Chinese minister lauds nation's progress in protecting biodiversity

Chinese minister lauds nation's progress in protecting biodiversity

Baku, December 5, AZERTAC

With increasingly stronger institutions for biodiversity conservation, China has made significant progress in protecting biodiversity resources and seen a remarkable increase in the populations of many endangered species, said Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu.

Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization, China has made consistent efforts to enhance the top-level design of biodiversity conservation by improving management systems, mechanisms and policies, he said in an exclusive interview with China Daily in the lead-up to the second phase of the United Nations' COP15 biodiversity conference. Huang is the COP15 president.

With the theme of "Ecological Civilization — Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth", the largest UN biodiversity gathering in a decade will hold its next phase in Montreal, Canada, from December 7 to 19. In this phase, participants will meet to conclude negotiations and decide on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The first phase of the conference, held in Kunming, Yunnan province, in October last year, included leaders' speeches and issuing of the Kunming Declaration.

In the past 10 years, China has drafted and revised more than 20 laws and regulations pertinent to biodiversity conservation, including laws on forestry, grasslands, fisheries and biosecurity, said Huang.

Besides a biodiversity conservation strategy and action plan for 2011-30 that was released in 2010, the central authorities also unveiled a guideline last year to further strengthen biodiversity conservation, he said.

For example, the guideline aims to increase China's forest coverage rate to 26 percent and the protection rate of wetlands to around 60 percent by 2035.

"We have elevated biodiversity conservation to a national strategy in China," the minister emphasized.

He also highlighted the country's system of protected areas with a focus on national parks.

To date, China has built its first five national parks, nearly 200 botanical gardens and 250 wildlife rehabilitation and breeding centers, he noted. With almost 10,000 protected areas of different types, China has brought 18 percent of its land territory under protection, Huang said.

In addition, China has drawn up ecological conservation redlines for 31.7 percent of its land territory, encircling areas with critically important or fragile ecological functions for protection, the minister said.

Thanks to the consistent efforts, China has managed to bring 74 percent of its key State-protected wildlife species under effective protection, and some rare and endangered wildlife species have seen their populations gradually restored, he said.

For example, Huang said, over the past 40 years, the population of wild giant pandas has increased from 1,114 to 1,864. In 1981, only seven wild crested ibises were found in Yangxian county of Shaanxi province, but the population of the bird known as "the oriental gem" has now reached over 5,000, he said.

The minister vowed a series of measures to accelerate the mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation in China.

Aside from updating the national biodiversity conservation strategy and action plan, China will consider special legislation on biodiversity, he said.

"Amid the crisis and challenge of biodiversity loss, we must firmly seize the opportunity of COP15 … to mainstream the biodiversity conservation process in an accelerated manner and strive to usher in a new chapter of biodiversity conservation," he said.

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