Biodiversity’s importance is growing in China’s urban agenda

On 28 January 2020, a team of Chinese conservation scientists distributed a questionnaire on social-media platforms asking Chinese citizens how they felt about the proposed legislation that would ban the consumption and trade of wildlife in the country .

It was a fitting moment: the questionnaire hit social-media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo when China was forced to stop the spread of a disease to its major cities, suspecting that scientists were among the species of animals An animal was transferred. Market in Wuhan.

More than 90% of the 74,070 respondents were in favor of a complete ban on wildlife trade – and, a month later, the central government came to the same conclusion and enacted legislation to that effect.

Researchers are increasingly studying the impact of these policies and the country’s biodiversity. But big questions remain about whether China will deliver on its growing list of environmental commitments.

Bin Zhao, an ecologist at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, says that since the onset of the epidemic, people in urban areas have been paying more attention to biodiversity than ever before. “People felt that exposure to wild animals could cause epidemic in urban areas as well.

This not only enhanced people’s understanding of biodiversity, but also promoted the idea that wildlife-conservation legislation needed to be reformed, ”says Zhao.

This has come at a time when China was already committed to changing its approach to ecological conservation, he says. In 2018, China amended its constitution to include the goal of becoming a ‘ecological civilization’. In the words of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017, economic growth can no longer occur at the expense of the environment.

Several environmentally friendly policies have already been announced, such as the introduction of the ‘Ecological Red Line’ policy to protect China’s mainland from development (see ‘Protected land’); A new network of national parks; Strict monitoring of protection; And the streamlining of environmental-monitoring agencies – to meet the government’s goal of making the country’s environment ‘beautiful’ by 2035.

Big cities, some control

In 1950, about 13% of China’s population lived in cities. But since the 1980s, the country’s cities have grown rapidly as engines of their economic growth (see ‘urban population’). Millions of people left homes in rural areas to create more prosperous lives in growing and newly built cities.

Government policies aimed at strengthening the economy helped encourage two-thirds of China’s population to move into these new urban areas, and the country has one of the world’s fastest growing urban populations. This has put a deep pressure on the ecology of the country.

“From an economic standpoint, our ecosystem and environment have historically been considered useless,” says Zhao. China’s natural resources, such as wetlands, forests, and water sources, have not received the same level of care from authorities as a goal of economic development, he says (see ation vegetation change ‘).

Photo shows urban ecological park in Xi’an, China

Many cities in China, such as Xi’an (pictured), have developed rapidly over the past few decades. Credit: Xinhua / Shutterstock

On 28 January 2020, a team of Chinese conservation scientists distributed a questionnaire on social-media platforms asking Chinese citizens how they felt about the proposed legislation that would ban the consumption and trade of wildlife in the country .

It was a fitting moment: the questionnaire hit social-media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo when China was forced to stop the spread of a disease to its major cities, suspecting that scientists were among the species of animals An animal was transferred. Market in Wuhan.

More than 90% of the 74,070 respondents were in favor of a complete ban on wildlife trade – and, a month later, the central government came to the same conclusion and enacted legislation to that effect. Researchers are increasingly studying the impact of these policies and the country’s biodiversity. But big questions remain about whether China will deliver on its growing list of environmental commitments.

Spotlight on ecology in China

Bin Zhao, an ecologist at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, says that since the onset of the epidemic, people in urban areas have been paying more attention to biodiversity than ever before. “People felt that exposure to wild animals could cause epidemic in urban areas as well.

This not only enhanced people’s understanding of biodiversity, but also promoted the idea that wildlife-conservation legislation needed to be reformed, ”says Zhao.

This has come at a time when China was already committed to changing its approach to ecological conservation, he says. In 2018, China amended its constitution to include the goal of becoming a ‘ecological civilization’.

Leave a Comment