Ecological protection redline (EPR) is a new concept recently put forward in the Environmental Protection Law of the People's Republic of China and the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Policy regarding the implementation of protection is strictest in EPR areas. Although there was no EPR worldwide previously, most countries had established protected areas, a similar practice to EPR, in natural or near natural areas, aiming at protecting species, habitats and ecosystems. In this paper, we summarize the ecological protection systems and their management practice executed by IUCN and in other foreign countries (USA, EU, Russia, Japan, etc.) based on relevant literature. Ecological protection areas range from 5% to 40% for most countries. In these countries, a specific management system is either governed by a special protection management department or a multi-sectoral management division. Different management and control measures are decided according to the human activity intensities. Based on gap analysis research in China’s presently protected areas and problems in classification management of protected areas, we suggest integrating and optimizing different types of protected areas by evalua- ting their importance and sensitivity. Land with important ecological service, biodiversity and habitat protection functions should be preferentially included in EPR. The area ratio assigned to EPR should be up to 30% of the total land area. We propose that unified supervision and management by China’s environmental protection departments should be strengthened, establishing EPR management laws and regulations, and implementing different management measures according to its classifications.
Ecological protection redline delineation aims to protect the natural ecological systems, which support human economic and social sustainable development, and constantly improve ecosystem services through the implementation of strict control measures. Based on the Environmental Protection Law, and related research and practices in China, we make the concept of ecological protection redlines clear, and present potential formation (including key ecological function areas redlines, ecologically sensitive or fragile areas redlines and forbidden development areas redlines). Furthermore, we confirm concrete forms of all kinds of redlines. Key ecological function area redlines are divided into land functional areas (including water source conservation areas, water and soil conservation areas, windbreak and sand-fixation areas and biodiversity maintenance areas) and ocean functional areas (including marine aquatic germplasm resources areas, important coastal wetlands, special protection islands, concentrated distribution area of rare and endangered species, important fishing waters, etc.), ecological sensitive or fragile areas redlines (divided into land ecological sensitive or fragile areas, including land desertification area, soil and water losses areas , rocky desertification areas and soil salinization areas and ocean ecological sensitive or fragile areas, including coastal natural coastline, mangrove forest, important estuarine, important sandpaper coast, sand protection waters, coral reef, sea grass beds, etc.), while forbidden development areas contain nature reserves, world cultural and natural heritage sites, landscape resorts, forest parks, geological parks, wetland parks, drinking water source areas, etc. Based on the latest national regulations for ecological protection and management of redlines, we propose ideas and measures of level delineation and classification management. According to the grading management regarding ecological function protection, this could determine specific control measures, in order to provide scientific support for strengthening ecological protection, optimizing national spatial development pattern, and promoting the construction of ecological civilization.
Ecological protection redlines are the management and control boundary delimited by government according to law and regulations, and are the baseline of ecological safety. They include important ecological functional regions, sensitive ecotopes, and fragile ecotopes. As the concept of the ecological protection redlines has been raised as a national strategy, and the rapid development of demarcating technology and methodology, ecological protection redlines have become a core issue in the field of ecological security. Due to obvious boundary, integration, and comprehensiveness, the ecological protection redlines can be used as the basic spatial element to create a pattern of ecological security, and provide a new method for ecological space pattern construction and optimization. Based on the research progress of ecological safety patterns and the basic theories of ecological protection redlines, this paper attempts to regard the ecological protection redlines as the source area of ecological protection, and furthermore to construct the ecological corridor and strategy node, thus forming a complete ecological security pattern including patterns protecting ecological function, residential environment safety, and biodiversity maintenance. The construction of ecological security patterns based on ecological redlines can effectively protect, restore and reconstruct ecosystems, and also ensure the sustainability of important ecological services. Further emphasis should be put in the following aspects: internal relationships within process-function-pattern in ecological protection redlines, comprehensive protection of marine and land ecological safety patterns, supporting management and control measures, and the system of supervision and evaluation.
According to the items of “Technical Guide of Delimiting National Ecological Protection Redline—Ecological Function Baselines” and the status of plant protection, we discussed principles and methods of delimiting protection redline of rare and endangered plants in China. We selected rare and endangered plants according to the List of Wild Plants under State Protection as protected plants to delimit protection redline, among which first level protected plants were defined as redline key plants. Based on various data sources within the literature and specimen records, we established the attribution database and geographical distribution database of rare and endangered plants in China. On the platform of GIS, the distribution of redline protected plants was studied on the basis of high precision database. Based on the theory of conservation biology, we analyzed and evaluated the in situ protection status of redline protected plants in reserves. Further, on the basis of hotspots and GAP analysis, we identified the typical hotspots and important buffers of plant distribution within the scope of distribution. Combining land use and human interference factors, we finally delimited the overall protection redline of rare and endangered plants in China. By the detailed analysis at national scale, redline of the rare and endangered plants was determined to be 7.163 × 105 km2, which accounts for 7.45% of China’s land area. The principles, methods and scheme of delimiting plant protection redline are of great significance in accurately defining the redline of ecological security, and will provide a basis for ecological security in China.
Ecologically vulnerable regions in China are not only the most serious areas of environmental degradation, but also the most poverty-stricken regions. However, these regions are still undefined. Three typical factors including land desertification, soil erosion and rocky desertification were selected to establish an evaluation model of eco-environmental sensitivity by using Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. We conducted a comprehensive research on eco-environmental sensitivity to reveal its spatial features in a quantitative way in China, and redefine the location of ecologically vulnerable regions integrated with the existing relevant government documents and the previous research. Results are demonstrated as follows: the extremely sensitive areas are distributed in northwestern, southwestern, southeastern parts of China and loess hilly regions; the highly sensitive areas are located in the Altai Mountains, the Tianshan Mountains, the southern part of Yinshan Mountains, the Horqin Sandy Land, the Hulun Buir Sandy Land, the western part of Chang Tang Plateau, the Hengduan Mountains and the hilly mountains regions in Southeast China. A total of 18 ecological vulnerable regions in China were defined, comprising a total area of 2.4 million km2. The name, type, area, spatial distribution and the main ecological problems of each region were characterized. The spatial distribution map of ecologically vulnerable regions in China can be used as a base map for the redline delimitation of national ecological protection.
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