biodiversity surveys, and put in place sound biodiversity monitoring and observation networks. It has increased financial input and effort in technology research and development to improve the capacity for biodiversity conservation and governance. 

Conducting nationwide biodiversity surveys and assessment. To improve its biodiversity survey and assessment capacity, China has carried out major biodiversity conservation projects, in addition to surveys of natural resources and the monitoring and assessment of ecosystems. It has included biodiversity indicators in the system of comprehensive assessment indexes for ecological quality for the first time to guide local governments in protecting the eco-environment and biodiversity. A system for surveying, assessing and monitoring natural resources has been developed, and surveys on forests, grasslands, waters, wetlands, deserts, oceans and other natural resources have been carried out. 

China has built a species distribution database, covering 2,376 county-level administrative units and totaling over 34,000 km in line transect. An information platform has been set up to survey and collect various species, accurately mapping the spatial distribution of wildlife. 

China has completed biodiversity surveys and assessment in more than 180 county-level administrative units in the Yangtze River Economic Belt, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region and some other national strategic areas. Offshore resources studies have been carried out to build an initial profile of fishery resources. 

China has released the China Red Data Book of Plants, China Red Data Book of Endangered Animals, China Species Red List, and China's Red List of Biodiversity to establish the overall situation of biodiversity and lay a scientific basis for better biodiversity conservation. 

Improving monitoring and observation networks. China has put in place monitoring and observation networks for various ecosystems and species. These networks have played an important role in supporting biodiversity research, demonstrating and promoting relevant technology, and protecting species and their habitats, thereby providing diverse information services and decision-making support for scientific research and education, popularizing science and exploiting resources. Among them, the Chinese Ecosystem Research Network (CERN) and the Chinese Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (CTERN) cover all ecosystems and elements; the China Biodiversity Monitoring and Research Network (Sino BON) covers a variety of biological groups such as animals, plants and microorganisms; the China Biodiversity Observation Network (China BON) has designated plots for the observation of indicator species all over the country. 

Increasing financial support. China has expanded funding for biodiversity conservation in recent years. More than RMB260 billion was earmarked in biodiversity-related causes in each of 2017 and 2018, six times the figure of 2008. Meanwhile, China has used fiscal and tax incentives to mobilize private capital to invest in biodiversity conservation. In 2020, a national green development fund was set up, raising RMB88.5 billion as a start. 

Strengthening technical and talent support. China has set up special projects on biodiversity research, developed database and information platforms, and improved technologies and standards for survey, observation and assessment to provide strong technical support for biodiversity conservation. Through some basic scientific research projects on biodiversity conservation, restoration and protection of typical vulnerable ecosystems, conservation of species, and protection of rare and endangered wildlife, China has stepped up technology research and development in the restoration and protection of endangered wildlife, conservation of germplasm and genetic resources, and sustainable and profitable use of biological resources. This way, it has gradually built a technical system for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. China has taken full advantage of the strengths of universities and research institutes, and integrated science and education to reinforce the training of professionals on biodiversity.

3. Strengthening Law Enforcement and Supervision

China has conducted central environmental protection inspections to solve outstanding problems, improve eco-environmental quality, and promote high-quality economic and social development. It has organized special actions against illegal wildlife trade, and increased its effort to combat illegal and criminal activities concerning biodiversity. It has taken tough steps to stop and punish all activities that do damage to ecosystems, species and biological resources. 

Strengthening central inspection on eco-environmental protection. The system of central inspection on eco-environmental protection was established in 2015. Since then, it has been developed to cover 31 provincial-level administrative units, relevant departments under the State Council and some state-owned enterprises directly under the central government. To solve prominent environmental problems, China has carried out inspections focusing on major issues such as biodiversity conservation, climate change, the 10-year ban on fishing in the Yangtze River, and marine environmental protection. The system serves to push governments at all levels and relevant departments to take responsibility for protecting the eco-environment, providing strong institutional guarantees for conserving biodiversity. 

Carrying law enforcement inspections on biodiversity conservation. Adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal activities involving wildlife trade, China has carried out trans-department, cross-region and cross-border joint actions to crack down on the trafficking of rare and endangered wildlife. It has improved the long-term mechanism for monitoring law enforcement concerning wild animal protection. Special law enforcement campaigns have been launched to combat illegal activities threatening wildlife and their habitats, including the Green Shield inspections of nature reserves, the Blue Sea initiative for marine environmental protection, the Sword campaigns targeting fisheries, and the Kunlun actions against crimes and violations in the fields of food, drugs and the environment. In a tough stand against illegal activities, China has established collaboration mechanisms for cross-region and trans-department joint actions on enforcing the Yangtze River fishing ban and withdrawal of fishermen concerned, and has conducted special campaigns against illegal fishing. 

4. Encouraging Public Engagement 

China continues to strengthen publicity and education on biodiversity conservation. An action system involving stronger government guidance, corporate action, and extensive public participation is taking shape. Public participation in biodiversity conservation has grown and become more diversified. 

Public awareness activities and dissemination of knowledge on biodiversity are being carried out. On important occasions such as the International Day for Biological Diversity, World Wildlife Day, World Wetlands Day, World Environment Day, and Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Public Awareness Month, events will be held to encourage broad social participation and raise public awareness of eco-environmental conservation. 

China has explored new publicity models, broadened participation channels, improved incentives, and invited public participation in policy making, information disclosure and public-interest litigation related to biodiversity, creating a positive environment for biodiversity conservation. Beautiful China, I'm a Contributor - Action Plan to Raise Public Awareness of Ecological Conservation (2021-2025), and Guidelines on Advancing Volunteer Service in Eco-environmental Protection have been released to provide guidelines and norms for entities and individuals to participate in biodiversity conservation.

China has formed alliances for protecting key species including the Yangtze finless porpoise, the turtle and the Chinese white dolphin, which serve as platforms of communication and cooperation for all stakeholders. 

In 2015, China joined the Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity (GPBB), initiated by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Enterprises are encouraged to take part in biodiversity-related initiatives and actions against illegal wildlife trade.

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