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UNEP-WCMC visited China in July 2012 to attend several meetings on protected areas to further develop national contacts, support the development of a new protected areas law, and create awareness of the need to improve protected areas information and sharing.
Over the past 30 years, China has established various types of protected areas which now cover nearly 20% of its land. However, the management level of these different protected areas in China is often varied and the protection of biodiversity conservation is far from complete. The main reasons are a lack of strong supervision, management criteria, and the participation of communities.
China has spent nearly 10 years developing a law to improve protected areas management, and now is at the point of issuing this law. However, the current proposed “Law of Natural Heritage” that may be issued this year is considered by many authorities to be ineffective for conservation. There is a need to use this opportunity to assist China in effectively conserving its biodiversity.
UNEP-WCMC attended and presented at the one day 'Protected Areas and Conservation Symposium' organised by Dr. Xie Yan from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, part of the larger 31st International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) General Assembly and Conference on Biological Sciences and Bioindustry, in Suzhou, 5th-9th July.
The symposium introduced a series of recommendations that could possibly lead to the development of a new protected areas law for China. Several of the recommendations are directly relevant for the project including the proposal of a national registry for protected areas in China, and the development of a management category system for protected areas in China, that would consist of four categories and cross-walk with the IUCN categories. The meeting composed of presentation sessions followed by working groups in the afternoon that looked at further developing the recommendations.
The recommendations developed at the symposium, were presented at a communication meeting on natural protected areas held in Beijing on the 9th of July. The meeting, arranged by several NGOs within China, was attended by representatives from government ministries, NGOs and international and national experts, including representatives from IUCN Asia and IUCN China. The objective of this meeting was to present the recommendations to the Chinese attendees, and to gain preliminary feedback from them.
UNEP-WCMC presented on the World Database on Protected Areas and the importance of protected areas in decision making. Dr. Chunquan Zhu, IUCN China, presented the recommedation of a national registry. There were positive responses to the idea of a national registry, although it would need to be decided which agency would be repsonsible for the registry, and government agencies would need to be willing to colloborate. The registry could possibly serve to as a tool to publically announce newly designated protected areas as well as listing together all exisitng protected areas in China.
UNEP-WCMC visited the UNEP office in Beijing to discuss potential overlaps in work and possible funding and support that could assist the project within China. Initiating a project on valuing protected areas in China, as part of the UNEP's office work on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), was also discussed,
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