In celebration of 2010 as the Year of International Biodiversity, China has unveiled one of the most ambitious conservation plans seen in many years.
China’s voluntary biodiversity action plan divides 23 percent of the country into 35 priority conservation areas, promises state funds for protection; and sets a target of controlling biodiversity loss by 2020 (Guardian).
“If China can implement this plan systematically, then they will be managing better than any other country,” said Matthew Durnin, a Nature Conservancy scientist who helped draft the strategy.
The plan was revealed on the opening day of the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty ratified in 1993.
Although the CBD is essential for acknowleding a shocking lack of progress toward protecting the world’s speices, many fear that commitments made this during the international gathering will be quickly forgotten in the pursuit of economic prosperity.
“Sometimes the laws are not well implemented so the destruction … goes unpunished,” Yan Xie, of the Wildlife Conservation Society told the Guardian. “China has done a great deal, but we cannot be optimistic about biodiversity conservation while the underlying problems remain of habitat loss, pollution, overuse of pesticides and over consumption.”
Nevertheless, the country has already begun to put its plan into action. The province of Sichuan has set aside over $130 million to set aside five critical ecological protection areas: one links to existing giant panda reserves, another restores an area damaged by industry, two conserve semi-tropical flora and fauna, and another offsets the impact of dams (Guardian).
The CBD, which is nearing the end of its first week, hopes to address biodiversity loss, deforestation and land degradation addressed as a single challenge for established and developing nations all over the world.
Proactive, voluntary efforts like those in Sichuan are important for setting a conservation precedent, but critics warn that without setting international standards and holding countries that continually fail to meet goals accountable, little progress will be made.
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