Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (2): 133-149.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020070

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In-situ conservation of biodiversity in China: Advances and prospects

Wei Wang1,2, Junsheng Li1,2,*()   

  1. 1 State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Regional Eco-process and Function Assessment, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012
    2 Biodiversity Research Center, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012
  • Received:2020-03-02 Accepted:2020-10-07 Online:2021-02-20 Published:2021-01-17
  • Contact: Junsheng Li


Summary: In-situ conservation of biodiversity refers to the establishment and management of protected areas, combined with other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). The goals of in-situ conservation are the protection and restoration of species populations and their habitats, and the improvement of ecosystem services. In-situ conservation is one of the best measures for achieving the 2020 global biodiversity conservation target. Here, we summarize relevant reports in the past decade that highlights issues such as the number and area of protected areas, and the representativeness and effectiveness of protected areas, and OECMs (e.g., ecological conservation red lines, mini natural reserves, sacred mountains, and civil protected areas).
Advances: Overall, China has made significant progress by implementing an in-situ conservation and management system and various protection and restoration measures. The total area and number of areas protected by China has increased (covering 18 percent of land area), which has been relatively effective for conserving several ecosystems and key protected wild animals and plants. Ten national parks pilots aimed at improving the connectivity of some key wild animals were developed. Nature reserves, with relatively good management effectiveness, had represented more than 90% species of mammals and 97% of Orchidaceae. Additionally, the other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) made non-governmental contributions to in-situ conservation of China’s biodiversity.
Weak points: Furthermore, we propose some weak points in China’s current in-situ conservation plan based on the major requirements in “Strengthening in-situ conservation of biodiversity” from the “China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011-2030)”. The weak points in China’s current in-situ conservation include: (1) the need for improvement in overall conservation efficiency of protected areas; (2) conservation gaps in some biodiversity conservation priority areas; (3) the need for improvement in management quality of nature reserves, and the lack of public consultation; (4) the initial phase of OECMs.
Prospects: We then suggest that the government and researchers need to: (1) identify more specific and measurable conservation targets; (2) enhance efforts to reduce species threats (especially those with least concern); (3) promote the systematics and integrity of OECMs with the goal of ensuring and improving ecosystem services; (4) develop more OECMs to facilitate an effective in-situ conservation network; (5) improve the long-term monitoring system and keep providing scientific data to sustain periodic assessment of the conservation effectiveness. We hope these suggestions can help with the formulation and implementation of in-situ conservation goals beyond 2020.

Key words: the Aichi biodiversity targets, representativeness, ecological conservation red line, ecological protection and restoration, ecosystem services, protected areas