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China Demarcates Wetland Protection Redline of 800 million mu
On Feb. 13, 2014, Yongli ZHANG, Deputy Director of the State Forestry Bureau, pointed out that in the Planning Outline for Promoting the Construction of Ecological Civilization that was recently issued by the State Forestry Bureau, the wetland protection redline of the country was demarcated, in which the wetland area of China should be no less than 800 million mu by the year 2020.

Currently, a relatively complete basic wetland protection system has been formed in China, and 19 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities have issued the provincial-level wetland protection regulations. However, in the past decade, the wetland area of China was greatly reduced, with the occupation and conversion of wetland usage by human activities as the main reason. The result of the second national wetland resource survey showed that the total wetland area of China was 53.6 million ha, and the ratio of wetland in the total land area (i.e., the wetland ratio) was 5.58%. Compared with the first national survey over the past 10 years, the wetland area was decreased by 3,396,300 ha, with a reduction rate of 8.82%. In particular, the natural wetland area was 46,674,700 ha, accounting for 87.08% of the nationwide total wetland area. Compared with the first national survey, the natural wetland area was decreased by 3,376,200 ha, with a reduction rate of 9.33%. Comparing the results of the two surveys, it can be concluded that the threat faced by wetland resources showed a rising trend, and the main threat factors shifted from the three factors of pollution, land reclamation, and illegal hunting in the first survey to the five factors of pollution, land reclamation, occupation by infrastructure construction, excessive fishing and collection, and invasion of foreign species in the survey of this time, which indicated that the main threat factors were increased and that the influencing frequency and influenced area both had a rising trend. Meanwhile, the survey results also revealed that the ecological condition of China’s wetland was still not optimistic concerning the loss of biodiversity.

The State Forestry Bureau declared that, based on the data acquired from this survey, it will take more targeted and forceful measures in the future to strengthen the management of wetland protection. Firstly, the wetland protection planning should be improved through macro guidance. According to the requirements of the dominating functional zone planning, further amendments should be made to the National Wetland Protection Project Plan (2002 - 2030), and more targeted and phased project implementation plans should be formulated, which then should be carried out seriously. Secondly, the construction of the wetland protection system should be promoted. Efforts should be made to gradually establish a series of important mechanisms such as the natural wetland protection system, the degraded wetland restoration system, the wetland ecological effect compensation system, and the wetland protection redline system, etc. Finally, the ecological restoration project of the wetland should be implemented. For those functionally degraded swamps, rivers, lakes, and coastal wetlands, comprehensive renovation measures should be carried out such as revegetation, bird habitat restoration, ecological water supplementation, pollution control, etc.

Yongli ZHANG expressed that the ecological redline was the bottom line to safeguard the ecological security. It was not only the protection line to restrict development and utilization, but also the safety line to maintain basic ecological balance. Of course, it does not mean that wetland resources within the redline should not be developed or utilized at all, but that the development and utilization should be conditional, appropriate, scientific, and rational. Meanwhile, there should be corresponding systems and regulations as a guarantee, where such aspects as scope, time, intensity, and means for the use of wetland should be made clear, so as to strictly confine the utilization of wetland to the carrying capacity of the wetland eco-system. 

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