China has made great strides in establishing a network of protected areas, which now cover about 15 percent of the country’s land area and include a variety of types such as nature reserves, forest parks, scenic landscapes and historic sites.
The World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) also is very active in China with 33 Members. In addition, China is highly involved with the work of the WCPA-East Asia Steering Committee (2005-2008).
World Heritage Sites
Providing support for evaluations of new and existing World Heritage (WH) Sites in China is a key role for the IUCN China Programme.
As the official technical advisory body to the World Heritage Committee on natural heritage, IUCN evaluates natural and ‘mixed’ sites nominated for World Heritage status, and monitors the state of conservation at existing sites.
In 2006, IUCN China also completed a DGCS funded project representing an initial phase of the China World Heritage Biodiversity Programme (CWHBP). This programme is designed to strengthen the management of China’s natural and mixed WH Sites. IUCN’s role included support for site assessments along with a capacity building needs assessment for WH sites in China and a study of potential transboundary WH sites with neighboring countries.
Protected Areas Law
In 2006 and 2007, IUCN served as technical advisor to the drafting of China’s first Protected Areas Law, through an Asian Development Bank sponsored project supporting the drafting of environmental legislation.
IUCN China brought together a team of 12 domestic and international specialists to provide advice on a range of protected areas issues to our Chinese Government partner, the Environmental Protection and Resource Conservation Committee (EPRCC) of the National People’s Congress. As well as hosting an international symposium on the law, IUCN China arranged a study tour to the Environmental Law Center in April 2007, allowing Chinese officials to work with IUCN staff in a comparative analysis of PA legislation.
Advice from IUCN was crucial in expanding the scope of the law to include all protected areas, and allowed for a valuable exchange of knowledge on best practices in PA legislation, design and management.