China is planning to release “Wetland Protection Regulations of the People’s Republic of China” in the near future in order to strengthen wetland protection and management. Wetlands, often called the “kidneys of the earth” by the Chinese, have the ability to conserve water sources, clean water, detain flood waters, adjust climate, preserve biodiversity and maintain the carbon cycle. However, various reasons have led to difficulties in their protection. Vice chairman of the Jiangxi Province Political Consultative Conference (PPCC) and Director of the province’s forestry bureau, Liu Lizu.
According to incomplete statistics, from the 1950s to the present, about 10 million hectares of wetlands, over half of coastal mud flats have disappeared, and over 56% of mangrove forests have been lost to development in China. In addition, China has lost over 1,000 lakes and ponds, the majority of wetlands have degraded water quality, and many wetland species are facing endangerment. One-third of natural wetlands are facing threat of change or destruction.
According to Liu, a major reason for wetland problems today is that although wetland protection regulations exist, they consideration of comprehensive functionality and restrictions are not legally-binding. According to Liu, wetland restrictions similar to agricultural and forestry land regulations have been in the past, can reverse wetland losses. Liu also suggests that land types such as mud flats, swamps, and water bodies be classified as “wetlands” for incorporation into the national land use designation as principle classifications in order to improve protection and appropriate utilization of wetlands.
Liu also calls for the establishment of a national wetland compensation system in order to resolve wetland protection funding issues and to reduce loss of wetland resources to hasty development and inappropriate exploitation.
Translated and summarized by Theodore Lim