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First National Land Use Planning Outline Submitted for Review
Vice Minister Cunzhi HU of the Ministry of Land and Resources of the People’s Republic of China expressed on Dec. 25, 2013 that the draft of China’s first national land use planning outline had been finished and was recently submitted to the State Council for its review. This Outline highlighted the protection of the environment, aiming to build a classification- and grading-based protection pattern in the entire territory.

Cunzhi HU revealed in the “Resource and Environment Carrying Capacity and National Land Development Basis Forum” on that day that, after considering the ecological function, development degree, and protection mode in different regions, the Outline focused on five main environmental themes including environmental quality, human settlements ecology, natural ecology, water resources, and arable land resources, and classified planning in the different regions into three levels, being protection, maintenance, and restoration. Through the implementation of the planning, this targeted protection of the environment will cover all the land within China’s territory.

Cunzhi HU expressed that a main feature of the Outline was that, based on the evaluation of resources and the environmental carrying capacity, it determined the restrictive factors in resource and environmental aspects in different regions, on which basis it then proposed the focus of resources and environmental protection across the country. For example, the protection with atmosphere, water, and soil quality as the main themes will be implemented in the concentrated development areas with higher development intensity and striking environmental issues like the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Pearl River Delta; while in the main ecological function areas, the protection with the theme of natural ecology will be implemented.

Regarding the dominating functional zones, Cunzhi HU stated that, in the optimized development zones like the Bohai Bay area, the Yangtze River Delta area, and the Pearl River Delta area, the renovation and restoration of human settlements should be implemented to strengthen governance and curb the environmental degradation; while in the main ecological function areas and the main agricultural production areas, the ecological environment protection will be implemented to limit land development and to consolidate and improve the ecological service function and the supply of agricultural products.

It is worth noting that, in order to avoid over-development, the Outline excluded the various types of nature reserves, main ecological function areas, and high-quality farmland protection areas that need strict protection and other areas unfit to carry out national land development. While in other regions, efforts should be focused on the efficiency and benefits of the development, and on guiding the population and industries to concentrate to the areas with relatively stronger resources and environmental carrying capacities, better development conditions, and larger development and utilization potentials. 

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