When the Conservancy embarked on a comprehensive assessment of China’s environmental health more than five years ago, we chose to call the project the Conservation Blueprint. The name felt natural, as the venture was designed to help us construct a sustainable future. We wanted to use its results to make China into a safe and nurturing home that could support its immense variety of plants and animals, not to mention humans and habitats.
The Blueprint took four years to finish. By the time of its completion, we had compiled an extraordinary amount of data on China’s environment and paved the way for future action.
We knew that protecting the many natural resources the Blueprint detailed would require help from partners. So we’re happy that China’s national government has embraced the findings of the Blueprint, which are crucial to the newly announced National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.
The Conservancy was the only NGO to directly contribute to the plan, which was recently approved by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Premier Wen Jiabao.
The Conservancy’s targets for conservation align with the government’s most pressing priorities, and the plan — the first of its kind since 1994 — promises to direct a broad coalition of committed conservation partners for years to come.
The plan embraces the knowledge outlined in the Blueprint and provides a sweeping vision for the future of China’s environment. It dedicates the country’s resources toward a number of ambitious goals, which include stopping the loss of all biodiversity in China by 2020.
It’s also having an effect on regional conservation. All provinces will produce their own detailed action plans. Sichuan Province’s new plan commits to creating five new nature reserves, and the national plan and blueprint are guiding development in Qinghai Province.
Far-reaching changes such as these are just the sort the Blueprint process had in mind. We’re very proud that our ecological data can inform policy at the national level and that it’s helping to spur action throughout China, one of the world’s most diverse and environmentally important lands. There’s still more work to be done — we haven’t finished building the green China the Blueprint originally envisioned — but we’ve laid a foundation that’s crucial for a more sustainable world.
Zhang Shuang is the director of The Nature Conservancy’s China program.
(Image: Southern Hengduan Mountains, Red panda in Meili Snow Mountain National Park, Yunnan Province. Image credit: Xu Jian.)