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Standards facilitate better biodiversity conservation
Jin Jili China Standardization 2022-06-03

China has made historic achievements in ecological conservation and restoration over the past decade by putting biopersity as a top priority, making long-term plans and taking a series of measures. Standards have also played an important role in facilitating better biopersity conservation at both national and international levels.

Looking into the distance from the space, Qinghai Lake, the largest inland saltwater lake in China, is like a giant sapphire inset into the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The water area of Qinghai Lake has reached 4,625.6 square kilometers, increasing nearly 220 square kilometers compared with that 10 years ago, equivalent to the area of 34 West Lakes in Hangzhou, according to the latest satellite remote sensing data. The previous huge area of sand has become a wide range of wetland.

China has taken a series of measures including wetland preservation, degraded grassland governance, and terrestrial biopersity conservation to enable the transformation of Qinghai Lake from ecological deterioration to ecological prosperity.

Biopersity conservation is closely related to the well-being of people and the future of the nation. In fact, China has continuously improved the laws, regulations and work mechanisms on biopersity conservation, since it signed the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992.

Policy support

To enhance collaboration and improve work efficiency, the national coordinated work mechanism was established by the State Council in 2011. China National Committee for Biopersity Conservation was chaired by Vice Premier of the State Council and composed of 23 departments under the State Council, aiming to promote the national work on biopersity conservation in a coordinated way.

Biopersity conservation has been placed high on the agenda after China put forward vigorously promoting ecological progress at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in 2012. By far, more than 50 laws and regulations have been promulgated and revised, such as the Law on the Protection of Wildlife and Regulations on Nature Reserves, which provide a strong legal basis for biopersity conservation in China.

Regulations and specifications have also been formulated by relevant industrial competent departments and provincial governments. For instance, the Regulations on Biopersity Conservation in Yunnan Province, the first of its kind, was released in 2019.

In terms of plans and programs, the Action Plan on Biopersity Conservation in China was released in 1994. After that, a series of plans and outlines have been implemented successively for nature reserve protection, ecological environment construction, ecological environmental protection as well as the utilization and protection of biological species and resources.

In 2010, the Strategy and Action Plan on Biopersity Conservation in China (2011-2030) was implemented, which specified the overall objectives, strategic tasks and priority actions. In addition, biopersity conservation has been included in other national plans for economic and social development, ecological conservation and restoration, and territorial space planning.

The recent move to enhance biopersity conservation is a guideline released by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council in October 2021, which sets the goal of bringing 77 percent of national key wildlife species under protection by 2025 with cutting-edge technologies. The document also makes detailed plans to intensify biopersity conservation, including measures to improve policies and regulations, integrate the issue into long-term plans of different regions and sectors, as well as establish a complete monitoring system.

Standards development in China

To put the Environmental Protection Law in place and better protect the ecological environment in China, a great number of national standards have been released by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) in recent years.

Six national standards were published in 2011, including HJ 623-2011, Standard for the assessment of regional biopersity. The standard specifies the indicators and their weights, data collection and processing, calculation methods and grading of regional biopersity assessment, to comprehensively improve the management of biopersity conservation in China.

In 2014, 11 national standards were released for the biopersity monitoring of terrestrial vascular plants, lichens and bryophytes, terrestrial mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, inlandwater fish, freshwater benthic macro invertebrates, butterflies, large and medium-sized soil animals, as well as macro fungi. HJ 710.1-2014, Technical guidelines for biopersity monitoring - terrestrial vascular plants, stipulates the main content, technical requirements and methods for the biopersity monitoring of terrestrial vascular plants.

In 2021, another 12 national standards were published, such as HJ 1176-2021, Technical specification for investigation and assessment of national ecological status - Data quality control and integration.

China Biopersity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), founded in 1985, is the most influential foundation in the field. In recent years, it has developed several association standards on biopersity conservation, such as T/CGDF 00005-2020, Standard for biopersity investigation and monitoring, T/CGDF 00006-2020, Standard for biopersity assessment, T/CGDF 00007-2020, Standard for biopersity restoration, T/CGDF 00008-2020, Specification for biopersity adaption, T/CGDF 00009-2020, Standard for biopersity compensation, as well as T/CGDF 00029-2022, Standard for biopersity planning.

T/CGDF 00029-2022 defines the basic requirements, fundamental principles, operational instructions of biopersity planning, which provides a reference for government departments and environmental impact assessment bodies to carry out biopersity planning and construction.

These association standards have filled the blank in the area, playing an essential role in facilitating the biopersity conservation and related work in China.

International efforts

At the international level, ISO/TC 331, Biopersity, was established in 2020 with its secretariat undertaken by AFNOR, the ISO member of France. The technical committee is designed to develop principles, framework, requirements, guidance and supporting tools in a holistic and global approach for all organizations, to enhance their contribution to sustainable development. It has 36 participating members and 20 observing members.

By far, ISO/TC 331 has set up a working group on terminology, a chair’s advisory group and three ad hoc groups on organizations, strategies and sustainable use, restoration, conservation and protection, as well as measurement, data, monitoring and assessment respectively.

At present, ISO/AWI TS 13208-1, Biopersity—Vocabulary—Part 1: General terms, is under development. It is the first and prior standard project approved within ISO/TC 331, which is proposed by the experts from China National Institute of Standardization (CNIS). As the domestic mirror committee, CNIS has been actively participating in the international standardization work on biopersity.

CBCGDF, a first-class national institute, has taken the international standards development as a key priority to participate in the global environmental governance. Three experts from the standards work committee of CBCGDF attended the second plenary meeting of ISO/TC 331 held in virtual form in April 2022. The meeting attracted more than 100 representatives from over 20 countries and international organizations such as International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS).

China has been strengthening international exchanges and cooperation on biopersity conservation to jointly meet global challenges, endeavoring to contribute its share to global environmental governance and play a bigger role in realizing the vision of harmony between human and nature.

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