Bringing the country in accord with global biodiversity targets, nearly a third of China’s land is now off-limits to development under a scheme known as the “ecological protection red line”.
In order to put an end to decades of “irrational development” that had encroached on forests, wetlands and other precious ecosystems, China first proposed its “red line” scheme in 2011.
As per China’s vice-national resources minister Zhuang Shaoqin, the establishment of national parks and the restoration of ecosystems have now helped bring the total area under protection to more than 30 per cent of the country’s territory.
Supported by more than 100 countries to protect at least 30 per cent of the earth’s land and ocean areas by 2030, the figure is in line with a target recommended by the United Nations.
China will discuss the target during talks on a new global biodiversity pact that will lead and is set to take place in Montreal in December.
With some also cracking down on farmers for illegally expanding plantations onto protected land, Chinese authorities have been demolishing houses, workshops and hydropower plants in order to meet their own local “red line” targets.
While Chinese governments are still authorised to redraw “red lines” if they interfere with major development projects,, critics say the enforcement of the scheme has remained uneven.
From the cultivation and logging of commercial forests to the exploration of mineral resources, some human activities have still been permitted inside the red line zones.
With pollution and habitat destruction still not fully under control, China also acknowledged earlier this year that its marine ecosystems remained in relatively poor health.