To protect its natural resources, China is to establish four national parks that cover about 215,000 square kilometers of land, or 2 percent of the country's territory, Yang Weimin, deputy head of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economic Affairs, said on Monday. Beijing News commented on Tuesday:
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, has reviewed plans for the four pilot national parks and demanded that their ecological integrity be restored, according to Yang. The national parks are expected to "give roughly 2 percent of China's territory back to giant pandas, Siberian tigers, leopards and Tibetan antelopes", and to "leave our future generations a larger area of pristine land".
A priority of the national park system is preserving biodiversity, a key indicator of local ecological well-being and environmental health. Among the world's most biodiverse countries, China has suffered great ecological losses as a result of its rapid economic development.
A red list for China's biodiversity suggests that 11 percent of higher plant species and over 21 percent of vertebrates are under threat: the latter are facing greater risk of extinction than the average global level. That is all the more reason for China to set up a batch of national parks and establish a new agency for the management of its natural assets by 2020 as planned.
The national park system, if established, should be able to streamline the protection of nature reserves long subject to overlapping, inefficient management. For instance, the Giant Panda National Park covering 27,100 square kilometers and spanning parts of Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, will be directly run and funded by the central government as will other national parks.
With administrative barriers and provincial borders no longer standing in the way, national resources across the country can expect to be better protected.