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Biodiversity conservation enables a beautiful China
Jin Jili China Standardization 2022-05-22

In Southwest China’s Yunnan province, a herd of wild Asian elephants from Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture migrated to the north and arrived at Kunming in June 2021. Their adventurous behavior attracted the attention of the whole world, and their fantastic journey of hundreds of kilometers was reported by both domestic and foreign media.

Obviously, the migration has become a vivid example of the harmonious coexistence of human and nature in China, which showcases the remarkable progress made by China in biological conservation to the rest of the world.

Why biopersity matters?

Experts believed that the places these elephants went through are ecologically balanced with rich varieties of plants and large areas of forests, which has provided a safe passageway and comfortable breathing space, making it possible for them to achieve a successful long-distance migration.
Because of China’s great efforts in the past four decades, the number of wild Asian elephants has increased from 180 in the 1980s to about 300 at present, according to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

Why biopersity matters? Biological persity refers to the variety of living species including plants, animals and microorganisms in their natural environments and the aggregate of the related ecological processes. It serves as the basis for human survival and development.

Biopersity resources are the pillars upon which we build civilizations. Fishes provide 20 percent of animal protein to about 3 billion people, and plants provide over 80 percent of human diet. However, people’s excessive exploitation and utilization of such resources have seriously threatened biopersity; species across the world are extinct at an alarming rate, leading to chain reactions in the biologic chain and affecting the survival of other species as well.

Recognizing the importance of biological conservation, the international community began to take action. In 1972, a declaration with the conservation of bio-resources in its 26 principles was signed by nations at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. In 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity came into effect, ushering in a new era for the protection of global biopersity.

To increase people’s awareness and understanding of biopersity issues, the International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD) is celebrated every year on May 22. This year’s theme is “Building a shared future for all life”. It delivers the message that biopersity is the foundation upon which we can build back better, and focuses on the newglobal biopersity framework, which will be adopted at the upcoming 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15) in Kunming, Yunnan province, China.

Biopersity conservation in China

China is one of the most bioperse countries in the world with unique ecosystems, abundant species and rich genetic variety. As one of the first countries to sign the Convention on Biological Diversity, China has always attached great importance to biopersity conservation, achieving substantial progress on a distinctively Chinese path.

· Optimizing in-situ conservation

Over the past few decades, China has set up protected areas (PAs), opened national parks on a trial basis, implemented the red line strategy for ecological conservation, and designated priority areas in biopersity conservation. These measures have contributed to the conservation of key natural ecosystems, biological resources and habitats for key species.

Since the first nature reserve was set up in 1956, China has established close to 10,000 PAs of all types and at all levels, accounting for about 18 percent of its total land area, pointed out by the white paper Biopersity Conservation in China released in October 2021.

The habitats for wild animals have been expanding with growing populations. For instance, giant pandas in the wild have grown from 1,114 to 1,864 over the past four decades, and the crested ibis population has increased from only 7 to over 5,000.

· Improving ex-situ conservation

China has set up a relatively complete ex-situ conservation system, which includes botanical gardens, wildlife rehabilitation and breeding centers, germplasm resource centers, and gene banks.

According to the white paper, China has built about 200 botanical gardens and arboretums exhibiting 23,000 species of plants, and 250 wildlife rehabilitation and breeding centers where over 60 types of rare and endangered wild animals are successfully bred.

The Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, a world-class preservation system for germplasm resources of wild species located in Kunming, had preserved 85,046 wild plant seeds of 10,601 species by the end of 2020.

· Improving biosecurity governance

In China, biosecurity has been included in the national security system, and the Biosecurity Law was promulgated in 2021. Lists of invasive alien species cover a total of 83 invasive species detected in the country. Over 200 technical norms on the safety testing, assessment, supervision and regulation of genetically modified organisms have been released.

Great efforts have been made to improve the mechanism for preventing the invasion of alien species, promote the sound development of biotechnologies, and strengthen the protection and regulation of biogenetic resources to constantly improve national biosecurity governance.

· Improving eco-environment and green development

China has carried out at least 35 conservation and restoration projects, and fought a tough battle against pollution. It has also taken measures to promote green development in all aspects with coordinated efforts.

Between 2016 and 2020, China restored 1,200 kilometers of coastline and 23,000 hectares of coastal wetlands. Between 2000 and 2017, China contributed about 25 percent of global vegetation growth, the biggest share among all countries.

In 2020, China’s average concentration of ambient particulate matters (PM2.5) was 33 µg/m3, down by 28.3 percent from 2015, and the percentage of days with good air quality rose by 5.8 percentage points from 2015.

Enhanced international cooperation

Biopersity loss and ecosystem degradation pose huge threats to human survival and development. Facing these global challenges, China has actively carried out international cooperation, contributing solutions to global biopersity conservation and working together with the international community to build a shared future for human and nature.

Over the past years, China has actively implemented the Convention on Biological Diversity and related protocols, and submitted high-quality national reports on a regular basis. It has become the largest contributor among developing countries to the Global Environment Facility. China National Biopersity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011-2030) was published in 2010 to create a better ecological environment.

China has also strengthened international exchanges and cooperation with the support of multilateral cooperation mechanisms, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and South-South Cooperation. The Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition has been established, attracting partners from over 40 countries.

Guided by the vision of building a global community of shared future, China will continue to contribute its part to global environmental governance, said Chinese President Xi Jinping at the UN Summit on Biopersity on September 30, 2020.

New expectations ahead

Held in Kunming in hybrid format in October 2021, the first part of COP 15 was expected to provide a roadmap for the further negotiations of the post-2020 global biopersity framework. Kunming Declaration was approved to vigorously enhance global biopersity conservation with a clearer vision for the coexistence of human and nature.

The second part of COP 15 will take place in the third quarter of 2022, which will convene governments from around the world to agree to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade.

With new expectations ahead, China will continue to play a big role in the global biopersity governance, making China a more beautiful and bio-persified country.


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