Conserving China's Biodiversity

By Kevin Pyne
Earth Common Journal
2013, Vol. 3 No. 1 | pg. 3/3 |

Governmental Agencies

There are five major agencies within China’s government overseeing environmental protection, the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), the State Forestry Administration (SFA), the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the Ministry of Construction (MOC), and the State Oceans Administration (SOA). The National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) was established in 1988, but was subsequently changed to the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in 1998. It is responsible for all issues concerning environmental protection and has a department of nature conservation, along with a division of nature reserves and species management (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 301). SEPA has ministerial status (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 301).

The State Forestry Administration (SFA) is sub-ministerial and is primarily responsible for 75% of China’s nature reserves, as well as the implementation of legislation designed to protect the environment (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 301). The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) directs about 3% of protected areas and has a small office for endangered and threatened species, which includes aquatic species (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 301). The Ministry of Construction (MOC) oversees parks recognized as UNESCO heritage sites (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 301), of which 21 have been designated (Liu et al., 2003, p. 1240), as well as regulating the Chinese zoo system (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 302). The State Oceans Administration (SOA) is responsible for all endangered species two hundred miles off the coast of China, as well as a few marine protected areas (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 302).

Non-Governmental Organizations

As of 2006, there were approximately two thousand Environmental Non- Governmental Organizations (ENGOs). Some of the more active are well-known international organizations such as Greenpeace, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 305 - 306). Friends of Nature (FON) was the first ENGO established in China, it is mainly focused on education of environmental issues and is heavily relied upon by the Chinese press for information regarding environmental problems (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 305). Founded in 1995, Beijing-based Wetlands International is an organization which concentrates its efforts on threats to wetlands from economic development, pollution, and climate change (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 304). And lastly, the Desert Control Volunteers Network was established to change attitudes about desertification by educating China’s urban population about special landforms, plants, and animals found in desert regions (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 306).


China is a very unique and important country when it comes to biodiversity. It not only has a large range of species, but also possesses a very large endemic population. One of the main concerns regarding conservation of biodiversity in China is balancing environmental concerns with growing cultural and economic demands (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 295). Initially, the Chinese were not concerned with environmental protection, but natural disasters and an increasing environmentalist movement have forced governments into action. With the implementation of more than 2500 nature reserves and the creation of several governmental agencies, the Chinese are on the right path to the conservation of its biodiversity.

Two of the positive signs are the increase in the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) population (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 316) and forest coverage has increased from 8.6% in 1949 to 18.2% in 2008 (Ministry of Environmental Protection, 2008, p. 5). As well, people from around the globe have begun to realize the importance of preserving China’s forests and wildlife, as multiple ENGOs have been formed with a focus on preserving China’s forests and the species that inhabit them.

With the good comes the bad. The real downfall with China’s approach to conservation is that they are poorly educated in the biological sciences. The official study of ecology has only been around in China for the better part of two decades (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 310). Because of this, we see inadequate funding from the federal government towards ecological pursuits, leading to inadequate knowledge and training amongst the people employed at nature reserves. As well, the government still seems to be more concerned with development than it does with protecting the environment (McBeath & McBeath, 2006, p. 317).

China is on the right track to preserving their biodiversity, and it is still considered a developing nation. As mentioned above, it is still new at the practice of environmental protection. With increased education from the Western world, along with increased funding from its own federal government, China has the potential to become an international model for environmental protection.


Guo, Z., Li, Y., Xiao, X., Zhang, L., Gan, Y. (2007). Hydroelectricity Production and Forest Conservation in Watersheds. Ecological Applications 17(6): 1557 – 1562.

Hou, M.F., Lopez-Pujol, J., Qin, H.N., Wang, L.S., Liu, Y. (2010). Distribution pattern and conservation priorities for vascular plants in Southern China: Guangxi Province as a case study. Botanical Studies 51: 377 – 386.

Huang, Q.Q., Qian, C., Wang, Y., Jia, X., Dai, X.F., Zhang, H., He, F., Peng, S.L., ang, G.X. (2010). Determinants of the geographical extent of invasive plants in China: effects of biographical origin, life cycle and time since introduction. Biodivers Conserv 19: 1251 – 1259.

Lawrence, E. (2008). Henderson’s Dictionary of Biology (14th ed.). Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited.

Liu, J, Ouyang, Z., Pimm, S.L., Raven, P.H., Wang, X., Miao, H., Han, N, (2003). Protecting China’s Biodiversity. Science 300: 1240 – 1241.

Lu, Q., Liang, F., Bi, X., Duffy, R., Zhao, Z. (2011). Effects of urbanization and industrialization on agricultural land use in Shandong Peninsula of China. Ecological Indicators 11: 1710 – 1714.

McBeath, J., McBeath, J.H. (2006). Biodiversity Conservation in China: Policies and Practice. Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy 9: 293 – 317.

Ministry of Environmental Protection (2008). China’s Fourth National Report on Implementation of the Conservation on Biological Diversity. Morell, V. (2008). Letting 1000 Forests Bloom. Science 320: 1442 – 1443.

Peng-Fei, F., Xue-Long, J., Chang-Cheng, T. (2009). The Critically Endangered black crested gibbon Nomascus concolor on Wuliang Mountain, Yunnan, China: the role of forest types in the species’ conservation. Oryx 43(2): 203 – 208.

Wang, P.W., Jia, J.B. (2012). Tourists’ willingness to pay for biodiversity conservation and environment protection, Dalai Lake protected area: Implications for entrance fee and sustainable management. Ocean & Coastal Management 62: 24 – 33.

Xu, H., Qiang, S., Han, Z., Guo, J., Huang, Z., Sun, H., He, S., Ding, H., Wu, H., Wan, F. (2006). The status and causes of alien species invasion in China. Biodiversity and Conservation 15: 2893 – 2904.

Xu, J, Grumbine, R.E., Shrestha, A., Eriksson, M., Yang, X., Wang, Y., Wilkes, A. (2009). The Melting Himalayas: Cascading Effects of Climate Change on Water, Biodiversity, and Livelihoods. Conservation Biology 23(3): 520 – 530.

Xu, H., Ding, H., Li, M., Qiang, S., Guo, J., Han, Z., Huang, Z., Sun, H., He, S., Wu, H., Wan, F. (2006). The distribution and economic losses of alien species invasion in China. Biological Invasions 8: 1495 – 1500.

Zhang, P., Shao, G., Zhao, G., Le Master, D.C., Parker, G.R., Dunning, J.B., Li, Q., (2000). China’s Forest Policy for the 21st Century. Science 288: 2135 – 2136.

Zhou, D.Q., Grumbine, R.E. (2011). National parks in China: Experiments with protecting nature and human livelihoods in Yunnan province, Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC). Biological Conservation 144: 1314 – 1321.

Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal

The terrestrial Mojave Shoulderband Snail (Helminthoglypta (Coyote) greggi) is being considered for status and protection as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act due to the recent construction... MORE»
In today's globalized world, international cooperation and information sharing becomes increasingly important. This paper examines the criteria provided in the United State's Endangered Species Act, the European Union's Habitat Directive, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. The interplay between these... MORE»
Overcoming the threats of the snow leopard with immediate action may be what will save this species from extinction. This report provides a brief overview both of the challenges faced by the snow leopard and the roles local people have taken in the decline and subsequent recovery of this apex predator. Panthera uncia... MORE»
Much debate has recently arisen over China’s and India’s responsibilities as related to climate protection. These two countries have repeatedly pleaded that their emissions be judged on a per-capita basis, since their per-capita emissions pale in comparison to those of the global North, and they have thus argued that the rest of the world should not insist that they slash emissions. In contrast, Western powers have maintained that the... MORE»
Submit to Inquiries Journal, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow IJ

Latest in Environmental Studies

2021, Vol. 13 No. 09
After thousands of years of innovation, humankind has shaped the modern world into a new planetary epoch: the Anthropocene. This paper connects the human propensity to carve our comfortable, convenient civilizations into our local environments with... Read Article »
2020, Vol. 12 No. 09
Though electronic products are ubiquitous in the modern Western world, most people are not aware of the origins of the batteries that power devices such as laptop computers and mobile phones. Lithium-ion batteries, though used primarily in wealthy... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 9 No. 12
Climate change is already altering our biosphere and is projected to bring about monumental changes to our planet’s environment, changes which are unprecedented in human history. Numerous social groups have drawn upon a wide assortment of... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 9 No. 05
Is it possible to objectively define the Anthropocene? This essay argues that whether or not it is precisely definable as a geological epoch, its true value, as a concept grounded in futurity, lies within the social realm. The origins of the term... Read Article »
2013, Vol. 3 No. 1
Published by Clocks and Clouds
Postmaterialist values, those that emphasize higher-order human needs, have become widely accepted as the determining force behind environmentalism in the West. Little research has been dedicated to studying the importance of these values outside... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 9 No. 03
In Gallup’s 2016 environment poll, 64 percent of U.S. adults are now worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming, with a record 65 percent attributing warming primarily to human activities (1). These... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 6 No. 1
Despite all the information we have regarding climate change and the potential perils of continuing on our path of consumption, people are slow to make the necessary changes. Our tendency to live habitually and the dampening effect continuous negative... Read Article »

What are you looking for?


5 Tips for Publishing Your First Academic Article
The Career Value of the Humanities & Liberal Arts
How to Manage a Group Project (Video)