Beijing has strengthened its environmental protection in recent years, with special areas demarcated in Miyun Reservoir to protect resources and water quality of the capital. A herd of swans are flying over the reservoir. (Photo by He Yong from People's Daily)
China will complete a space-earth integrated observation system and a comprehensive eco-safety monitoring system linked with big data and Internet by the end of 2020, said the country's environmental watchdog ahead of the upcoming annual sessions of National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Meanwhile, an all-round monitoring platform for ecological protection will start its pilot run this year, as an effort to realize real-time inspection on development and construction activities within the ecological "red line" and natural reserves, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) added.
The regions mapped out by the "ecological red line", which are of critical importance for natural functions and the protection of water, soil, forestry and biodiversity, should be strictly protected and free from development or exploitation.
So far, China has established 2,740 nature reserves, covering a land area of 1.42 million square meters, accounting for 14.8 percent of the country's territory. A diversified nature reserve network with appropriate layout has taken shape.
But severe challenges faced by China's ecological protection remained. Against such backdrop, each local government is working on defining the "red line", which is a task directly related with China's ecological safety in the future.
The central authorities on February 7 issued guidelines on an ecological "red line" system, saying that the demarcation of the borders and calibration of the regions should be completed and the system will be basically established by the end of 2020.
Since those regions calibrated within the "red line" have important ecological functions which must be strictly protected, the "red line" is in essence a bottom line drawn to establish the most stringent ecological protection system.
According to the guideline, the "red line" must be demarcated and protected in order to control important eco-space. The guideline stipulated that ecological functions of the regions shouldn't be destroyed, areas shouldn't be reduced and natural landscape shouldn't be changed. The "red line" areas could only be increased rather than reduced, it stressed.
As a matter of fact, some regions in China have already gained much experience after their exploration for the calibration of "red line" since 2000.
According to incomplete statistics, at least 13 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions including Guizhou, Sichuan and Shaanxi, have set the preliminary protected areas and introduced corresponding management measures.
In addition, most of the protected areas account for more than 1/3 of the territory of corresponding provinces.
Gao Jixi, director of the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences under the MEP, also the technical leader of the national "red line" demarcation group, explained that the "red line" will be clearly defined by high-precision images and land-use statistics, so that management systems and regimes could be worked out after the borders are clarified.