Sunday, October 17, 2010

China Uncovers its Ambitious Conservation Plan

Golden monkeys in China's Shennongjia Nature Reserve

China has recently uncovered its ambitious conservation plan before a U.N conference held in Nagoya, Japan. This new biodiversity action plan is said to select 52 conservation areas covering 23% of the country. It has also assured state funds for protection and has set a target to control the loss of biodiversity by 2020. The province of Sichuan has been first to put the plan into action. It has identified five ecological protection areas: one connects to the existing giant panda reserves, the second reconstructs an area damaged by industry, two protect semi-tropical flora and fauna, and the fifth compensates the impact of dams. The plan has also planned to build on the nation's 2500 nature reserves.

The plan has received a great deal of praise among foreign conservationists, who believe that China will be at the forefront of global efforts in reversing habitat and species decline. According to Ouyang Zhiyun, vice president of the Ecological Society of China, moves were made to revise wildlife protection laws and boost "ecological transfer funds" that recompense counties for preserving areas that seize carbon and conserve soil and biodiversity. Other supporters include Matthew Durnin, a lead scientist for Nature Conservancy, who believed that China has made strong commitments. Another is Gretchen Daily, an associate professor at Stanford University, who stated that China took a step further in fixing "natural capital" in decision making.

While China's new conservation plan has received much approval, there are also some who are not much optimistic. Critics have warned that this plan's commitments are likely to be overbalanced by economic interests. They even assert that the plans are so domestically focused, that they will do little in stopping the over-exploitation and the illegal trade of endangered species. Some conservationists even warned about poor enforcement boring from within such drives. According to Yan Xie of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the laws are sometimes not well implemented which allows the destruction to go unpunished. Furthermore, this conference held in Japan will be the tenth one for the Convention on Biological Diversity. Its aim has been to set biodiversity protection targets and rules on sustainable and fairly shared genetic resources. But this time, it seems that critics are doubtful about the effectiveness of the conference's actions based on its failure to meet the goals ten years ago. Much of this failure stems from weak international controls on the wildlife trade and the exploitation of oceans.

This article, in my opinion, gives a clear picture about the reality of a conservation plan proposed. It may have some benefits that maybe enough to persuade people that it will be effective, but there are also some side effects. In the case of China's recent proposal on its conservation plan, those side effects will do a little job in curbing down the illegal trade of endangered wildlife. The reason is because this plan is only focused on conserving areas that are primarily in China alone, and the illegal wildlife trade is an international issue. However, China had earlier made a pact with India in putting a stop to such a barbaric practice. But I think what is shown here is that the nation (China) probably has not formed a similar alliance with other countries where the illegal trade in wildlife looms. If cross-border arrangements are not made, then the environment stress would be pushed from one country to poorer ones. I think China still has to forge alliance with other nations, besides India, to put a permanent halt in the wildlife trade for good. This way, it will definitely gain a worldwide attention.

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