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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
National park system needed
    2017-May-22  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Winton Dong

dht0620@126.com

CHINA has listed ecological civilization as one of the five goals in the country’s overall development plan, along with economic, political, cultural and social progress.

With such a goal in mind, the country has so far demarcated about 18 percent of its total territory under the protection of the ecological red line. At present, China boasts more than 8,000 geological parks, wetlands and protected zones nationwide. However, due to the absence of a unified national park management system, weak law enforcement and the lack of public awareness, these parks and zones are scattered, stuck under bureaucratic and inefficient management. They belong to various departments, get financial support from diverse entities, and listen to the orders of different governmental organs such as forestry, tourism and environmental protection departments.

Overlapping authorities and complicated vested interests make it a difficult task for China to reform and upgrade its park management system from the inside. Under these circumstances, borrowing successful examples from other countries may be the best solution. It was reported that the China National Development and Reform Commission inked a cooperative agreement with the U.S. National Park Service in 2016, aiming to unify and boost China’s park management. Chicago-based Paulson Institute, founded in 2011 and led by former U.S. Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson, is also actively involved in the cooperative effort.

A unified national park system will not only enhance the revenue of the parks and their working efficiency, but also strike a balance between ecological protection and people’s desire for higher incomes. More importantly, it will help increase the integrity, connectivity and coordination of protection efforts for the habitats of endangered or vulnerable flora and fauna species, including the giant panda, Siberian tiger, Amur leopard, golden monkey, Tibetan antelope, Fraser fir and others.

On April 22 this year, Earth Day, a Chinese-American documentary “Born in China,” co-produced by Shanghai Media Group and Disneynature, hit U.S. theaters and took moviegoers on an epic journey to the wilds of China. The film also serves to increase awareness of the importance and urgency of protecting wildlife.

With the protection of the giant panda in China as an example, the black-and-white mammal is perhaps the world’s most recognizable symbol of conservation. According to the latest survey, China now has 1,864 giant pandas living in the wild, mostly in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. The giant panda prefers to live alone and every panda’s territory is about 5-6 square kilometers marked out by secretions from its perianal gland. The mammal is also very area-sensitive, which means it responds poorly if its territory becomes too small or the climatic conditions are not ideal. Moreover, it requires an ample supply of bamboo and other broadleaf greens.

Based on the above-mentioned requirements, the Qionglai Mountains, situated in the western Sichuan Basin, are a wonderful environment for the giant panda. However, the 2,364 square kilometers of prime mountainous area in Qionglai have been separated and are managed by seven different nature reserves in the province, including Wolong, Fengtongzhai, Labahe, Anzihe and Heishuihe. Growing human populations and human activities (farming, dam building, road construction, residential areas, felling trees, tourism development and others) have further reduced the habitat of the giant panda, fragmented their environment, prevented their mating and lowered their ability to adapt to a changing environment, thus leading to many issues stemming from inbreeding, species degradation and in general bringing the animal closer to extinction.

If corridors can be built along these adjacent but isolated nature reserves to form a relatively large habitat for giant pandas to migrate freely or a unified park management can be introduced among the seven areas, the Qionglai Mountains will surely turn out to be a more livable, viable and genetically diversified place for the endangered animal.

Besides the protection of endangered animals and plants, a unified national park system will also play an important role in the management of China’s major waterways.

In terms of water conservation, China has recently set up several parks to protect the headwaters of the country’s major rivers and rehabilitate fragile ecosystems. For example, the Three-river-source or Sanjiangyuan National Park was kicked off last year to safeguard the sources of three of China’s major rivers, namely the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers. The country is also determined to improve environmental governance with the implementation of the “river chief” rule. Under the regulation, major local government officials will be named river chiefs and will be responsible for curbing water pollution within their jurisdiction.

All creatures are great and smart. All things are bright and beautiful. As part of China’s efforts to improve its environment, the formulation of an overall plan for the national park system is of special importance. Frankly speaking, a national park system goes far beyond resource conservation and environmental restoration. It is not just a place we want to protect from wanton and illegal development, but also a place for us to understand who we are, where we are from and where we are going.

(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)

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