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CHINA: NATIONAL PARKS TO PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY

Chinese governmentis reforming the way in which major tourist attractions are managed. In relation to this, the government has established plans to create a unified national parks management system in order to halt environmental damages within national parks.

Experts outline that this new unified system will overtake the local and departmental interests of existing operators, to guarantee that parks can be managed to benefit the public.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the new system will be tested in seven of the Chinese most famous tourist spots, including the Great Wall, the colourful mountain lakes of Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan, and the needle-like rock formations at Zhangjiajie in Hunan province.

Experts show that the current Chinese system is complex and fragmented.

The Chinese system became fragmented after the creation of the first Chinese national park in 2006, when the Tibetan prefecture of Diqing created Shangrila Pudacuo National Park using local legislation. However, local governments did not actually have the right to declare a park “national”. Additionally, in 2008, the Ministry for Environmental Protection and the National Tourism Administration approved the Heilongjiang Tangwang River National Park in Manchuria. Also, the Ministry of Construction renamed its “National Scenic Areas” as “national parks” in English translation.

Consequently, today China has many so-called national parks, managed by different bodies. By February 2009, there were 710 national forest parks, wetland parks, geo parks and archaeological parks. However, experts argue that they have failed to stop environmental degradation. Additionally, this situation has raised public concerns.

In this context, the establishment of a national park system was proposed in the 2013 as “Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Comprehensively Deepening Reforms” in order to solve the problems.

Experts have suggested creating a body for overall management of national parks and reserves, removing the existing regional and departmental divisions and creating a comprehensive management system. This new strategy should improve environmental protection, experts say.

In addition to that, the reform will require state funding to succeed in changing the management system, researchers of the Social Development Department of the State Council’s Development Research Centre show.

Moreover, the situation is complex, experts argue: although China’s nature reserves cover 20% of its land, the environment is still worsening.

According to the WWF, the main problem for wildlife conservation in China is habitat fragmentation. Mining, road construction and hydropower undermine and destroy habitats, damaging wildlife and plant populations. In this way, national parks need to be able to link the fragmented habitats of animal populations.

In this framework, public participation should play a key role in environmental protection, experts say: national parks can be good examples to improve environmental education.

 

The gLAWcal Team

EPSEI project

Friday, 4 November 2014

(Source: ChinaDialogue)