The State Forestry and Grassland Administration is launching a nationwide inspection of China’s natural reserves with a view to punishing illegal actions, rectifying problems in the protected areas and preserving them to build a better ecosystem.
The inspection, starting this month, will cover all natural reserves in the country, a top official from the administration said on May 31.
State natural reserves, state scenic spots, national forestry parks, wetland parks, geological parks, marine parks and natural heritage will receive more attention, with natural reserves along the Yangtze River, in the Pearl River Delta and in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei among key areas.
The administration aims to collect more specific information on the country’s natural reserves to improve its ability to plan their future management.
Problems and illegal activities reported by media or the public will be included in the inspection.
Illegal activities, including real estate projects, utilization of forests or other natural resources without permission, and tourism or hydroelectric development within the natural reserves’ core and buffer areas, will be a key focus of the inspection.
China has more than 10,000 natural reserves, covering 18 percent of its land area, according to administration statistics.
They include forest, grassland, wetland and desert ecosystems, which are home to endangered wild species and important heritage that have strong value for scientific research.
“Natural reserves are essential to the natural ecosystems and crucial parts of the country’s ecological civilization and mission to build a beautiful China,” said Li Chunliang, deputy director of the administration.
He said the inspection, which is expected to last for half a year, will show zero tolerance to problems and illegal activities in protected areas. “Anyone or any department that breaks the law will be punished,” he said.
During the inspection, public reporting and supervision will be encouraged through a hotline and e-mail address in the hope of increasing public engagement.
Li said the administration is drafting a guideline to build a natural reserve management system.